Lesson 4: Water Baptism
Instructions: Read the lesson. Make sure that you check the Scriptural references (don’t just skip it). Then answer the questions below. Do your best to answer them without looking at the lesson. You can close your eyes while you’re trying to answer the question. This will show whether you have actually understood the lesson or not. If you cannot really answer the question, then go back to the lesson to find the right answer. If you were able to answer, check if it’s correct by going back to the lesson.
Repentance and trust are inner heart issues. Nobody sees them except God. So are they enough? It seems that God wants us to act upon these decisions so that others may see it (Acts 2:36-41). Why? Romans 10:8-13 answers this question, especially verse 10. According to Paul, it is with our hearts that we believe and are justified, but it is through our mouths that we confess and are saved. In other words, believing in our hearts is not enough. We need to declare it publicly with our mouths (and with our bodies also)! This is what happened to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40). We can assume that he believed in the Gospel after Philip explained it to him. But he needed to act upon it by requesting water baptism (verse 36). Clearly water baptism is not some kind of “works righteousness”, i.e. depending upon something we say or do to justify ourselves before God. Rather it completes our faith promise (i.e. our repentance and trust, Lesson 3). We allow ourselves to be water baptized because we believe, not in order to believe or be saved. We are saved only by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). However, confessing our faith so that others may see it and hear it is a God-honoring behavior, just like any other behavior that we do as believers later on (for example: praying, worshiping, reading the Bible, etc.). It is in fact the “first act of obedience” that we do because of our faith. There are many other acts of obedience that Christ would want us to do later on (Matthew 28:19-20). But being water baptized is the first thing (Acts 2:38-39).
Now, there are also other spiritual reasons why we need to be water baptized. According to the apostle Paul in Romans 6:1-4, something very important happens when we are water baptized — we are baptized into the death of Christ! What this means is that, spiritually, our old selves are crucified with Christ. We die with Him, so that now we (our old selves) no longer live but now Christ lives in us (2 Cor 5:17; Galatians 2:20). We also die to sin, so that sin may no longer have power over us. In other words, Christ did not just die for our sins; we also died with Him on the cross. This is difficult to understand but so important to believe. The spiritual death of our old selves means Satan has no more hold on us. Sin cannot be our master anymore, because we died already (Romans 6:15-23; 8:1-4). Once we believe this, it will open the door for us live a new kind of life, a life that is in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). Now what is important here is that this “death” happens actually during our water baptism. It does not happen anywhere else or in some other time. It happens DURING our water baptism. This is the reason why we need to be water baptized.
So once we hear and understand the Gospel about the kingdom of God, and have repented and trusted in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we need to be water baptized as soon as possible. Even if we have been baptized before, when we were young, most likely we were not aware or we did not really understand why we were being water baptized. In other words, we did not exercise faith, so our water baptism at that age was not valid. We must only be water baptized because we have faith (i.e. we have heard and understood the Gospel, and we have repented and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior as a response to that Gospel).
- What is the nature of repentance and trust?
- Why do we have to act out our faith through actions?
- What happens spiritually when we are water baptized?
- Why is child baptism usually invalid?
- What should our attitude be when we are water baptized?
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