“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38
At Pentecost, 50 days after Christ ascended into heaven, Peter spoke these words to the worshipers in Jerusalem who marveled when they heard 120 of Christ’s followers speaking with other tongues (in their languages) and glorifying God after the Holy Spirit descended upon them. Taking the opportunity to preach the Gospel, Peter pulled no punches when he told them they essentially endorsed the crucifixion of Christ. When they heard that, it “cut them to the heart” and they asked, “What should we do?” As the first order of business, Peter tells them, “Repent and be baptized.” (Acts 2:37-38, NIV)
Why water baptism?
First, our Lord decreed it. After His resurrection, he appeared to the disciples and told them to go into all the world and preach the gospel. He followed that command with this statement: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16, NIV). Jesus, himself, when baptized by John insisted, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15, NIV).
It’s faith in Christ that saves us, but it’s baptism that outwardly expresses that faith by dying with Christ (to the flesh), then rising with Him in the Spirit to new life. Baptism signifies our death and resurrection with Christ (Romans 6:3-11).
Second, it mentally prepares us to live a life devoted to Christ. The Bible refers to water baptism as a baptism of repentance—“He [John] went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3).
Here’s what we mean by a baptism of repentance: When we come to Christ, we acknowledge our sins and the need to repent. Water baptism is our “pledge of a clear conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21, NIV). By immersing ourselves in water (baptism), we put our sinful flesh to death—once and for all—by laying it down and nailing it to the cross with Christ (Colossians 2:14). When we come up out of the water, we signify our faith in Christ’s resurrection and we live our life anew in the Spirit. We’re forgiven because Christ, our proxy, died for us to pay for those sins. So, in baptism, we identify with Christ: We die with Him and we’re raised with Him—“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3, NIV).
That is why Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-24, NIV) We lose our life in the flesh (which, separated from Christ, is already dead), so that we can find our life in the Spirit (where we live eternally with and in Christ).
When we repent and follow Christ, we leave our sinful lives in the flesh behind and begin to live our new, holy lives in Christ in the Spirit. That’s why Paul said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV).
What follows water baptism?
Recall what Peter said, “Repent and be baptized” and what? “And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38, NIV).
Following Christ’s baptism, the Scriptures attest: “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:16, NIV).
We, too, as sons of God and members of Christ’s body, can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Before he ascended, Jesus told the disciples: “ … not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5, NIV).
Why the baptism in the Holy Spirit?
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is necessary, so that we can witness effectively. It is the reason Jesus told the disciples to wait for the “Promise of the Father”… and told them “… you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:7-9) …. because, as Jesus said in another place, “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NIV).
Furthermore, Jesus promised, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12, NIV). Is that possible? Yes, because Jesus, who was “exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit,” poured out His Spirit upon men (Acts 2:33).
We, too, receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, so we can work the works of God as bright lights in a dark world. As we preach the Gospel, God testifies to the truth by His Holy Spirit with “signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will” (Hebrews 2:4, NIV).
So, are you ready? As the apostle said: “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16, NIV).
Would you like to be baptized?
We’ve tentatively scheduled a water baptism service for Sunday, May 29. Interested? Let us know! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more here: https://calvaryhill.church/about-us/water-baptism.