Acts 8:14-17 – “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”
What is baptism?
Baptism is a symbol of dying to self and our sinful life (immersed under the water) and being resurrected to new life in Christ (raised out of the water). Baptism is a witness to the world that this saving experience has occurred in our lives. (Jn. 3:5; Acts 2:38; 10:48; 22:16)
Why be baptized?
Jesus was baptized (Mt. 3:13-17). He commanded disciples to be baptized (Mt. 28:19-20). Obedience is evidence of our love of Jesus (Jn. 14:21) Therefore, we should obey and be baptized.
There are Two Baptisms
The Bible speaks of two baptisms.
1.) “Baptized into Christ” – SALVATION; INNER WORKING
- "They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” – Acts 8:16b
- “they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” – Acts 19:6
- “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” – Romans 6:3
- “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” – Gal 3:27 (also Col. 2:12)
At the baptism of Jesus we are born again, born of the Spirit (John 3:5). The Spirit begins conforming us to the likeness of Jesus at the new birth (Rom. 8:29; Eph. 5:18). Water baptism symbolizes this work of God in us.
The Bible does not teach infant baptism, (an infant is unaware and incapable of any experience with God – infants are under God’s grace). Baptism is an outward sign of God’s inner work of the Spirit in you.
2.) “Baptized with the Holy Spirit” – EMPOWERMENT FOR SERVICE
This is the second work of the Spirit in us. Jesus referred to this in Acts 1:4-5 saying:
- Acts 1:4-5,8 – “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;5 “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” . . . 8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
This is a second work of God, received by grace through faith just as the first work is (see Acts 15:8-9).
Notice, in Acts 8, the disciples are baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, then hands are laid on them and the Spirit comes “upon” them. (8:16; see 19:5-6). Two works are pictured here. (At Pentecost the saved disciples – (see John 20:20-21), are baptized with the Holy Spirit AFTER their initial saving experience.
Have you been baptized since receiving Jesus as your Savior? If you have been baptized to show God’s initial work of salvation in you, have you received His baptism with the Holy Spirit that empowers for service and ministry? If you’re not sure, just prayerfully ask Jesus.
Jesus was baptised and His followers should be too. Baptism is an outward expression of an inward work of God in your life. It symbolizes salvation - the burial of your old life and sin and being raised to new life by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It symbolizes being empowered with the Holy Spirit - a dying to self and being raised to full surrender to Christ. In this last sense it is referred to as the baptism with the Holy Spirit for empowering. The baptism with the Holy Spirit for empowering doesn't mean you get more of the Holy Spirit, it means the Holy Spirit gets more of you! Do you want to fully surrender to the Lord? Take that step of faith in full surrender to the Lord and mark it with baptism.
So a person should be baptised to outwardly testify to their salvation in Christ. And a person can be baptised to mark a point of full surrender to be empowered by the Holy Spirit for service.