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To Infidelity and Back By Henry F. Lutz Characters: 44445

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

One of the chief things that led me to identify myself with the people working for Christian union, was my experience with regard to baptism. Indeed, I am more and more convinced that baptism is the main key to the question of Christian union. We can differ on questions of theoretical theology and still work together in harmony in practical Christian activities. But if we differ on the question of baptism, we cannot take the first step in preaching the gospel and in leading souls to Christ, in the New Testament way, without getting into conflict. The only way that union meetings of different denominations have been at all possible, has been by ignoring the plain teaching and practice of the Apostles on the question of baptism. We never can have Christian union in the authority of Christ, which is the only union which will satisfy his prayer and demand, until we agree on the two simple ordinances which are the forms in which the gospel embodies itself to bless our souls. And, fortunately, these are the easiest things to unite on. When free from prejudice, there is no question on which Christians can more easily agree than that of baptism, as the testimony of the scholars and churches that follow in this chapter abundantly demonstrate. The consummation of Christian union will have to patiently wait until inherited and acquired prejudices become sufficiently allayed so that all Christians can look at the question of baptism dispassionately. Then it will be discovered that we all agree on this question and the main barrier to Christian union will be removed. In our weakness we want to procure Christian union without giving up our sectarian ideas that have been superadded to the New Testament teaching, and that have caused our division. And so we try to compromise by "agreeing to disagree" or by ignoring the teachings of the New Testament. But such efforts must be futile and disappointing. We can never unite on the gospel until we agree in the gospel teaching. We can never unite in obeying the Master until we unite in our opinions as to what the Master has commanded us to do. But, thank God, the field is rapidly ripening for this agreement and consequent union.

As is usually the case, I received my early ideas on baptism by heredity and environment, so far as I had any ideas on the subject. The religious people with whom I was associated in my early life taught and practiced sprinkling and infant baptism, and, of course, I assumed that they must be right in the matter. Although I read the Bible through several times, I did not see its teaching on this subject, as I was not particularly interested in it. For reasons explained in previous chapters-that we look through colored glasses-multitudes of people daily read their Bible who never see what is in it; but imagine, as a matter of course, that it teaches what they bring to it through hereditary and preconceived ideas.

As already stated, I was first led to think on this subject while I studied New Testament Greek under President Cary, of the Meadville Theological School. When we came to the word baptizoo, Dr. Cary told the class that all Greek scholars of note agree that the meaning of the word in the mouth of Jesus was to immerse. This statement was a great surprise to me, and I decided to discover for myself whether this was the fact or not. This was the beginning of my investigation of the subject of baptism. I found that Dr. Cary was correct in his statement. What influenced me greatly was the fact that the German rationalists, who are recognized as among the best scholars of the world, and who are perfectly impartial on this subject, as they do not care what the Bible teaches about baptism, all say that baptism is immersion, without ever hinting at a possibility for difference of opinion. I investigated the matter for several years, as I found opportunity, until there was not the shadow of a doubt left in my mind that immersion is New Testament baptism.

While a student at Oberlin Theological Seminary, I found that all the authorities they used in New Testament Greek, taught immersion, while their churches practise sprinkling. In studying Hebrews in the Greek, we used Dr. Westcott's commentary. When we came to Heb. 10:22, "having our bodies washed with pure water," Dr. Westcott said this referred to the "laver of regeneration" or the primitive practice of immersion. When we studied Romans in Greek, we used Dr. Sanday's International Critical Commentary. The professor told us it was the very best and probably would be for years to come. When we came to Rom. 6:4, "buried with him through baptism," Dr. Sanday never raised a doubt about the meaning, but in eloquent words spoke about the beautiful representation of burial and resurrection with Christ in baptism. This astonished me very much, as Drs. Westcott and Sanday were noted Episcopalian scholars, and the Episcopal churches practise sprinkling. We used Dr. Thayer's New Testament Greek lexicon, which the professor informed us was the very best in the English language. This lexicon defined baptizoo as meaning to dip, and never hinted that sprinkling or pouring might be its meaning. As I said above, I found Dr. Cary correct in claiming that all Greek scholars of note agree that the meaning of the word in the mouth of Jesus was to immerse, and I have never been able to get hold of a single New Testament lexicon that defines baptizoo as ever meaning to sprinkle or pour.

The following chart and facts will help us to get at the truth about the meaning of the Greek word baptizoo without quoting from a long list of lexicons:


You notice in the chart that we have three separate and distinct words in the Greek for immersion, sprinkling and pouring; and these words have their primary or proper, secondary or tropical meanings, all of which must be differentiated. The primary or proper meaning has reference to specific acts, the secondary meaning refers to things done by means of these specific acts, while the tropical or metaphorical meaning departs from the specific meaning of the words and therefore cannot have reference to the specific outward acts indicated by the words. For this reason it is a law of language, recognized by all scholars, that you must give a word its primary or proper meaning when it is employed in commanding an outward act, unless the context demands another meaning.

