Lesson Ten: What Hinders Me from Being Baptized?
By Paul R. Blake
Congratulations on completing nine of the ten lessons of the Online Bible Correspondence Course. You have studied: From Creation to Egyptian Bondage, The Birth of Moses to the Judges, the Kings, Captivity, and Rebuilding, the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Beginning of the Church and the Work of the Apostles, God’s Plan of Salvation, the Work, Worship, and Organization of the Church, the History of the Church, and examined the question -- If Jesus Were Here Today, Where Would He Worship? You have studied enough of the will of God for you to know that only one thing stands between you and salvation, membership in the family of God, and the hope of eternal life in heaven: that is, obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you feel the need to do so and believe you will one day. Permit me to ask you: Why not today? Whatever your reasons for hesitation, they will give no comfort if you are unprepared at the Lord’s return. Let us consider some things that have hindered others from obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in being baptized for the remission of sins.
Some dismiss the need to obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ because they have a hard heart. An impenitent person has no interest in salvation; the Gospel falls on deaf ears and a closed mind. Of what benefit is confession and baptism without strong conviction and humble repentance, the change of mind and heart coupled with commitment to the changes? (Ephesians 4:22-24; Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30)
Pharaoh’s hard heart and stubborn will brought the ten plagues upon himself and the nation of Egypt. How much greater sorrow than that of Pharaoh will one experience who persists in sin until sentenced to Perdition on the Judgment Day of the Lord? What can be said to melt the heart of a person with a stubborn will? Truly, God gives them the choice to repent now or regret forever. We will pray that God will grant them time to come to repentance. We will pray that something will happen to bring them aware of their total dependency on and accountability to God.
Some dismiss the need to obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ because of religious substitution. Like Cain who substituted a different offering than what God required, they have substituted other plans of salvation or other modes of baptism for what the Lord commanded The scriptures teach that baptism requires: 1) much water (John 3:23), 2) going down into the water (Acts 8:36, 38), 3) a burial in the water (Romans 6:3-4), 4) a resurrection or rising up (Colossians 2:11-13), and 5) a coming up out of the water (Matthew 3:16; Acts 8:39). The substitution of an act called baptism that does not include all of these elements means that Divinely approved baptism has not taken place. Sprinkling or pouring water on the person who needs to be baptized falls short of Divine approval. Jesus did not teach substitutions for His plan of salvation, nor did He instruct any man to introduce anything new into, or to take anything out of, His plan of salvation. If it isn't what Jesus commanded, it will not save (Matthew 28:20). What hinders some from being saved? They believe themselves already saved by a humanly created substitute for baptism.
Some dismiss the need to obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ because of denominational baptism. If they were baptized in a denomination, it is unfortunate, because denominations do not and cannot: 1) baptize for the remission of sins, 2) baptize in the name and authority of Christ, 3) baptize through the gospel of Christ, and especially cannot 4) baptize into the body of Christ, the Lord’s Church. One who has been baptized in a denomination started by men has not been baptized and is still lost in sin, outside of the family of God, and without hope of eternal life.
Some postpone obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ due to external pressures. Adding a person to the Lord’s Church is the exclusive right of the Savior (Acts 2:47). Our work is to teach and baptize sinners; our role in the work of salvation ends there. In the New Testament, no one in the Lord’s Church interfered with the decision making process of any person in all of the examples of Bible conversions, not spouses, parents, or friends. Those who refused to obey the gospel had allowed external pressures from others or from circumstances prevent them from doing so. However, the pressures were not the reason they did not obey; they were merely the excuse.
It is the Lord's prerogative alone to deny admission to the His Church. No human being may tell you that you cannot be baptized, if you have reached the age of personal responsibility, and you believe, have repented, and have confesses Jesus as the Christ. No one has the authority to keep you from being baptized (Acts 10:47-48).
While there may be those in your life who object to your obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there are far more who will rejoice when you do. When a soul is saved, God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, the Holy Spirit, and the vast host of angels in heaven rejoice (Luke 15:7). Imagine: that an action you take in this world has an impact that ripples through Heaven! In addition, the saved in this world are eagerly waiting for you to become part of the family of God (Revelation 22:17). For every unpleasant character in this world that demands you abandon the hope of salvation there are multitudes in Heaven and on earth that pray you will embrace it.
Many delay obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ simply through procrastination. Countless persons who hear and are moved by the Gospel will set for themselves the noble goal of obeying the Gospel someday. Their enthusiasm is stirred for a time, their minds are briefly set on doing right, but over time when they have done nothing about it, their zeal cools and their interest dies. “Someday when I am ready” was on the lips of millions once living but now waiting in torment in Hades for the Judgment; they all said the same thing while living in this world (Acts 24:24-25). What can be said to one who is postponing his obedience to the Gospel? I wish I knew.
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:13-14). “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” (2Peter 3:9-11)
By means of your diligent study in this series, you have been taught the truth regarding the will of God for all of humankind. God has done His part in the matter of your salvation; through His grace and mercy, He sent Jesus Christ His Son to the cross to pay for your sins. Jesus did His part in your salvation; He shed His blood on the cross to wash away your sins. The Holy Spirit has done His part in your salvation; He communicated the will of God to the minds of the faithful Bible writers who penned it down word for word. We have done our part in the matter of your salvation; we have taught the whole, unadorned truth to you. The only thing that remains is your part.
You have heard; do you now believe? If you believe, then you have begun your journey toward salvation (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:17). Has your belief (faith) moved you to want to change your life, to repent of sin and to walk in righteousness and love before the Lord? If you are willing to repent, you have come a long way in your journey toward salvation (Acts 3:19). Are you prepared to declare your faith by confessing with your mouth in the presence of others that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God? Then you are coming near to the destination of salvation (Romans 10:9-10). Will you be baptized, immersed in water for the remission of your sins? When you are baptized, you will transform from a sinner to a saint, from a stranger to God to a child of the Father in Heaven, from the hopelessness of being lost to the hope of eternal life. Why are you waiting?
Scriptures Used In Text
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