What Must I Do Before I Can Be Baptised?
by Paul K. Williams
Yes, Jesus wants you to be baptised, but not until you first do certain things. Baptism is not for everyone! It is for those who are qualified.
1. HEAR THE GOSPEL
Romans 10:14 says, “How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" This is why Jesus sent His apostles to preach the gospel to the whole world. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15) Men are lost because of their sins. They can be saved only if they believe and obey the gospel. They can believe only if they first hear the gospel because “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)
This is an important point. Faith does not come directly from the Holy Spirit. Faith comes from hearing the word of Christ, which was given by the Holy Spirit. The power to produce faith is in that word. You must hear it before you can believe, and if you hear and consider with an honest heart you will believe.
You must hear the gospel. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16) “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15)
The gospel is the wonderful message about the death of Christ for our sins and His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-3). It includes the commands we must obey (2 Thessalonians 1:8) and the promises we will receive if we are faithful. Philip preached “the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ."(Acts 8:12) Jesus told His apostles, “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). The gospel is everything about Jesus and His commandments.
You must be careful what you hear! Everything which calls itself “gospel” is not the true gospel. Hear Paul: “There are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:7-8)
There are many distorted gospels preached today. They misrepresent Jesus and His commands. Instead of saving, these gospels cause the teachers to be accursed, and those who listen to the false gospels to be cursed together with their teachers. (Read Matthew 15:14) “Take care what you listen to." (Mark 4:24)
Therefore the first thing you must do in order to be saved, and before you can be baptised, is to hear the gospel.
2. BELIEVE THE GOSPEL
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.'"(Mark 16:15-16) Before a person is baptised he must believe the gospel.
“But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike."(Acts 8:12) These people in Samaria believed what Philip preached, then they were baptised.
The story of the Ethiopian eunuch illustrates this well. “And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look?. Water’. What prevents me from being baptized?’ 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.’ And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him." (Acts 8:35-38)
There is only one pattern in the New Testament. Before a person could be baptised, he had to believe the gospel. This means that a baby is not to be baptized. It also means that the one who is baptised must be a sincere believer.
Jesus said, “Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins." (John 8:24) We cannot play around with Jesus. He will accept us only if we believe Him – trust him – with our whole heart. Only those who truly believe can expect God to accept them when they are baptised.
Remember, faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). It is the word of God which we must believe, not the teachings of men nor the traditions of men. Listen to the Bible, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and you will be ready to take the next step toward baptism.
When the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, Peter preached to a great crowd. He concluded his powerful sermon by saying, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified." These words had an immediate effect on his audience: “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?'" These people were believers – the word had pierced their hearts – but they were not yet qualified to be baptised. “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you he baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" (Acts 2:36-38) These believers had to REPENT before they could be baptized.
There is no way a person can be saved without repentance. Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will all perish."(Luke 13:3)
To repent means to change one’s mind or will. The repentance God commands is repentance concerning our sins. We must decide to stop our sins because we are sorry toward God. We must decide to change from serving sin to serving righteousness. This decision must be a thorough one made with all our heart.
This is the hardest thing one must do to be saved. It is easy to believe when you consider the abundant evidence that Jesus is the Son of God. It is easy to be baptised. But it is hard to change one’s stubborn will concerning sin. We will make every excuse to keep from doing it, but we must repent or we will be lost eternally.
God in His mercy has revealed two great things to cause us to repent. They are: 1) God’s great mercy and kindness (Romans 2:4), and 2) God’s righteous judgment which will cause all unrepentant people to be cast into an eternal hell (Romans 2:5; Matthew 25:41). If you will think of God’s love which caused Him to send His Son to die for you, you will be drawn to do His will. If you will spend 30 minutes thinking about the consequences of your sins and the hell into which you will be cast if you do not repent, you will find your stubborn will beginning to bend. Friend I plead with you to think about these things until the tears flow and you make up your mind that with all your strength and heart you will stop serving sin and will serve only Christ for the rest of your life. This you must do to be saved. This you must do in order to be baptised.
4. CONFESS CHRIST
When the Ethiopian eunuch wanted to be baptized 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 8:37)
The eunuch made the wonderful confession of loyalty to the Saviour of the world. Paul wrote, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." (Romans 10:9-10)
Jesus is not seeking secret disciples. We are to confess before men that He is LORD. We must take our stand openly that we are going to follow Him, and Him only, in everything we do. Like Timothy we must make “the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." (1 Timothy 6:12)
There are differences between the baptism commanded by Jesus and the baptism John commanded. John’s baptism was for Jews to prepare them for the coming Christ, and he commanded them to confess their sins when they were baptised (Matthew 3:6). But the baptism Jesus commands is for all people, not just for Jews, and in order to be baptised we must REPENT of our sins and CONFESS CHRIST. There is no command to confess SINS in order to be baptised with the baptism of Jesus.
It is interesting to note that when the Ethiopian eunuch confessed his faith in Christ, Philip baptised him. The eunuch did not have to go to catechism school, nor did he have to wait until the church voted on whether he should be admitted to membership. In one session Philip taught him all he needed to bring him to saving faith. He confessed that faith and was baptised into Christ.
5. BE BAPTISED FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS
When a person has heard the gospel, believed the gospel with all his heart, repented of his sins and confessed Christ as Lord he is qualified to be baptised. At this point, and not before, he can be immersed in water for the forgiveness of his sins. In this act he appeals to God for a good conscience (1 Peter 3:21) and his sins are washed away (Acts 22:16) by the blood of Christ. He is then raised from the waters of baptism to walk a new life (Romans 6:4), the life of the child of God redeemed from his sins. He is added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:47), thus becoming one of Christ’s people, a member of His body.
No other qualifications are necessary. He does not have to relate an experience, attend catechism class, or even wait for Easter Sunday. He is ready to be baptised, even the same hour of the night (Acts 16:33).
TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR BAPTISM!
Does this describe your baptism? Or were you sprinkled with water as a baby, before you could hear, believe, repent and confess? Or were you baptised in order to become a member of a denomination not described in the word of God? God’s word says a great deal about what we must do before we are baptised, things which are different from what many religions teach! Make sure that you are following Christ and not men. Listen to the gospel, believe it with all your heart, repent of your sins, confess Christ and be baptised into Him.
We will do all we can to help you obey Jesus in baptism. Please contact us if you want us to help.