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Death by Baptism

How much does baptism mean to us?

Acts 8.34–36

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • February 26, ad 2012

Scripture Reader and Reading: Lake – Acts 8.34–36


  1. Ulrich Zwingli preached in Zurich, Switzerland in the sixteenth century, and 
    1. he was one of the great reformers of that age,
    2. who sought to reform the dominant church of Europe,
      1. especially because the church was the state and the state was the church.
  2. In those days in Europe, 
    1. they sprinkled babies for baptism, and
    2. thereby made them members of the church and citizens of the city.
  3. However, two men Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz were impatient with Zwingli’s reforms, and 
    1. they began meeting in homes,
    2. studying the Scriptures for themselves,
      1. making them question
      2. state-sponsored sprinkling of infants.
  4. Then Conrad Grebel and his wife had a baby boy, and 
    1. this led to conflict, because
    2. Zwingli insisted that children be baptized by their eighth day, but
      1. Grebel and Manz disagreed, and
      2. so they lost a public debate on the issue.
  5. Four days later, 
    1. a dozen men walked through the snow to the home of Mr. Manz and
    2. asked Mr. Grebel, who was there, to baptize them.
      1. He baptized one of them, and
      2. that one baptized the rest,
        1. by immersion
        2. after they had confessed their belief in Christ.
  6. This angered Zwingli who drove them out of Zurich, and 
    1. although they began meeting in another town, Zollikon,
    2. Zwingli still persecuted them.
  7. Mr. Grebel died of the plague in prison, 
    1. the first man he baptized that snowy night was burned at the stake, and
    2. the Zurich officials said that if Mr. Manz wanted baptism by immersion,
      1. they would give it to him.
      2. They took him from Wellenberg prison,
        1. tied his arms and legs,
        2. rowed down Zurich’s Limmat River toward Lake Zurich, and
          1. with his mother and brother urging him to remain true to Christ, and
          2. Mr. Manz declaring, “Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit,”
            1. they rolled him over into the water.
  8. What is it about baptism that these men risked their lives? 


  1. Why Preach on Baptism? 
    1. Shall we ever settle the controversies surrounding it?
    2. Every church, except the Quakers or Friend’s Church, practices it.
    3. Who decided for you?
      1. Did your parents decide for you?
      2. Did your pastor decide for you?
      3. Did your church decide for you?
    4. Someday we shall all appear before God, and
      1. we shall have to explain to Him why we were baptized.
      2. Therefore, what we decide about it is important.
  2. You Can Understand the Bible on Baptism 
    1. Read the whole New Testament, from Matthew to Revelation, and
      1. note every time you see a reference to baptism, and
      2. when you are done, you will know what the Bible says about baptism.
    2. In this manner the Holy Spirit will teach you.
      1. You will not be reading man’s argumentation.
      2. It will not be complicated.
    3. Come to the subject with a clear mind,
      1. determining to see what the Bible says.
      2. Act as though you have never heard of this subject before.
  3. The Gospel Accounts 
    1. Matthew 3.5, 6 introduce us to John and his baptism,

      5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins (Matt 3.5, 6).

      1. We learn that baptism took place in a river.
      2. We also learn that the people confessed their sins.
    2. Matthew 3.13–16 shows more of the action of baptism,

      13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him (Matt 3.13–16).

      1. The only thing we see here is that Jesus came up out of the water.
      2. So far, we have seen
        1. baptism is in water, and
        2. that one comes up from the water,
          1. which must mean that one goes down into the water.
    3. Matthew 28.18, 19 records the words of Jesus,

      18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matt 28.18, 19).

      1. All nations are subject to baptism.
      2. We make disciples of Christ by baptizing them.
      3. Baptism is in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
    4. Mark 16.15, 16 is the next passage,

      15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16.15, 16).

      1. Again we see its universal nature.
      2. Coupled with believing the gospel, baptism leads to salvation.
    5. Luke 3.3 shows what John preached about his baptism,

      3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Luke 3.3).

