Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation, Pt. 3

Scripture: Acts 2:38-41, Matthew 28:19-20
When should a person be baptized? Is there any preparation one should go through before being baptized? This talk looks at what the Bible says about getting ready for baptism. Just because a person wants to be baptize doesn't mean they are ready. The Bible teaches that there needs to be basic teaching and understanding.
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Announcer: It's time now for Bible Talk. Join Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw as they open the Bible to deepen our understanding of God's word.

John Bradshaw: Hi and welcome to Bible talk, where we talk about the Bible, and how the Bible affects us today. I'm John Bradshaw.

Gary Gibbs: And I'm Gary Gibbs.

John: I was talking one time to a fellow, who told me his experience with baptism. He said he was in church and hadn't been in years and years and years went to one of these great big churches, and was really having a good time and enjoying what he was experiencing. When the preacher asked, "How many people would like to open their hearts to Jesus Christ? Raise your hands." Well, he raised his hand, him and I am sure several others. Then the preacher said, "Well, stand to your feet." So gladly he stood on his feet.

Then the pastor said, "Come down here to the front." I guess it is part of what you do around here. He came down there to the front, and the pastor said, "Now you're here. We are going to baptize you tonight."

He didn't really know whether he should or he shouldn't, but he was in a church and this is the way they do things around here. So he was baptized. He said to me, "You think that was right? Do you think that was the right thing for me to do?"

Well, we looked at what the Bible said. Because the Bible speaks pretty clearly, not only about baptism being important, but it also speaks about when a person should be baptized and the preparation a person will go through in order for baptism.

Gary: And if you don't understand the preparation, then you are going to baptize people when they are not prepared. Little infants who don't understand the Gospel... People who don't understand the decision they are making... This really brings disrepute upon the church when people are hoodwinked into baptism. That story you told bothers me, because it makes people skeptical whether they go to church and they say OK to what this pastor is up to. "Why does he want me to raise my hand, what is he going to try to do that to me." We shouldn't do that, the churches.

John: No, shouldn't. Absolutely should not. Furthermore, one of the things that is so terribly wrong with that is, it cheapens the symbolism, the meaning of baptism. Anyone can get wet, anyone can leap into a swimming pool, anyone can immerse in water. That is not the same as saying a person can be baptized. Because according to Bible this whole business of baptism is equated to an experience with Jesus Christ where we die to sin and we are raised to walk in newness of life. Baptism is about an experience with Jesus, not just an appointment with water.

Gary: That is why we have titled our resource that we are going to make available to you today. If you phone in, email us, or write us, it is called Purity in power. How to have that experience a feeling like you are pure and clean, how to experience the power of God. It is all related to baptism, isn't it?

John: Absolutely yes. Baptism is part and parcel of that. Another fellow, a friend of a friend I was speaking with one time. Somehow it came up about a certain person who was baptized in his church. He talked about that person's lifestyle. I said, "You mean to say that your church would baptize a person who has that particular lifestyle going on, I am not going to mention what is going on. Don't think you know because you don't."

He was shocked that I would even call into question that there is a right and a wrong time to baptize a person. "What do you mean? If a person wants to be baptized, it's not up to you to sit in judgment. It's not for you to decide. You just baptize them." Well, I thought to myself that's not what the Bible says. Let's look at what the Bible says about the when of baptism.

Gary: First off you have to be repentant of your sins. You go to Acts Chapter two and Peter is preaching to thousands that day. He says, "Repent." Repent means you are sorry for your sin. There is a conviction of sin. If a person is unrepentant then they shouldn't be baptized. You look at John the Baptist when people were thinking it was popular to come be baptized. They came to him and everyone was flocking to him to be baptized. Well, he called them down.

He said, "Listen you vipers, you snakes..." He saw they were just being baptized because it was the popular thing to do, they were not repentant. He started pointing out their sins, so that they would sense a conviction of sin.

John: He said very clearly you need to bring forth the fruits that are worthy of repentance.

Gary: So you need to demonstrate that you've been repentant. Repentance means you are going to change. You are going to get out of whatever you were doing before.

John: Let's talk about that repentance. People say, "Oh, I'm sorry." Is that repentance? Maybe that is, but in that repentance there is a chance of heart involved, isn't there? Not just, "Oh, I'm sorry that I committed that sin." I purpose Jesus to allow you to change my heart and strengthen me, and posses me if you like. So I don't go running back to that foolishness like a pig wallowing in the mud.

Gary: Now there is a real sorrow for sin. You see what it has done to Jesus, what it has done for you and you don't want it. You just have a disdain for it, you want a release from it.

John: Repentance, I like you mentioned sorrow for sin. Doesn't it say in the Bible that 'Godly sorrow works repentance?'

Gary: Yes.

John: Sorrow for sin. According to the Bible, before baptism there needs to be real genuine repentance, not nearly being sorry, but turning away through the power of Jesus from sin and all that it entails.

Gary: Let's talk about this in terms of steps. In preparation for baptized, the first one -- we have just discussed -- is repentance. Before you are baptized you have to repent of your sins. That's what Peter was referring to in Acts 2:38-41. He said, "Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." Even before you repent you have to learn the teachings of the Bible. You have to learn what is sin, why are you a sinner, what has God done to save you from your sin.

John: Genuinely speaking that is sadly lacking in the Christian church today. One of the reasons many marriages fail, is because people get into marriage don't have a clue how to make that thing work. They don't know what is involved. One of the reasons that many relationships with God fail is that many people that get into it haven't got a clue what it's all about. They have not learned how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and make that thing work.

