by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Acts 16:25-33
I. When you read through the book of Acts, an odd fact seems to stand out — everyone is in a big hurry to be baptized.
A. They don’t wait for another meal, or sleep on the idea, or wait for another day to go by.
B. Those who wanted to serve God wanted baptism and they wanted it right then!
II. Let us look at the record
A. Acts 2:36-41 - “That same day”
B. Acts 8:35-38 - “look, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
C. Acts 10:44-48 - “Can any man forbid water?” Peter was asking “Is there any reason not to baptize these people right now?”
D. Acts 16:30-33 - “in the same hour of the night”
E. Acts 22:16 - “Why are you waiting?”
F. It is clear that baptism was done without delay. When people were ready to make a commitment to the Lord, they were baptized right then.
III. The question though is, “Why? Why the big rush to be baptized?”
A. Perhaps if we can understand why they were baptized, we can understand why they were in a hurry.
B. Baptism means to be immersed in something. To plunge, drop, or dip into.
1. What were they immersed into? Water.
a. Acts 8:35-38 - “Look, here is water”
b. There was enough water that Philip and the eunuch went down into the water. The image is not that of wading in an ankle-deep stream.
c. Philip then baptized the eunuch. I never understood the pictures of Philip and the eunuch being in chest deep water and then showing Philip taking a hand full of water and pouring it over the eunuch’s head. Why bother?
2. It took much water
a. John 3:23 - John picked the Aenon near Salim because there was much water there.
C. It is not the act of being dunked under water that is important. It is what is being represented.
1. We understand that many things that we do have symbolic meaning.
a. The partaking of the Lord’s Supper is not the eating of the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine. The meaning is in what it represents to the Christian — it is a memorial of Christ’s death on our behalf.
b. The immersion in water has a symbolic meaning - I Peter 3:21
(1) It is the appeal of a good conscience, the act of obeying God.
2. It symbolizes Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection - Romans 6:3-5
a. We are baptized into Jesus’ death - Romans 6:3
(1) It reminds us that Jesus died for our sins.
b. We are buried with Christ - Romans 6:4
(1) Another reason to see baptism is an immersion. You can’t bury someone by sprinkling or pouring dirt on him.
(2) A burial means you have to go down into something.
c. We are raised with Christ - Romans 6:5
(1) Coming up reminds us that Jesus was resurrected.
(2) That resurrection is key to our own hope being raised to go to heaven - I Corinthians 15:16-20
3. It symbolizes our changed status with God - Romans 6:6-9
a. We die to our old way of life with all its sins - Romans 6:6
b. We rise to a new life - Romans 6:4
c. We rise to a hope of eternal life, never to fear death again - Romans 6:8-9
D. The reason people in the Bible were in a rush to be baptized
1. Baptism stood between them and being saved - Mark 16:16, I Peter 3:21
2. Baptism stood between them and the forgiveness of sins - Acts 2:38
3. Baptism stood between them and the removal of sins - Acts 22:16
4. Baptism stood between them and having a new life - Romans 6:3-4
5. Baptism stood between them and being in Christ - Galatians 3:27
6. Baptism stood between them and being a child of God - Galatians 3:26-27
7. Baptism stood between them and being in the church - I Corinthians 12:13
IV. People were in a rush to be baptized because it is important to them. Yet, some today want to put off doing this simple act that they know is right.
A. Some put it off, thinking it was already done for them.
1. “I was baptized when I was an infant.”
2. Was it truly baptism?
a. Baptism is an immersion, yet I know of no denomination that practices immersion of infants.
b. You may have had water sprinkled or poured on you as an infant, but it cannot be called a baptism as described in our Bibles.
3. Infant baptism doesn’t hold the meaning that Bible baptism does.
a. Baptism washes away your sins - Acts 20:16
b. What sins has an infant committed?
c. What new life can an newborn take on that doesn’t have already?
4. How can infant baptism be the answer of the infant’s conscience toward’s God?
5. You need a real baptism. You can’t rely on something done to you as a infant, which you can’t even remember being done, to say “I have obeyed God.”
B. Some put it off, thinking they are already saved and it doesn’t matter when they get around to it.
1. Some denominations will postpone a baptism days, weeks, or even months for a convenient time. Some never bother to do it, thinking it is totally unnecessary.
2. Quite a bit different from those in the first century! They knew what needed to be done and they weren’t going to put it off.
3. Those who have been baptized, have gone through the motions, but they lost the meaning. It is like eating the Lord’s Supper without knowing what it represents. You do it, but it has no meaning, no significance.
4. Remember it is not the immersion, but the meaning that is important
5. If you did not understand the meaning of what you were doing, then you got wet, but you didn’t obey God. Now that you know the meaning, why not fix it today?
V. Such a simple act. Such deep meaning. Why not today?
A. Let me tell you the story of Naaman - II Kings 5:1-14
1. To dip seven times was such a simple act. It was too simple for Naaman’s tastes.
2. He was looking for pizzazz and heroism — great and glorious deeds.
3. Such a simple act, meant he had to humble himself and trust the prophet’s words
B. Today there are some of you who need to humble yourselves and trust the apostle’s teaching that this little, simple act of baptism will save your souls. If God had asked some great deed from you, would you consider it worth it to be saved — to have a place in heaven waiting for you? Then why not today? Why not now?