Make no mistake about it, baptism is a requirement for salvation. Since God alone is immortal (1 Tim. 6:15-16), He reserves to Himself the power of imparting eternal life or death (John 5:21, 1 John 5:11-12). Because all men have sinned-that is, they have broken the Ten Commandments-they have brought upon themselves the penalty of eternal death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). Man does not have life inherent within himself. The Bible says he is flesh (John 3:6, 1 Cor. 15:47-50). He is made of the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7), subject to return to dust when he dies (Gen. 3:19). Through our great High Priest Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God the Father, we can receive salvation (Heb. 4:14). We are not saved by the blood of Christ. When we accept Christ as personal Savior, His shed blood justifies us from our past sins (Rom. 3:25). We are reconciled to God by the death of Christ, but His life is what brings salvation (Rom. 5:8-10). By means of the Holy Spirit we will be resurrected from the dead (Rom. 8:11, 1 Cor. 15:49, 53-54). God alone imparts eternal life, and baptism for the remission of sins is a requirement for that life.
Christ’s instruction to His disciples is specific.
Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:15-16).
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matt. 28:19-20).
There are a number of New Testament examples that show how this was the practice in the early Church.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (Acts 2:41).
But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women (Acts 8:12).
Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:4-5).
The Apostle Peter emphasized baptism as a requirement for the remission of sins.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy [Spirit] (Acts 2:38).
Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy [Spirit] as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. . . (Acts 10:47-48).
Can You Come Just As You Are?
Many of us are familiar with the routine that takes place at revival meetings. People are told to come forward to publicly accept Christ. He will accept you “just as you are,” they are told. Is this true? Notice what Jesus told the people in His day. “And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-5). Jesus did not support the notion that one can come to God “just as you are.” Man must first repent of sin. But what is sin? The Apostle John tells us, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). In brief, the violation of the Ten Commandments is sin. Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21). John adds, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Rev. 22:14-15).
Jesus did not come to save the righteous; He came to save sinners (Luke 5:32). Those called to a knowledge of the truth are called in a sinful state (Rom. 5:8). It is this state or condition they must forsake. We are told, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:6-7). While man is commanded to be baptized in order to receive salvation, he must first repent.
The most difficult thing for most human beings to do is to admit they are wrong. When it comes to obeying God, human nature is such that it is resentful. Paul tells us the reason is “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). It takes real humility to admit error and wrong in the sight of God and in the sight of our fellow man. Perhaps the most dramatic step one can take is to acknowledge that, by his very nature, he is evil in the sight of God. Yet, this is exactly what Jesus said about human nature. “. . . He said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23).
The Apostle Paul had no illusions about human nature. He wrote:
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Rom. 7:18-24).
God made man with such a nature. This is the nature that must be changed. Moses wrote: “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” (Deut. 5:29). The prophet Ezekiel warned, “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye” (Ezek. 18:31-32).
But men, in general, are arrogant. Being filled with such confidence in their own minds, they believe they are always right. This is why the Bible says, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes. . .” (Prov. 16:2). And “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12). This supreme confidence that men have in their own abilities is what makes this world the kind of place it is. The thoughts of man do not represent the thoughts of God (Isa. 55:8). How did Jesus view the things men think are so great? “And he said . . . Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). Yes, indeed. The Apostle John knew the difference between those who are of God and those who are of the world. He said, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). Christ died for our sins so that we could be delivered from this present evil world (Gal. 1:4). Until we come to the place where we are willing to acknowledge the importance of the Law of God in our lives, we are destined to remain a part of this present evil world. Repentance is the first step we must take to get out of it.
But man’s evil nature prevents him from admitting the truth; it prevents him from even recognizing that God has placed that kind of nature in him (John 2:24-25). This nature is so self-deceptive, it is utterly deluded by itself. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Contrary to what modern psychiatry teaches, the Bible does not paint a pretty picture of human nature. It pulls no punches.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes (Rom. 3:10-18).
Man has been this way from the beginning of Creation.
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Rom. 1:21-32).
Only the converted man is willing to acknowledge this natural state of man.
The mind of man is his own worst enemy. The heart of man, which is reflected in the mind, is the seat of man’s evil nature. The human mind cannot be trusted. The man who trusts in it is a fool (Prov. 28:26). It is a mind full of vanity, a mind so inferior to God’s, that it is likened to the difference between earth and heaven. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). It is no exaggeration to say that in all human activity, the propensity to sin is paramount. John knew what he was talking about when he said, “. . . the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:37). Like the world in Noah’s day, “. . . GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. . . . The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Gen. 6:5, 11-12). Just as in the days of Noah, “. . . all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Repentance Absolutely Required
Before one can have his sins remitted through baptism, he must first repent. The command is: “. . . Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy [Spirit]” (Acts 2:38). The question that needs to be asked is this: What does it mean to repent? And secondly, what must man repent of?
