BAPTISM OF WATER AND SPIRIT
"Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 KJV).
The baptism ceremony with its various steps is the process by which a person makes and ratifies an eternal agreement between themselves, God the Father, and Jesus Christ. Upon completion of the final ritual of the baptism ceremony, a person becomes a son of God the Father and a brother of Jesus Christ in the holy and divine Family of God.
The baptism ceremony is not for the purpose of becoming a member of a physical organization; it is for the purpose of becoming a son of God in the Family of God. No earthly organization of humans can offer the immense privilege of sonship in the Family of God; only God the Father can bind a person to himself and place them into his family.
The allegiance one makes at baptism is to God the Father and Jesus Christ, not to anything or anyone else. Baptism is a very serious commitment to make. From the moment a person is baptized and receives the holy spirit, a total commitment is made to God the Father and Jesus Christ.
The baptized person has committed to an endeavor that will lead to eternal life as a member of the family and government of God (Rev.3:5,21; 5:10; 20:4-6) or to eternal death if this commitment in not kept (Lk.9:62; Heb.6:4-6; 10:26-27; Rev.20:13-15; 21:8). God the Father and Jesus Christ have committed themselves to help the newly begotten son through the very power that sustains the universe and all that exists. See Matt. 6:25-34; Heb.13:5-6; Jn.14:12-14.
BAPTISM BY WATER
The following are symbolic and literal meanings of the baptismal water into which a person is immersed:
The water is also a medium through which God the Father performs the purification of the person's spirit and body prior to implanting his Spirit within them.
The water portion of the baptismal ceremony has several different symbolical and literal meanings:
Death, Burial, and Resurrection
Baptism is not only a symbolic representation of our death, burial, and resurrection to a new life in Christ but also it is a physical and spiritual reality. Notice how Paul reminds the elect at Rome of their baptism and their sinless condition before God when he exhorts them to live a sinless life before God and man.
Romans 6:1-11 KJV
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (vs.1-3).
As a person descends beneath the baptismal waters, their old life symbolically dies and is buried. The baptismal water symbolizes a grave and truly would become a grave if the person being baptized were held under the water for very long:
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism to death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:" (vs.4-5).
When a person is raised out of the water, they are symbolically and literally raised to a new life. After baptism, the repentant person has become sinless and is no longer under the penalty of death for violating God's law. Moreover, their spirit and body have been purged of all sin and defilement:
"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him" (vs.6-9).
Dead to Sin
"For in that he died, he died to sin once: but in that he lives, he lives to God. Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (vs.10-11). See also Rom.7:6; Heb.9:13-14.
As Christ is dead to sin, so are those who have God's Spirit dwelling within them; they are free from the penalty of sin and can look forward to becoming an immortal spirit-being that can never die:
"For in baptism you see how your old, evil nature died with him and was buried with him; and then you came up out of death with him into a new life because you trusted the Word of the mighty God who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your sins, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross" (Col.2:12-14 LBP). See also Col.3:1-4.
Sins Washed Away
Although baptism is symbolic of a physical death and a resurrection, it is also much more. During this ceremony, the person being baptized is washed clean and purged of all sin by the power of God's spirit through the sacrifice of Christ and, at that moment, the baptized person—devoid of sin—is righteous before God.
Prior to the advent of Jesus Christ, washing with water as an act of purification was a part of the sacrificial system. During the gospel age of salvation, it is the water of the baptismal ceremony and the blood of Jesus Christ that picture and perform this purification. It is, in fact, through the sacrificial blood of Jesus that we are forgiven of our sins and washed clean of all defilement that would prevent us from coming before the Father to receive his Spirit. Paul, Titus, and John all spoke about the washing away of sin by pure water, the blood of Jesus, and the cleansing power of God's Spirit:
"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:22 KJV).
"Or do you not know that the unjust ones will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be led astray, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor abusers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous ones, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor plunderers shall inherit the Kingdom of God. And some of you were these things, but you are washed; but you were sanctified; but you were justified in the nature of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor.6:9-11 KJV Para.).
"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works in righteousness which we had done, but according to his mercy he has saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the holy spirit, which he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ, our Savior" (Tit.3:4-6 KJV Para.).
"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood" (Rev.1:5 KJV). See also Rom.5:9; Eph.2:13; Heb.13:12; 1 Jn.1:1-7; 3:5-6; Rev.5:9; 7:13-14.
Purification of the Temple
Under the first agreement with national Israel, the priesthood, the people, and all things that came into close contact with God had to be purified and kept clean, because God will not dwell where there is sin or impurity. See Lev.19:2; 1 Pet. 1:15-16; Ex.29:36-46; Deut.23:14; 1 Cor.3:17.