Notice the English words shoot, hang and poison. These express specific outward acts; and, then, in their secondary meaning, they mean to kill, but always to kill in the way indicated by the primary meaning of the word. A man can be hung, shot or poisoned without being killed; but if it is reported that he was hung, shot or poisoned, we would all understand that he was killed. However, you cannot conceive of words so changing their meaning, that when it is said a man was hung, it means that he was shot, or when it is said he was poisoned, it means he was hung. No more is it conceivable that when the Greek word baptizoo (to immerse) was used, it meant to cleanse by sprinkling (rantizoo), or when the word rantizoo (to sprinkle) was used, it meant to cleanse by immersing (baptizoo). These words refer primarily to separate and distinct outward acts. It is true they may meet in their secondary meaning in the idea to cleanse; but they always refer to cleansing in the way indicated by the primary meaning of the word used. When they travel so far from their primary or proper meaning, which has reference to specific outward acts, that their meaning is said to be tropical or metaphorical, they lose their specific idea and have no longer any reference to the specific acts denoted by the words.

It is true that words can and do often change or enlarge their meaning. But this is always to supply a need created by the lack of a proper word to express an associated idea. Now, both the specific and general ideas with reference to the application of water are so copiously supplied with words in the Greek, that they preclude the necessity of changing the meaning of a word like baptizoo to supply such a need. We have louoo, to wash or bathe the body; niptoo, to wash a part of the body, as the hands, feet, face, etc.; plunoo, to wash clothes; brechoo, to wet, to rain; katharizoo, to cleanse; ekcheoo, to pour; rantizoo, to sprinkle; baptizoo, to immerse, etc.

Thus we have a threefold guard to keep baptizoo to its primary or proper meaning of to dip or immerse. First, an abundance of Greek words to express every general and specific idea about the application of water, except that of immersion; second, the fact that a tropical meaning of a word cannot refer to the specific outward act indicated by the word; and third, the law of interpretation which demands that a word be given its primary or proper meaning in commandments, or plain narrative, unless the context expressly demands a different meaning.

The above definitions of the word baptizoo are taken from Dr. Thayer's "New Testament Greek Lexicon." In reply to letters inquiring about Dr. Thayer's "New Testament Greek Lexicon," the following answers-were received. It is the "best" (Professor Hodge, of Princeton); it is the "very best" (Dr. Alexander, of Vanderbilt University); "nothing can compare with it" (Dr Hersman, president of the Southwestern Presbyterian University). This opinion is practically made unanimous from the fact that Dr. Thayer's Lexicon is used at all of the leading schools in the country.

A request for an authoritative lexicon that gives "sprinkle" or "pour" as a meaning of baptizoo, elicited the following answers: "There is no such lexicon" (Professor Humphreys, of the University of Virginia, and Professor D'ooge, of Colby University); "I know of none" (Professor Flagg, of Cornell); "I do not know of any" (Professor Tyler, of Amherst). "Baptizoo means to immerse. All lexicographers and critics of any note are agreed in this."-Dr. Moses Stuart.

Thus we learn, through the testimony of experts, without consulting all the numerous Greek lexicons, that they define the word baptizoo as meaning to immerse and that none of them say it means to sprinkle or to pour.

The great mass of Christians know nothing about the Greek experts who make the lexicons, but are much better acquainted with and influenced by the great church leaders and church standards. Therefore we present the following quotations:

Scholars and Churches Admit that Christ Taught Immersion.

NOTE.-These quotations are taken from a tract of mine on baptism.

I. Council of Toledo, 633 (Catholic): "We observe a single immersion in baptism."

2. Council of Cologne, 1280 (Catholic): "That he who baptizes when he immerses the candidate in water," etc.

3. Martini (Roman Catholic): "In all of the pontificals and rituals I have seen (except that of Madeleine de Beulieu), and I have seen many, ancient as well as more recent, immersion is prescribed."

4. Dollinger (Roman Catholic): "Baptism was administered by an entire immersion in water." (Chu. History, vol. 2, p. 294.) "A mere pouring or sprinkling was never thought of." (First Age of Chu., p. 318.) "Baptism by immersion continued to be the prevailing practice of the church as late as the fourteenth century." (Hist. Ch., vol. 2, p. 295.)

5. Ritual of Greek Catholic Church: "The priest immerses him, saying the servant of God is immersed, in the name of the Father," etc.

