It is interesting to go back in time to see the church in its primitive state….when the Spirit was still directly instructing Christians on how God wanted religion practiced.
One of the most detailed cases of conversion is the Ethiopian whom Philip taught while traveling down a lonely back road (Acts 8:26-40). This treasurer requested baptism, and Philip conducted his baptism in the way God approves.
Note carefully how baptism was done in the New Testament.
- The treasurer made a confession of faith before baptism. He said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37). No one can be scripturally baptized unless he has faith in Jesus (John 8:24; Mark 16:16)and is willing to make it known (Romans 10:9-10). Note that he did not confess that God had for Jesus’ sake already forgiven his sin, since his baptism was for the purpose of forgiving sin (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
- The treasurer was immediately baptized. He did not hesitate nor procrastinate. He was not told he would have to be voted on (unheard of in the New Testament) or that he would be on probation for some time. He did not have to go through weeks of classes or have to wait for several others who also wanted to be baptized. Someone has noted that no sinner in the Book of Acts ate, drank, or slept before being baptized once they learned that they were lost.
- Both the candidate and the administrator got in the water. They “both went down into the water” and came up out of the water (Acts 8:38-39). Some have said that the eunuch was holding up a water jug when he said, “See here is water…” (One older lady heard that and said, “My Bible says they both went down into the water. Are you telling me they both went down into a jug?!” Insert “jug” for water in the text and see the silliness of it.) Baptism in the New Testament was always a burial—never sprinkling or pouring (Mark 1:10; John 3:23; Romans 6:4-5; Colossians 2:12).
- Baptism began a joyful journey with God. Acts 8:40 says this new Christian “went on his way rejoicing.” Why? Because his sins were washed away and he had been added to God’s family, the church (Acts 2:47).
Each of God’s steps to salvation is important:
- Faith changes man’s thinking (Hebrews 11:6);
- Repentance changes his lifestyle (Acts 3:19);
- Confession of faith forces him to “come out in the open” (Matthew 10:32-33);
- Baptism changes his guilty state (from “outside” to “inside” Christ’s body, Galatians 3:26-27).
Study the other cases of conversion in the Book of Acts and note carefully the original pattern. Let’s do what they did.