The year was 2007. It was a sunny November morning. I brewed coffee and sat down in my brown leather chair next to the window. I just moved into this new house a few blocks away from the university I attended.
My old friends would call me every now and then to ask me to go drinking, but I promised my new roommates I wouldn’t. Also, I was tired of hangovers and knew God had a purpose for my life. This is why I moved in with two fiery Christians—to get away from all the bad influences and temptations. I am so glad they accepted me in.
When I sat down in the chair, I was perusing through the book of Acts and became fixated on the story about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. This eunuch was reading from Isaiah and couldn’t understand the prophecy. God sent Philip over to unveil the mystery about how this prophecy was referring to the good news that Jesus saves sinners.
After Philip explained the story, the Ethiopian eunuch saw water and asked Philip: “What prevents me from being baptized?” Philip immediately stopped the chariot and baptized the eunuch. When the eunuch came out of the water—he went away rejoicing.
As I read this passage, I had an immediate desire to get baptized. Thankfully, one of my roommates had just entered the room. I asked him, “If I believe in the gospel, can I be baptized?” He said, “Of course you can.” I replied once again. “Do I need a church to perform this act or can you baptize me now just like Philip did for the Ethiopian eunuch?
My friend expressed that the church normally baptizes new believers. However this story, along with Matthew 18:20—For where two are gathered in my name, there I am with them—could make a case for being baptized right now. I said, “Yes! I repent of my sins. I want to identify with Christ in baptism and serve Him for the rest of my life.”
We filled up the bath tub, he prayed over me in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I went under the water, fully believing by faith that when I arose from the water, the Holy Spirit would fall upon me. And that is exactly what happened. I was full of joy for the rest of the day.
In Acts 2:38, Peter makes it clear to the crowd in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost when he exclaimed, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit—which is a promise for you and your offspring.”
Notice there is no mention of asking Jesus into your heart. The Lord’s prayer was not the mode by which one received the gift of the Holy Spirit in the early church. It was through water baptism.
For example, Paul was told by Ananias to be baptized in order to wash away his sins—calling on Jesus for mercy (Acts 22:16). Upon receiving the word by faith, the eunuch was immediately baptized (Acts 8:26-40). And in the great commission, Jesus commands us to go into all the world, preaching the gospel and baptizing people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19).
For more discussion on this topic, I wrote a separate article entitled: “The Importance of Being Baptized.”
However, this doesn’t mean water baptism has saving power. For it is one’s faith during baptism that makes all the difference. As Martin Luther once said: “Faith must cling to the water.” Therefore, if you go under the water without true belief, all you are doing is getting wet. However, if you are hesitant to be baptized, is God’s faith really working in you? In the end, our salvation is by grace through faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ our Lord.
I truly believe the day I trusted God by faith, repented of my sins, and was baptized by my friend, I received the gift of the Holy Spirit. From that moment forward, there was a true renewing of my mind in Christ. I am thankful I obeyed the Spirit of God and was baptized just like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8.
What’s your story? How did you come to faith in Jesus? I would love to hear about it. Please comment below. Blessings!
Article written by Chad A. Damitz (M.Div)