Many do not realize that God has not changed and that, under the new agreement with the elect of God and national Israel, God the Father requires all things that come into close contact with him to be free from all sin and impurity. This is why it is vitally important to become sinless and pure through the blood of Christ:
"And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (2 Cor.6:16-18 KJV).
Because God will not allow his spirit to inhabit an impure place, a physical as well as a spiritual change takes place during the baptismal ceremony. In the baptismal water, God purifies the body through the power of his spirit so that his holy spirit can dwell within the person's physical body. See 1 Tim.5:22; Tit. 1:15-16; Heb. 10:14-22; 1 Pet. 1:22; 1 Jn.3:1-3; 4:4.
"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" (1 Cor.3:16 NIV).
"Haven't you yet learned that your body is the home of the holy spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you. For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God, because he owns it" (1 Cor.6:19-20 LPB).
Notice that the body of a child of God is a temple of God; it is God's Holy Place where his spirit dwells.
Since God will not allow his spirit to inhabit a sinful person, the first thing one must do in order to receive his spirit is to repent in order to rid one's mind (God's Holy Place) of all sin. The second step is to sincerely ask God the Father to forgive our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The third step is to be immersed in water for the washing away of sin through the blood of Christ and for the purifying of the physical body that is to become a temple where God will place his spirit.
HOW SHOULD BAPTISM WITH WATER BE PERFORMED?
The scriptures are very clear as to how to perform the death, burial, and resurrection rituals of the baptismal ceremony.
The Word Baptize
The English word 'baptize' is from the Greek word 'baptizo', which means 'to immerse', to 'plunge into', 'to put into', to dip'. It cannot mean 'sprinkle' or 'pour' because the Greek word for 'sprinkle' is 'rantidzo', and 'to pour' is 'cheo' in Greek.
Much Water Required
"And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized" (Jn.3:23 KJV).
Here, it is shown that John required a place where there was a lot of water in order for people to be completely submerged when they were baptized.
The Example of Jesus
"Then comes Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be baptized of him. But John forbid him, saying, I have need to be baptized of you, and come you to me? And Jesus answering said to him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he allowed him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him" (Matt. 3:13-16 KJV).
Here, Christ comes up out of the water of the Jordan River, which shows that he was immersed (baptizo), not sprinkled or poured upon (rantidzo or cheo). Jesus left us an example of how to be baptized, and at the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus told his followers to immerse others who accepted his Father's offer to follow him.
Not only did Jesus leave us an example of how to be baptized but also gave clear instructions to his disciples to perform the ceremony by total immersion in water:
"Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing (baptizo) them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit:" (Matt. 28:19). See also Mk.16:16.
The Early Church
The Book of Acts is full of accounts of baptisms. One interesting account is when Philip baptized the treasurer of Queen Candace. (Acts 8:27-39). Notice, there was enough water so that both men could get into the water and still have enough room for the eunuch to be totally covered with water:
"And the treasurer of Queen Candace secured his chariot: and Philip and the eunuch went into the water, and Philip baptized (Greek: 'baptizo') him. And as they came up out of the water, the spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch did not see him anymore: and the eunuch went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:38-39 Para.).
The scriptural and historical records show very clearly how to use water in the baptismal ceremony. The method taught by Christ and his disciples was total immersion. Any other method of baptism is a counterfeit and is not authorized or recognized by God the Father or Jesus Christ.
BAPTISM OF THE SPIRIT
The final step in becoming a son of God is the baptism of the holy spirit. After a person is made sinless and pure through Christ's sacrifice, God the Father can ratify the New Covenant with them by placing his spirit within them.
Upon receiving the holy spirit, the baptized person becomes a son of God, and an eternal agreement between the person, God the Father, and Jesus Christ has been ratified and sealed. See Rom.8:16-19; Jer.31:31-33; Heb.8:8-11.
Notice what John the Baptist says about being baptized with the spirit:
"I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the holy spirit" (Mk.1:8 KJV).
"And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, Upon whom you shall see the spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizes with the holy spirit" (Jn.1:33 KJV). See also Lk.3:16; Acts 11:15-16.
It is interesting that the Greek word baptizo was used in translating John's prophecy about spirit-baptism, because the scriptures clearly show that when a person is baptized they are totally immersed in the purifying power of God's spirit, and when God's spirit merges with their spirit, it totally transforms the person into a new creation. See our study concerning the sons of the new creation.
SENDING OF THE SPIRIT
"If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will petition the Father, and he will give you another comforter that he may remain with you forever, the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see him, nor know him. But you know him, for he abides with you, and shall be in you" (Jn.14:15-17 KJV Para.). See Jn.16:13-14.
"Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom.8:9 KJV). See also Jn.14:21-24.
"For as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom.8:14 KJV).
Paul said that only those who have the spirit of God are his sons. Having the holy spirit is so important that one cannot have salvation if they do not have it.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A GIFT FROM GOD THE FATHER
"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy spirit to them that ask?" (Lk.11:13 KJV).
Remember that the apostle Peter said the following:
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 Para.).
"And we are his witnesses of these things, and also the holy spirit, whom God gives to those obeying him" (Acts 5:32 KJV Para.). See also Acts 8:9-24; Gal.3:1-2.
The holy spirit is a gift and God the Father wants to give it to those he calls to salvation. Moreover, the apostle Paul clearly records that one cannot have salvation without the spirit of God; therefore, it is important to understand exactly what God's spirit is, what it does, and how to receive it.
What is God's Spirit?
One of the most confusing teachings today concerns the definition of who or what the holy spirit is and is not. This confusion surrounds the false teaching that the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit are somehow a composite of two or three personalities that are one being, which has no individual personality. Because of this and other similar teachings, the world's concept of the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit is very confusing.
Below is a list of some of the attributes and functions of the holy spirit. See also our study paper concerning what the holy spirit is and how it functions.
The holy spirit is the following:
It is unfortunate that many English translations of the Bible use the pronoun 'he' when referring to God's spirit. In reality, becauseGod's spirit is a thing and not a personage, it should be referred to as 'it'. The spirit of God and the holy spirit are the same thing, and both God the Father and Jesus Christ have this spirit.
God the Father and Jesus Christ are spirit-beings who inhabit a spirit dimension of time and space. It is through God the Father's spirit-power, energy, and force that he animates, creates, controls, and sustains all that exists. It is this spirit that God the Father gives to those whom he has called to salvation.
The Spirit of Adoption
One important function of the holy spirit is to transform a person into a son of God. When this function of the spirit of God is applied to a person, they are transformed into a son of God and made a member of the Family of God. This transformation places a person at the starting point of eternal life. This is the time of spiritual conception from which one can grow toward spiritual maturity and perfection into an immortal spirit-being.
In his letter to the Church at Rome, Paul draws upon the example of the Roman adoption system to illustrate how a person becomes a son of God:
"For as many as are led by the spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery again to fear, but you received a spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba! Father! The spirit itself witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God" (Rom.8:14-16 KJV Para.).
Roman adoption was extremely difficult to accomplish, because the Roman father was the absolute controlling power over the family. No matter how old a son became, he was still in absolute possession and under absolute control of his father. This made adoption into another family a very serious and difficult thing to accomplish.
Under Roman law, there were a number of symbolic ceremonies and rituals with many witnesses, that had to take place before any adoption was considered legal and binding. Moreover, once a son was legally adopted into his new family, he lost all rights to his old family and gained the rights of a legitimate son in his new family. By law, his old life was completely wiped away (e.g., all debts were canceled). He was regarded as a completely new and different person who was entering a new life upon which the old life had no meaning or importance. Under Roman law, he was, in fact, the son of his new father.
Paul said the holy spirit is the witness of the adoption into the Family of God, whereby the past life is wiped away—it is gone. After this adoption, all debts are canceled and the new son of God begins a new life in the Family of God, with all the rights of sonship.
HOW TO RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT
Receiving the holy spirit is the most important event that can ever happen to any human because it is at this point in time that a person is transformed into a son of God and their body literally becomes a temple of the living God.
The Laying on of Hands
After being immersed in water, having one's sins washed away and one's body purified, the next ritual in the conversion process is the laying on of hands for the receiving of the holy spirit, which is promised by Jesus Christ.
The Converts at Samaria
Shortly after the holy spirit had been given on the Feast of Pentecost, the gospel began to be preached with great zeal. Moreover, after hearing the preaching of Philip, many in Samaria were baptized but they did not receive the holy spirit:
"Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the holy spirit: (For as yet he [it] was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the holy spirit" (Acts 8:14-17). See also Acts 9:10-18; 19:1-6.
These people were baptized correctly yet they had not received God's spirit. They had repented and been baptized yet they had not been transformed into sons of God. However, when the apostles laid their hands upon them, they received the holy spirit.
The Converts at Ephesus
"And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said to them, Have you received the holy spirit since you believed? And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any holy spirit. And he said to them, to what then were you baptized? And they said, to John's baptism. Then Paul said, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Jesus Christ. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the holy spirit came on them" (Acts 19:1-6 Para.). See also Acts 9:10-18; 2.Tim.1:6-7.