6. Russian Catechism (Greek Catholic): "This they hold to be a point necessary, that no part of the child be undipped in water," etc.

7. Alex. De Stourdza (native Greek): "The verb baptize, immergo, has, in fact, but one sole acceptation. It signifies, literally and always, to plunge. Baptism and immersion are, therefore, identical, and to say baptism is by aspersion is as if one should say, immersion by aspersion, or any other absurdity of the same nature." (Con. sur LaDoc. et L'Esprit, p. 87.)

8. Dr. Kyriasko, of University of Athens, Greece: "The verb baptize in the Greek language never has the meaning of to pour or to sprinkle, but invariably that of to dip." (Letter to C. G. Jones, Lynchburg, Va.)

9. Syrian Ritual (Nestorians): "The priest immerses him in water, saying such a one is baptized in the name of the Father," etc.

10. Martin Luther: "Baptism is a Greek word. In Latin it can be translated immersion, as when we plunge something into water, that it may be completely covered with water; they ought to have been completely immersed." (The Sacrament of Baptism.)

11. Lutheran Catechism, p. 216: "In what did this act (baptism) consist?" Answer: "The one to be baptized was first immersed in water, signifying death, and then he was drawn out again and was dressed with a new dress, as if he now were a different new being."

12. John Calvin (Presbyterian): "The word baptize signifies to immerse, and it is certain that the rite of immersion was observed by the ancient church." (Inst. Book 4, c. 15.)

13. Richard Baxter (Presbyterian): "It is commonly confessed by us to the Anabaptists, as our commentators declare, that in the Apostles' time the baptized were dipped over head in the water." (Dis. Right to Sac., p. 70.)

14. Dr. W. D. Powell, while in Athens, Greece, wrote: "I found that all churches in Greece-the Presbyterian included-are compelled to immerse candidates for baptism, for, as one of the professors remarked, 'the commonest day laborer understands nothing else for baptizoo but immersion.'"

15. Zwingle (Reformed): "When ye were immersed into the water of baptism, ye wrere engrafted into the death of Christ." (Com. Rom. 6:3.)

16. John Wesley (Methodist): "We are buried with him, alluding to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion." (Notes on N. T., Rom. 6:4.) "Baptized according to the custom of the first church and the rule of the Church of England, by immersion." (Journal, vol. I, p. 20.) In Savannah, Ga., Sept., 1737, Wesley was found guilty of breaking the laws of the realm, among other things "by refusing to baptize Mr. Parker's child otherwise than by dipping." (Jour., vol. I, pp. 42, 43.)

17. The Methodist Discipline of 1846, and the old Discipline compiled by Wesley himself, assert that "Jesus was baptized in the river of Jordan, and that the sixth of Romans means simply a burial in water."

18. Adam Clark (Methodist): "As they received baptism as an emblem of death, in voluntarily going under the water, so they received it as an emblem of the resurrection into eternal life, in coming up out of the water." (Com., vol. 4, N. T.)

19. Prayer Book (Church of England): "The priest shall dip him in the water, discreetly and warily."

20. Conybeare and Howson (Episcopalians): "It is needless to add that baptism was administered by immersion, the convert being plunged beneath the surface of the water to represent his death to the life of sin, then raised from this momentary burial to represent his resurrection to the life of righteousness. It must be a subject of regret that the general discontinuance of this original form of baptism has rendered obscure to popular apprehension some very important passages of Scripture." (Life of St. Paul.)

26. Prof. L. L. Paine (Congregational): "It may be honestly asked by some, Was immersion the primitive form of baptism? As to the question of fact, the testimony is ample and decisive. It is a point on which ancient, medieval and modern historians alike, Catholic and Protestant, Lutheran and Calvinist, have no controversy. No historian who cares for his reputation would dare to deny it, and no historian who is worthy of the name would wish to."

27. Dr. George Campbell (Presbyterian): "I have heard a disputant of this stamp, in defiance of etymology and use, maintain that the word rendered in the N. T. baptize means more properly to sprinkle than to plunge. One who argues in this manner never fails, with persons of knowledge, to betray the cause he would defend; and though in respect to the vulgar, bold assertions generally succeed as well as arguments, sometimes better, yet a candid mind will disdain to take the help of a falsehood even in support of the truth." (Lect. on Pul. El. Lect, 10, pp. 294, 295.)

28. Philip Schaff (Un. Theo. Sem.): "The baptism of Christ in the river Jordan, and the illustrations of baptism used in the N. T., are all in favor of immersion rather than sprinkling, as is freely admitted by the best exegetes, Catholic and Protestant, English and German. Nothing can be gained by an unnatural exegesis." (Teaching of Apostles, pp. 55,56.)

