Robert Jeffress - Developing a Regenerate Heart - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Even when we were dead in our sins God made us alive together with Christ, and such a radical inward transformation calls for an outward expression as well. Today, I'm going to show you what the Bible teaches about baptism. If you're a Christian, but you've never been baptized or you wonder whether your baptism many years ago still counts, you'll want to stay with us today. My message is titled, "Developing a Regenerate Heart", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Now listen to this and never forget it. You can be saved without being baptized. You cannot be a disciple without being baptized. You can be saved without being baptized, but you can never be a disciple without being baptized. That is God's plan. Believe and be baptized, acts 9:18, "After Paul was saved". Notice what happened. "And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales. He regained his sight, he arose, and he was baptized". Or acts 10, Cornelius, the Roman centurion, after he believed, look at verse 47 of acts 10, "'surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he'? And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ".
Acts 16:15, we don't have time to look at it. But Lydia, the businesswoman in Philippi, when she was saved, she was baptized. And then in act 16, I talked about the Philippian jailer. "What shall I do to be saved, Paul"? "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved". Look at verse 33, "And he took them that very hour of the night," that is the jailer. "And washed their wounds and immediately the jailer was baptized, he and his household". Notice that word, immediately. As soon as the jailer believed, he was baptized. He didn't enroll in a six-month course to learn what baptism meant. He didn't wait for two years to see if it was real or not.
The Bible says, "The moment you are saved is when you ought to be baptized". Believe and be baptized. That is God's command. Matthew 28:19, the Bible says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and son and the Holy Spirit". What is the model of baptism? Belief followed by baptism. Now you know, when I am talking to people about baptism, especially if I am talking to a child, I often use the illustration of a wedding ring. This is 40 years stuck on this ring here. I'll see if I can get it off. Anybody have any butter? You know, it came off. Is this ring getting smaller or is my finger getting fatter?
Here we go. You know, when I'm talking to children, I always talk about this ring and I'll say, "What does this ring mean? Do you know what this ring means"? And they say, "Oh, it means you're married". I said, "That's right. This ring is a sign that I belong to somebody else". When people look and they see this ring on my finger, they say, "Well, Dr. Jeffress belongs to somebody. He's married". And I say, "Now, could I be married without this ring"? Of course I could.
It's not the ring that makes me married, it's the commitment that I've made in my heart to my wife. This ring is a symbol. I could be married without it. In fact, I'm grateful I could 'cause I've lost this ring three times. This is number four, I think, of my wedding rings and so forth. The ring is a symbol. It's a sign of a commitment I've made in my life. And then I'll take the ring and I'll ask the child to put their finger out and I'll put this ring on them, and I'll say, "Now, does this ring on your finger mean you're married"? And they'll giggle, and they'll say, "Oh no, no, no, no, no, no". I say, "Right, this ring doesn't mean anything if you haven't made a commitment in your heart to another person".
Now it's the same way with baptism. Baptism is like this ring. When people see you baptized, they know you belong to Jesus Christ, but if you haven't made that commitment in your own heart, then baptism is meaningless. It is absolutely nothing more than getting wet. And that's why the Bible says, "The pattern is always believe and then be baptized". Now, we've talked about the model of baptism. Let's talk about for a moment the mode of baptism. And that's the question you probably wondered about or had people asked you about. Now when I get baptized, should I be sprinkled or should I be immersed? What is the proper way to be baptized? Did you know there's not even a debate about that among any serious student of scripture? There's no debate about it whatsoever.
First of all, just looking at the scripture itself, the examples, everybody in the New Testament who was baptized was immersed. You can't find one example anywhere of anybody being sprinkled in the New Testament. Baptism by example was immersion. For example, in Matthew 3:16, it says, "After being baptized, Jesus came immediately from". Literally, out of the water. Or go back to the Ethiopian eunuch in acts 8:37. "And Philip said, 'if you believe with all of your heart, you may be baptized,' and the eunuch said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God'. And he ordered the chariot to stop and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away".
