“Unto What Were Ye Baptized?”
Acts 19: 1 – 7 records Paul finding twelve men at Ephesus who knew only the baptism of John the baptizer, and how Paul taught these men the gospel of Christ, resulting in their being immersed into Christ for the remission of their sins. His question prompts us to ask with love, but yet with concern for your soul: Unto what were YOU baptized?
So many precious souls honestly contend they are righteous before God. These same believe that “one church is as good as another,” reasoning that, “they might be a little different, but they all believe basically the same thing.” They also contend baptism is only a “formality” or “initiation” and they seldom if ever place much importance on its sole meaning of “obeying the gospel of Christ for the remission of sins.” (Romans 6: 1- 6)
First, just being “religious” or “affiliated with a church” doesn’t make a soul righteous in God’s eyes. To be righteous, one must first be RIGHT. There are NOT hundreds of churches, “that might be a little different, but basically believe the same thing.” Christ never died for MANY religions, and certainly not for diversities in belief (1 Corinthians 12:25). He built only ONE church (Matthew 16:18). He is the head (just one) of the body (just one), the church (just one) – Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22 – 23. He is King of A kingdom … not many. He has but ONE bride (Ephesians 5:22 – 33; Revelation 21:9 … not several. Just because the religion of which you may be a part has been recognized for centuries as “righteous” doesn’t make it right in God’s eyes. Can you find the NAME of your religion in the New Testament? Can you prove its practices with a book, chapter, and verse proof from the New Testament alone? If you answered “no” to either of these questions, what else is your religion upholding without authority from Jesus Christ? If the answer to either of these things is in error according to the New Testament, isn’t that enough to call into question its “righteousness” before God?
Now let’s examine BAPTISM. Ephesians 4:5 says there is “one baptism.” In this context, Paul is speaking of the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. We note that John the baptizer preached baptism for the remission of sins (Luke 3:3), but we must remember this was BEFORE Jesus died, shedding His blood for the remission of sins. Therefore, while John preached baptism for the remission of sins, he did NOT preach baptism IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST for the remission of sins. This is why Paul asked, “Unto what were ye baptized?” and the twelve men answered, “Unto John’s baptism.” John’s baptism LACKED some significant items that are found only when immersed into Christ for the remission of sins.
Read carefully Acts 2:38. Here Peter tells those hearing his sermon in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus, “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.” While John preached repentance and baptism, he never preached to be immersed “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Peter did because THIS baptism is by Jesus’ authority! Jesus Himself said before He ascended back to Heaven, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19) Why? It was God’s plan; Christ paid for it with the shedding of His blood (1 Peter 1:18 – 25); the Holy Spirit inspired the apostles to preach it, teach it and write it down without mistake so all generations could learn this truth! Every case of conversion in the book of Acts shows those obedient to this saving gospel message were immersed (buried) in water by the authority of God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit for the remission of sins!
This wasn’t done to “join the church,” but rather to obey the gospel. In this obedience, the Lord added to the church (just one!) such as were being saved (Acts 2:47). There was no “voting” on the newly immersed souls. Neither was there a small amount of water poured on their heads, or “infant baptism” or a “sprinkling” of water. Each one who was immersed into Christ CONFESSED his/her belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God BEFORE baptism. Each one was then buried in baptism for the remission of their sins (Acts 8:36 – 39; Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:1-6.)
Thus, we ask lovingly but earnestly, “Unto what were you baptized?” If not immersed in water, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, we respectfully state you have NEVER been SCRIPTURALLY immersed. If it was to “join” a religious body or to please someone in the flesh, we respectfully submit you have NOT been SCRIPTURALLY immersed. While YOU may be “satisfied” with your “baptism” (however YOU may describe it) if GOD isn’t pleased, why should you be satisfied?
Friend, eternity is much too long to be wrong! Your soul is far too precious to be “satisfied” with something that has no Scriptural authority, and therefore is incapable of providing you remission of sins and promise of eternal life! And while you may have been taught something sincerely, and believed it to be true, unless those things can be verified with God’s word without compromise, you were taught a falsehood. If you are concerned at all about your soul and its eternity, we submit it is your responsibility to make sure you are RIGHT with God, right WITH God, and right with GOD.