Baptisms this Sunday

One of my favourite stories in the Bible is found in Acts 8 and records the account of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (8:26-40). In the account Philip is directed by the Lord to go south to the road that “goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” There in the desert place he meets an Ethiopian (with his entourage) in a chariot reading from the prophet Isaiah. The Holy Spirit prompts Philip to go and connect with this man. He does so and asks the man “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man’s response was classic: “How can I unless someone guides me?” The Ethiopian invites Philip into the chariot to sit with him and together they examine the scripture the man was reading. Lo and behold it was from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah in which the prophet speaks prophetically of the crucifixion of Christ. The Ethiopian is confused and asks: “Is the prophet speaking about himself or Someone else?” It is at this point that Philip takes this inquisitive man on a journey through the scriptures and presents to him Jesus. Somewhere during this conversation, the Ethiopian asks a penetrating question: “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” Verse 37 states: “Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Right there in his chariot this Ethiopian official received Christ and was born again by the Spirit of God. And the very first thing on his mind was being baptized. So, Philip commanded the chariot to stop by the water, they both went down in to the water and Philip baptized him there. I love the statement in verse 39 “And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.”

Many people struggle with the idea of baptism. Some want to argue that it is not necessary to be saved. Others argue over the method. Others are nervous about the public nature of baptism. What is clear from this passage and the rest of the New Testament is that Baptism is important and should never be taken for granted.

Baptism by itself cannot save you. James and other gospel writers made that clear. The only way we come to God is by faith in His Son. On many occasions Jesus told those who came to Him that their faith prompted God to action. It is only by faith in Christ that we can experience salvation (John 3:16).

After salvation, our first priority should be to identify with Jesus Christ. Baptism is an outward sign of our commitment to God. It is a public statement of our faith and love toward God. Some may say, “Well, I don’t need to make a public confession. My life is between me and the Lord.”

Think for a moment how God publicly displayed His love and affection toward you at Calvary. Nothing could keep Christ from demonstrating His love for you on Calvary’s Cross, and nothing should keep you from displaying your love for Him through baptism.

The moment the Ethiopian heard the gospel message, he was saved. His next desire was to be baptized. He asked, “What prevents me from being baptized?” Philip replied, “If you believe with all your heart, you may” (Acts 8:36–37 NASB).

This Sunday we will celebrate the Joy of Conversion through the public proclamation of those who have come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and now want to obediently declare this to our church family. You will not want to miss it.

See You Sunday,

Pastor Byron