In this church we’re kind of strange in our views on the subject of water baptism. Most protestant churches do not believe like we do about it. I typed in the Google search engine this week, “is baptism essential” and clicked search, and of the 1st 10 results that came up only one taught what we believe about that question.
Have we misunderstood this subject? Have we misinterpreted several passages and somehow overlooked some things? Most of Protestantism would say we have.
Now, the fact that our view is the minority view should not intimidate us. That alone should not pressure us to change our view. You remember Jesus warning His disciples, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matt 16:6). And he was talking about their teaching. Pharisees and Sadducees were the 2 main sects or 2 main denominations of Judaism in that day. They were teaching error about various things. The majority of those who claimed to be teaching for God were actually teaching wrong. So that can happen. We should never feel pressured to change just simply because we’re not with the majority.
But certainly we should be very willing to listen to those who disagree with us. That’s what you do if you want truth more than anything. We should always be very open considering the reasons people give for disagreeing with us, always very open to hearing something that maybe we’ve missed before. And I want us to do that in a future lesson, to listen and consider the reasons that people give for not seeing baptism the way that we do, to see if maybe we’ve missed something or misunderstood something.
But we’re going to begin this study with just a survey of water baptism in the Bible. And we won’t have time this morning to look at every passage in which it’s mentioned. But let’s look at it in the Old Testament (OT), then in the gospels, and then in the book of Acts.
We should probably first define the word. Baptism is really just an englishy way of saying a Greek word, baptisma in Greek, or the verb in Greek, baptizo. The word, whether in verb form or noun form, means immersion or immerse. So the translators of our Bibles actually did not translate the word. They just wrote the Greek word in an englishy way, perhaps because of the controversy about this subject. As you can imagine, if they were to translate the word and write “immerse” instead of “baptize” that could really upset some folks who think that sprinkling or pouring are acceptable alternatives.
Baptism into Moses
The first place you encounter water baptism is in the book of Exodus. But turn to I Corinthians 10 where the apostle Paul refers to this occasion in Exodus.
On the night of the 10th plague that God brought on the land of Egypt, the night when God killed the firstborn of every Egyptian household, Pharaoh finally gave in to the command of God and let the Israelite people go free out of his land. God led the nation of Israel out of Egypt in a pillar of fire that night, which turned to a pillar of cloud in the day time, and back to fire at night and cloud by day. But God wanted to further demonstrate His power. So He lead the people out to a certain point and then had them back track and camp by the Red Sea. He wanted it look to Pharaoh like the Israelites are just wandering aimlessly out there, so that Pharaoh would think, “Their God must have finally left them. Surely if their God was still with them they wouldn’t be wandering aimlessly. He must have left them. Now they’re mine for the taking.” God wanted Pharaoh to gather his army and chase after them. When Pharaoh came with his army in chariots and trapped the Israelites by the Red Sea, they all thought they were doomed for sure. Then God had Moses stretch out his staff over the sea and God parted the sea. As the people went through the sea it says there was a wall of water on their left and a wall of water on their right and the cloud that represented God’s presence above them. And once the Israelites were through the sea God brought the waters crashing down on the pursuing Egyptian army, and the Israelites saw their dead bodies wash up on the seashore.
The apostle Paul refers to that occasion in I Corinthians 10:1-2, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea“. They were baptized, immersed, covered over in the cloud and in the sea. And it was a baptism into Moses; it was an immersion that brought them into a new relationship with Moses as their lawgiver and leader, and they were now totally free from the Egyptians. This baptism was a great moment of transition into a new freedom, a new leader and a new life.
Why does Paul mention that in I Corinthians? Could it be because the Corinthian Christians had been baptized into Christ like the Israelites had been baptized into Moses? That these Christians had been baptized into a new freedom from sin and a new relationship with Christ and Paul is wanting to show that the exodus generation of Israelites were in a similar situation? And Paul wants to show that to make the point that baptism doesn’t guarantee that you will make it to “the promised land”. If, like that exodus generation of Israelites, we become untrusting and rebellious, then, like them, we will miss out on our inheritance (I Cor 10:12).
