The president of the Southern Baptist Convention, J.D. Greear, has challenged all Southern Baptist churches to baptize on September 8. I join him in issuing this call to our Louisiana Baptist churches. If you do not have someone ready to be baptized, you still have a couple of weeks. Work hard! If you still do not have someone on September 8, let me encourage you to preach on the subject of baptism. As a pastor, some years ago, I made an intentional commitment to preach on baptism at least once a year.
Your sermon could go something like this.
Acts 8 is a beautiful story of evangelism. Philip, led of the Holy Spirit, comes upon a high ranking Ethiopian. Philip preached Jesus to him. Evidently, the man believed in Jesus. Immediately a conversation about baptism ensued thus also making this story a beautiful story about baptism.
Notice these principles in this brief account of baptism.
Baptism serves as a specific starting point.
We don’t get every part of the conversation between Philip and the Ethiopian, but we do know that Philip preached Jesus to this man. We probably ought to assume that the Ethiopian either knew something about the Christians being baptized or that Philip had brought this up in conversation. The Ethiopian asked, “Look, there’s water! What would keep me from being baptized?
- Belief and Baptism are inseparably linked in the Book of Acts. Here are some examples:
- Acts 2:41—The Day of Pentecost when 3,000 believed
- Acts 8:12—Samaritans who believed as the result of Philip’s preaching
- Acts 8:38—The Ethiopian Official
- Acts 9:18—The conversion of Paul
- Acts 10:48—Gentiles believe and were baptized
- Acts 16:15—Lydia and her family
- Acts 16:33—The jailer and his family
- Acts 18:8—Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, along with this whole household; and many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized.
Why is baptism important? It is a starting point in your discipleship. If you find it easy to say “no” here, it is very likely that you will find it easy to say “no” in lots of other places.
Baptism serves as a symbolic look-back point.
Our baptism is our vow. Here is how we look back on our baptism.
- Baptism should reflect that we have died to sin.
- Baptism should reflect that we have come to life.
- Baptism should reflect that we have made a “once-and-for-all” commitment to Christ.
- Baptism and Behavior ought to be inseparably linked.
Baptism serves as a celebratory invitational point.
The text tells us that the man rejoices. I have feeling that Philip rejoiced also.
This is part of the reason that we insist on public baptism. Baptism ought to be a celebration. Let’s be honest about something. As Christians, we don’t get a lot of opportunities to celebrate success. Though ultimately we win, and we rejoice in that, we don’t usually feel like we are winning. Baptism gives the church the opportunity to celebrate the victory.
Let’s close with two questions for everyone who reads this today?
- What is keeping you from being baptized?
- Are you being true to your baptismal vows?