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WHAT PREVENTS YOU FROM BEING BAPTIZED?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, August 1, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"What doth hinder me to be baptized?" (Acts 8:36).


This man was probably a convert to Judaism. He had worshipped in the Temple, and was riding in his chariot from Jerusalem back to his home in Ethiopia. As he rode in the chariot, he read from the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. Those verses in Isaiah fifty-three are a prophecy about Jesus' suffering and death for human sin. As Philip ran up to the chariot, this man was reading Isaiah 53:7-8,

"He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth"
    (Isaiah 53:7-8, quoted in Acts 8:32-33).

Philip asked the man if he understood what he was reading. He said,

"How can I, except some man should guide me?" (Acts 8:31).

The man wondered who the prophet was speaking of. Philip got up in the chariot with him and began at these verses to explain the gospel of Christ to him. Philip led the man to salvation in Christ.

"And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 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. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him" (Acts 8:36-38).

Philip not only explained the gospel very carefully and led the man to Christ. He must also have explained believer's baptism to him. When the man saw a pool of water, he said,

"What doth hinder me to be baptized?" (Acts 8:36).

What prevents me from being baptized? That's a good question. Notice that Philip told him he must believe in Jesus Christ, "with all thine heart" (Acts 8:37).

What prevents you from being baptized? I can think of several things that prevent you from receiving believer's baptism. But they all really center in one thing: your refusal to believe in Jesus Christ.

There are many things that cause a person to stumble and remain lost, rather than to believe in Jesus and be saved.

I. First, the Devil hinders you from believing in Jesus.

There is a Devil, and he is very real. Satan is a "hinderer." The apostle Paul once said, "Satan hindered us" (I Thessalonians 2:18). The Lord Jesus Christ said,

"Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved" (Luke 8:12).

This does not refer primarily to Bible reading. The main reference is to preaching, "they that hear." You hear the gospel preached, but the Devil plucks the sermon out of your heart, "lest they should believe and be saved."

The gospel is a very simple thing to explain. I never tire of preaching it. And good Christians never tire of hearing it. It is so very simple, yet so very profound. Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. His dead body was put in a tomb for three days. On the third day He rose physically from the dead. He is now alive, in Heaven, at the right hand of God.

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"
    (Acts 16:31).

But, though this is very simple, the mere simplicity of it causes many to stumble. The Apostle Paul said,

"For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and a rock of offence; and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed"
    (Romans 9:32-33).

The "stumblingstone" is Christ. Those who reject Christ "stumble," or trip over the simplicity of salvation by faith in Jesus. The Devil comes and hinders them from simply resting in Jesus. So, the first hindrance to baptism, and the most common one by far, is the Devil, who hinders you from believing in Christ.

II. Second, lost family members may hinder you from believing in Jesus.

Lot went to his sons in law and said,

"Up, get you out of this place: for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law" (Genesis 19:14).

Lot lingered in the doomed city, arguing with them. He was nearly lost as a result. Only the grace of God pulled him away from them to safety, before God's wrath fell and destroyed the city.

Jesus said,

"And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:36-37).

Non-Christian relatives will often try to pull someone who is seeking Christ away from the church and away from the gospel. Two young men from Cambodia who have come to our church have recently experienced this. Their Buddhist parents threaten them and scold them about becoming Christians. A Korean man in our church has gone through years of scolding and rejection from his non-Christian parents. A Chinese Buddhist man drove me out of his store with a broom many years ago for trying to pick up his son for Sunday School. The boy is now fifty years old and is a fine Christian. The father who drove me out of his store, swinging a broom over his head, is also a Christian now. But that Sunday School boy had to go through severe testing from his Buddhist family to become a Christian, and to be baptized into the membership of the church.

Oriental young people often go through struggles like this before (and after) they decide they want to trust Jesus Christ and be saved.

"What doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest" (Acts 8:36-37).

You must believe in Jesus with all your heart, no matter what unkind things your relatives say or do - or you will not be saved, and thus, you will not be a fit candidate for Christian baptism.

III. Third, the advice of lost people may hinder you from believing in Jesus.

The Bible says,

"Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4).

Non-Christian friends will often do all in their power to confuse you and pull you back with them into sin. They are often a great hindrance to a young person who is torn between these lost friends, and his desire to believe in Jesus. That's why the Apostle Paul said,

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" (II Corinthians 6:14).

You must choose between your lost friends and Jesus Christ.

One young Oriental man said he would come into the church "slowly" so they wouldn't get mad at him. But this never works. There must be a clean break with lost friends in the world if you want to become a Christian. A young man once asked Mr. Moody, the evangelist, how to get rid of lost friends in the world who were holding him back from full faith in Christ. Moody said, "Billhorn [which was the boy's name], Billhorn, you get a ringing testimony for Jesus Christ and you won't have to get rid of the world. The world will get rid of you!" That's a good answer, one that I never tire of quoting. The best way to get unbelieving friends from the past to stop pestering you is to witness to them and invite them to church with you every time you see them. They will soon leave you alone, and go away to their sinful lives, leaving you in peace. Then they will no longer hinder you from trusting Jesus, getting saved, and being baptized into the local church.

