Do I Have to Be Baptized?

Dr. Lawton preaching

One of the most troublesome subjects in the religious world is that of baptism. It has become the battling ground for theologians, preachers, church members and non-church members. On this particular subject, the uninformed have become so-called authorities. When this subject is discussed feelings are hurt, emotions are stirred up, hard feelings sometimes arise, gratitude is developed, and honest souls are saved.

As I deal with men and women, I have discovered that there is much confusion on this vital subject. Man has laid down the “Thus saith the Lord” and has picked up feelings, mama-ology, papa-ology, grandma-ology, and so-called reverend-ology, thus many souls are being misled. In my 27 years of preaching the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, one of the most frequently asked questions is, Do I have to be baptized? I am not asked, Do I have to have faith?, Do I have to repent? But the most frequently asked question is, Do I have to be baptized? Can’t you hear the young man or the young woman who has been living in the far country of sin asking: Do I have to be baptized? Can’t you hear the old man or the old lady who has learned that he has been going the wrong way religiously asking the question, Do I have to be baptized? Can’t you hear the teenager who has learned that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life asking the question, Do I have to be baptized? The rich and the poor are asking this question. The people in the ghetto and the suburbs, the scholar and the non-scholar are asking this question. But let me sound my trumpet, the Bible teaches that baptism is a command that was given by the head of the church, the Savior of the church, the Redeemer of the church, the Builder of the church.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15, 16).

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. (Acts 10:48).

I don’t understand why so many people hate this command of King Jesus, but in spite of this hate, this God-given, heaven-authorized command must be obeyed (II John 9). Tonight, I want to have an eyeball to eyeball confrontation with the question on the floor: Do I have to be baptized?

If You Want Salvation, You Must Be Baptized.

Baptism is a necessary condition for the forgiveness of sins. It is an indispensable prerequisite to salvation. Didn’t the Master say, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved? If Mr. Rockefeller said to you, “He that believeth and is baptized shall get a brand new Seville,” do you think that anyone would ask Mr. Rockefeller, “Do I have to be baptized in order to get that Seville?” No, no, all you would want to know is where is the water because I want that Seville. Am I right about it?

Belief + Baptism = Seville

Belief + Baptism = Salvation

If you can understand “He that believeth and is baptized shall get a brand new Seville,” you can understand what Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Baptism is essential to salvation and no one is saved before he is baptized.

Listen to the inspired words of the apostle Peter:

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (I Peter 3:21).

The Bible says, baptism saves! What saves? Baptism saves! When does baptism save? The Bible says, baptism saves us now! Not tomorrow, not six weeks later, but baptism saves us now. If you want to be saved, you ought to be baptized now. Baptism stands between the sinner man and…

his salvation,

the remission of his sins (Acts 2:38),

his rejoicing (Acts 8:39),

his calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16).

Somebody says that I don’t see anything in the water. Well, let me sound my trumpet, God didn’t tell you to look for anything in the water. He told you to go to the water to be baptized. You may not see anything in the water, but when you go to the water as God commands, you will meet God in the water. Forgiveness of the sin is in the water, being born again is in the water, being added to the church is in the water. While in the water, God performs an operation on the sinner without hands and translates him from the power of darkness and into the kingdom of God’s dear Son in whom he has redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sin (Colossians 1: 13,14).

The Baptist Manual says, “Baptism is not essential to salvation and our churches utterly repudiate the dogma of baptismal regeneration . . .”1 So many people believe that they were saved before they were baptized. This is a direct contradiction of Jesus Christ who said he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:16). The Bible is right. Sinner man, you must be baptized because baptism separates you from your sins, baptism delivers you from the old world, baptism cleanses you from your past sins, and baptism brings you into the new covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. No man, woman, boy or girl who has reached the age of accountability can go to heaven without being baptized (John 3:3, 5). Somebody ought to be singing the song, Take me to the water and wash my sins away

If You Want To Be A Part Of The Church, The Spiritual

Family Of God, You Must Be Baptized.

