By John Norcott
Examples of Believers’ Baptism
Scripture furnishes us with examples of many thousands who were baptized, all of them being people who professed faith and repentance, being old enough to be able to answer for themselves.
1. When we read of those who Christ is said to have baptized, John 4.1, it is said that “Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John”. First, they were disciples and then they were baptized;
they were made disciples, not born as disciples, that is to say they were made disciples by the preaching of God’s word and then were baptized.
2. You have an example in Acts 2.41. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized.” The circumstances you have in verse 37, “They were pricked in their heart,” they did not know what to do; the sense of sin laid heavy on them and they cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The Apostle answered them, verse 38, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Then in verse 41, “They that gladly received his word were baptized.” Mercy is sweet to a wounded soul. Such a soul stops at no duty: now he hesitates no more, but with all joy he is plunged in water at Christ’s command. The glad believers were willing to obey their Lord at once. “And the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls,” verse 41.
3. Another example you have in Acts 8.12, “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Notice that it says, “When they believed, They of Samaria”, verse 5, and for ought we know they may have been some of those whom the disciples, a little while ago, would have called down fire from heaven upon, Luke 9.52-54. Yet when these believed, they were baptized, both men and women. Oh, if you are so near to death and hell, yet believe and be baptized, there is mercy for you. But note well that those who were baptized professed to be believers, and were described as men and women.
4. You have another example of the baptizing of believers in Acts 8.35. We read of the eunuch that Philip “preached unto him Jesus.” In verse 36 we read, “They came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” Then in verse 37 Philip said, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” This if is the if we stand upon: if you are the poorest or the vilest, if God once make you to believe then you may be baptized; but not otherwise. It was not his godly parents, it was not his reading, it was not his coming to Jerusalem to worship, it was not his willingness to be baptized, but it was his faith – “if thou believest Â— thou mayest” be baptized. The Greek here says, ‘it is lawful’; it is according to Christ’s law. It is lawful for none but believers to be baptized. Then in verse 38, “They went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” think of this man, the great treasurer of the Queen of Ethiopia, a rich man, a religious man, with many attendants around his chariot:
he stops them all and commands all to stand still until he yields obedience to his Lord and Master in water-baptism! He can now go down into the water for the One who had come down from heaven
for him; he counts it no disgrace to obey Christ, who speaks to him by His poor servant Philip. Oh the condescension of truly gracious souls! No argument works like love. Therefore, “If ye love me keep my commandments” says the Lord.
Here also is a going down into the water and a coming up out of the water: how like the glorious ways of Christ; He first casts down, then He raises up; He first brings to the grave and then raises up .saying, “Return ye sons of men.” Then we read of the baptized Eunuch, “And he went on his way rejoicing”, verse 39. Oh what triumph there is in Christ’s ways! In keeping (though not for keeping) His commands there is, as well as shall be, great reward. We read, “He went on his way”, and “He that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.” Job 17.9. How many have got stuck in their way, wept in their way, drooped in their way; but when baptized, have gone on their way rejoicing. He might have had a sad heart even though he was a rich treasurer. Riches could not now content him, but being baptized he went on his way rejoicing. This was also the case with the jailor who, being baptized, “rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” Acts 16.33-34.
5. The next example we come to is the baptizing of the famous Apostle Paul. Read Acts 22.16. “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins.” Would you have your soul filled with joy? Will you take Christ for your Lord? Then “why tarriest thou”? Arise and be baptized. He who appeared to you in the way when you were a persecutor, and stopped you from going to hell when you were running there, has sent me, said Ananias, Acts Â•Â• 15-17. You have been a persecutor, and now I must show you that you must be a preacher, and a sufferer. And therefore “Why camest thou? arise, and be baptized.” Accept at once the terms and tenders of mercy; bid mercy welcome, but do not put it off a day. Why do you tarry? Do you think yourself unworthy? Do not let that hinder you; I tell you from the Lord you are a chosen vessel. Acts 9.15. The Lord is willing to forgive all your former sins and accept you on Gospel-terms, “and now, why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins.”
6. Another example of believers’ baptism is the baptism of the sailor, Acts 16.30-32. He went to bed in his sins and he might have wakened in hell; but preventing mercy met him when his sword was drawn and saved both his soul and his body. Paul cried aloud, ”Do thyself no harm,” for there is hope for you. And he trembling, answered, “What must I do?” The soul that trembles before the Almighty God will not only cry out, “What shall I have?”, but “what shall I do?” Believe, says Paul, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ;
and to demonstrate his willingness to yield obedience to the Lord
Jesus, and to accept of Him on Gospel-terms, he is baptized the same hour of the night, verse 33. Note also in the next verse that all his household believed and were baptized. As many as believed, so many were baptized.
7. Another example you have is of Lydia, Acts 16.14, a godly woman, a praying woman. God opened her heart to listen to His word spoken by Paul, and being by the river she was baptized. When the heart is shut how backward are souls to obey Christ! Once drawn by Christ and the soul runs. Song of Solomon 1.4. The Lord opened her heart and she was baptized. If the Lord has opened your heart to believe the gospel, you may be baptized, but not otherwise.
8. We have another case in Acts 18.8. Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized. Crispus believed, his house believed – all depended on their believing, and then they were baptized. All the examples are cast in the same mould.
Thus you have both pattern and precept; if command or example be of any force, here is both. Beware lest you sin against such plain teaching. He who sins against both precept and example, sins indeed!