A Baptism that is Pleasing to God


A Baptism that is Pleasing to God

April 23rd, 1967 @ 10:50 AM

Matthew 3:13-17

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell 

Matthew 3:13-17 

4-23-67     10:50 a.m. 


On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the message entitled A Baptism That is Pleasing to God.  There is not much we can do for God.  He is so infinitely high above us, and we are creatures made of dust and clay.  God said, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee [Psalm 50:12].  The cattle on a thousand hills are Mine [Psalm 50:10].  The gold and silver all of it is Mine” [Haggai 2:8].  There is not much that we can do for God.  What we can do, we ought to do.  And this is one thing we can do; we can accept from God’s hands a baptism that is pleasing to Him.  And that is the message this morning, A Baptism That is Pleasing to God.  I reread a part of the passage of Scripture that all of us read out loud together a moment ago.  I am reading the last part of the third chapter of Matthew:

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 

But John forbade Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? 

And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it, let it be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.  Then he allowed Him, then he suffered Him. 

And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: 

And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  

[Matthew 3:13-17] 

“This is My beloved Son,” standing in the baptismal waters in the Jordan River.  “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” [Matthew 3:17]A Baptism That Is Pleasing to God.  

Baptist people are not homogeneous; they’re not alike in anything, in nothing.  If you had ten Baptists you would have twenty different opinions about anything.  I have heard it said, “The only thing two Baptists can agree on is what a third ought to give.” 

When I speak therefore of these ordinances, I do not represent, in any measure, all of the people called Baptists in this world.  We have two ordinances in God’s Word.  We have the Lord’s Supper, and some of our Baptist people are open communionists; they would invite the atheist, and the infidel, and the agnostic, and the unbeliever, and the Buddhist, and the Muslim, and the Hindu to the Lord’s Table.  They are open communionists.  No restrictions do they set forth from God’s Word about the Lord’s Supper, and yet they are Baptist people in Baptist churches. 

There are those who are alien immersionists; they will receive baptism or no baptism from anywhere for any purpose for any cause, however it was administered.  They are Baptist churches—sounds like a misnomer when you say it—they have members who have never been baptized.  However anyone would like to come from anywhere, they receive them.  They are alien immersionists.  Then there are those who are very close immersionists; anyone who joins the church has to be baptized into the fellowship of the church.  

So Baptists greatly differ.  And when I speak this morning, I’m not speaking for a denomination.  I’m not speaking for anybody.  Just the best that I can read and understand I am delivering this morning God’s message, a baptism that is pleasing to Him. 

One of the first things I notice as I open this Book and begin reading these Holy Scriptures, I notice very pronouncedly, emphatically, that the three Persons—the three manifestations of the Godhead—are seen as nowhere else they are seen in the Scripture.  They are seen in this ordinance of baptism, both in its administration by John [Matthew 3:15-17], and in the Great Commission by the Lord Jesus [Matthew 28:19-20].  Here in the story of the baptism of our Savior, the Lord stands in the middle of the Jordan River, baptized [Matthew 3:15].  And the voice of the Father is heard from heaven [Matthew 3:17], and the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove rests upon the Son of God [Matthew 3:16].  All three of them are distinctly seen and manifest here in the baptism of our Savior.  I see that again—and you will see it nowhere in the Bible as emphatically as you see it here—I see it again in the Great Commission of our Lord.  The First Gospel closes with these words:

And Jesus came unto them and spake saying, All authority is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. 

Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the peoples—

evangelize the world—

baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. 

[Matthew 28:18-19] 

God is one, singular; “in the name of…” God’s name is “Father, Son, Holy Spirit.”  We know God in experience and in revelation as Father, Son, Holy Spirit; “Our Father who art in heaven” [Matthew 6:9], our Savior who died for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3], and the Spirit of God that lives in our hearts [1 Corinthians 6:19-20].  They are not three Gods.  That’s why I so profoundly dislike the name “person,” the “persons” in the Godhead.  There’s not an English speaking man who lives, but when you say that “person” you think of somebody separate: an entity, a person, a person, a person.  So consequently, when you take that word and apply it to God and you say “three Persons,” immediately the ordinary English speaking mind will think of a somebody, God the Father, a somebody separate, different; God the Son, a somebody, separate, different, and apart; God the Holy Spirit—as though there were three Gods.  That is polytheism; that is heathenism. 

