Baptism is not very striking to the human eye. In fact, it is so unimpressive that most religious organizations relegate it to the “nice but unnecessary” category. A truckload of rationalizations and justifications have argued it off of the essentials list. Could such a simple act really be all THAT important?
God has a different way of seeing things, and we must seek to look at everything through His eyes. John the Baptist came preaching a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3), and the crowds responded in large numbers. Jesus introduced a new authority and another element. Peter pronounced as much on the Day of Pentecost. Not only was there forgiveness but also the gift of the Holy Spirit was part of the package. How did one receive such a precious gift? Repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ were the instructions that day (Acts 2:38), and no one has changed the formula. That does not seem so insignificant.
John’s baptism intruded in the early days at Ephesus (Acts 18:24-28). Apollos was an educated man who knew the Scriptures and the way of the Lord, presenting them convincingly. He just had one flaw in his presentation. He was familiar only with the baptism of John. When quizzed, the Ephesians admitted to being unfamiliar with whether there was a Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-7). They were baptized again. Hmmm, unimportant? It hardly seems so.
History records people being baptized in unexpected places (Acts 8:26-39) and at inconvenient times (Acts 16: 25; :33). There is a sense of urgency attached to this simple act that magnifies its significance. Jesus joined belief and baptism in His plan of salvation (Mark 16:16). Dare any human change His words? Anyone who dismisses the practice must take up the issue with the risen Lord.
Repentance is almost universally accepted as essential to salvation. Faith is logical, as well. But baptism? It seems so…what…illogical? Perhaps it is a wrinkle that God included to see if we really trust what He has to say rather than how we feel. Naaman might fill in some details for us right here (2 Kings 5:1-14). When Biblical teaching clashes with our common sense, which will we believe?