"What doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest" (Acts 8:36-37).

IV. Fourth, the world's hatred of the preacher may hinder some
from believing in Jesus.

If you read the Book of Acts you will see how often worldly, sinful people hated the preachers of the gospel. The other night, in our family devotions and prayer before bedtime, I read the following verses to my wife and several young people who were staying over night at our house. I read in the 23rd chapter of Acts where certain unbelievers bound themselves under a great curse, that [they would] "eat nothing until [they had] slain Paul" (Acts 23:14).

As you read through the Book of Acts you will see how often preachers were attacked and hated by the world. Peter was put in prison. Paul was stoned and left for dead. It should not surprise a young person that the preacher is often spoken against. But because that young person is not familiar with the Bible, this is often a hindrance. He hears unsaved relatives and friends say so many bad things about the preacher that it hinders him from listening to the preacher's counsel regarding salvation.

V. Fifth, the pride of your own heart may hinder you from believing in Jesus.

The Bible says,

"Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly" (Proverbs 3:34).

This is quoted twice in the New Testament. James quotes it,

"God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" 
     (James 4:6).

Peter also quotes it,

"God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" 
     (I Peter 5:5).

When God says something three times in the Bible, we should pay careful attention.

May I ask you a question? Could it be that your pride hinders you from submitting yourself to Christ? Some people are so stubborn that nothing can break them down. They go down to Hell, stubborn to the end. My mother's brother, Gus Flowers, was like that. On his deathbed, he said, "I will never bow to anyone." He died without bowing to Christ.

"And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments"
    (Luke 16:23).

VI. Sixth, the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches,
may hinder you from believing in Jesus.

Jesus said,

"He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care [worry] of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful" (Matthew 13:22).

Matthew Poole says of this verse,

So these divert men's thoughts, and draw men's affections off from the word of God, so as it bringeth forth no fruit; or if there be some little appearance of fruit, it dwindles away, and cometh to no perfection. None of these were profane, godless persons, who made no conscience of neglecting to hear the word preached; they are all hearers. Oh how strait is the way, how narrow is the gate, that leadeth to everlasting life! How few there be that find it (Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Whole Bible, Banner of Truth Trust, 1990 reprint, volume III, p. 63).

The deceitfulness of riches and care of this world may hinder you from believing in Jesus unto salvation. I wonder if there may not be some young person here tonight who has a "life plan" that does not really include Christ. I wonder if "the deceitfulness of riches" may be what keeps you from trusting Christ.

"What doth hinder me to be baptized?" (Acts 8:36).

The answer, of course, is anything that keeps you from believing in Jesus "with all thine heart" (Acts 8:37).

But there may be someone here tonight who says, "I am not going to let anything keep me from Christ. I must enter 'in at the strait gate' (Matthew 7:13). I must have Christ - and I must have Him tonight." If that is your thought, we are available to speak with you in my office about trusting Christ. Please step to the back of the room when we sing the second stanza of the last hymn on your song sheet. Let us stand and sing it.

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
    Weak and wounded, sick and sore,
Jesus ready stands to save you,
    Full of pity, love and power.
He is able, He is able, He is willing,
    Doubt no more.
He is able, He is able, He is willing,
    Doubt no more.

Let not conscience make you linger,
    Nor of fitness fondly dream:
All the fitness He requireth,
    Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you, This He gives you,
    'Tis the Spirit's rising beam.
This He gives you, This He gives you,
    'Tis the Spirit's rising beam.
("Come, Ye Sinners" by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Acts 8:26-39.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"O Happy Day" (by Philip Doddridge, 1702-1751).

THE OUTLINE OF

WHAT PREVENTS YOU FROM BEING BAPTIZED?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"What doth hinder me to be baptized?" (Acts 8:36).

(Acts 8:32-33; cf. Isaiah 53:7-8; Acts 8:31, 36-38)

I.   The Devil hinders you from believing in Jesus,
I Thessalonians 2:18; Luke 8:12; Acts 16:31;
Romans 9:32-33.

II.  Lost family members may hinder you from believing
in Jesus, Genesis 19:14; Matthew 10:36-37.

III. The advice of lost people may hinder you from
believing in Jesus, James 4:4; II Corinthians 6:14.

IV.   The world's hatred of the preacher may hinder some
from believing in Jesus, Acts 23:14.

V.  The pride of your own heart may hinder you from
believing in Jesus, Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6;
I Peter 5:5; Luke 16:23.

IV. The care of this world, and the deceitfulness of
riches, may hinder you from believing in Jesus,
Matthew 13:22; Acts 8:37; Matthew 7:13.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."