Hindrances to Baptism

By Norman E. Fultz

Luke records in Acts 8:26-40 (May I suggest you turn and read it?) the conversion of the eunuch from Ethiopia. The treasurer of the Queen of that country, he evidently was a Jew or a proselyte to the Jewish religion and had been to Jerusalem to worship. On his way home a series of circumstances are so coordinated that he is taught about Christ by Philip, the evangelist of whose efforts it is said, he “preached unto him Jesus” (v. 35). Coming to a certain water, the eunuch said, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” Philip showed that the only thing which should prevent it was a lack of faith-“If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” That presented no problem to this searcher for truth, for he said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” He thus obeyed the Lord’s command to be baptized (Mark 16:16). But the question he asked of Philip, “what doth hinder me,” suggests there can be hindrances.

The word “hinder” means to forbid or restrain. There are many things hindering people in their obeying the will of God in the matter of baptism. We want to consider some of them.

A lack of understanding hinders many. Blind leaders of those who are content to remain blind (Matt. 15:14), to the truth on baptism, have taught a false doctrine concerning the need for baptism. “It is a non-essential,” they say. “One’s baptism has nothing to do with his salvation,” they argue. But, friend, you should study to be approved of God (2 Tim. 2:15), and as to the place of baptism in the plan of salvation, may I suggest you read Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41; 22:16; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21. If a lack of understanding has hindered you, may it do so no longer.

An unreadiness to repent causes some to falter. But penitence is a requisite to scriptural baptism (Acts 2:38). Many are simply not ready to quit their life of sin. These are often not really bad, but there are some things they just do not want to quit, things which cannot be engaged in by the Christian. Others still have “wild oats to sow” (See Rom. 6:23; Gal. 6:7-8) before they repent. Thus, recklessly, some gamble with their eternal destiny.

Interference from friends and family becomes the stone over which many stumble. A man’s foes certainly may be those of his own household (Matt. 10:36). Even those who are well-meaning can greatly hinder when they are prejudiced toward truth or honestly do not understand Bible teaching. Ridiculing the necessity of gospel obedience often characterizes the religiously zealous person when his zeal is not according to knowledge (Rom. 10:2). “You have only to believe – no need to be baptized,” they declare. But, friend, what you must realize is that they will not be the ones to answer for you in judgment.

Friend, what hinders you? Why not seriously look at your condition and answer honestly whether that which hinders you from gospel obedience is really worth the loss of your soul?

And remember, too, that while some would hinder, others would rejoice in your salvation-and you would rejoice (Acts 8:39). Not only would there be joy among the saints on earth, but there would be rejoicing by the angels in heaven (Lk. 15:7,10). May we help?

Truth Magazine: XX:10, p. 2
March 4, 1976