Well, I'm mindful of the time restraints that are upon us this evening, so that should encourage you.
It's a little more challenging, I think, to prepare to preach for 25 minutes as opposed to 45. You're really being driven by the economy of words, and I'm trusting tonight that a little would be more, less will be more. So as I begin this message, I would just simply ask you to to try and track with me. I want to speak to you about an apparent difficulty in our text. I'm mindful tonight of folks who have a credible profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and yet have not publicly identified with the Church of Jesus Christ and have not obeyed our Lord in believers baptism.
And it's my desire to instruct you tonight and to challenge you tonight. So that's my purpose, and let's take a look at the text that I'm concerned about. This is what I'm calling a difficulty acknowledged, and let me qualify that word difficulty because we really do not encounter difficulties in the scriptures. It's an apparent difficulty, so that's my qualification.
An apparent difficulty acknowledged, and what is that acknowledgement? It's in verse 38 where we find, then Peter said to them, this is his preaching on the day of Pentecost, as he's coming to the end of the sermon, those who are in attendance are under conviction, and they have responded to Peter and the other apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do? And this was Peter's response to that question, and Peter said to them, repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Another translation renders it this way, repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And what is the apparent difficulty? At face value, it appears that water baptism is a prerequisite for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and that is an apparent difficulty because the Bible clearly teaches that men are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. So the question is, how can Peter imply that baptism is a condition for salvation? And again, with that stated apparent difficulty, let me read the verse again.
Maybe you will hear it with new hearing, and you will see what I'm trying to draw your attention to. And again, at face value, it seems that water baptism is a prerequisite for the forgiveness of sins and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. One respected commentator said this, quote, when Peter told them to repent and be baptized of their sins, the only honest reading is that baptism is for the purpose or the goal of receiving forgiveness.
Interesting, isn't it? Well, let's move on to that difficulty or that perceived difficulty explained and resolved. I think you would agree with me that if you simply take Peter's words at face value, if the Jews at Pentecost were to be forgiven and receive the promised Holy Spirit, they must repent of their sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus. And again, why would Peter present baptism as a necessary response to the gospel? Why?
Well, listen to this explanation that I trust will resolve the issue. What does it mean to be baptized? To be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ was to publicly declare one's allegiance to Christ and to one's desire to follow him as a disciple. And for this reason, Peter's exhortation to the Jews to be baptized, he was commanding them to express their allegiance to Christ, an allegiance that was indeed a necessary response to the gospel. Unless we think that this is some isolated situation, let me remind you that this is the heart and soul of the gospel.
At the end of the four Gospels, we have the Great Commission, and at the end of Mark, we find these words in chapter 16 in verse 16 in the Great Commission. Jesus said, he who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned. Again, he who believes, we understand that, and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned. Now in the context of Acts chapter 2, an unwillingness to be baptized would have exposed an unwillingness to obey the gospel and become a disciple of Christ. And in that sense, and for that reason, the Jews had to be baptized to be forgiven, for to refuse baptism was to refuse Christ and the salvation that is being offered.
Listen to a man by the name of Richard Averbeck. This is what he says in his commentary, quote, the early church could not conceive of a true Christian who was not willing to express commitment to our Lord in baptism. That was not one of the options given to the person being evangelized. He either trusted Christ and was baptized, knowing the implications in terms of commitment and lifestyle, or he rejected the truth.
Now back again to Mark chapter 16, the Great Commission summary of the gospel. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned. Some people respond to that verse by asking, but what about those who believe but are not baptized? Good question. What about those who believe and are not baptized?
And this is the answer. The idea of an unbaptized believer is completely foreign to the New Testament. It's foreign to the New Testament. In the New Testament, a person was not baptized for only one of two reasons. Either number one, he did not want to become a Christian, or number two, he believed in Christ and yet was physically unable to be baptized. And the only example I can think of is the Ethiopian eunuch who was converted and there was not water nearby for him to be baptized. When individuals in the first century heard, repent and be baptized, or believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized, none of them thought, can I do the first but not the second? No one came to the conversion experience with questions as whether baptism was necessary for becoming a Christian because the Apostles preaching stated that they must be baptized.
Now let me try and in as concise a language as I can to bring some clarity here to what I'm saying. Baptism was a necessary expression of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ without which they could not be said to have truly believed. Baptism without faith was meaningless, and faith without baptism was unthinkable.
It was not even presented as an option. Consequently, was baptism necessary for the Jews to be saved in Acts chapter 2? I'm asking that rhetorical question. Was baptism necessary for the Jews to be saved in Acts chapter 2 in verse 38? That's a bit of a trick question. The answer to that question is yes and no.
