"What Hinders Me From Being Baptized?"
Thursday, 13 November 2008 06:00 Jonathan L. Perz
The title of this article represents one of the most profound questions asked in all of the New Testament. In Acts 8, starting in verse 26, we find the story of the Ethiopian eunuch. This eunuch was on his way home from worshipping God in Jerusalem.
As he sits in his chariot reading from the prophet Isaiah, the Holy Spirit sends Philip, an evangelist, to him. Philip, doing as the Spirit commanded him, meets up with the chariot and asks the eunuch if he understands what he is reading. Having not understood what he read, the eunuch asks Philip to instruct him. Thus, Philip begins with the very scripture in Isaiah that the eunuch is reading (a prophesy of Christ) and preaches Christ to him.
As we read on in thecontext, it becomes evident that during the process of preaching Christ, Philip talks about water baptism. We know this because, as they come to a body of water, the eunuch asks the question, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
What a profound question! There was no hesitation about obeying the gospel; no second thoughts, no worrying about what others might think, no doubting. This man, believing the inspired writing of the scriptures and the inspired teaching of Philip, was willing to yield complete obedience to Christ’s saving Gospel message.
As you can guess the remainder of the story is a joyful one. Philip answers the eunuch by telling him he must believe with all of his heart and he may be baptized. The eunuch confesses Jesus Christ as the Son of God (cf. Romans 10:9-10) and is immersed into Christ for the remission of his sins (cf. Acts 2:38). Luke tells us he went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:39).
While reading about the conversion of the eunuch, the question that should resonate in the mind of each and every soul is, “What hinders me from being baptized.” Let’s consider some things that hinder people from being baptized (mind you, a lack of water is not one of them).
Perhaps it’s the teaching of your favorite preacher. Maybe this person says, “one does not have to be baptized in order to be saved.” Is this what hinders you from being baptized? I suggest we ask the Master Teacher what His thought is on the matter. In Mark 16:16, Jesus gives us His answer when He says, “He who believes AND IS BAPTIZED shall be saved” (emphasis mine, jlp). Friend, that should answer the question once and for all! Thus, the question is not whether it is necessary, the question is: Who do you believe—your favorite preacher or the Master Teacher?
Perhaps you are hindered because you fear what others may think of you after you become a Christian! I have heard some say, “My spouse will think I am nuts.” Younger people say, “My parents will be upset.” Young and old alike worry that their friends will abandon them. The fact of the matter is, they might! Jesus’ family thought He was nuts (Mark 3:21; John 10:20). Paul’s friends abandoned him (2 Timothy 4:10, 16; Galatians 4:16). The Lord said such might happen (Matthew 10:35-36). Yet, to overcome such a fear, we must seek the Lord’s instruction on the matter. Jesus said, “But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33). In another place, the Lord says, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). In a parallel statement, Jesus said, “He who loves father or mother MORE THAN ME is not worthy to follow Me. And he who loves son or daughter MORE THAN ME is not worthy to follow Me” (Matthew 10:37, emphasis mine, jlp). If you realize the impact of these verses, you will learn that letting others hinder you from doing what is right, good, and pleasing to God will condemn you eternally. Furthermore, it will cause those whose opinion you value to be condemned as well—for you may be the very one to lead them to Christ (cf. 1 Peter 3:1-2; as Andrew did Peter—John 1:40-42). Remember, It is not a question of what others might think of you. It is a question of whose opinion you value more—your friends’ and loved ones’ opinion or the Lord’s opinion!
Perhaps you have always wanted to be baptized and become a child of God (Galatians 3:26-27), but never got a round to it! Are you the person who always has something more important to do—work, travel, family, etc. In our busy society, this is commonplace. Yet, the Lord answers this hindrance as clearly as any other when He says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33). Our procrastination in this eternal matter is not about being too busy, it is about having poor priorities! The real question is: What is more important to you—the affairs of this world or the commands of our Lord?
Perhaps you simply do not believe with all your heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God! I know many who are baptized who clearly, by their works, manifest this. If such is the case with you, maybe you should meditate on the words of Nicodemus, who said to Jesus, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). John wrote regarding his gospel account, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31). Friend, it is not a question of whether or not Jesus is the Son of God—He is (Mark 14:61-62)! The question for you is: are you willing to confess Him as such before men (Romans 10:9-10)?
One could list any number of hindrances that keep folks from being baptized—money, career, commitment, doubt. Yet, when all is said and done, and we stand on the brink of eternity facing the Son of God in the judgment, He will ask, “Whathindered you from being baptized?” What will your answer be?