There is one God, monotheism.  There is one God [Deuteronomy 6:4], and we know that one God as God our Father, God our Savior, and God the Holy Spirit within us.  You will not find such a nomenclature in the Bible as the “persons” in the Godhead.  That word “person” was first used by Tertullian in the Christological controversies that raged about the person of Jesus Christ.  Who is He? 

When you get to heaven, you are not going to see three Gods.  Over here will be God the Father, and there will be God the Son, and here will be God the Holy Spirit; there are not three Gods.  There is one God, and when you get to heaven, the only God you will ever see is God.  His human name is Jesus of Nazareth [Acts 22:8].  His Old Testament name was Jehovah [Exodus 6:3], and someday His name will be KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS [Revelation 19:16].  There is one God, one, and we know Him as our Father, and as our Savior, and as the Spirit of God within us.  So we are baptized, singular, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit [Matthew 28:19].  And I say, this is particularly and emphatically delineated in the baptism of Jesus [Matthew 3:15-17], and in the great baptismal commission of our Lord [Matthew 28:19]. 

Now as we come to read from God’s Book the purpose and the meaning of this holy and sacred ordinance, first I am confronted with the interpretation of the vast, vast, majority of Christendom: that in baptism we are saved, we are regenerated, our sins are washed away in baptism, and that we are lost if we’re not baptized in water; that in the act of baptism original sin is dissolved, and all of our sins are forgiven and we are born again, we are regenerated by being baptized.  

Now the first thing that would strike me as being unusual as I open the sacred Book is this: if that is true, if we are saved by being baptized, our sins are washed away in water—if I am to receive that, I am amazed and overwhelmed by language like this, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians.  The first chapter of his first letter: “I thank God,” he says, “that I baptized none of you, except Crispus and Gaius . . . for Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel” [1 Corinthians 1:14, 17].  Now language like that, however you interpret it, language like that is astonishing if we are saved, if we are regenerated in water, if our sins are washed away in a baptismal pool or in a flowing stream.  “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel” [1 Corinthians 1:17].  I say it’s an astonishing thing to repeat words like that if we are saved by being baptized. 

Well, where would one gain the idea, the impression, that in baptism we are saved, that our sins are washed away by being baptized?  That comes about through an amazing exegesis—amazing to me—to take one or two texts in the Bible, and taken out of its context, and taking it out of all of the great mass of the revelation of God, to just pick out a verse, and then maybe pick out one other verse, and build a whole system of theology on that one verse. 

Now may I give you an example?  In Acts 2:38, the apostle Peter is preaching at Pentecost.  And these who have been cut to the heart, they’ve been convicted by the Holy Spirit, they say to Peter and to the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?  How can we be saved?” [Acts 2:37].   And Peter said unto them, “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 Spirit” [Acts 2:38]

Now they take that text, and there’s an amazing thing in that text.  That word “for,” “be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins” [Acts 2:38], that word “for” in Greek and in English is ambiguous.  It can be used in altogether two different senses, two opposite ways.  Like the word inflammable, the word inflammable in English is “it won’t burn.”  The word “inflammable” in English means “it will burn.”  How in the world a foreigner can use the English language I have no idea; that’s a typical word that means the opposite. 

Now the word “for” is just like that [Acts 2:38].  It can mean “in order to,” or it can mean “because of.”  And the same ambiguity is found in the word eis.  In the Greek language that is translated here “for” [Acts 2:38], it has that same ambiguity.  It can mean “in order to,” or it can mean “because of.”  Now if you translate it “in order to,” why, this is what Peter said, “Be baptized in order to the remission of your sins”; be baptized in order for your sins to be forgiven [Acts 2:38].  Now it can be translated that.  But in the Greek language—and I haven’t time to go through the instances in the text—but in the Greek language there are instances where that word eis translated “for” can mean no other thing but “because of.”  Then it would mean, be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus because of the remission of your sins in Jesus, that He died on the cross to save us [1 Corinthians 15:3], and because of our faith in Him, and our acceptance of it and the washing of our souls in Him, because of the remission of sins, be baptized in obedience to His command [Acts 2:38]