Every example in the Bible, I could go on and on and on, is about people going down into the water and coming up out of the water. So the biblical examples are always by immersion, but there's even a stronger argument for it, the meaning of the word baptism itself, the Greek word, "Baptizo", means one thing and only one thing, and that is immerse. Let me illustrate it for you this way. Suppose I were to ask you, "How would you like your baked fish cooked? Would you like it baked or fried"? Pastor, that's a stupid question. Baked fish means baked. That's right. That's all it means. You can't fry baked fish. It's either baked or it's fried, but it can't be both. The same thing is true with the word baptize.
When you say, "Well, should you baptize by sprinkling or immersion"? No, the word itself means to immerse. I have in my study a book, "100 uses of the word baptizo in Greek literature," and when you look outside the Bible and look at the word baptizo, it means one thing and only one thing, to immerse. The original word was used to describe the process by which you would change the color of a piece of cloth. Let's say you had a green handkerchief, and you wanted to change it to a purple handkerchief. What would you do? Well, you would take a vat of purple dye. You would take that green handkerchief. And you would baptizo it, the Greeks said, you would immerse it in the vat of purple dye in order to completely change the color.
Now, if you wanted to change that color from green to purple, you couldn't sprinkle the purple dye on it. That wouldn't do the trick. You had to baptizo it. Now that is the word that is used in the Greek New Testament. It means one thing and one thing only, and that is to immerse. There is no such thing as baptism by sprinkling. That's an oxymoron. It doesn't happen. The only way to be baptized is to be baptized, and that is to be immersed. You say, "Well, what difference does it make"? Well, beyond the biblical examples, the meaning of baptism is what argues for immersion, the meaning of baptism.
I want to talk about that for just a moment. Turn over to Romans 6 for a moment, and let's look at what water baptism actually symbolizes. In Roman 6, Paul was answering a question I bet you've heard asked a dozen times. Can somebody continue to be a Christian and still blank? You can fill in the blank. Can somebody be a Christian and still commit adultery? Can somebody be a Christian and continue in a homosexual relationship? Can somebody continue to be a Christian and continue his addiction to this or that or so forth? Can you continue to be a Christian and continue to sin? "That's the wrong question," Paul says. The real question should be, if you're really a Christian, why would you want to continue in sin? I mean, if you have really experienced a change of life and you've been introduced to a whole new way of living, why would you ever want to go back to that old way of living?
That's what Paul says in verses one to three of Roman six, "What shall we say then? Should we continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How should we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death"? How can we who've died to sin still live in it? You know, just imagine for a moment that Lazarus, after being in that stinking tomb for four days and Jesus comes along and says, "Arise, Lazarus arise," and Lazarus wakes up, he stumbles out of that tomb and those grave clothes, and Jesus says to the men, "Unloose him and unleash him and let him go," and suddenly those grave clothes fall off and Lazarus begins blinking his eyes and can't believe what has happened to him. And he says, "Jesus, thank you so much. Thank you so much for getting me out of that tomb. But if it's all the same to you, I think I'll put these stinking grave clothes back on. They're so comfortable. And I think I will crawl back into that tomb. It's so cool and nice in there. If it's all the same to you, I think I'll go back to where I was".
Can you imagine Lazarus doing such a thing? That is exactly what Paul is saying here. Why would we who have been raised from an old, dead way of living and exposed to a new way of living, why would we ever want to crawl back into the grave of sin and go back to the way we were? It is unthinkable that such a thing would happen. And then he says in verse 3, "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death"? Now the baptism he's talking about here is spiritual baptism that water baptism symbolizes. And this is why immersion is the way to be baptized is because of the picture water baptism portrays.
When you get baptized, you stand in that Baptistry and you are baptized. The water represents two things. It represents the grave, but it also represents the Holy Spirit of God. And when you are water baptized, when you go down into that water, what you're saying as your testimony is, "I have died to my old way of living, but I have now been covered in that water of the Holy Spirit of God. I have been immersed in the Holy Spirit of God, and I have been raised to a whole new way of living. I am a brand new person in Christ". That's what water baptism is a picture of. It is a picture of dying to our old way of life. My old life is now over. That part of my biography is finished. My new biography begins as I am raised to become a brand new person in Christ. Baptism is a picture of our death, burial, and resurrection with Christ.
