The manifestation of regeneration (from quickening to conversion, believing) is through confession. Confession is made known in two ways: confession by the words of the mouth, and confession by deeds, the first of which is water baptism. This devotion is focused on the second method of confession, water baptism.
The text verses, Acts 8:36-39, record the desire of the Ethiopian to be baptized. Why this desire?
- Because it is a Command of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20) to the believer to show forth publicly of his understanding of his baptism in the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the believer declares the witness of the Baptism of the Spirit that placed him in the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13).
- Because it shows forth his spiritual resurrection by the Spirit of God in Regeneration (1 Peter 3:21). It shows that there is a clear understanding that he has been raised from spiritual death to walk in newness of the Life of Christ (Romans 6:4).
Let it be established that the candidate for water baptism is a person who knows that his Salvation is in the Atonement of Jesus Christ on the Cross, where Christ was his Substitute, Sacrifice, and Savior; and it is not in his being water baptized (Romans 3:24-25; 5:1-2). He realizes that water baptism is a “picture” of his death, burial, and resurrection in Christ (Romans 6:4-11).
He realizes that he has been made a New Creation in Christ:
(2 Corinthians 5:17) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
He knows that he has been made free from the law of sin and death by:
(Romans 8:2) “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
He knows that he has been adopted into the Sonship of God; and now has received, not the spirit of fear, but the Spirit of Adoption:
(Romans 8:14-16) “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”
(Galatians 4:5-6) “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (6) And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”
He realizes that he is the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17); and being this, he must honor God in his body and spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He knows he has been baptized into His Body, the Church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 2:20-22); therefore, he is married to Christ, and One in Him.
The Ethiopian said as they came to water, “…See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (verse 36). Then Philip gave him the condition of water baptism, “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (verse 37). Without this perception, there is no reason for water baptism. You must be Born Again (John 3:3-8) before you can make this confession in water baptism; for there is no atonement for your sins in the water, but only in Christ’s Atonement on the Cross.
Again, the water was to the Ethiopian the second mode of confession of his knowledge of his being in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And now, through regeneration by the Holy Spirit, he has experienced this resurrection to walk in the newness of life (His Life, Eternal Life) (read Romans 5:1-21; Colossians 3:3), and not his salvation.
The Ethiopian understood fully that his confession by mouth and by water baptism was not the basis of his salvation; but the proof of his salvation in the Lamb of God and not by any works of himself.
(Ephesians 2:8-9) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
You will note that water baptism is not mentioned in these above two verses; nor in Romans 3:24-25; nor in Ephesians 1:7; nor in 1 Peter 1:18-20; nor in 1 Peter 2:24; nor in Romans 5:1-21; nor in 1 Peter 1:7; nor in 2 Thessalonians 2:13; no, not in any verse concerning the Atonement for the sin debt of the sinner.
Water baptism in the New Testament was always after conversion; after the work of Grace in Regeneration. (See Acts 2:38-39; 8:12, 36-39; 9:17-18; 10:44-48; 16:30-33; 19:4-5; etc.) And so it was for the Ethiopian Eunuch. He made confession by his mouth of what he believed before entering into water baptism.
There is only one Baptism, and that is Spirit Baptism.
(Ephesians 4:5) “One Lord, one faith, one baptism,”
(1 Corinthians 12:13) “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
Water baptism is only a picture, a confession, a symbol of Spirit Baptism (which is a spiritual resurrection from being spiritually dead (Romans 6:4); which is by the Sovereign Work of Grace in the sinner’s heart, called regeneration); whereby the end of regeneration results in confession by the sinner of his perception that now he is a Child of God (Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:5-6). By words (his mouth) and by deed (submitting to water baptism), the converted sinner shows that he has full understanding that he was saved by the Resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-22; 1 Peter 3:21).