Before baptism there are some things to learn. Now, how far you're going to push this, Gary? Doctorate degree in divinity or how would you say to the person saying, "Well, maybe I need to learn, or did I learn or what is there to learn."

Gary: Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:19-20. "Go, make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I command of you." There are key teachings in the Bible that affect how we live our life. Those teachings have to be learned before you make a commitment like baptism. You are making a commitment that you are going to live for Christ. What does that look like? It's not just as some churches teach, "Why I believe in Jesus."

When I was eight years old in a church I grew up in, a teacher came up to me and said, "Do you want to be baptized...?" I said, "Yeah, I guess so." I saw baptisms all the time. "Well, all you have to do is believe in Jesus, do you believe in Jesus?" "Oh yes, I believe in Jesus."

I was baptized. Certainly that is the core truth. But what does that look like to believe in Jesus? What does that mean to believe in Jesus? We have to flush that out in order for a person to understand to die to sin and live for Christ and when you have that understanding, then you have to take the second step. You have to believe and accept Bible truth.

John: We find that instance of people learning, being taught that pretty well with all examples of baptism that we see in the Bible, there in Pentecostal Peter was preaching to them, he was catechizing them and he was instructing them he was giving them the doctrine they needed. In Acts Chapter eight, isn't it Chapter eight with the Ethiopian eunuch?

Gary: Chapter nine, isn't it?

John: OK, there in the book of Acts you've got,

Gary: Acts 8:36

John: Acts eight, Phillip is instructed by... Sorry, Phillip instructs the man who is the official of the Ethiopian Queen Candace. He opens up the Bible and reads to him. He sits there reading to him. He says, "Well, I don't understand this." So he studies with him, studies the Bible with him and teaches him. Then he's baptized. In Acts 16 the Philippian jailer and his family... The Bible says that they spoke to him the word of the Lord and all that in his house then were baptized. So there is the biblical imperative that before baptism there ought to be instruction and teaching, so folks know what is going on.

John: It's always done that way. So we don't just stand up and call people to repentance and immediately baptize them, because you can be baptizing people that have a complicated web of sin. They have to extricate themselves from. Here you are going to baptize them. They are going to go right back to maybe a life of addiction or some other thing. And now they are going to feel like, "I thought I was baptized. What happened to, I shouldn't be attracted to these things." They are going to feel like they are twice the sinner, twice the child of Hell and they are going to give up ever dreaming of living a victorious life in Christ.

John: There could be someone listening and they say, "You mean, if someone has an addiction they shouldn't be baptized?" The answer is really, "No. They should not," because that person is in slavery to sin and is not free in Jesus. Baptism represents that freedom from accepting Jesus Christ as your lord and savior and a full surrender that is made to Him when you lay down your life and accept the life of Jesus.

Gary: That's why in Roman 6 we read, "Therefore we are buried with him through baptism in to death, just as Christ was raised through the glory of the Father." Even so, we all should walk in newness of life. As you read Roman 6, it talks about John an old man of sin who is crucified with him and verse 6 says, "We are no longer to be slaves of sin." I've visited people who had an addiction and I want to mention one particular common addiction that people have and that is an addiction to tobacco. They smoke. This person loves God, they want to follow God, wants to be baptized.

And I have had a practice; I won't baptize someone addicted to something like tobacco. We know tobacco is deadly, we know it's costly, and it stinks.

John: That's true, on three counts. The Bible says that if you destroy the body temple, then God will destroy you. So he's not going to sanction and countenance that kind of practice. Let's make that clear.

Gary: I don't try to come across legalistic on this. I try to share with the person, "Is this an addiction? Would you like victory over this?" And they'll say, "Yes, it's an addiction I would like victory over it." "Well, baptism is a time of victory, a time of death of the old man of sin and you are no longer a slave of sin. Here you have a known sin in your life that you are a slave to and wouldn't you like victory over this before you are baptized?" Every converted person will say, "Yes, I want that."

John: That's absolutely right. I've found that in my experience, too. So what we are going to do here is, we've seen there is two, we've looked at these two steps and you say there is a third step before a person is baptized. Maybe it's the most obvious.

Gary: I've mentioned that we have to believe, we have to believe in the teachings of the Word. The word of God! You have to believe, that is enough to step out and repent to be baptized.

John: What an exciting thing baptism is, that God gives us. He marks it with a special ceremony. You ever stop to think about it like that. He could have just said, baptism you accept and it's done in the privacy of your own experience. But here is a public service like a wedding or a graduation ceremony or something and it's exciting when you can mark this decision with the Lord Jesus Christ. Make a public declaration; make a pledge in your life to Jesus Christ. It's not making a promise that your behavior is going to be perfect.

You can't make that promise, but you pledge to give him your heart and you invite him to fill you with his presence and plead with him to keep that hold on your life.

Gary: It's not something that you want to put off indefinitely. What you learn of Jesus, that's the time He's calling you to repent and be baptized.

John: Why wait if you have not been baptized? Perhaps now is the time to make some plans to give some serious thought. Baptism by immersion is for the death of the old life, it's burial and death and resurrection to that new life in Jesus Christ. We are so thankful that you've taken the time to join us today. We look forward to sharing more with you next time. Join us then here on Bible Talk.


If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible study guide that we'd love to share with you. That's absolutely free. This guide includes many of the tips we've just discussed and expands on the subject including information you'll want to know.

To receive this free informative Bible study guide simply call, write or email and ask for "Purity and Power." The toll free number is 866-BIBLESAYS. That's 866-242-5372.

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