Derek Prince - Why Wait To Get Baptized?
Now, I’m coming to something that I was referring to before. Teaching for baptism need not take a long time. See, I went through this in the mission that I was with. They would take six weeks to teach the converts and then baptize them. What they were doing was baptizing instructed pagans. The people had never really met the Lord; their lives had never been changed. They were good people but... So let me just point out certain facts about the length of time. On the Day of Pentecost 3,000 people were baptized the same day they heard the message. The apostles didn’t say, Now wait and if you bring forth fruit in six weeks we’ll baptize you. Or, When you’ve learned all the sermons of Jesus by heart. They baptized them because they’d met the conditions. They had believed and repented and they were willing to make a commitment.
Notice it was an unpopular commitment because they were very much in a minority. Then in Acts 8 the Ethiopian eunuch heard the Gospel from Philip. Well, let’s read it, it’s worth reading. What happened? Acts 8, you remember Philip was on the road to Gaza. He’d left a very exciting revival in Samaria and because the angel sent him he was on the road to Gaza. He had no idea why he was there. And then he saw this Ethiopian eunuch in his chariot and the eunuch was doing, as I said people do, reading out loud. He was reading from the prophet Isaiah. And so Philip went up to him and said or the eunuch said to Philip: I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of some other man? He was reading the passage in Isaiah 53 He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And, the eunuch asked a very reasonable question, is the prophet talking about himself or about some other person? And then it says, verse 35: Then Philip opened his mouth and beginning at the Scripture preached Jesus to him.
In other words, he said it’s Jesus that Isaiah prophesied about. And it said he preached Jesus. Philip was an evangelist and he’s a pattern. His message was very simple. It’s a one word message. In Samaria he preached Christ and on the road to Gaza he preached Jesus. I love the ministry of a true evangelist. I’m not one myself but every time I see a real evangelist in operation, something in me gets excited. The evangelist business is introduce the sinner to the Savior. Having done that, that task is complete. Philip did that in Samaria and moved on. A lot of people would have hung around because it was a very successful meeting. But he had instructions from God, move on, don’t stay. That was a test of obedience. So here he ends up on the Gaza road with this eunuch and his chariot and he preaches Jesus to him.
I want you to notice that, he preached Jesus. Now as they went down the road they came to some water. The eunuch said, See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized? So he commanded the chariot to stand still and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and he [Philip] baptized him [the eunuch]. Now it only tells us that Philip preached Jesus but in the preaching of Jesus he must have said something about baptism because the eunuch took the initiative, not Philip. He said, Here’s water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized right now? Philip said, All right, I’ll do it. And they both went down into the water. Every time baptism is described in the New Testament the people go down into the water and come up out of the water. And then Philip had an exciting experience, he was transported by the Holy Spirit and the eunuch didn’t see him anymore. But the eunuch wasn’t worried; he just went his way rejoicing.
But let me point out to you that possibly one or two hours had elapsed from the time that the eunuch first heard the Gospel until he was baptized. It was not a lengthy period of preparation. And then in the household of Cornelius, you know the story. Peter went very reluctantly to a Gentile home because it was against his religious convictions. But he started to talk to them about Jesus and a wonderful thing happened. His sermon was interrupted. I say, God, give us some more interrupted sermons. The Holy Spirit interrupted the sermon. And while the people were still listening it says Verse 44: while Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished [that’s the Jews] as many as came with Peter because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles.
Notice, this is an immersion. I’ll come to that in the next session, but it’s an immersion. They were immersed from above. A Niagara Falls immersion. Why were they astonished? For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Now a lot of preachers today say, Well, we’ll hang around for about six weeks and if you really bring forth fruit we’ll know it was real. Now, no one could have been less ready to believe that Gentiles could become believers than Peter and his friends. The moment they heard them speak with tongues they said, this is it they’ve received the same as we. Then Peter answered, Can anyone forbid water that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? And it says he commanded them to be baptized. He didn’t recommend it, he commanded it. It’s an act of obedience to God. How long? Well, maybe an hour from the time they first spoke in tongues till they were baptized in water. There was no delay.
And then the Philippian jailer. This always appeals to me. You remember the story, Paul and Silas had been thrown into prison and there in the innermost prison, the maximum security jail, at midnight, the darkest hour, what were they doing? They were singing and praising the Lord. It says the prisoners were listening to them, they’d never had people like that in that jail before. And at that particular point their praises released the supernatural power of God, and the whole jail was shaken to its foundations, every door was opened and everybody’s chains fell off. The jailer was going to commit suicide because under the Roman system, if any prisoner escaped, he had to answer with his life for the prisoner. Paul said: Don’t do yourself any harm, we’re all here. You don’t have to commit suicide. Then it says: He called for a light [in verse 29] and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
That’s really wonderful, isn’t it, when the jailer trembles before the prisoners? He brought them out and said: Sirs, what must I do to be saved? So they said: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household. So many people leave that out. But as the head of his family he had the right to believe for his family. It says: Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and all who were in his house. They were all of an age to hear the word of the Lord. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes, and immediately he and all his family were baptized. They didn’t even wait for dawn. It was urgent. I don’t know if I can communicate to you, how urgent water baptism was for the Christians of the New Testament. They didn’t hang around, they didn’t wait for a baptismal service, because their salvation depended on it. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. I don’t want to be controversial. You can decide how you respond to that yourself.