“Well, preacher, I’d just like for you to illustrate that.  You say that word ‘for’ in the English language can mean ‘because of.’”  Well, that would be as simple as falling off of a log to illustrate that.  Suppose down here in Huntsville in the death chamber they electrocute a man for murder, for murder.  Are they going to electrocute him “in order that” he be a murderer, or “because of” he is a murderer?  They’re going to electrocute him for murder.  “For” means “because of.”  Give you another illustration: back there in the 1880s an old cowpoke sauntered into a sheriff’s office in West Texas.  And there on the sheriff’s wall, he saw a big placard, “Man Wanted for Robbery” and he applied for the job.  He was good at six guns and there was the sign, “Man Wanted for Robbery.”  You see?  It can mean “in order to.”  We want to hire a man to rob, “in order to.”  But it also means “because of.”  “Man wanted for robbery”: man wanted because he has robbed.  Now that’s the meaning here.  “Be baptized every one of you, having repented, having turned to Jesus, and because of the remission of your sins in Christ, be baptized” [Acts 2:38].  Follow in the way of the faith and of the Lord. 

Now there is another text like that.  When Saul of Tarsus was converted on the road to Damascus [Acts 9:1-18], he described that conversion to a howling mob in the temple area as he stood on the steps of the Tower of Antonio.  And he described Ananias, a saint, a disciple in Damascus whom God had sent to Saul [Acts 9:15], that he might receive his sight and that he might be filled with the Holy Spirit [Acts 9:17].  And Saul says that when Ananias came to him Ananias said, “And now, why tarriest thou?  Arise, and be baptized, and wash thy sins away, calling on the name of the Lord” [Acts 22:16].  You have there a very typical emphasis by which the Scriptures will call a symbol by the thing it symbolizes.  And you’ll find that often in the Word of God. 

May I give you an illustration?  Most of this Christian world believes in the doctrine of transubstantiation, that the bread becomes the actual body of our Lord, and the wine becomes the actual blood of our Lord.  And when you talk to one of their theologians and you say, “What makes you think that when you eat that bread you are eating the actual body of Jesus, and when you drink that wine you are drinking the actual blood of Jesus?”  And he will reply, “The Lord Himself said, hoc est corpus meum.  “Hocus-pocus, hocus-pocus,” as the little kids went to church and listen to them as they made that miraculous transformation.  Hoc est corpus meum, “This is My body.  This is My blood.  Eat, drink, in remembrance of Me” [1 Corinthians 11:24-25]

So in that little booklet by which I teach our children the Word of God as they come into the church, I plainly ask one of those questions, “How do you know that this bread is not the actual body of Jesus, and this fruit of the vine is not the actual blood of Jesus?  How do you know?”  And then the answer for the children to learn and to say to me: because, because when Jesus said, “This is My body, take eat in remembrance of Me; this is My blood, drink in remembrance of Me,” when Jesus said that He was standing before them [1 Corinthians 11:24-25].  He was alive and in His body when He said that.  And His blood was coursing in His veins when He said that.  So I know when the Lord Himself stood with His disciples, I know “This is My body” means “This symbolizes, this represents My body” [1 Corinthians 11:24], and when we drink that cup I know it means “This represents My blood, this is a symbol of My blood.  Eat in remembrance, in remembrance” [1 Corinthians 11:25], it is a memorial.  It brings to my mind and heart the memory of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross [Matthew 27:32-50].

Now that’s the way the Bible will speak.  And that’s the way that the Bible will mean.  And so it is in an imagery used here in this one text in the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Acts, “washing your sins away” [Acts 22:16]; it is a symbol.  This washing in water, it is a symbol of the great spiritual reality we know in Christ when He died for our sins according to the Scriptures [1 Corinthians 15:3].  So when I read the text, I change the emphasis of the voice, and I’m true to the Greek original when I do it, when I say, “And Ananias came to Saul and said, And now, why tarriest thou?  arise, and be baptized, and wash thy sins away, calling on the name of the Lord” [Acts 22:16]

Not by something I can do—and I can baptize you—not by something I can do could you ever be regenerated, could your sins ever be washed away, could you ever be saved.  Not by righteousness which we have done, not by works are we saved; it is a gift of God [Ephesians 2:8-9]; it is a spiritual transaction; it is something God has done for us in Christ Jesus [Revelation 1:5].  So I am to arise, and be baptized, and wash my sins away, calling on the name of the Lord [Acts 22:16].  “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved!” [Romans 10:13].  And the overt symbol of that cleansing is when I am washed in water, to wash my body in water.  For me to be saved in the baptismal waters is a sign and a symbol [Acts 22:16].  It’s an overt public avowal and declaration that the blood of Christ has washed my sins away. 

