Be baptized, and wash away your sins
These words were spoken to Paul after he had seen
the Lord on the road to Damascus and after he had fasted for three
Paul, who was originally called Saul, was a
prominent leader in the Jewish nation. He did not believe in Jesus.
He thought Christians were violating the law of
As for Saul, he made havoc of the church,
entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing
them to prison (Acts 8:3).
But something amazing happened.
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder
against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and
asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he
found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring
them bound to Jerusalem. And as he journeyed he came near Damascus,
and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to
the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are
you persecuting Me? And he said, Who are You, Lord? And the Lord
said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to
kick against the goads. So he, trembling and astonished, said,
Lord, what do You want me to do? And the Lord said to him, Arise
and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do. And
the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice
but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his
eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and
brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and
neither ate nor drank (Acts 9:1-9).
Many years later, Paul recounted what happened
next: Then one, Ananias, a devout man according to the law,
having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to
me; and he stood and said to me, Brother Saul, receive your
sight. And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said,
The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His
will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For
you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.
And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away
your sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts
Let us examine this last verse: And now
why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your
sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts
Ananias first asked Paul:
Why are you waiting?
Paul had seen the Lord. He had fasted. He
believed in Jesus and realized that he had been wrong. It was time for
Years later, Paul wrote to the Corinthians,
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of
salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Many people who believe in Christ and are sorry for
their sins, put off being baptized, even though they know
it is a command of the Lord. In the book of Acts, which
contains many examples of conversion, people were
baptized immediately, as soon as they believed in Jesus. They
did this because they knew that baptism is for the forgiveness of
sins (Acts 2:38) and to become a member of the body of Christ: For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13).
If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and
if you want to dedicate your life to God and be saved, Why are you
Arise and be baptized!
The word baptize is a transliteration of the
Greek word BAPTIDZO which means to immerse or dip. Bible baptism
is an immersion in water. Churches that sprinkle or pour a little
water on people are not following the Bible. What they do is not
baptism, it is not immersion. In reality they do not baptize people
at all. Someone who has only received sprinkling or pouring has not
obeyed the command to be baptized.
Notice also that it says: Arise. A valid
baptism must result from a personal decision to repent of sin and
follow Jesus. Peter told the crowd in Jerusalem on the Day of
Pentecost: 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 (Acts 2:38).
To repent means to turn away from sin and
dedicate your life to God. A young child has not sinned, so cannot
repent. He is innocent. He is not yet lost. How can he be baptized
for the remission of sins?
When well-meaning parents have their babies christened, and think they are having them baptized, they are being deceived by false traditions that are contrary to the Word of God.
To turn away from sin and dedicate your life to God is something
you must do yourself. No one can do this for you.
The Ethiopian eunuch, after hearing the gospel,
asked Philip: See, here is water. What hinders me from being
baptized? Then Philip said, If you believe with all your heart,
you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is
the Son of God. So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And
both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he
baptized him (Acts 8:36-38).
One may be baptized only if he believes that
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and if he is willing to confess his
faith. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with
the mouth confession is made to salvation (Romans 10:10). And now
why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized.
And wash away your sins!
Even though Paul saw the Lord on the road to
Damascus and believed in Him, even though he had fasted for three
days, his sins had not yet been washed away. That happens only when
we are baptized into the death of Christ.
Paul explains this in Romans 6:3, 4. Or do
you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into His death? 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.
The blood of Christ is the propitiation for our
sins (Romans 3:25). Baptism provides access to His blood. By the
efficacy of His sacrifice, our sins are washed away at baptism.
represents the burial and resurrection of Christ. We are baptized,
we are immersed, into His death. Then we rise from the water to
walk in newness of life, having been born again by the power of Gods
Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins.
Calling on the name of the Lord.
The substance, water, has no magic power to wash away sins.
The power is from God. We call on the Lord for salvation by being baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). In the name of means by the authority of. To be sanctioned and empowered by God, a baptism must comply with His word.
We appeal to God for salvation when we are baptized. Our parents
cannot do this for us.
Baptism is not a cleansing of the body, but a
request for a good conscience through the resurrection of Christ.
In connection with Noahs salvation through water, Peter says:
There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely 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
(1 Peter 3:21).
Baptism is not a meritorious work, but a gift of
God that we receive, a washing of regeneration that cleanses us
and saves us by the blood of Christ: For we ourselves were also
once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and
pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one
another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior
toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have
done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing
of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out
on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been
justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope
of eternal life (Titus 3:3-7).
And now why are you waiting? Arise and be
baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive