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 10. A Baptism Service in the Veld!

We have already come to know the Minister of mance of Ethiopia as a strong  person who knew what he wanted. A half done job was not good enough for  him.

  • He had undertaken a purposeful search for the truth. This was the  reason for his long journey to Jerusalem. He had also obtained a book  of the Bible and studied it attentively.
  • He readily admitted openly that he did not understand the Biblical  message. That is why he asked for help to understand the meaning of  the passage he was reading.
  • Once he had heard the good news, he immediately accepted it and confessed  his faith in Jesus Christ.
  • He longed very much to be baptized. Therefore he acted without hesitation.  Listen to what he did:

Complete the verse by writing in the missing words from the Bible:
NKJ Acts 8:38 So he commanded the chariot to ________ _________. And both  Philip and the eunuch went down into the _________, and he _________________  him.

Baptized At His Own Request

 The official ordered the carriage to be stopped. From this we can deduce  that, as a highly placed official, he was not travelling alone. He had  a number of assistants with him.

When the carriage stopped, Philip and the Ethiopian dismounted and went  into the water. Philip baptized him on the spot.

Yes, this high offical was not satisfied with a job half done. He wanted  to miss nothing! The full blessing of the gospel had to be his. He wished  to make certaln that the message he had now accepted would become part  of his life. For him, his religion was a matter of great importance.

Requirement for Baptism

 Philip was not hindered by the fact that this man was non-Jewish, a  person from a heathen country. There was only one requirement for baptism.  That is why he asked: "Do you believe wholeheartedly?" And when  he got the correct answer, there were no problems. The Ethiopian's confession  of faith was all that was required.

Only one thing is required for admission to the Kingdom of God, and that  is faith in Jesus Christ. If a person believes in Jesus as his Saviour,  he can he baptized. No church may add further conditions as requirements  for people to become citizens of the kingdom of God.

At Christ's Command

 Philip baptizes this believer because Christ Himself commanded it.

Complete the words missing from this verse by filling them in:
NKJ Matthew 28:19 "Go therefore and make ____________ of all the  nations, ____________ them in the name of the Father and of the Son and  of the Holy Spirit, ___________ them to observe all things that I have  commanded you."

Philip was used by the Lord to make this particular man a follower of  Jesus Christ. Therefore he had to obey the command of his Master. It was  part of his responsibilty to baptize this person. Therefore he did it  faithfully and with great joy in his heart.

A Wonderful Message

Why did Jesus order his followers to baptize those who accepted salvation?  What messoge does baptism convey?

The Bible gives a clear answer. The Lord knows that we are weak people.  We do not readily understand when someone explains somethng new to us.  That is why He instituted baptism. He not only wants us to hear, but also  to see. The water with which a person is baptized carries an important  message. It points to the saving work of Jesus. It tells us of the washing  away of our sins. It assures us that this message has value and meaning  for each one of us.

It is a glorious privilege to be baptized. A baptized person carries the  sign of God's love on his forehead. All know that he is a person who has  been saved and given new life and happiness by Jesus.

It Is The Blood, Not The Water!

However, it is important that we clearly understand that it isn't the  water which, in baptism, cleanses us from sins. The water is merely a  sign of the blood of the Lord Jesus. So it is wrong to think that it is  the baptism which cleanses a person and prepares him for heaven. Parents  who try with might and main to have a dying baby baptized quickly before  death, do not understand baptism correctly. It is not the "holy water"  that can save a person. It is faith in Jesus Christ.

If people think they can be saved because they are baptized, they become  guilty of superstition. It is faith in Jesus Christ which saves people  from sin.

How much water?

It is noteworthy that the Bible does not tell us exactly how Philip baptized  the Ethiopian. All that we are told is that both entered the water. We  are not told whether Philip immersed the man totally in the water, or  whether he scooped up water in his hand and poured it over him or sprinkled  it on him.

There is no need to be worried about this. It is not of great importance.

What really is important is that the man was baptized. Baptism is the  sign of Christ's saving work. It tells us that He has washed away our  sins with his own blood. It assures us that we have been made a part of  the Kingdom of God and have therefore received the new life of happiness.

The amount of water used is not of importance. It is not the water which  cleanses us. The water points to the blood of Christ. And the blood of  Christ gives complete cleansing from all our sins.

Adults Only, or Children As Well?

Many churches also baptize the children of believing parents. They point  out that baptism is also a sign of the covenant (agreement) which the  Lord made with those who follow him in faith. In Genesis 17:7 we read  that God said to Abraham: "I will fulfil my covenant between myself  and you and your descendants after you, generation after generation, an  everlasting covenant, to be your God." Circumcision was the visible  sign of this covenant, a tiny operation performed on the sexual organs  of male infants.

This covenant continued in the New Testament, but it received a new meaning  (Galatians 3:26-29). The sign of the covenant was also altered. Baptism  was put in the place of circumcision. This results in the children of  believlng parents also being baptized because, just as in the time of  the Old Testament, they must be included in this covenant between the  Lord and his believing followers.

Why do we read of so many adults being baptized in the New Testament?  These people had not grown up in believing families. Only as adults had  they heard of the message of salvation. Therefore they had to he baptized  after accepting Jesus as their Saviour. However, we do read in the New  Testament of whole families being baptized after the parents had accepted  the gospeL It is therefore evident that infants in such families received  the sign of baptism on the grounds of their parents' faith.

Parents nowadays make a solemn promise at the baptism of their children  that they will teach them the gospel. At some stage or other when the  children are old enough to understand for themselves what is involved,  they themselves must confess their faith in Christ as their Saviour. Then  the great message of baptism has become a reality in their lives.

So let us not argue about the details of baptism. The Christian baptism  was intended to be a sign of unity, not something to argue about (Ephesians  4:5). All Christians can rejoice in their unity, no matter how or when  they were baptized!

Questions to Answer

1. What is the one condition which one must meet in order to be received  into the Kingdom of God?
2. Name one reason why the Lord Jesus commanded that his followers should  be baptized.
3. Why can we not say that it is the water at baptism which cleanses us  from our sins?
4. Did the covenant God made with Abraham also mean something for his  children? Why do you say so?