3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3–4, NKJV).
This passage explains the subject, action, purposes, and results of baptism. It speaks of the Great Commission baptism (water baptism), the “one baptism” commanded of us all (Matt. 28:19; Eph. 4:5). The subject of baptism is the sinner, the person who is not “in Christ” (v. 3), without the benefit of His death (v. 3), and dead in sin (v. 4). Christ’s baptism is for the lost, not the saved. The action of baptism is immersion, a burial in water (v. 4; Col. 2:12; Acts 8:38). Three purposes and results of baptism are briefly enumerated here. (1) The sinner is “baptized into Christ” (v. 3). Until one is in Christ, he has not “put on Christ” and is not a “new creation” (Gal. 3:27; 2 Cor. 5:17). He is lost. (2) The sinner is “baptized into His death” (v. 3). Water baptism is how sinners reach the saving blood of Jesus (Eph. 1:7; Acts 22:16). (3) The sinner is “buried with Him through baptism into death” (v. 4). Sin is put to death when the sinner is baptized. God’s power raises the sinner to newness of life (Col. 2:12; 2 Cor. 5:17). Before baptism, the sinner remains dead in sin. In baptism, there is a new birth, a resurrection from sin’s death to newness of life in Christ (John 3:5; Titus 3:5). Christ commanded water baptism (Mark 16:16). So did His apostles (Acts 2:38; 10:47-48). Christ saves sinners who obey Him by being baptized into Him (Acts 8:12; 1 Pet. 3:21; Heb. 5:9). By the gospel, God is calling sinners to be saved in Christ. “And now why are you waiting? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:28–30, NKJV)!
Scripture says Christ’s disciples were fearful when they saw Jesus walking on the sea toward them (Matt. 14:24-26). Jesus reassured them with, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” (Matt. 14:27). Peter’s decision to walk out to Jesus was rooted in his trust in Jesus; he believed His word (“come”) and his power to make it happen. Peter’s decision certainly was not due to his ability to walk on water! Fear reappeared when Peter looked around and lost focus on Jesus. Will we admit that sounds very much like us at times? Sin and the storms of life shake us. Jesus is near, coming to offer relief, but we are afraid. He says, “Come to Me…and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). And so, we begin to do just that, becoming a Christian and following Him. But our focus is easily diverted by the turmoil and trials of life; we become afraid, stop walking by faith, and begin to sink in the overwhelming flood of desperation, depression, and despair. Still, Jesus is ready and able to save us if we will call on Him, confessing our sins and repenting of them (Acts 8:22-24; 1 John 1:9). Living by faith means walking with Jesus through frightful moments, not just safe ones. He will not fail you. Jesus replaces fear with salvation’s abiding peace (Heb. 13:5-6).
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. (Matthew 14:27–29, NKJV)
Would we have faith to step out of the boat? Peter did. He heard the Lord’s command to “come,” and he trusted Jesus. To “be of good cheer” means to be confident instead of fearful. Faith is in a struggle with fear. When we “step out of the boat” (as it were), we are replacing fear with trust and confidence in the word and power of Jesus. If Peter put his faith in himself when he stepped out of the boat, he would sink. When we trust in ourselves instead of the Savior, we also sink. Christians confidently “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7, 8). So, when Jesus says, “Do not be anxious about your life,” do we “step out of the boat” and trust God’s provisions (Matt. 6:25)? When He says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me,” do we “step out of the boat” and confidently sacrifice ourselves for Christ (Lk. 9:23)? When He says, “He who loves father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me,” do we “step out of the boat” to love Jesus more than those most precious to us (Matt. 10:37)? Confidently do what Jesus commands. When you do, faith overcomes fear and seizes the spiritual victory in Christ (1 Jno. 5:4-5).
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:35–37, NASB95)
This passage resolves important questions about the salvation of sinners. 1) The lost need to hear the gospel to be saved. Faith comes from hearing the word of God (Rom. 1:16; 10:17). When Philip “preached Christ” in Samaria, it included things concerning the kingdom of God, the name of Jesus Christ, and baptism (Acts 8:5, 12). Philip preached the same gospel to the Ethiopian. We correctly conclude that infants do not need saving because they cannot hear and believe the gospel. 2) Preaching Jesus includes the evidence needed to believe He is the Christ, the Son of God. How else did the Ethiopian come to believe Jesus is God’s Son except by hearing the evidence (cf. Jno. 20:30-31; Acts 2:40-41)? 3) Preaching Jesus includes water baptism. The Ethiopian would have known nothing about water baptism without Philip explaining it to him. Undoubtedly, he explained it is for the remission of sins to be saved by Christ (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21). 4) Belief in Christ precedes water baptism. This is more evidence that babies are not proper candidates for baptism since they do not have the mental and moral capacity to believe. 5) Christ’s plan of salvation is belief plus baptism equals salvation (Mk. 16:16). It is not belief, salvation, and then baptism. Neither is it baptism, saved, and then believe.