Yes, it was necessary because it was a necessary expression of faith in response to the gospel, and no, in that the physical act of baptism has no saving power. I think here's a helpful analogy. I'm keeping an eye on the time. Romans chapter 10, you're familiar with this. Romans chapter 10 verses 9 and 10. If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
We face the same difficulty here with that verse. The straightforward reading of the text seems to indicate that one must respond to the gospel with some kind of external act in order to be saved. Is it necessary for the confessing of one's mouth in order to be saved? If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. And the question is, are both of those things absolutely necessary in order to be saved? Can you be saved without confessing Jesus as Lord? Again, that's a rhetorical question. The answer again is yes and no.
Yes, it's necessary. It's a necessary expression of faith in response to the gospel, but no, in the physical act itself, it has no power. To simply say, I believe in Jesus has no power, but confessing Jesus is the outward expression of an inward work of grace, just like baptism is an outward expression of an inward reality of faith and repentance. Think with me about the rich young ruler in Mark chapter 10 in verse 21, who asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told them this, one thing, one thing you lack, go and sell all your possessions and give to the poor and you shall have treasures in heaven, Mark 10 verse 21. Again, this raises the question, is giving away all your possessions a prerequisite for conversion? No, but Jesus knew that the chief idol in the heart of this particular man was materialism. Money was his God. His love for possessions is what kept him from following Christ and therefore by exhorting him to give away all his possessions, what was Jesus doing? Jesus was commanding him to repent of his sins and repentance is a necessary condition of salvation.
In this way, Jesus called for an external response that would indicate an internal and internal reality, just like Peter did in Acts chapter 2 by exhorting the Jews to be baptized as an outward expression of their inward repentance and allegiance to Christ. This rich young ruler walked away. Well, why? Why did he walk away? Because he refused to repent of his sins. He loved his money. That was more important to him than anything. It was his God.
Let me try and illustrate. Suppose there were three men standing together in the crowd on the day of Pentecost and in response to Peter's exhortation to repent and be baptized, the first man says, I repent and believe in Christ and he truly does. So he gets in line and he's baptized. This man is forgiven and receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. The second man says, I repent and believe in Christ and he also truly does. But while he is in line to be baptized, he has a heart attack and he dies. Is this man forgiven? Did he receive the gift of the Holy Spirit before he died?
Yes, absolutely, because conversion is ultimately a matter of the heart. He truly believed and repented and therefore he was truly forgiven. But the third man says, I repent, again says, I repent and believe in Christ and yet when it comes time to be baptized, he refuses to publicly declare his allegiance to Christ. Is this man forgiven? Did this man receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?
The answer is no. He did not. Why? Because his refusal to be baptized in the name of Jesus reveals an unrepentant heart that is unwilling to believe in Christ and become his disciple. To refuse baptism was to refuse Christ.
This is a big issue. A person is baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What does that mean? Are those just words? No, that is the candidate is declaring his allegiance to the triune God, his submission to the lordship of the triune God. He is a follower, he is a disciple of the God of the Bible. That's what he is declaring publicly. So, we've considered an apparent difficulty acknowledged, an apparent difficulty.
I trust explained and resolved at least to some satisfaction to you. And number three, very quickly, a command to be obeyed by any and all who have a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ. I know I'm speaking to some tonight who have a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Now the question is, why have you not followed the Lord in baptism?
Why have you not declared your allegiance to King Jesus? The church wants to have biblical justification to call you a brother or sister in Christ. But we have no warrant to do that because there's not an example in the scriptures of an unbaptized believer. And I know it takes time to work out our salvation to come to some kind of an assurance. But if you know yourself to have believed on Christ, the question is, why are you being disobedient to his command? The ordinance that he's given to the church where you are acknowledged and recognized by the local church to truly be a believer. I struggle with why anyone would want that question mark, that cloud of suspicion hanging over them if they've truly believed on Christ.
Why not submit to the membership process? Why not follow the Lord in baptism? Why not make your allegiance to Christ public declared to be so?
You'll never do it in the world if you can't do it in here. There'll be nothing but encouragement and worship of God for those who come and do what others have done here this evening. So I trust tonight that that's been helpful to you. Um, I determined months ago the last time we had somebody trouble the waters of baptism, stir the waters of baptism, not trouble the waters of baptism, stir the waters of baptism, that this message has been on my heart and I wanted to bring it and try and bring some clarity.
And what does the Bible say about this critically important matter? Again, back to our text. You've got to wrestle with this Acts chapter.
Come on. Acts Chapter two. Then Peter said to them, Repent and let every one of you notice that let every one of you without exception.
There are no exceptions here. Let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
That's the teaching of Scripture. May God use it in our hearts and lives and cause us to walk in obedience to his word. Shall we pray? Father, thank you again for your word for its instruction. Thank you for those who have obeyed you and believers baptism and have joined the church, the living church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Work in the hearts of all of us. Help us to think through what it means to be a baptized believer. May we recommit ourselves to our allegiance to King Jesus to follow him on the hard path, a narrow path that leads to life eternal. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-23 12:14:21 / 2023-03-23 12:20:44 / 6