11 March 2004

"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."-Acts 8:37

Though the evangelist, Philip, desired to baptize, there was a solemn "if" in his interrogation of the Eunuch's heart. It was what he looked for in the man, or, to say it another way, it was his answer from God that he was to administer the ordinance. A firm belief in the person of Jesus Christ was the divine prerequisite for every New Testament baptism. We find it at Pentecost when their hearts were pricked; we find it in Lydia's heart; we read it in Cornelius' confession; and we understand it in the countenance of the Philippian jailer. If it was the portal to heaven, the thief on the cross would have had no hope even after our blessed Lord guaranteed: "This day shalt thou be with me in paradise", for he, too, died upon a cross before the sacred ordinance could be administered.

There is a simple reason for the evangelist's question: Belief is the greatest evidence of spiritual life! Ordinances can never give life. Life, whether natural or spiritual, comes from one source: God! As Paul wrote to the Galatian churches which were being led into legalism, thinking that spiritual life came though laws and ordinances, " ... .for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law". –Galatians 3:21. Could baptism add anything to the devil or the fallen angels? Surely, baptism is a public confession of what one has come to love and believe about the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The evidence is certain: the believing Eunuch was alive spiritually before the ordinance was administered. He was hungering and thirsting for righteousness as he attended the meeting at Jerusalem seeking the one the prophet wrote of in Isaiah 53. His travels were of some disadvantage to his person as he traveled through the desert. He could have gone to a ball game or to the idol's temple. Yet, we find him engaging in a search for his spiritual need.

In his book of evidences, the Apostle John wrote, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" -1 John 5:1. When Philip asked the Eunuch "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest" be baptized, the answer could only be that of a born again soul: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Then the evangelist gladly administered the ordinance.