Repentance means to turn around, to go the other way. The breaking of the Ten Commandments, which is reflected in disobedience to God and disrespect for one’s fellow man, is what constitutes sin. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Repentance is something that must be heartfelt and sincere. It cannot be a temporary remorse without any deep commitment to change. It must be deeply personal, sincere, and permanent. The mind must be changed, as well as the conduct of the individual. Repentance means one must be truly sorry for his past transgressions of the Law of God. It cannot reflect the embarrassment and pangs of conscience for getting caught in doing something wrong. Paul said this kind of sorrow leads to eternal death (2 Cor. 7:10). Rather, true repentance means a commitment of total surrender to God and His law. Anything less than this is meaningless.
What Should Be Done
The present state of the world and the condition of man does not portend a bright future ahead. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). Jesus preached, “. . . The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Jesus’ message-the gospel-was about His soon-coming Kingdom, and what man must do to be saved and to enter that Kingdom. This is why repentance and baptism are so important. Peter warned the people in his day-an admonition that applies today as well-“. . . Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40). The Philippian jailor said:
. . . Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house (Acts 16:30-34).
When one truly repents, God grants the gift of the Holy Spirit. This spirit gives man the capacity to overcome the pulls of human nature (Rom. 8:2), and it imparts eternal life at the resurrection (Rom. 8:11). But, God does not give His Holy Spirit to just anyone. It is granted to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).
Man’s unwillingness to yield to the Law of God is setting the stage for an awesome turn of events. “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:5-6).
What is the future going to bring upon rebellious man?
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Pet. 3:10-13).
This fire will consume the wicked in the second death. There will be no resurrection from this death. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14-15). The prophet Ezekiel implores us to repent. He gives us much hope in God’s mercy. “Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die” (Ezek. 18:27-28). Repentance and baptism provide the way to life rather than the way to death. God commands repentance and baptism for man’s good.
But, man is a free moral agent. God commands men to repent and be baptized, but man must make his own choice. God does not force anyone to comply. “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deut. 30:19). Jesus gave us all the same choice when He said, “. . . Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). Baptism is a serious step. There is a grave responsibility in determining whether one has repented or not, and is ready for baptism. It is not for children or those too young to appreciate its crucial importance. No specific age is given in the Bible, but anyone considering baptism should realize what he is doing. Repentance includes grasping the fact that our human righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6), and that we cannot comprehend true righteousness without understanding the righteousness of God (Rom. 10:3). Righteousness is defined in the Bible as keeping God’s commandments (Ps. 119:172). Repentance means to turn from our thoughts and our ways and to make an effort to live by every word of God (Matt. 4:4). Repentance is not the acceptance of the person of Christ without a real change in the heart and mind. Nor is it “getting religion.” Repentance is not following the commands of men, or the rules of religious organizations, which do not agree with the Word of God. Repentance also leads one to realize his utter inability to fulfill the will of God, and that he must rely on the mercy and love of God to fulfill God’s will.
One called to a knowledge of the truth and to true repentance must not neglect that calling. Paul warns, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation. . . ” (Heb. 2:3). Jesus came to give us a happy and fulfilling life. He said, “. . . I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). The physical amenities of life are added to those who first seek the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). What the world has to offer is temporary. It is not truly satisfying. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17). Those who see beyond this present veil will sit down and sup with Jesus in His kingdom. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Rev. 3:20-21). Those who overcome through the power of the Holy Spirit will sit with Jesus on His throne.
We often see the sign, “Christ came to save sinners.” This is a true statement. Jesus Christ gave up His life to pay the penalty for our sins and to give us the way to escape this present evil world (Gal. 1:4). When we accept the death of Christ in payment for our sins and repent of rebellion against the Law of God, whether deliberately or through ignorance, we are no longer under the death penalty. By our faith in the sacrifice of Christ, God imparts to us His very faith (Eph. 2:8). “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. . . . That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1-2, 4). When Paul surrendered to God and His way of life, he wrote, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
The Holy Spirit is promised to those who have repented and have been baptized (Acts 2:38). By means of the Spirit of God, man can overcome the pulls and weaknesses of the flesh (Eph. 3:16-17). Man is granted the mind of Christ (Ph’p 2:5). He is now a new man (Eph. 4:23-24). By this means he is able to manifest the fruits of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal. 5:22-24).
This does not mean that the converted Christian is now perfect and cannot sin. He may slip and occasionally sin. The difference, however, is that he will not habitually practice sin. This is what makes the converted man different from the carnal man. The carnal man is unable to control the impulses and pulls of the flesh, depending upon his individual bent. The Apostle John wrote, “Whosoever abideth in him [does not habitually practice sin]: whosoever [habitually practices sin] hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous” (1 John 3:6-7). But, what if the Christian does slip and sin? “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). Jesus Christ, our High Priest, seated at the right hand of God the Father, intercedes on our behalf, and we do not come under condemnation. “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).