You see that in verse 4, "Therefore, we have been buried with him through baptism into death in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the father, so we too might walk in newness of life". I want to close today by telling you a story. I have shared it in part on different occasions and in different venues. Some of you in our church knew my parents. They're both in heaven now, but my dad was saved at the end of World War II. He was saved in the service through the witness of an assembly of God chaplain, and my father was going to move to Dallas and attend SMU on the GI Bill, so knowing he was going to move to Dallas, he asked this assembly of God chaplain, "When I get to Dallas, where should I go to church"? And the chaplain said, "There's only one place to go to church in Dallas. It's the First Baptist Church in Dallas because that's where the Bible is taught, and you want to be where the Bible is taught".
That's why I love the assembly of God. They love the Bible. They love us and we love them. So my dad came to Dallas. He enrolled in SMU and he met my mom there. She was attending SMU, and my mom was a member of a Methodist church. She had grown up in the Methodist church, faithful in her attendance, but she had never personally trusted in Christ as her Savior. And so my dad would do everything he could to try to get my mom to come down here to First Baptist Dallas, and she refused to come. She hated coming to this church. She couldn't stand the music here. She really couldn't stand Dr. Criswell and all that yelling and screaming she said that he did. And of course the real problem was she wasn't saved, but she found some excuse why not to come.
Well, my dad finally persuaded her to go with him to the Billy Graham crusade at the cotton bowl in 1953. She went and there she trusted in Christ as her Savior. And it was announced that Billy Graham the following Sunday would be preaching here at First Baptist Dallas. So my mom reluctantly agreed to come with my dad to the service and they sat up in the old balcony there and listened to Billy Graham preach, and when Billy had finished the sermon, he stepped down from behind the pulpit. He came down, took Dr. Criswell by the hand, and placed his membership in our church. And as you know, for 54 years, Billy Graham was a member of our church.
Well, when Billy Graham walked down to the front, my mom turned to my dad in the balcony and said, "Well, if First Baptist is good enough for Billy Graham, it's good enough for me". And she joined the church that day as well. Now she joined here and Mrs. Criswell was so kind to disciple her, but she hadn't been baptized yet, and Dr. Criswell kept saying to her, "Now Judy, you need to be baptized. You need to be baptized". At first, she didn't understand why that was important, but as she began to study the scripture, she understood, and she came to the conviction on her own. That's what God wants me to do, to be baptized. The only problem was her parents, my grandparents. They were committed, committed members of the Methodist church, and they were violently opposed to her being baptized.
To them, that would be a repudiation of her whole heritage of what they had done as parents and my mom wanted to please her parents. She really wanted to please her parents, but she knew this is what God had her to do, so she said she was going to be baptized. My grandparents were so hurt, just hurt, that they refused to attend the baptismal service. Well, as the years went on, I came along and my brother and sister. My grandparents started to soften up a little bit and they started to visit here and they grew to love Dr. Criswell and to love our church, and in January of 1986, my grandmother died. And then six weeks after that, my mother died at age 54. And my grandfather, bless his heart, lost his wife and his only daughter within a six-week period of time. And the grief he went through was just unspeakable.
And I remember going to visit him up in van Alstyne, Texas, the final years of his life, and so often he would say to me, he'd say, "Robert, you know, the best thing your mother ever did was when she joined that First Baptist Church of Dallas and raised you kids up in that church. It's the best thing she ever did. And if I were physically able, I'd walk down the aisle of that First Baptist Church in Dallas today and be baptized. I'm too old. I can't physically do it, but, oh, how I wish I could be baptized". And he said that until the day he died. He wanted to be baptized. What I'm saying to you is if you are truly a follower of Jesus Christ, you're going to want to obey Christ and do what he says, to be baptized. It's the most natural thing in the world to want to be baptized. You can be saved without being baptized, but you can't be a disciple without being baptized. Repent, believe, and be baptized. That's the mark of a true disciple of Christ.