1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:1–2, NKJV)
Yesterday’s Sword Tips (#2093) observed Philip telling Nathanael to “come and see” whether anything good could come from Nazareth (Jno. 1:43-47). The evidence proving Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God is abundant, but we must “come and see” for ourselves. Christians will not force you to believe and follow Jesus. (But note, Jesus said your choice will have eternal results, John 12:48-50.) Nicodemus had seen Jesus work miracles, or he had heard about them from credible witnesses. He drew a necessary conclusion that God had sent Jesus and God was with Jesus from the signs Jesus did. The process of learning and examination is how God presents the truth of the gospel to the world. Competent eyewitnesses of the words and works of Jesus (His apostles) preached the gospel message of salvation in Jesus Christ (Mk. 16:15-20; Acts 1:8; 10:38-43). We preach that same gospel today (2 Tim. 4:2-4). Those who heard the apostolic message had a choice to make: Believe, obey, and be saved, or disbelieve and be lost (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:36-41; 13:44-48). You and I and the whole world have the same decision to make. By the way, Nicodemus was not saved because he believed Jesus came from God. Only when he entered the kingdom of God by the new birth of water and the Spirit would he be saved from his sins (Jno. 3:3-5). So it is for every lost soul today.
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28–31, NKJV)
The reciprocal tension between faith and doubt is displayed in the marvel miracle when Jesus (and Peter) walked on water. Confident in Christ’s command, Peter got out of the boat and walked on water toward Jesus. Then, fear found a place in his heart as he focused on the wind and waves instead of on Jesus, and he wavered in doubt. Faith gave way to dread and doubt. Peter was being pulled in two different directions. His faith in Jesus compelled him to do what would be unthinkable and impossible (walk on water). But fear caused him to doubt. Jesus said Peter lacked trust when he doubted and began to sink (“little faith”). Jesus immediately saved Peter, which reassures us in times of doubt. When doubt tests our faith, let us remember that victory over this world’s spiritual dangers is through faith in Christ (1 Jno. 5:4-5). Trust and obey His word. Do not let doubt pull you away from Christ.
47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. (Acts 10:47–48, NKJV)
Many Bible teachers say believers “should not be baptized” for salvation. Others confidently forbid water baptism for salvation, but then teach it is necessary to obey Jesus. This doublespeak fails to see the biblical link between water baptism and salvation. Does it harmonize with the Scriptures to separate water baptism from salvation while also commanding it as a mark of loyalty to Christ? No, it does not. The Bible answer is clear; Obedience by believers is essential to being saved by Christ. Scripture says, “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:9). Christ saves those who obey Him. Peter had just preached that “in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35). To work righteousness is nothing less than to obey the gospel (Rom. 6:17-18). If it is proper to exclude (forbid) the command of baptism from salvation, then no amount of obedience bears on one’s salvation (including “Lordship baptism”). Yet, Scripture affirms that saving faith includes obeying the commands to confess one’s faith, to repent of sins, and to be baptized. These works of righteousness are obeyed by believers who want to be saved (Rom. 10:9; Acts 17:30; Acts 2:37-38). And, Jesus saves them (Heb. 5:9).
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. (Acts 8:35–38, NKJV)
Was the Ethiopian saved before he was baptized? Many think so. We know he heard about Jesus, without which he could not learn of his sin and come to Jesus for salvation (Jno. 6:44-45). We know he believed what he heard (that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Jno. 8:23-24). Both his belief and his confession of faith were unto (in order to) salvation (Rom. 10:9-10). Although repentance is not mentioned, we infer it (Acts 2:37-38). But, what about baptism? Why did he want to be baptized? Was it because he was already saved? Or, did he believe he was still lost until he was baptized? Mark 16:16 gives the Bible answer to this important question. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Unbelief condemns, but one is saved from condemnation when he “believes and is baptized.” That is what the eunuch heard, learned, and believed when Philip preached Jesus to him. That is why he urgently desired to be baptized – because he knew he wanted to be saved. He rejoiced after he was baptized, not before. Now we understand why, because that is when he was saved. Those who tell you the eunuch was saved before he was baptized contradict Jesus. That is never a good place to be (Jno. 12:48).
But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!” (Luke 8:25, NKJV)
Jesus dramatically used His power over the elements to calm a windstorm on the Sea of Galilee, and by doing so, to strengthen the faith of His disciples (Lk. 8:22-24). Jesus had fallen asleep in the boat, and the fearful disciples thought Jesus was unconcerned as the boat filled with water (Mk. 4:38). Fear seized their hearts and exposed the smallness of their faith (Matt. 8:26). The Lord’s question to them is as penetrating as it is perceptive. Jesus had much work to do. Did they think a windstorm would prevent Him from accomplishing it? Faith in Jesus assures us that even in the face of trouble, His will shall prevail. So, “where is your faith?” Doubt weakens and disables faith when it resides in the realm of fear. Faith’s joy in the midst of trial and trouble is possible because we know the Lord will accomplish His will (Jas. 1:2-4). Faith in Christ trusts His power to fulfill His will. The winds and water obeyed Jesus when He commanded them. Live by faith (not by sight) by obeying Jesus when He commands you (2 Cor. 5:7; 4:16-18). Bold faith obeys Jesus through the storm, because He is Lord of heaven and earth.