This past Sunday, our students took a look at baptism. We went to Acts 8:26-40, the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch (and no, I did not explain eunuchism to our fifth graders). We learned about why Eagle practices full immersion baptism. We discussed the symbolism behind baptism, as well as how public baptism identifies someone as a Christ-follower. We considered this truth: baptism is an outward sign of an inward change.
But the aspect of the story of the Ethiopian eunuch I was most excited to get to, was the proximity of his baptism to his conversion.
The Ethiopian man heard the good news, responded to the good news, and was baptized. Do you think he fully understand the ramifications of Christ’s fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy? Probably not. Did he have time to prove to himself (and others) that he was “serious” about his faith? No. Did those questions even cross his or Philip’s mind? I doubt it.
All the Ethiopian man needed to know was this: Christians get baptized. I have to imagine Philip had referenced Christ’s command from Matthew 28 in his explanation of the Gospel. That was good enough for him. And it is good enough for us.
I get why students (and parents) don’t want to rush into baptism. They want it to be meaningful. They want it to be significant. And they don’t want their child to regret getting baptized too early, especially if they somehow stumble through a season of life later on.
The incredible thing about baptism, and the other ordinance we practice (communion), is that it is fully dependent on the grace of Jesus, not us. It’s a reminder and picture of the Gospel: that we are all sinners, desperately in need of Savior, and we will never “arrive.”
If you are a follower of Jesus, and you want to know when to get baptized, here’s the answer: ASAP. Not because it’s required for salvation, but because it’s about Jesus. It’s about Him before it’s about us.
And as is so often the case, the spiritual blessings that accompany baptism are worth getting excited over. The church will be encouraged. You’ll be reminded of your union with Christ and your adoption as His son or daughter. You’ll be taking a step of obedience clearly laid out in Scripture, drawing you that much closer to the life that God intends for you. Why would we wait?!
Sure… the Ethiopian eunuch was a Jewish convert. He was familiar with the God of the Old Testament. He had some background in faith…doesn’t that mean something…shouldn’t students and adults wait at least a little while?
Maybe. But they need only wait until there is an understanding of the Gospel, an experience of worshipping in Spirit and in truth. That’s why we set up meetings with a ministry director or pastor before anyone is baptized, to make sure they get it. Can they articulate the good news? Check. Do they claim Christ as Lord and Savior? Check. Have they confessed sin? Check. Good to go.
It’s not to be flippant. It’s meant to reflect what we see in Acts. It’s to encourage us again with this reality: “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”- Colossians 1:27.
If you know Jesus and you’ve not been baptized yet, consider what’s holding you back. Embrace the peace and permission for baptism that the Lord wants for you. And find freedom in the truth that baptism is for you, but not about you.
Our next Baptism Sunday is February 11. If you're interested, don't wait, sign up today.