Baptism in consecrating the priests
Another occasion of water baptism in the book of Exodus is in the consecration rituals of the priests in Exodus 29. After giving Moses specific instructions on how to build the tabernacle, this holy place for worship, then God told Moses that his brother Aaron and Aaron’s sons would be the priests who would serve at this holy place. They would be the ones who were allowed in there and who would offer the sacrifices for the people and perform all the other services of worship there. And in future generations the priests would be Aaron’s descendants. In Exodus 29 God describes to Moses the consecration rituals that had to take place in order for Aaron and his sons to become priests. And these same rituals would have to be done to every future descendant of Aaron that was to serve as a priest. The rituals involved putting on priestly garments and anointing with oil and offering certain sacrifices and applying blood to various things, but also involved in the rituals was this. Exodus 29:4, “Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water.” The word for “wash” is the Hebrew word racqatz. And racqatz means to bathe or immerse. So water baptism was an essential part of the consecration of the priests. One could not be a priest until they had undergone that ritual among other things.
Could there be some parallel to our situation as Christians? I Peter 2:9, “you [Christians] are a chosen race, a royal priesthood…” Could it be that baptism is an essential part of us becoming that?
Baptism in ceremonial cleansing
Let’s turn over to the book of Leviticus where we find another mention of water baptism.
Under the Law of Moses, there were many conditions that would render a person ceremonially unclean, which meant the person was unfit to go to the temple and offer sacrifice and participate in worship there. There was actually a death penalty attached to going to the tabernacle while unclean (Lev 15:31).
In Leviticus you read about many of the conditions that would make one unclean and unable to worship at the temple. Like if a person had a certain disease or had some sort of bodily emission or if a woman had completed a menstrual cycle or if a man or woman had had sexual relations or if they’d touched a dead body… There were all kinds of conditions that made a person unclean. And a part of what they were required to do to be clean was to racqatz, wash, immerse themselves with water. Leviticus 14:8, for instance, speaking of one who had just been cured of a skin disease, “The one to be cleansed shall then wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe in water and be clean.” Leviticus 15:18, “If a man lies with a woman so that there is a seminal emission, they shall both bathe in water and be unclean until evening.”
In Jesus’ day, because Jews became ceremonially unclean often and often needed to immerse themselves for ceremonial cleanness, there were immersion pools all over the land of Palestine. Archaeologists have unearthed many of these pools that date to the time of Christ and before in places like Qumran and Masada and in Jerusalem. They were called mikveh, or mikvoth in the plural. Archaeology has discovered ancient immersion pools on the temple mount in Jerusalem and also along both sides of the streets leading up the temple. Worshipers headed to the temple could come of the street and go into a room with a mikveh and remove their clothing and immerse themselves to wash away their ceremonial uncleanness and then put their clothes back on and proceed on their way to worship.
So ritual baptism, ritual immersion was a very common thing among the Jews and was viewed as necessary for ceremonial cleanness.
Baptism of Naaman
Then in the OT there is a great story involving water baptism in II Kings 5. There was a highly respected Syrian general, a valiant warrior, but he suffered from the disease of leprosy. Do you remember the man’s na-ame? What was his na-ame? Naaman. And Naaman heard from an Israelite slave girl that there was a great prophet of God in Israel named Elisha who could cure him of his terrible disease. When he arrived with his entourage at Elisha’s house, Elisha didn’t even come out to see him. Elisha just sent a servant to tell Naaman, “Go to the river Jordan and wash, racqatz, bathe, immerse yourself 7 times and you will be clean.” And Naaman at first was angry. He said, “I thought the prophet would come out and call on the name of the LORD and wave His hand over my skin and cure me. And why in the world would he tell me to dip in the Jordan River? That’s a dirty river. We’ve got much cleaner and prettier rivers over in Syria where I live. Who ever heard of dipping in that dirty river to be cured of leprosy?” And so at first Naaman wouldn’t do what the prophet told him to do. It wasn’t until his servants came to him and reasoned with him and said, “You know, if the prophet were to have come out and told you that you needed to do some great courageous difficult thing to be cleansed, you would have done it. But he just said, ‘Go wash in the Jordan and be clean.’ Why don’t you just do what the prophet told you to do?” And he thought, “Yeah, you’re probably right.” So he went down and baptized himself 7 times in the Jordan, and when he came up the 7th time and it says his flesh was restored and became like the flesh of a little child. It really wasn’t the water that cleansed Naaman. God did it. But God required Naaman to submit to baptism in the Jordan before He would cleanse him.
