And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Peter addresses the crowd and takes the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 very seriously. He speaks of the two integral parts of salvation. First, repent of your sins, second, be baptized in the name of Jesus. The instructions sound so plain and simple, a quick two-step process to salvation, right? Yet, today, if repenting and getting baptized was a relationship status it would be categorized under “it’s complicated”.
Thus, the aim of this blog post is to move Peter’s words from the “it’s complicated” status to the “happily married” status.
Step one: Repent
Repentance means understanding that you are a sinner, then, under godly grief (2 Corinthians 7:10) surrendering that sin over to God and expecting forgiveness in return (Mark 1:4). David makes a great example in (Psalm 32:5), when He acknowledges his sins and asks God to take them from him, resulting in repentance.
Today we love to think we first need to cleanse ourselves before we repent. We need to make sure our lives are ‘sorted out’ before we can come to Christ, yet Jesus states in Luke 5:3 “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Our complicated status with regards to repentance hinges largely on our desire to save ourselves. Yet it is impossible for us to take away our own sins, the best we would be able to do is hope our memory of those sins fade away with time. But, repentance to Jesus takes away all sins (Acts 3:19), blotting them out, casting them as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). There is no covering up, or hoping to forget, there is a complete elimination of our sins.
According to Dwight L. Moody, there are five things that flow out of true repentance. First is a true conviction of sin, which brings you to the point of understanding that only a savior can help you. The second thing that flows from true repentance is contrition. Contrition is a deep godly sorrow for the sins of your past, contrition pushes you away from your sins and into God’s grace. Third on the list is the confession of sins. Confessing your sins is the natural order of repentance, when contrition has taken its full effect in our lives. When these three things have happened, conversion follows as the fourth. When sins have been confessed our conversion can take its full effect and lead us to the fifth and final part of repentance, the confession of Jesus Christ before the world. This means that regardless of what or who you have in your life, Jesus Christ has now taken the number one spot in your life.
So, what are we to do then? Repent. Romans 10:9-10 Makes it clear and easy, when we believe in our hearts and repent with our mouths that Jesus is our Lord and we will be saved.
Step two: Be baptized
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Jesus speaks to His disciples and gives them two distinct instructions. Make disciples and baptize them. So this was what they did.
Philip goes out and preaches, baptizing people (Acts 8:12), he then runs into an Ethiopian man, shares the gospel and baptizes him (Acts 8:34-38). Peter preaches repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38) and thousands come to Christ. This then begs the question, why? Why is baptism so important when it comes to our salvation? Paul answers this really well in Romans 6:3-5, Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
When we are baptized into the water, we lay waste to our old sinful life, controlled by the flesh and separated from God and we rise out of the water tethered to God in the righteous new life that Christ paid for on the cross.
Baptism was never meant to be as complicated as we make it out to be, allow me to quote the Ethiopian eunuch minutes after responding to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in (Acts 8:26-40) “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” well… nothing, nothing prevented him from being baptized and so he got baptized.
Maybe you are not married to the idea of repent and be baptized, but Jesus and the disciples certainly were. Our lives may be complicated sometimes, but repent and be baptized has always remained a very simple two-step process that leads to a changed life.