“Who baptized Jesus?” asked a beginner Sunday school teacher.

After a few moments of deliberation little Johnny raised his hand and answered, “John the Baptist did.”

“That’s right,” replied the teacher. “Now another question: Who baptized John the Baptist?” This was a real stumper. Finally, after much deliberation, little Johnny’s hand went up again. “All right, Johnny, who did baptize John the Baptist?”

“Brother Hyles did,” replied the boy.

This took place in a little Country church in East Texas in 1949. I was the pastor of the little country church. The teacher was one of our fine teachers, and Johnny was one of our beginner boys. Johnny said a great deal about his pastor in that little statement. He was saying, “My pastor must have baptized almost everybody because he baptizes so much.” He was also saying, “My pastor puts a great stress on baptism and even John the Baptist would have been pleased to have Brother Hyles baptize him.”

Johnny was right in one respect. Brother Hyles does place a big emphasis on baptism. To be sure, baptism is not necessary to salvation, but it is necessary to obedience. There are several reasons why it is important. The first is, baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We should tell the world immediately upon salvation that we believe in these basic truths.

Then, baptism also pictures what has happened to us at salvation. It is somewhat like an X-ray. An X-ray reveals internal conditions to the human eye; baptism reveals salvation to the human eye. One says to the world, “Look, let me show you outwardly what happened to me inwardly. As I go down into the water, I am showing you that I have buried the old life; and as I rise from the water. I am showing you that I have risen to walk in the newness of life. I am a new creature and I want you to see it.”

Then, baptism also identifies us with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.

Baptism is one of the few things that we can do exactly like Jesus did. Oh, yes, we are to strive to be like Him. We are to follow His example. The first and best way for a Christian to do this is by obeying His command of baptism.

Jesus places a great deal of emphasis on baptism. This is shown so vividly in the inclusion of this ordinance in the Great Commission. Had it not been important to Him, He would not have included it in what we commonly call “The Great Commission.”

In March of 1965, I went on a tour of Bible Lands. It was my privilege to baptize four people in the Jordan River. We walked out into the Jordan River just where the Sea of Galilee flows into the Jordan. With the Sea of Galilee in the background and the Promise Land framing the scene, I, like John the Baptist, baptized in the Jordan. As the five of us walked into the river, a group of nineteen believers sang:

On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand, And cast a wistful eye To Canaan’s fair and happy land, Where my possessions lie.

I am hound for the promised land … I am bound for the promised land 0 who will come and go with me? I am bound for the promised land.

What a thrill it was to baptize in the Jordan River!

It is, however, my privilege to enjoy that same thrill Sunday after Sunday, as newborn babes in Christ follow the command of the Saviour in believers’ baptism. It is my desire in the next few pages to help pastors and churches around the world increase their number of converts and the number of baptisms. May God use these remarks to fulfill that purpose.