Examining the commands of Jesus, and what the Bible says about baptism.
(All scripture quotes are from the New Living Translation, unless noted otherwise. All quotes of Jesus are in red.)
What if you died tonight, and Jesus is the only way to heaven... would you make it?
"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’" (Matthew 7:21-23 AMP)
What are the commands of Jesus?
“I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged." (Matthew 7:1)
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way." (Matthew 7:13)
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
"I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” (Luke 5:32)
"You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” (Luke 12:40)
"Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) just as your [heavenly] Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36 AMP)
"But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:15)
"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." (Matthew 6:33)
"But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:44-45)
“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
These commands might seem radical, yet they are not impossible! However, the one about being "born again" might seem a bit mysterious, so here's an explanation. In John 3:5-6 Jesus says: “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.". This means we had our initial human, fleshly, earthly birth... but once we choose to join God's family, we will experience a second birth... a spiritual birth! Until we are born again, our spirits remain "dead" as we continue to live by faith in our own limited abilities, according to our human instinct, apart from the power of God. But once we are born again, we "die" to the power of the flesh, no longer under it's control, and God's Holy Spirit can then come to live IN us, giving us HIS power and a new life that we aren't able to receive any other way.
We didn't get to choose our earthly family, but we do get to choose our spiritual family! Until we choose Jesus, we remain spiritual children of this world. If we do not actively, deliberately, willfully choose to trust God daily and desire to be adopted into His family, we will be left to remain as children of the evil one, and will deservedly suffer God's wrath. He warned us! No one goes to Heaven for "being a good person" after they've heard God's call to follow Jesus, and then blatantly disregard it!
"He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7).
Why should I get born again?
- Because until you do, you remain a slave to your current master, the devil: "Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil - the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:1-6).
- Because if you don't, then you are calling God a liar: "All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son. And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life." (1 John 5:10-12).
- Because obedience indicates allegiance; it shows whether you truly belong to God, or the devil: "Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God." (1 John 3:9-10).
- Because being born again is the only way to become a true child of God: "He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn - not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God." (John 1:10-13).
- Because once you are born again, then you are promised the Holy Spirit who will live in you, and (BONUS!) a whole new life: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]." (2 Corinthians 5:17 AMP)
- Because there are guaranteed consequences, or rewards, depending on your choice: "For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God." (1 Peter 1:16-19,23)
- Because until you are born again, you must perfectly obey the Ten Commandments to be saved, and that is humanly impossible: "When I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law - I stopped trying to meet all its requirements - so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:19-20)
- Because you'll be guided by Holy Spirit, with grace and mercy instead: "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives." (Galatians 5:22-25)
- Because God is the creator of all things, and therefore, much smarter than us: "So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength." (1 Corinthians 1:20-21, 24-25)
- Because it is an act of faith: "And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)
- Because He gives you a new purpose for living: "Christ's love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them." (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
- Because it's an obedient response to God's urging: "Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. So he went and preached to the spirits in prison - those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood. And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 3:18-21)
- Because the concept of "natural bodies" and "spiritual bodies" isn't a concept; it's a real thing: "Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies." (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)
- Because you really only have two options: "Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16)
How do I get born again?
This is a very big once-in-a-lifetime resolution. Take a moment to consider what you will lose, and even better, what you will gain. It is a willful, deliberate choice to be born again.
The way it happens might not be what you'd expect. We are born again by the supernatural power of God, simply by having faith. That's it! It seems too easy, and too good to be true, but there is no catch. "Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory." (Romans 5:1).
When you are born again, the Holy Spirit will enter your heart, and He will be with you forever. From that day forward, you will begin to see the world with "new eyes". This is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit; opening your spiritual eyes to truth in ways you've never seen before. You may pray a simple prayer like this:
"Dear heavenly Father, right now I am choosing to surrender my life to you, and I will follow Jesus for all of my days. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit to show me how. In Jesus' name I pray, amen!".
In John 5:24, Jesus promises: “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.".
Do I need to be baptized? Should I get baptized?
There are 2 schools of thought on this matter:
NO - Because we were saved and received the Holy Spirit when we believed: "And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago." (Ephesians 1:13)
YES - Because we should follow Jesus' example, and do as He did: "One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy." (Luke 3:21-22)
How do I get baptized?
Many people were baptized and dedicated to the Lord as infants. But as we grow in knowledge, we ought to make the conscious decision to commit and dedicate our lives to God, by our own volition. We are saved by faith, not by the water in and of itself. The act of baptism is an outward expression of your new desire to follow Jesus, and it shows God (and everyone else) that you're serious about surrendering your life to Him.
If you've made the ultimate decision to follow and obey Jesus, get born again, and join God's family, hooray! Why not get baptized?! Unimaginable blessings will follow your public profession of faith.
You may use a lake, a swimming pool, or even a bath tub! You can invite all of your friends and family, or get baptized alone with just one helper. Have a fellow Jesus-follower or church pastor help you get into the water, and they will ask, "Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior?" You will reply "yes". Then they will declare: "I now baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit". You will then be submerged, under the surface of the water. This is a way of modeling your death to the flesh, to the world, and to the powers of the devil. Then come up out of the water right away. As you rise up, out of the water, it is your spiritual birth! You show you have been spiritually reborn, as a new creation!
"Christ performed a spiritual circumcision - the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world." (Colossians 2:11-15, 20).
"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross - not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. So we have these three witnesses - the Spirit, the water, and the blood - and all three agree. Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son. And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life." (1 John 5:1-12)
What if you died tonight, and Jesus is the only way to heaven... would you make it? Hell is REAL, and time is running out to make that decision to follow Jesus with all of your heart, mind, and soul!
"For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2)
"This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here." (Romans 13:11-12)