Lesson Goal: Help the student understand the meaning of baptism and why it is necessary. Also find out whether or not the student is ready to be baptized.
Acts 2:37-38, John 3:5, Titus 3:5
Instructor’s Notes: Acts 2:38 tells us what one must do to receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. From previous lessons we know that a person must repent and believe to be saved, but in this verse Peter tells the people that they must repent and be baptized in the name of Christ in order to be saved. Why does Peter leave out faith and replace it with baptism?
Peter does not leave out faith, but includes it in the act of baptism; this is why they are told to be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Only people who believe in Jesus will be willing to be baptized in His name, so it is assumed that the person being baptized has already trusted in Christ. Peter did not need to mention faith because baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is an act of faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism is the final step in the conversion process. To become a Christian one must repent of their sin, place their trust in Christ and profess their faith in Christ through baptism.
When Jesus says a person must be “born of water” and Paul speaks of the “washing of regeneration” they are referring to the conversion process that culminates in baptism (John 3:5, Titus 3:5). God sends the Gospel message out to us in the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit, then we are responsible to respond to His offer of mercy by being converted. This conversion process starts with repentance, is centered on faith and is completed in baptism. After we respond to God’s offer through conversion, He promises to give us “the remission of sins” and “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
- What did Jesus mean in John 3:5 when He said we must be “born of water”?
- What are the three things we must do to be converted?
Galatians 3:27-28, Romans 6:3, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, Acts 22:12-16
Instructor’s Notes: From birth we have been identified with Adam and his rebellion against God. We are born part of a rebellious race. As long as we are identified with this rebellion we are under the curse of God. When we repent of our sins, trust in Christ and are baptized we are no longer identified with Adam but are brought into Jesus Christ. By faith, we “put on Christ” when we are “baptized into” Him (Galatians 3:27, Romans 6:3). From that point on God no longer identifies us with the rebellious race of men, but identifies us as those who belong to His dearly loved Son. In the rebellious race of Adam there was no forgiveness, but there is “now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). We are not made right with God because we have done anything good, we are made right in God’s eyes only because we have trusted in Christ and been identified with Him. Christ is our righteousness and salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30).
- Who are we identified with from birth?
- Can someone identified with Adam be forgiven?
- How does someone identify themselves with Christ?
- What do people receive through their relationship with Jesus Christ?
Acts 8:36-37, Romans 10:9-13, 1 Peter 3:20-21
Instructor’s Notes: Only those who trust in Christ can be baptized. The ceremony of baptism has no power without faith; we are not saved by being dipped in water, mere water does not wash away our sins. Instead we are saved because of the grace of God that is found in Jesus Christ, and we receive that grace through faith. Baptizing someone who has not yet trusted in Christ is not Christian baptism, and it has no power to identify anyone with Christ and the salvation that is found in Him. “Baby baptism” is not biblical baptism.
Philip told the eunuch that the condition for being baptized into Jesus Christ was faith in Jesus Christ. After hearing this the eunuch confessed Christ with his mouth and submitted to baptism. Christian baptism is accompanied by a profession of faith (Romans 10:9-10). Without faith baptism is not Christian baptism. If the student was “baptized” as a child the instructor needs to explain to him that he has not been baptized in a biblical way because he has not personally obeyed the apostolic command to “let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
- What is the requirement for Christian baptism?
- Why is the practice of “baptizing” babies not biblical baptism?
- Have you obeyed the command to be baptized that Peter gave in Acts 2:38? (If the student says they were “baptized” as a baby explain to them that at that time they were not qualified for baptism because they did not yet believe in Christ. Also explain to them that they did not “obey” the command at that time because they did not even know what was happening to them.)
Romans 6:3-4, Acts 8:38, Mark 1:9
Instructor’s Notes: When a person trusts in Christ they are commanded to confess that faith through baptism. Not only do they confess Christ with their mouth, but they also illustrate their faith in the act of baptism itself. By being immersed in water they are proclaiming that they believe Jesus died and was buried. When they come up out of the water they are proclaiming that they believe Jesus Christ was risen from the dead. The act of baptism is in itself a statement of faith.
In baptism the believer is not only professing to believe that Jesus died and rose again, but they are also identifying with Him in His death and resurrection. Through His death and resurrection they believe that they have received a new life. In baptism they are applying what Christ did for them to their lives. They are receiving the new life that He has purchased for them.
The believer is also proclaiming that they belong to Christ. They are committing to die to sin and live a new life of obedience to God. Baptism is an act of faith and an act of commitment. They are not only proclaiming their faith in what Christ has done and by faith receiving the gift of life that is in Him, they are also declaring that they have submitted to His lordship over their lives. In baptism believers are devoting their lives to Jesus Christ.
Jesus and the eunuch went “into the water” (Mark 1:9, Acts 8:38). These biblical examples, along with the symbolic meaning of baptism (i.e. being buried with Christ) and the definition of the Greek word “baptizo” (i.e. immersion) make it clear that biblical baptism is by immersion.
The instructor will need to help the student understand that Christian baptism is not done by sprinkling, but by immersion. But this issue should not be emphasized too much. As we said above we are not saved because of water, but we are saved through our faith in Jesus Christ. It is not the amount of water that is important, but the faith. If they were baptized after coming to a personal faith in Christ, even if the baptism was by sprinkling, it should be accepted as Christian baptism.
- When someone is baptized what are they professing to believe about Jesus Christ? (They are professing to believe that Jesus died and rose again.)
- What do people receive by faith when they are baptized into Jesus Christ? (They believe that the benefits of Jesus death and resurrection are applied to them.)
- What is a person committing to when they are baptized? (They are committing to submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ.)
- Why are people immersed in water during Christian baptism?
- Do you have any questions about how baptism is performed?
Galatians 4:6, John 3:5, Titus 3:5, Acts 2:38-39
Instructor’s Notes: Through baptism the believer identifies with Christ and receives the forgiveness of sins because of what Christ has done for him. His status changes from an enemy of God in Adam, to a child of God in Christ. In Christ his sins no longer separate him from God. The believer is justified (i.e. declared innocent by God) through his faith in Christ.
After justifying the believer God confirms His acceptance of the forgiven sinner by pouring out His Spirit into the believer’s heart. The sinner becomes a child of God positionally through faith in Christ, and then because he has already received the status of sonship in Christ he is given the Spirit of God’s Son. The Holy Spirit assures the new believer that he has been accepted by God and begins transforming the believer into the image of Christ day by day. Through conversion the believer was “born of water” in the “washing of regeneration,” he then experiences the “renewing of the Holy Spirit” when he is “born of the Spirit” (John 3:5, Titus 3:5).
- What does someone receive during baptism? (The forgiveness of sins)
- What gift does God give to people after they have repented, trusted in Christ and been baptized? (The gift of the Holy Spirit)
- What keeps you from getting baptized?