Baptism commanded by John
Now, let’s go to the gospels. About 26 A.D. the gospels tell us there came a prophet named John in the wilderness of Judea preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Luke 3:3, “he came into all the district around the Jordan [same river Naaman was baptized in], preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” This was something new. Baptism itself wasn’t new to the Jewish people. They knew the priests had to be baptized in order to be priests and they baptized themselves often for ceremonial cleanness and they knew the story of Naaman. But this particular baptism that the prophet John was commanding was new. It was not for ceremonial cleanness or the cleansing of leprosy. This was for the cleansing of their souls before God. This was for the forgiveness of sins. And it had to be joined with repentance. In fact in Luke 3:7 is says, “So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 9 Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’” He was telling them that baptism and being a physical descendant of Abraham is not going to do them any good unless they truly repent and they bear the fruit of repentance in their lives. So John was clear that he’s not just preaching baptism, but baptism with a penitent heart, baptism with a heart intent on obeying the will of God. And another new thing about John’s baptism was that it was an administered baptism. They were used to baptizing themselves. But John was preaching that they be baptized, that they allow him or one of his disciples to baptize them.
Even Jesus came out to be baptized by John in the Jordan. And we might wonder why, since Jesus had no sins to repent of or to be forgiven of. And John even appears to have wondered why Jesus wanted to be baptized. Matthew 3:13, Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” What did Jesus mean by that? Maybe Psalm 119:172 helps us. Psalm 119:172 says, “All Your [God’s] commandments are righteousness.” God’s commandments are righteousness. God had commanded the Jewish people through His prophet John to be baptized. And so Jesus was baptized to fulfill the commands of God, to fulfill all righteousness.
In Luke 7:29-30 we’re given a little explanation about who was submitting to John’s baptism and who wasn’t and how important it was to do so. It says, “When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and the lawyers [scribes] rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.” It’s appears that most of the common Jewish people submitted to John’s baptism, but not the scribes and Pharisees. And by not submitting to John’s baptism they rejected God’s purpose for themselves. Or some versions have they “rejected the counsel of God for themselves,” or “the will of God for themselves.”
I think we find one of those Pharisees who was rejecting God’s purpose for himself in John 3. His name was Nicodemus. He came to Jesus at night, presumably because he didn’t want to be seen associating with Jesus, and he said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus didn’t know what He was talking about. He said, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which born of the Spirit is spirit.” And so Jesus explained that He’s not talking about a physical birth, but a spiritual kind of birth. He’s talking about submitting to the Spirit of God, allowing the Spirit of God to change you, to give you a new spirit. He’s talking about repentance. He’s talking about taking on a new spirit and a new heart, and being baptized, as John the Baptist was preaching. Then you are born again. You are born of water and the Spirit. And Jesus says unless one does that, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. And to say that water in John 3:5 is talking about something other than baptism is to really take it out of its context. In chapter 1 of the gospel of John you read about John the Baptist baptizing people and then Jesus being baptized. And then later in John 3:22 it says, “After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized.” The context suggests that when Jesus says, “born of water and the Spirit,” He’s talking about spiritual transformation by God’s Spirit and baptism.
Baptism commanded by Christ
Well, things changed a little bit after the death and resurrection of Christ, but not that repentance and baptism became no longer required. The preaching of John was transitioning us into this last age of history, the Christian age, where repentance and baptism are part of God’s terms of salvation. But after the redemptive work of Christ on earth was complete, a certain faith and commitment to Jesus also became required of people to be saved.
Let’s turn to the end of the gospel of Matthew to the giving of what we call the great commission. Before Jesus ascended back to heaven He said to His disciples, Matthew 28:18, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in [or into] the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Well, this was similar but different to John’s baptism. John’s baptism did not require that that you be committed to being a disciple of Jesus, that you be committed to follow Jesus in your life. Jesus had not really made known who He was back when John was preaching. And John’s baptism was not “into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” It was not until after the redemptive work of Jesus on earth that is was established that Jesus is the Son of God and that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, that He has authority like the Father and the Holy Spirit. So it’s similar now in that we must repent and be baptized, like John preached. But different now in that we must also have faith that Jesus is Lord and be committed to following Him.