Again, we find people who were sincere in their desire to follow God and had followed the admonition of John the Baptist to repent and be baptized. Although they had the right attitude, they lacked the knowledge of how to obtain salvation through the sacrifice of Christ. After Paul explained salvation through Jesus Christ, these people accepted the call to salvation and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that each could become a son of God. Notice that it is through the laying on of hands that the holy spirit is received.
Is the Laying on of hands necessary?
Some might feel that the laying on of hands is not necessary because of the examples where some people received God's spirit without this ritual (See Matt. 3:13-16; Acts 2:1-3). However, while it is true that on special occasions God gave the holy spirit prior to baptism, there is no promise from God that he will ever make these exceptions again.
It is clear that the apostles felt that it was necessary to lay hands on a baptized person so that this person could receive the holy spirit. Therefore, it is obvious that the laying on of hands is a necessary and important part of the baptismal ceremony.
Transformation into a Son of God
Upon receiving the spirit of God, a person is literally transformed from the original human creation into a new and different being. The old person with only the spirit of man ceases to exist, and a new person who has the spirit of God dwelling within them is born. See Matt. 3:1-7; 2 Cor.5:17.
Although a child of God still appears to be human, a transformation that makes a person who has received the holy spirit different from other humans has taken place. They have been converted into a son of God with the genetic imprint of the God family, and although they are not yet an immortal spirit-being, they are certainly a child of God and a member of the Father's spiritual family. Moreover, at some time in the future they will shed their bodies of flesh and receive an immortal spirit-body. See 1 Cor.15:51-54; 1.Thes.4;13-17; Rev.20:6.
Those who respond to God's call to salvation, repent, are baptized, and receive his spirit can look forward to tremendous rewards and happiness forever as an immortal being in the Family of God.
QUESTIONS ABOUT BAPTISM ANSWERED
"Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the holy spirit" (Matt. 28:19 Para.).
Although the apostles baptized, there are scriptural references that show others who were not ministers were also authorized to baptize. Philip baptized and Paul was baptized by Ananias. See Acts 8:27-38; 9:10-18.
The responsibility of anyone who wants to be baptized is to diligently seek out a man who is truly a follower of Jesus Christ. Moreover, this man must baptize using the method set forth by Jesus Christ.
Because it is impossible for someone to know the spiritual condition of the person who is performing the baptism, salvation does not depend on the man performing the ceremony. However, it does depend on an individual's personal relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ. The importance of baptism lies within the reason it is being performed and not within the person performing the ceremony. Although these physical acts are required, spiritual baptism is the responsibility of God the Father.
The agreement made at the time of baptism is not between the man performing the ceremony and the person being baptized; it is between God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the person being baptized.
Once a person has been baptized in the way that is set forth in scripture and has received God's spirit, that person has fulfilled the requirement of baptism for all time.
If after a person's baptism, the person who performed the ceremony departs from the faith, or the baptized person loses confidence in him, the baptism is still valid.
Infant Baptism and Childhood Conversion
The age you must be prior to baptism is very difficult to establish because it is predicated on belief, understanding, and repentance.
All three of these mental conditions are prerequisites to baptism and conversion. Moreover, all three are interdependent. For a person to have belief, there must be some understanding of what is to be believed.
Jesus says repent and believe the Gospel:
"After John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, saying, The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel" (Mk.1:14-15 Para.).
In order to repent and believe in the gospel, a person must have an understanding of what to repent and what the gospel of the kingdom is. In all of the acts of baptism recorded in the New Testament, those who were baptized understood the circumstances surrounding Jesus and what he preached. Moreover, they were able to make their decisions based on the facts presented.
A prerequisite for baptism is repentance:
"Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 Para.).
But repent of what? Be sorry for what? Desire to change what? In order to repent, a person must first have an elementary understanding of God's plan for mankind.
It is quite evident that a person cannot have the kind of belief, understanding, and repentance necessary for baptism unless a person is mature enough to have developed the mental capacity to be able to make intelligent decisions.
It is also evident that infants and very young children have not developed the mental maturity, had the life experience, nor acquired the emotional stability that is required to make and stand behind decisions of the magnitude that are required before and after baptism.
All of the scriptural examples of baptism show only young or older adults being baptized. There are no scriptural examples or evidence that support the belief that very young children should be baptized.
Setting a minimum age requirement for baptism is impossible because of the differences in the speed with which each individual grows into mental and emotional maturity. The decision of whether or not a person is old enough for baptism depends entirely upon a person's maturity level, understanding of God's word, and desire to follow God. See Lk.3:8.
