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Having been taught the gospel of Christ, the Ethiopian Eunuch said, "See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?" (Ac. 8:36). Philip told him that nothing but a confession of his faith in Jesus Christ stood between him and being baptized. So when the man immediately confessed that he did indeed believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, Philip went down into the water with him and baptized him. Then, having received the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of his soul in Christ, the Ethiopian "went on his way rejoicing" (v.39).
The Bible plainly teaches that baptism is the act in which our sins are washed away. Why are there so few today who will accept that? What is it about immersion in water, at the Lord's command, that is objectionable to so many?
One thing that hinders some is the idea that if God required us to "do" anything to receive the forgiveness of sins, then the forgiveness would not be by grace. The necessity of baptism is portrayed as something that would amount to "works salvation." But the Bible simply requires baptism as a condition of salvation, not a work that merits it.
No amount of condition-meeting would ever earn salvation. There is nothing in the world we could do that would lessen the need for God's grace in our salvation. Nevertheless, God has stipulated that the gracious gift will only be given to those who, in the obedience of faith, are willing to fulfill certain requirements of the gospel -- and baptism is the culminating requirement, the one in which our sins are actually remitted (Ac. 2:38; 1 Pt. 3:21). In the New Testament, baptism was always the point at which a person moved from being dead in sin to being alive in Christ (Ac. 22:16), so we shouldn't shy away from seeing baptism in the same way today.
This week, let's go back and reflect on the importance of baptism as an act of obedience to the gospel. Let's remember that it was God's prerogative to set whatever conditions He chose to separate the saved from the lost. The proper response on our part is humble -- and grateful -- acceptance of salvation on God's terms.
Monday: Acts 22:16
Key Idea: In baptism, our sins are washed away.
Questions for Family Growth: Who was told to arise, be baptized, and wash away his sins? Had he not already believed in Christ and repented of his sins? In Eph. 5:26, how does Christ "sanctify" and "cleanse" the church?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 21:20.
Tuesday: Acts 2:38
Key Idea: In baptism, our sins are remitted.
Questions for Family Growth: Who were told to repent and be baptized? What truth had been proclaimed to them in v.36? What question had they asked in v.37? What does the word "remission" (KJV) mean in regard to our sins?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 21:21.
Wednesday: 1 Peter 3:21
Key Idea: In baptism, we are saved from sin.
Questions for Family Growth: What story in the Old Testament had Peter referred to in v.20? What comparison is made in v.21? Does this verse say that baptism saves us? In Mk. 16:16, who are those whom the Lord said would be saved?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 21:22.
Thursday: Colossians 2:12
Key Idea: In baptism, we are buried and raised with Christ to a new life.
Questions for Family Growth: By what power are we raised with Christ in baptism? What role does faith play? If we have been raised from the deadness of our old life in baptism, in what should we "walk," according to Rom. 6:3,4?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 21:23.
Friday: Galatians 3:27
Key Idea: In baptism, we put on Christ.
Questions for Family Growth: What does it mean to be baptized "into Christ"? What does it mean to "put on" Christ? What are we baptized into, according to 1 Cor. 12:13? What are the seven "ones" that are listed in Eph. 4:4-6?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 21:24.