In Mark’s account of the great commission, Mark 16:15-16, Jesus says to His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. [What’s the gospel? Well, the book of Mark in 1:1 begins “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” And here at the end of the book he says “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Everything in between is the gospel. It’s the message about who Jesus is and what’s He’s done and what He’s promised to do and what He requires of us.] He who has believed [Believed what? Believed the gospel.] and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” See now on this side of the cross, in this age of history, people cannot just repent and be baptized like John was preaching. People must believe the gospel to be saved. We must believe in the redemptive death and resurrection and Lordship of Jesus to be saved and be baptized with that faith.
And so then in the book of Acts you find Jesus’ apostles doing exactly what He commissioned them to do. In Acts 2 we have recorded the first preaching of the completed gospel of Christ by the apostle Peter to Jews from all over the world in Jerusalem for Pentecost. Acts 2:36, he concludes his sermon, “Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…” Do this “in the name of Jesus Christ,” in other words because of who Jesus is and His authority and this is His command. And do this “for the forgiveness of your sins.” It’s unfortunate that many today are saying that this little preposition “for” here means “because of.” They don’t say that because of an honest study of the Greek preposition, but rather because of a theological bias against the notion that baptism is a prerequisite to receiving the forgiveness of sins. But it’s the Greek word eis. It occurs hundreds of times in the New Testament and generally always carries the sense of into, unto, toward, for. In other words, Peter is saying, “Now that you believe the gospel, now that you believe that Jesus whom you crucified is Lord and Christ, here’s what you do to come into a state where your sins are forgiven. Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and that will bring you into the forgiveness of your sins.” And Peter tells them that they also will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and the promise is for them and for their children and for all who are far off as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.
Then Acts 8:12 when a disciple named Philip took the gospel to Samaria it says, “But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.” It was an immediate response to the gospel.
Later in Acts 8 when the same Philip went up next to a chariot where there was an Ethiopian Eunuch riding home after worshiping in Jerusalem and he was reading Isaiah 53, Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He said, “How could I unless somebody explains it to me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him and have a Bible study with him. Acts 8:35, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” Why would he say that? Because water baptism was included in Philip preaching Jesus to him. Water baptism is what Christ has commanded that people submit to who want to come into a saving relationship with Him. So he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.
In Acts 10, when Peter went to the household of Cornelius, God had to intervene in some miraculous ways to bring about the meeting, because Peter was a Jew and Cornelius was a Gentile and Jews and Gentiles did not associate with each other. God gave Peter that dream of a sheet coming down with all these unclean animals on it and the voice said, “Arise, Peter, kill and eat.” And Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” The voice said to him, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” And God did that 3 times to Peter. And Peter is scratching his head about that. Then there’s a knock at the door down stairs. There are 3 Gentiles looking for Peter. And the Spirit told Peter “There are 3 men waiting for you down stairs and I want you to go with them.” Peter went down and asked why they’ve come for him. And they said, “Our master Cornelius had a vision of an angel telling him to send for you and that you would speak words to him by which he and all his household would be saved.” (Ac 11:13-14). And so Peter went with them to Cornelius’ house though he really didn’t feel comfortable with it. He brought some Jewish brethren along with him to witness things and to be able to vouch for him when the other Jewish brethren asked Peter what in the world he was doing with Gentiles. And then at Cornelius’ house while Peter was preaching the gospel to them, it says 10:44, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” Now, why did Peter say that? Why did Peter even think someone would refuse the water for these folks to be baptized? Because these people were Gentiles. But the Holy Spirit coming upon them and empowering them to speak in other tongues showed Peter and the other Jewish Christians that God wanted to accept these people and that they shouldn’t stand in God’s way (11:17). The Spirit coming upon Cornelius and his household was not to save them. It was to show the Jews that it was okay to go ahead and baptized them, that God will welcome Gentiles just like He does Jews. And so 10:48, “He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Acts 16:14 when Paul met with some Jewish women by a riverside in Philippi on a Sabbath day, “A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household had been baptized…” Again, baptism was an immediate response to the gospel.