What can wash away my sins? 

Nothing but the blood of Jesus; 

What can make me whole again? 

Nothing but the blood of Jesus. 

Oh! precious is the flow 

That makes me white as snow; 

No other fount I know—

not a baptismal pool,  

Nothing but the blood of Jesus. 

[“Nothing But The Blood,” by Robert Lowry] 

“Preacher, why are you so dead sure of that?”  Because that is the Word of God from cover to cover, from Genesis to Revelation.  It is the unvarying theme of the gospel message, the evangelium, the good news.  The good news is not that there’s a man somewhere who can wash your sins away, who can baptize you in water and you be clean.  The good news is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures [1 Corinthians 15:3], and He was raised for our justification [Romans 4:25], and that all who look in trust to Him can be saved [Romans 10:9-10].  He was delivered for our offenses; He was raised for our justification [Romans 4:25]. “Preacher, are you sure of that?”  As I hold God’s Word in my hand, as I preach God’s message from my lips, as God Himself liveth do I know that.  [First John 1:7], “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  First John 1:7, “and the blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  It is something God does for us.  It’s a spiritual transaction. 

Why Marvin, one time I started preaching here at 7:30 o’clock in the evening; it was on a New Year’s night and I preached until after midnight.  Do you remember that?  From 7:30 o’clock in the evening until after midnight.  I never had such an unrestrained, hilarious good time in my life.  Oh, I’ll never forget that!  What did I preach when I started at seven-thirty and preached till after midnight?  The subject was The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible, The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible, the trail of blood.  And the whole Word of God is that message:

He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. 

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all . . . 

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him . . .

He shall see, God shall see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied: for by His knowledge and the preaching of His gospel and faith in His name shall My righteous Servant justify many…

[Isaiah 53:5-6, 10, 11]  

Or the introduction of the great Baptist, “Behold,” as the Lord walked by, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29].  Or as the Lord in the beautiful institution of the Supper, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for the remission of sins” [Matthew 26:28].  Or as the song we shall sing forever and ever in heaven someday:

Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 

And hath made us unto God kings and priests to reign for ever on the earth, to Him be honor, and majesty, and glory for ever and ever, world without end. 

[Revelation 1:5, 6] 

We shall not sing in heaven, “All glory to some preacher somewhere who baptized me in water and washed my sins away.”  It is unthinkable!  It is unimaginable.  It is unscriptural.  What we shall sing in glory is, “Unto Him,” the Lamb of God “who loved us, and washed us in His own blood . . . to Him be glory, and honor, and dominion, and power, and majesty for ever.  Amen” [Revelation 1:5-6].  That is the gospel. 

We must hasten if I even get one part of this said.  “Well then, preacher, why be baptized?”  Now I had a great deal to say about that, but I haven’t opportunity but to mention just one, just one.  Why be baptized?  I shall not mention that this is something that our Savior asked that I do, that I be baptized.  He put it in the heart of His Great Commission: we are to evangelize, we are to baptize, we are to teach [Matthew 28:19-20]. 

I mention just one thing that I take out of church history and I take out of my own experience as a pastor.  Why this insistence of God that we be baptized?  It is this: it is, it is the first and finest token of our commitment to Christ that I know of, or that I read in the Book.  When a man is saved, if he’s really saved, really born again, regenerated, the first thing he wants to do is, “I want to be baptized.”  And the Spirit said to Philip, “Join thyself to this chariot” [Acts 8:29].  And he and the Ethiopian eunuch, riding through the desert, were reading the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah [Acts 8:30].  And the eunuch said to Philip:

I pray thee of whom speaketh the man this?  Who is He that is despised and rejected of men and acquainted with grief?  Who is this that was led as a lamb to the slaughter?  Who is this? 

And Philip began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water.  And the eunuch said, Look, here iswater, what doth hinder me to be baptized? 

And Philip said, You can if you believe in Jesus with all your heart.  And the eunuch said, I believe that Jesus, all that He said He was, can do all that He promised to do, the Son of God, I believe. 