What Baptism Symbolizes
Romans 6:3-6 describes what baptism symbolizes. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:3-6). Baptism, then, symbolizes the death of the old man and the resurrection of the new. Christ died literally, but we must figuratively put to death the carnal man. As Christ was buried in the tomb, we must figuratively bury the old man. As Christ was resurrected from the dead, we must figuratively be resurrected as the new man-no longer enslaved to the pulls and lusts of the flesh. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:12). “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. . . . And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Rom. 8:9-10).
Not only does baptism symbolize the death and resurrection of the old man, it also is a symbol of the resurrection of the dead. Paul describes this in the book of Romans. “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. . . . Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” (Romans 6:5, 8). Referring to the resurrection from the dead, Paul adds, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Rom. 8:11).
Since the old man is buried with Him in baptism, immersion under water is the only symbol that depicts burial. Therefore, sprinkling the forehead of the candidate is not a proper mode of baptism. By being plunged under the water, one is immersed. The Greek word baptizo means “to dip, immerse, dip oneself, wash.” When baptizo is found in non-Christian writings, it means “plunge, sink, drench, overwhelm” (A Greek-English Lexicon, by W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich, 131).
Notice how baptizing was done in the gospels and the book of Acts.
And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized (John 3:23).
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him (Matt. 3:16).
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him (Acts 8:37-38).
Baptism is commanded in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). What does this mean? This has been interpreted by many to mean one should be baptized in the name of Jesus only. But, notice Jesus’ personal instruction. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy [Spirit]” (Matt. 28:19). In the Bible, “name” signifies the authority of the one being named. Even in our society we all know the meaning of “stop in the name of the law.” The name of Jesus Christ signifies any act that is done by His authorization. Baptism is done by His authorization. Therefore, His name and that of the Father and the Holy Spirit should be used in the ceremony. In Matthew 28:19 the word “in” should be translated “into.” One who is properly baptized is baptized “into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” God is a Spirit. Those who worship God worship Him in spirit and in truth. God is also a family (Eph. 3:14-15). When one is baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he is being baptized into the family of God. Since Jesus is God (1 Tim. 6:14-15), it is by His authority that we are baptized. Thus, when we are baptized, it should be stated that we are baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, which means by the authority of Jesus Christ.
What Else Should One Know About Baptism?
What the candidate for baptism should realize is that one is not baptized into a church denomination. He is baptized by the receipt of the Holy Spirit into the Church-the Body of Christ. The Spirit of God places the candidate into the church (Acts 1:5, 1 Cor. 12:12-13, 27), providing he has met the conditions required by God-repentance and baptism. Upon receipt of the Holy Spirit, the repentant sinner becomes a potential son of God (Rom. 8:9, 14-15, 1 John 3:1). From then on, with the help of God, it is his task to overcome the weaknesses and passions of the flesh and to endure to the end (Rev. 3:21, Matt. 24:13).
How long should one wait for baptism if he feels he is repentant and is willing to surrender to God? Bible examples indicate it should be done as soon as possible. Notice the example of the jailor at Philippi. After Paul counseled with him, he was taken out and baptized the same hour (Acts. 16:30-33). When Paul, known as Saul, was struck down on the road to Damascus, he was given God’s instruction. When Ananias visited him a few days later, he was immediately baptized (Acts 22:12-16). These examples demonstrate that baptism should be done as soon as possible after repentance.
Whom does God authorize to perform baptisms? Jesus Himself did not baptize. He had His disciples do it. “When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee” (John 4:1-3). Neither did the Apostle Paul perform many baptisms. “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” (1 Cor. 1:14-17). What these texts demonstrate is, that it is not necessary for one ordained of God to be the only one to perform baptisms. But, whoever does so should be authorized by one who is ordained.
Bible examples show that immediately following baptism the repentant sinner should have hands laid on him for the receipt of the Holy Spirit. The laying on of hands is one of the principle doctrines of Christ (Heb. 6:2). The example given in the book of Acts shows that while this rite was neglected at the time these candidates were baptized, it was done immediately upon the arrival of Peter and John (Acts 8:12, 14-17). Other examples show it was done immediately after baptism. Notice Acts 19:1-6. “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy [Spirit] since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy [Spirit]. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy [Spirit] came on them. . .” (Acts 19:1-6). The laying on of hands was an important part of the baptism ceremony.
Baptism is a requirement for salvation. But it must be preceded by a sincere and heartfelt sorrow for breaking God’s commandments. This certainly includes doing wrong to others. Those who are truly sorry for their guilty past and wish to make themselves right with God should not delay baptism. Those who have come to understand what sin is and how they have been guilty before God, yet have not really repented and surrendered to God, need to do some serious thinking. Meeting the requirements for baptism is a matter of eternal life or death. Paul wrote, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:11-14).
Baptism is the most necessary and most important step one can take in one’s entire life!