Somebody says, “Brother Preacher, I was saved and then I joined the church.” If you did, then God did not have anything to do with it. No man can join the Bible church. On the day of Pentecost about three thousand souls were connected to the church but nobody joined the church. In Acts 2:37, the question was raised, What must we do to be saved? The answer was given by Peter, Repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). What did they do? “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls ” (Acts 2:41).

Acts 2:47 says, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved ” This is not a play on words; but this is a matter of the doctrine of Christ and the doctrine of man. Faith only does not make one a part of the church (James 2:24). A man must be baptized in order to become a part of the church.

If You Want To Become A Child Of God, You Must

Be Baptized.

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:26, 27).

The only way that the Bible states that a man can get into Christ is by being baptized into Christ. You don’t pray your way into Christ, mourn your way into Christ, shout your way into Christ, but the Bible says that you are baptized into Christ. There is but one scriptural baptism (Eph. 4:5). It is not sprinkling or pouring. It is a burial in water (Rom. 6:4). Baptism requires much water. “John was baptizing in Aenon near Salem because there was much water there” (John 3:23). Faith only will not make you a child of God, you must be baptized into Christ in order to become a child of God.

If You Want To Be Born Again, You Must Be Baptized.

No man in the Bible after the church was established was born again without baptism. I don’t think anyone will say that you can go to heaven without being born again. This was made emphatically clear to Nicodemus when Jesus told him: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Sir, you must be born again. Let me sound my trumpet that you can’t be taught wrong and baptized right (Acts 19:1-5). If you were taught that you were saved before you were baptized, you were taught wrong (Mark 16:15, 16). If you were taught to tarry for the Holy Spirit and get a religion, you were taught wrong. Religion is not getable but doable (James 1:26, 27). If you were taught that baptism is an outward sign of inward grace, you were taught wrong. Inward grace does not take place before baptism but in baptism (Colossians 2:12-14). You must be taught right in order to be baptized right.

If you are not a child of God, you ought not to eat another meal or sleep another night until you are baptized into Christ. Go with me now to Acts 16:25-33; Paul and Silas were in jail and at midnight they were singing and praying to God. They turned a jail to a church and God heard their feeble cry. God Almighty set them free by an earthquake. When the jailer discovered what had happened, he was about to commit suicide with a sword. But Paul said “Do thyself no harm for we are all here.” Then the jailer asked the prisoners, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” He was given the answer and this is what happened: “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes: and was baptized, he and all his, straightway” (Acts 16:33). The jailer learned about Christ in the midnight hour and was so impressed with Christ until he wouldn’t wait until the sun arose the next morning but was baptized the same hour of the night. There is an urgency about being baptized. If you are not a child of God, you ought to be baptized now.

The eunuch was on his way from worship and discovered that his religion was wrong and he was so impressed with the Master that he would not wait until he got home to be baptized. He saw water on the highway and said to the preacher, “Here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?” He made that great confession and was baptized. There is an urgency about being baptized because we don’t know how much time we have to live.

The question is still on the floor, Do I have to be baptized? Yes, you must be baptized because baptism is a command. If you want salvation, you must be baptized. If you want to be a part of the church, the spiritual family of God, you must be baptized. If you want to become a child of God, you must be baptized. If you want to be born again, you must be baptized. If you want to be saved you must be baptized. Baptism saves us now (I Peter 3:21). What saves? Baptism saves! When does baptism save? Baptism saves us now. If you want to be saved, you ought to come now to the Lord. You come by hearing the gospel-Luke 11:28; believing the gospel-John 8:24; repenting of your sins-Acts 2:38; confessing Christ as the Son of God-Acts 8:36-38 and being baptized for the remission of your sins-Acts 2:38. The Lord will save your soul and make you whole and add you to his glorious church (Acts 2:47). Let me sound my trumpet, no man, no woman, no boy, no girl who has reached the age of accountability can go to heaven without being baptized. Is there anybody here tonight who wants to be baptized. Will you come right now as we stand and sing the song of invitation.

REFERENCES

1. Hiscox, Edward T., The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches,(Philadelphia: The American Baptist Publication Society, 1961), p. 20.