He commanded the chariot to stand still; and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 

And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, That the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. 

[Acts 8:34-39]

Hallelujah!  The first thing that a child of God will want to do is, “See, here is water, I want to be baptized” [Acts 8:36].  Now, I find that in human history.  For example, in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Mark, Mark’s Gospel closes at the eighth verse [Mark 16:8].  If you have a King James Version, you ought to draw a line there.  Mark’s Gospel closes at the eighth verse.  There has never been a time known to human history when the conclusion of Mark’s Gospel was known.  We have thousands and thousands of ancient manuscripts now that the Textus Receptus did not possess.  Erasmus did not have them, and the Textus Receptus—the basis of the King James Version—had this man-made conclusion.  But whoever wrote that, I do not know.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s just a man’s writing. 

For example, he says, “They shall take up serpents” [Mark 16:18].  In Kentucky, when I was going up to school and preaching there, they had a cult of serpent handlers over there in the mountains.  “And if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them” [Mark 16:18].  Nor am I about to take any strychnine or any such thing as that; this is sheer, unadulterated superstition.  I don’t know who wrote it—doesn’t matter.  Mark’s Gospel ends at the eighth verse [Mark 16:8], and there have been many, many attempts to conclude it, of which this is one. 

Now he did something, whoever this unknown author is, he did something that illustrates what I’m talking about.  In this spurious forgery at the end of Mark’s Gospel in the King James Version here—you won’t have it in many of the other versions; they put another one there, certainly leave this one off—but in this spurious addition that some unknown author added to the Scriptures, why, he said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” [Mark 16:16].   Now what made him write something like that?  Why did he do that?  Well, when you read church history, you will be very, very conversant with why whoever it was wrote that.  All over the Roman Empire, everywhere over the Roman Empire, there were people by the uncounted hundreds of thousands who would say:

Believe in Jesus?  Yes, yes, yes.

In a Savior?  Yes, yes.

I need to be saved, I believe in Janus and I want him to save me.  

I believe in Janus and I want him to save me.  

And I believe in Jove and I want him to save me.  

And I believe in Jupiter and I want him to save me.  

And I believe in Isis, and Osiris, and Neptune, and all of the other gods; I believe in them all, and I believe in Jesus too.

Just bring Him by.  We’ll put him in the Pantheon, the temple of all gods, and we’ll just look to all of them to save us. 

Well, the Christians said, 

Not so.  We will have Jesus in no Pantheon with Janus and Jove and Jupiter and Juno—no sir, not!

For there is salvation in no other name under heaven but Jesus.

[Acts 4:12] 

And to be saved, you must accept the Lord Jesus.  

And the sign of that acceptance you are to be baptized in obedience to His command.

[Matthew 28:19] 

And the Roman Empire would say:

Oh, now you wait a minute!  Now I believe in Janus all right, and Jove all right, and I’m willing to believe in Jesus all right, but this thing of being baptized and coming out separately and being a member of the body of Christ and the church, now that’s something else.  

I’m not going to do it. 

And that was met in thousands, and thousands, and thousands of thousands of instances.  And that’s why, whoever this author was that tried to conclude that Gospel of Mark, that’s why he wrote there, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” [Mark 16:16].  He could have written there just as well, “He that believeth and take the Lord’s Supper shall be saved.”  He could have written there just as well, “He that believeth and joins the church shall be saved.”  What the man had in mind who wrote that, whoever he was, he had in mind this: that a sign, a token of a man’s true commitment to Jesus is that he wants to be baptized.  And when he refuses, it is a sign manifest that he’s not taken the Lord really into his heart. 

Now I speak of that in history.  May I speak of it in this church and in my pastoral work?  Down that aisle right there, down that aisle right there came a young man from another religion.  And he said to me, “I want to take Jesus as my Savior, and I want to be baptized, and I want to follow the Lord.”  And oh, I rejoiced!  Now his parents are people in Dallas who have a very beautiful store here in this city.  They have a store in the city.  So when the young man went home and told his parents, oh! it created, it created a difficult situation.  And they finally said to him, “Son, you can go to that church all you please.  You can believe in Jesus all you please.  You can be a Christian all you please, as long as you’re not baptized.  But if you are baptized, we will disinherit you and you will be no longer our son.” 