      1. Baptism requires repentance as a prerequisite, which verses 7 and 8 bear,7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Luke 3.7, 8).
        1. In the verses that follow John shows what repentance is,
        2. ceasing to do wrong things and doing the right things.
      2. Baptism leads to the remission of sins.
    6. John 3.22, 23 shows something about the requirement of water,

      22 After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized (John 3.22, 23).

      1. Whatever the act of baptism is, it requires much water.
  4. The Book of Acts 
    1. Acts 2.38, 41 show still more information,

      38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them (Acts 2.38, 41).

      1. It is in the name of Jesus Christ.
      2. It is for the remission of sins.
      3. It brings the gift of the Holy Spirit.
    2. Acts 8.12 shows who was baptized,

      12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized (Acts 8.12).

      1. Preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus,
      2. led people to be baptized.
    3. Acts 8.34–36 shows what led to the desire for baptism,

      34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8.34–36).

      1. Philip preached how Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled prophecy.
      2. This evidently included teaching about baptism.
        1. Is there anything hindering a person from baptism?
        2. This man needed to express his belief that Jesus is the Son of God.
          1. Lack of repentance might prevent a person.
  5. The Epistles 
    1. Romans 6.3, 4 teach what baptism does, and how it is done,

      3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rom 6.3, 4).

      1. Baptism puts us
        1. into Christ and
        2. into His death.
      2. This passage shows the action of baptism,
        1. that since we are put into the death of Christ,
        2. we are also buried with Him, and
          1. we show that by putting a person under the water,
          2. which corresponds to everything else we have seen about baptism.
      3. Since Jesus was raised from the dead,
        1. in our baptisms we participate in His resurrection
        2. when the person baptizing us brings us up out of the water, and
          1. again that corresponds with everything we have seen about baptism.
      4. This is why I like to call baptism both a funeral and a birth,
        1. we bury a dead spiritual person, and
        2. we birth a new spiritual person.
    2. First Corinthians 12.13 lets us know that this is a spiritual thing,

      13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit (1Co 12.13).

      1. We saw John baptizing people’s bodies in water, but
      2. what happens to a person at baptism
        1. happens in the spirit, and
        2. the Spirit of God does the work on our spirits.
    3. Colossians 2.12 echoes some of what we just saw, but
      1. it adds something else,
      2. we discover who is doing the work,

        12 …buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead (Col 2.12).

        1. We are buried and raised with Christ, and
        2. we are exercising faith in God during baptism,
          1. that is, He is at work
            1. putting us into Christ,
            2. putting us into the death of Christ,
            3. raising us up with a new life,
            4. forgiving us of our sins, and
            5. giving us the Holy Spirit.
    4. Galatians 3.26, 27

      26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal 3.26, 27).

      1. This passage states that we become children of God through faith in Christ.
      2. Verse 27 explains that the faith is expressed in our baptism,
        1. which harmonizes with Colossians 2,
        2. that we have faith in the working of God, and
          1. He puts us into Christ, and
          2. baptism helps us to wear Christ.
    5. First Peter 3.21 is our last passage on baptism, showing what it does,

      21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1Pe 3.21).

      1. Although we baptize the body,
      2. Peter wanted us to know that it is not like taking a bath, but
        1. we are seeking to have a good conscience toward God, because
        2. at baptism He forgives us of our sin, removing the guilt.
      3. Therefore, Peter said that baptism is connected with our salvation.


  1. We have seen that baptism is immersion in water. 
  2. We have seen what God does at baptism: 
    1. God forgives us of our sins.
    2. God gives us the Holy Spirit.
    3. God puts us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    4. God puts us into Christ.
    5. God puts us into the spiritual body of Christ.
  3. We have seen the prerequisites of baptism: 
    1. Believing that Jesus is the Son of God.
    2. Repenting of our sins.
  4. Tract 
  5. You have just seen what the Bible says about baptism! 
    1. What are your conclusions about baptism, and
    2. what is your conclusion about you and baptism?
      1. Was your baptism Bible baptism?
      2. Have you ever been baptized?
  6. Are you ready to do something about it? 
  7. Now do you see why those men were willing to die?