When the Apostle Peter preached to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, he told them clearly that they had crucified their Messiah—their Lord! The truth of this hit them very hard and they were “cut to the heart.” They quickly asked Peter what they should do now and Peter’s response was, “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. To repent literally means to turn. Peter challenged them to turn from their way of sin to their Savior and Lord—Jesus. Peter was challenging them to change the direction of their life by changing their allegiance.
I think one of the biggest problems in churches in America today is there are people who have been baptized, but they have never repented! They have never accepted the Lordship and Leadership of Jesus in their life. It’s crazy when you think about it logically—it’s like they are saying I want to be a follower of Jesus by submitting to baptism, but I actually don’t want to follow Jesus—I want to do my own thing. I need to speak this truth—if you got baptized without repenting (turning your life over to Jesus, deciding to actually follow him) then you just got all wet, nothing else happened.
Baptism is all about becoming identified with Jesus, it is about the beginning of a new life with him. Baptism is a sacrament of the church, an outward, visible sing of an inward grace. Baptism is pregnant with beauty and meaning and mystery. You could say that baptism represents both a tomb and a womb, a death and a new birth—death to self and being born again to follow Jesus. See how the Apostle Paul describes it in Romans 6:3-4:
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.
Reflections: Do an honest gut-check and ask yourself if you actually repented before you were baptized? If you just got all wet or you never submitted to baptism, what is stopping you from doing it now?
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 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.