And then Paul and Silas went and got themselves beat up and arrested and thrown in prison, because they cast a fortune-telling demon out of a slave girl who had been making her masters a lot of money and they weren’t happy about losing their business. And about midnight there was an earthquake that unfastened their chains and opened the prison doors and woke up the jailer, and he was going to kill himself thinking that the prisoners had escaped. And Paul cried out, “Don’t harm yourself, we are all here!” And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And that doesn’t exclude baptism any more than it excludes repentance. When they say “believe in the Lord Jesus” they’re not just telling him to acknowledge the existence of the Lord Jesus. But they are telling him to trust in Jesus. And if you trust in Jesus then you do whatever Jesus says you need to do. And if you don’t do what Jesus says you need to do, then you don’t really trust him. Really believing in Jesus includes doing what Jesus says you need to do (see also James 2:14-26). So then v32 “they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.” You see, in the 1st century baptism was not something to put off for a convenient time. It wasn’t something to schedule for a month or two down the road when we can get a whole bunch of people together who want to be baptized and we can do it in front of a big church, because it wasn’t just a public proclamation of your faith like people today will say. It was the means by which you accepted Jesus as your savior and received forgiveness of your sins. That’s not something you want to put off. And so Lydia and this jailer were baptized immediately upon hearing the gospel. The jailer and his family did it in the middle of the night.
Acts 18:8 when many of the Corinthians heard the message they were baptized.
And then Acts 19 is a great passage that helps us further understand this. But a little context is helpful. At the end of Acts 18 there is an eloquent Jewish man named Apollos teaching in the synagogue at Ephesus. And he was teaching a lot of true things about Jesus, like perhaps about His miracles and His teachings and he was teaching that people needed to be baptized as John the Baptist had preached. But Apollos did not know the completed gospel of Christ. He apparently did not know that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead and that He is the Messiah, the promised King and Savior of the world. He didn’t know that until Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and taught him those things.
In Acts 19 Paul comes to Ephesus and finds some men that he thinks are Christians, but apparently they’d only been taught by Apollos before Apollos knew the full truth about Jesus. And Paul asks them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And that language in book of Acts seems to mean, “Have you received this special empowering of God’s Spirit where you can speak in other tongues or prophesy or something like that?” And if they had not, Paul could lay his hands on them and they could receive that, which is what happens at v6. But when Paul asks them about that they don’t know what he’s talking about. And that causes Paul to wonder if they’ve even heard the full gospel, because normally when apostles or evangelists would bring the gospel somewhere this teaching about the Holy Spirit would also be included. So he asks them, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” So he informs them that Jesus is the one that John was pointing people to. Jesus is the Lord and Savior. And that’s probably just a summary of what all Paul said to them. I imagine he told them a little more about Jesus. But v5 says, “When they heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Now, notice these guys had repented and been baptized before like John was preaching. But in this last age of history you cannot be saved unless you believe the gospel, unless you believe in the death and resurrection and Lordship of Jesus. And so these guys needed to be baptized again, this time with that faith in the gospel. This, among other reasons, is why I’m opposed to infant baptism. Infants don’t believe the gospel. Infants aren’t committed to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. The first baptism of these Ephesian fellas fellas was not valid because baptism in this age requires faith in and commitment to the Lord Jesus. So if anybody here was just baptized as an infant, I would strongly encourage you to like, those Ephesians fellas, be baptized again, this time with faith in and commitment to Jesus Christ.
And then just turn to one more passage Acts 22:16 where Paul is telling the story of his conversion. The Lord had appeared him on the road to Damascus and Paul saw how wrong he had been to persecute Christians. Paul was told by the Lord to go to Damascus and there await further instructions. And he was blinded from the vision of the Lord. And for three days Paul was blind in Damascus and didn’t eat or drink. He just prayed. But though he was blind, he was seeing spiritually better than he’d ever seen before. He was seeing now that Jesus is everything the Christians believe and preach Him to be. And I’m sure Paul was penitent at that time. He was intent on obeying Jesus now in his life. And yet though Paul had come to believe in who Jesus is and was repentant, apparently he was still at that time in his sins. He still needed his sins “washed away,” because when the Lord sent a disciple named Ananias to Paul to lay hands on him to give him sight back, look at what Ananias said to Paul, Acts 22:16, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” That’s another passage that confirms to me that one is not saved the moment they first believe. Paul already believed. And one is not saved the moment they first turn their hearts to be intent on obeying Jesus. Paul was repentant. But one is saved when that faith and commitment leads them to obey Jesus’ command to be baptized. In baptism we wash away our sins. Or rather God washes away our sins, like He washed away Naaman’s leprosy. And in baptism we are calling on the name of the Lord; we are appealing to the Lord for His salvation.
But what about that thief on the cross? And what about the fact that Paul said we’re saved by grace through faith and not by works? And what about this and that? Well, Lord willing, we’re going talk about those things in one these upcoming lessons.
– James Williams