That precipitated, of course, a tremendous thing in the heart of that young fellow.  So he came back to me, and he said, “I pray that you will understand.  I will come to church and I will believe in Jesus, but I do not want to be baptized.”  So I watched him.  He came less and less, less, and less, finally came no more.  And you’ll not see him in the audience anymore. 

All right, down that aisle, down that aisle, down that same aisle and to me came a young man of the same race and of the same religion.  And he came to me and said, “I accept Jesus as my Savior but I’m going back to my seat.  I don’t want to be baptized, don’t want to join the church.”  I said to him, “Young fellow, I’m not God, and I’m not saying death or life, heaven or hell.  But out of my experience, I tell you as a pastor: if you go back to that seat and you are not baptized and do not become a part of the body of Christ, I do not think you are genuinely saved.  And if you are, you are going to lead the most miserable life of any young man I know.” 

Oh, he was like a civil war in his heart and it showed on his face, but he turned and went back.  And the days passed.  I prayed for him and loved him.  And upon a time he came down that aisle right there and gave me his hand again, and he said, “Preacher, today I go all the way.  I’m coming to be baptized, to join myself to the church of the Lord Jesus.  I’m going all the way at any price,” and there was a price, “at any cost,” and there was a cost.  And I baptized him here, and he grew to be a tower of strength and witness in the name of Jesus.  

That’s one reason—and I must stop, the time is gone—that’s one reason that I can see in the Word of God, and in my pastoral work, and in church history, that’s one reason why God placed in the heart of that Great Commission [Matthew 28:19], we are to be baptized openly, publicly, unashamedly, unreservedly.  “Jesus has died for my sins [1 Corinthians 15:3].  I accept Him as my Savior.  And in obedience to His command [Matthew 28:19-20], and following His righteous and holy example [Matthew 3:13-17], I am following my Lord through the waters of the Jordan.”  It’s a glorious experience.  And a true child of God will immediately say, “This is God’s will for me, and here I come, and here I am.” 

We must sing our song of appeal.  And while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, a one somebody you; while we sing this song, come and stand by me.  “Pastor, today I give my heart to Jesus.”  Or “Pastor, today we’re putting our lives in the fellowship of the church.”  Or “Pastor, today I’m following God’s will for my life.  I’ve been saved.  I’ve trusted Jesus [Romans 10:8-13].  I’ve opened my heart to the Lord.  Now I want to be baptized and numbered and counted among those who look in faith to Jesus” [Ephesians 2:8].  

As the Spirit of the Lord shall press the appeal to your heart, make it now.  Make it this morning.  Down one of these stairwells, into one of these aisles here to the front, “Here I am, pastor, and here I come.  I make it now.  I decide now, and here I am.”  Do it.  Do it, while we stand and while we sing. 



Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 3:1-13


I.          Introduction

A.  John the Baptist in the wilderness (Matthew 3:1-6, Luke 3:1-2)

B.  Where he grew up, preached and baptized was Qumran

C.  Dead Sea Scrolls discovered at Qumran

II.         The
community of Qumran compared with John the Baptist

A.   Asceticism

      1.  Of the Qumran community

a. Separate from the corruption and evil of the world

b. Came as a result of Maccabean degeneration

2.  Of John the Baptist

a. A man in communion with God before he is sent out (1 Kings 19:15-16)

b. He was conversant with whole stream of history (Mark 6:18, Matthew 14:8)

3.  It is God’s will that we be salt and light

B.  Ablutions of Qumran and baptism of John the Baptist

      1.  Qumran had many ceremonial washings, ritualistic bathings (John 3:23-26)

2.  Baptism of John an initiatory rite, not repeated

3.  First time world saw a man baptize another was when John did it

III.        The
meaning of the ordinance

A.  To John, a sign of purification

B.  It signifies the death, burial, resurrection of our Lord

C.  God gave him the pattern (John 1:19-21, 33, Exodus 25:9, 40, Matthew 21:25)

D.  No burial and resurrection, no gospel and no
baptism (Romans 6:4)

E.  Jesus put the baptism of John into the heart of
the church (Matthew 3:13-17, 28:19, Acts

F.  We can’t do much for God; but what we can, we
ought (Psalms 50:10-12, Haggai 2:8)