Different denominations and religions practice baptism in different ways. Some baptize infants. Some sprinkle. Some dunk. I remember the day my niece was baptized. My dad was a pastor and he was delighted to baptize his first grandchild. Sarah was young and all went well up to the point of it being time to exit the baptistry. She decided to swim out.
When my son was just a little guy of about 4 or 5, on a Sunday morning, we opened the service with baptism and ended the service with partaking of the Lord’s Supper. We’re Baptist so we are of the “dunking” sort of baptizing church. The service begins and the curtain opens and my dad is baptizing a middle aged woman. As soon as my son saw his Papa he said (in his not so quite 4 year old voice) “Momma, why is Papa in that tub with that lady and they have all their clothes on?” There were quite a few snickers coming from those sitting near us.
For the Ethiopian eunuch, he had some real questions about the gospel message. The Holy Spirit directed Philip to go to Gaza. When he was there he saw the Ethiopian sitting in his chariot and he was reading a scroll from the book of Isaiah. Philip caught up with him and asked him if he understood what he was reading. The Ethiopian invited Philip up into the chariot with him and Philip started with where the Ethiopian was reading and preached Jesus to him. As they approached a body of water, the Ethiopian wanted to know what hindered him from being baptized. Philip told him that if he believed with all his heart that he could be. The Ethiopian replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
This is the only requirement for baptism and from the Ethiopian’s baptism, we can learn several things:
- The only requirement for Baptism is that we have to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Baptism can’t save you or get you to heaven. Philip told the Ethiopian he must believe in order to be baptized. You can be baptized so many times that every tadpole in the United States knows your name, phone number and social security number, but without faith and belief in Jesus, you’re just getting wet.
- When Philip baptized the Ethiopian, it was by immersion. In verse 38 of Acts 8, we find that Philip and the Ethiopian left the chariot and went down into the water, baptized the Ethiopian and then came back up out of the water indicating the disciples practiced immersion. The symbolism behind an immersion baptism is that when the person is placed under the water, it is the image of the sinful person dying. When he is raise back up out of the water, it is the image of being “born again” as a child of God and raised to everlasting life. It is an outward expression of the person has already done within their spirit when they professed Jesus as Lord.
- Infant baptism would not meet the requirement for Baptism. If the only requirement for baptism is belief that Jesus is the Son of God, an infant is too young to make that decision for their self. You will find no place in the Bible where an infant was baptized.
- The Ethiopian was baptized immediately. Not the next Sunday or a few years later. As soon as be pronounced his faith and belief in Jesus, he was baptized.
What is baptism to you? Are you depending on your baptism to get you to heaven? If so, you should consider what Philip told the Ethiopian. It is belief in Christ as the Son of God that provides eternal life – not baptism. Have you followed your decision to believe in Christ with baptism? If you’ve not been baptized, talk to your pastor. If you were baptized before making the decision for yourself to believe in Christ, would you consider being rebaptized as an outward sign of in inward decision to profess Christ as your Savior?
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Julia is CEO of Wellspring Christian Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people and couples develop a passionate relationship with God. A public speaker, conference trainer, event planner, and blog writer, Julia is a two-time graduate from Grand Canyon University with a bachelor in Psychology and a masters in Professional Counseling. Saved as a child and raised in church and in a Christian home and private Christian School as a Pastor’s kid, Julia has taught Sunday school, led music, played the piano, served as Children’s Director, and engaged her gifts in many other areas of church life. Previously employed with the Florida Baptist Convention, Julia organized events and led conferences for church ministry assistants.
Julia enjoys sharing her journey as a growing Christian with others looking for a deeper connection with God. Through Bible study and her own life experiences, God has given Julia a passion to help couples understand God’s design for marriage while they learn to place God first in their marriage, cultivate meaningful relationships, build intimacy, and address the tougher issues that come in every marriage so that they can experience a marriage that honors and glorifies God. Julia also loves mentoring, teaching, and working with women to help them learn to live as Godly women.
With her history and experience growing up in both small and large churches, Julia enjoys bringing top level quality events to churches of all sizes. Her father largely pastored small churches and therefore she understands that these vital parts of the believing community need to be good stewards of the resources God provides them with. This knowledge inspires her passion for being available with a fresh perspective for those who want to provide their congregations with meaningful spiritual growth opportunities.