• Steve Derenge

5 Reason for A.S.A.P Water Baptism


「Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.」(Mark 16:16)

「And Peter said to them, “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)

「What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?」(James 1:14)

According to the Scriptures and the example of the early church, should teaching one who "received Christ" (John 1:12) about "assurance of salvation" precede water baptism or follow it? Or some combination of both?

I want us to consider five reasons to emphasize A.S.A.P. water baptism.

1) Potential new followers of Jesus’ act of obedience to water baptism should give them assurance of salvation better than merely reading a document or discussing “assurance of salvation” with others.

The former makes them an active participant in obedience, whereas the latter--by comparison--seems at best to exhibit passive learning that may or may not “sink in.” Water baptism literally helps assurance of salvation “sink in,” for the new believer can then stand on the promises of Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:3-4, etc. for assurance of salvation (in addition to any in a follow-up document about assurance of salvation).

2) From a ministry perspective, stressing and doing water baptism A.S.A.P. can help leaders to distinguish the committed from the non-committed. It can separate the seed “sown on rocky ground” from the seed “sown on the good soil.”

Consider Jesus' practical wisdom in Mark 4:13-20: 「And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”」(Mark 4:13-20)

After hearing a gospel presentation, people sometimes indicate a decision to receive Christ through prayer. According to Jesus’ parable, some such people may even exhibit joy and initial spiritual growth. Nevertheless, even this initial sign of joy or spiritual growth is a false indicator of their relationship with God, since “immediately they fall away” (vs. 17). What is a key indicator of a genuine salvation and relationship with God? Obedience to His commandments (John 14:15, 21).

Salvation, lordship, and obedience are inseparable. According to Romans 10:9, “...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” [Italics mine]. Thus, to be saved, one must receive Jesus as “Lord.” What does it mean to receive Christ as “Lord?” It means you declare Jesus to be your Master, and you His servant who must obey everything He commands you to do.

Throughout the book of Acts, what is the first act of obedience commanded to new believers? See Acts 2:38; 10:48; 22:16.

3) Pursuing A.S.A.P. water baptism is modeled throughout the word of God. Since the Scripture cannot be broken, our ministry models need to conform to God’s instructions, models, commandments, and teachings. C.f. John 10:35; 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

When did Satan come and take away the word sown in those represented by the seed sown on the path? Immediately. When did those represented by the seed sown on rocky ground fall away? Immediately. When did the early church command the new converts be baptized? Immediately. See Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12ff; 9:17-18; 10:44-48; 16:14-15, 29-34; 19:1-7, 22:16; etc.

Here is just one example of A.S.A.P. water baptism in the book of Acts:

「And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.」(Acts 8:34-38 ESV)

The Ethiopian eunuch, a Jewish proselyte, likely knew nothing about water baptism before, as he never yet heard the good news about Jesus. Why, then, is it the eunuch--not Philip--who insists upon immediate baptism the moment he sees water? Water baptism must have been so key to Philip’s gospel presentation that the eunuch was convinced that A.S.A.P. water baptism was an imperative.

4) A.S.A.P. water baptism can sooner deliver the new believer from demonic oppression.

What if the early church understood something that we’re missing? Just as Satan (more specifically, demons) immediately take away the word sown on the path in order to prevent saving faith, could it be that water baptism substantially cuts off demonic influence in a new believer? Jesus declares in Mark 16:16, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved...” The word “saved” in this verse comes from the Greek word “sozo,” which likewise connotes deliverance from demonic oppression (see Luke 8:36).

Just as the Hebrews crossed from an enslaving kingdom to a promised land when crossing through the waters of the Red Sea, cutting them off from the pursuing Egyptian army, so too does passing through the waters of baptism mark the primary cut-off point from the kingdom of Satan and from demonic influence. After a person receives Christ, like the Egyptian army, Satan’s horde may make one desperate last ditch effort to take back their escaping captive. Just as the Red Sea closed up on Pharaoh's army, the act of obedience to water baptism may have the same effect in the spiritual realm on the person's indwelling demons/sins, proving the person’s saving faith. c.f. 1 Corinthians 10:1-4; Exodus 14-15; Romans 6; Colossians 1:13-14; James 1:14.

5) Obedience to water baptism is often a stepping-stone to receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

「And Peter said to them, “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)

The regular pattern throughout the book of Acts is 1) repent and be baptized in water, 2) receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. See examples of the baptism of the Holy Spirit following water baptism in Acts 8:14-17 and 19:1-6.

In each of the gospels, John the Baptist introduces Jesus as He who will baptize God's people with the Holy Spirit and with fire. c.f. Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5.

Since God cannot be put into a box or a formula, Jesus will often baptize a believer in the Holy Spirit after water baptism, but sometimes He will do it before water baptism. For instance, Cornelius’ household was baptized in the Holy Spirit as they heard the gospel from Peter, who then commanded that they be baptized in water. c.f. Acts 10:43-48. In my own life, I received Christ around 1999, received assurance of my salvation in 2003, received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in 2006, was baptized in water in 2012, and received assurance of my baptism in the Holy Spirit in 2016.

Conclusion:

I was once thinking about the scene in "Suicide Squad" where creepy, golden-age Joker asks his psychiatrist if she will die--no, that's too easy--live for him. Then she says "yes" and goes "hard in the paint" by becoming fully submerged in a large tub of paint, thereafter receiving a new identity as Harley Quinn.

In a sense, that is just like water baptism. It marks the transition from an old identity to a new one, submitting one's allegiance completely to a certain living Person. It marks the transition from an old way of life and its values to a new one entirely.

May God bless you and reveal His will to you as we ask Him to teach us what He wants us to know about water baptism and what in our lives or ministry practices need to change if He so directs.


All Scriptures English Standard Version (ESV).


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