Speaking in Tongues
God has a reason for everything he does, and so it is with the gift of languages. There are a number of reasons why this gift is given to God's elect. Contrary to popular belief, speaking in tongues does not mean to babble in unintelligible gibberish upon receiving of the holy spirit or at any other time during one's spiritual life.
The ability to speak in foreign languages was given on the Feast of Pentecost and thereafter as a witness that the holy spirit had been given as prophesied to both the Covenant People and to the Gentiles, and that it was given for the purpose of preaching the gospel to people who spoke foreign languages. For a detailed analysis of the gift of speaking in foreign languages, see our study paper concerning speaking in tongues.
In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
Why is a person baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit, and what does it mean to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit?
Jesus Christ commanded that it be done this way (Matt. 28:19). And because he is the author and finisher of our faith, he has the right to set the rules.
Although Jesus said to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, he does not refer to names in particular, rather he uses an idiomatic expression to show the authority by which baptisms are to be performed. Those who perform this ceremony for the God family are authorized to do so by God the Father and Jesus Christ through the power of their spirit.
How Long Should You Wait Before Baptism?
How soon should a person be baptized after they come to an understanding of the gospel and truly desire to follow God? Is there a given period of time a person must wait between the time they decide to repent and the time of baptism? If so, how long should a person wait?
Some might think there should be a probation period for the repentant believer to reflect on their decision to follow God's direction and somehow show others they are worthy of baptism.
As in all spiritual matters, we must let God's word be our guide. After Peter's inspired sermon on the festival of Pentecost, there were almost 3,000 people baptized:
"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41 KJV).
These people heard the gospel of Christ, made a decision to change their lives by following Jesus Christ, and were baptized all in the same day.
During this particular Festival of Pentecost, the vast majority of the people in Jerusalem at that time were observing a commanded festival. Just 50 days before, they had observed the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
These people were very aware of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Additionally, most of them had a good understanding of the holy scriptures and were practicing the laws of God; otherwise, they would not have been there observing the Festival of Pentecost.
Upon hearing the explanation of the events that had transpired concerning Jesus, they were given a new dimension in understanding by God the Father—they were called to repentance:
"For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Acts 2:39 KJV).
The situation between Philip and the eunuch is very similar to the event recorded in Acts, chapter two. Philip explained God's word to the eunuch, the eunuch believed, accepted the call of God, and was baptized immediately. (Acts 8:27-38).
In explaining the circumstances surrounding his own baptism, Paul says that Ananias urged him to be baptized quickly. (Acts 22:12-16). On one occasion a man and his entire household were baptized at night after hearing and believing the gospel. (Acts 16:16-33).
It is apparent that God did not intend for a person he has called to go through some probation period. In every instance in the New Testament where repentant believers requested baptism, the ordinance was administered immediately or as soon as possible. Therefore, a truly repentant person should be baptized as soon as possible in order to fulfill the scriptural example and receive the gift of the holy spirit.
Baptism by Someone Other than a Believer
What if a person has repented of their sins and wants to be baptized, but for some reason beyond their control they cannot find a man of like faith to baptize them?
If a man of the same faith cannot be found to perform the rite of baptism and the laying on of hands for the receiving of the holy spirit, it is permissible to use a man who is a friend or a man whom one respects as an honest and ethical person to perform the rites of baptism.
Remember that baptism is the sealing of a contract between you and the God family, not between you, the man performing the baptism, and the God family.
If it becomes necessary to utilize the services of someone other than a believer for the purpose of baptism, it is important that the man doing the baptizing is instructed to say the proper words in respect to the rite of baptism. God will know your heart in this matter and that you are performing this act in faith and obedience to his word to the best of your ability.
Just before you are completely submerged under the water, the following should be said by the man performing the baptism:
"Great God of all things I, [the name of the person baptizing you], come before you to baptize [your name] at [your name] request, and as a sign of [your name] desire to give [your name] life to you and to follow the way of life you have written in your Holy Word. I do now at [your name] request baptize [your name] into the name, and authority, of the Father and the Son through the power of the holy spirit. Be it so according to your will, Sovereign Father of all things."
As far as the laying on of hands for the receiving of the holy spirit, we cannot give much direction other than saying that God the Father will know your heart. If you ask God, he will make a way for you to receive his spirit of power, comfort, and sonship.
Baptism is a very serious step to take because it is the way we sign and seal a contract with God the Father and Jesus Christ. Once this agreement is made between a human being and the God family, the baptized individual will have embarked on a journey that will lead to eternal life or eternal death, depending upon the individual's faithfulness to the agreement. This is why we are admonished by Jesus Christ to count the costs before we make an agreement to follow his and the Father's way of life.
By B.L. Cocherell