29. Paul: "We are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Rom. 6:4.)

30. Peter says our bodies are washed in baptism, (1 Pet. I:23.)

31. Mark: "Jesus-was baptized in [Marg., Greek, into] the Jordan" (Mark 1:9, A. R. V.). He could not have been baptized into the water without being immersed.

Churches Have Changed Immersion to Sprinkling.

1. The first record of sprinkling for baptism is that of Novatian, A. D. 250. It was thought he was dying and, as he could not be immersed, they sprinkled water on him. Thus originated what was called clinic or death-bed baptism. Its introduction was vigorously opposed for centuries and clinics were not admitted to sacred orders, many doubting their baptism.

2. Pope Stephen III. In 754 the monks of Cressy asked Stephen III.: "Is it lawful, in case of necessity, occasioned by sickness, to baptize an infant by pouring water on its head from a cup or the hands?" The Pope replied: "Such a baptism, performed in such a case of necessity, shall be accounted valid." Basnage says: "This was accounted the first law against immersion."

3. The Council of Ravenna, 1311, decreed: "Baptism is to be administered by trine aspersion or immersion." This was the first authority for sprinkling except in case of sickness.

4. Cardinal Gibbons (R. Catholic): "Since the twelfth century the practice of baptizing by affusion has prevailed in the Catholic Church, as this manner is attended with less inconvenience than baptism by immersion." (Faith of Our Fathers, p. 275.)

5. Bishop of Bossuet (R. Catholic): "The case (communion under one kind) was much the same as that of baptism by immersion, as clearly grounded on Scripture as communion under both kinds could be, and which, nevertheless, had been changed into infusion, with as much ease and as little contradiction as communion under one kind was established, so that the same reason stood for retaining one as the other. It is a fact most certainly avowed in the Reformation, although some will cavil at it, that baptism was instituted by immersing the whole body in water. This fact, I say, is unanimously acknowledged by all the divines of the Reformation: by Luther, by Melancthon, by Calvin, by Casaubon, by Grotius, by all the rest." (Varia. Protest., vol. 2, p. 370.)

6. Archbishop Kenrick (R. Catholic): "The change of discipline which has taken place as to baptism should not surprise us, for, although the church is but the dispenser of the sacraments which her Divine Spouse instituted, she rightfully exercises a discretionary power as to the manner of their adminstration. Immersion was well suited to the Eastern nations, whose habits and climate prepared them for it, and was, therefore, practiced in the commencement, whenever necessity did not prevent it. Cases, which at first were exceptional, gradually multiplied, so that, at length, the ordinary mode of baptism was by affusion. The church wisely sanctioned that which, although less solemn, is equally effectual. The power of binding and loosing, which she received from Christ, warrants this exercise of governing wisdom. It is not for the individuals to question a right which has been at all times claimed and exercised by those to whom the dispensation of the mysteries is divinely intrusted." (Kenrick on Bap., p. 174.)

7. Haydock, Endorsed by Pope Pius IX.: "The church, which cannot change the least article of faith, is not so tied up in matters of discipline and ceremony. Not only the Catholic Church, but also the pretended reformed churches, have altered the primitive custom in giving the sacrament of baptism and now allow of baptisms by sprinkling and pouring water upon the person baptized." (Notes on Douay Bible, Matt. 3:16.)

8. Lutheran Catechism, p. 208: "What is baptism?" Answer: "To dip under water." "Do we still baptize in that way?" Answer: "No; because of the rough climate, the subject now is only sprinkled."

9. John Calvin (Presbyterian): "Wherefore the church did grant liberty to herself, since the beginning, to change the rites somewhat, excepting the substance. It is of no consequence at all whether the person that is baptized is totally immersed, or whether he is merely sprinkled by an affusion of water. This should be a matter of choice to the churches in different regions."

10. Westminster Assembly (Presbyterian), 1643: "In the Assembly of Divines, held at Westminster in 1643, it was keenly debated whether immersion or sprinkling should be adopted; 25 voted for sprinkling, and 24 for immersion; and even that small majority was obtained at the earnest request of Dr. Lightfoot, who had acquired great influence in that assembly." (Edinburgh Ency., vol. 3, p. 236.)

11. Dr. Wall (Episcopalian): "One would have thought that the cold countries should have been the first that should have changed the custom from dipping to affusion. But by history it appears that the cold climates held the custom of dipping as long as any; for England, which is one of the coldest, was one of the latest that admitted this alteration of the ordinary way. . . . The offices or liturgies for public baptism in the Church of England did all along, so far as I can learn, enjoin dipping, without any mention of pouring or sprinkling. The Prayer Book, printed in 1549, adds: 'And if the child be weak, it shall suffice to pour water upon it'" (Wall's Hist. Inft. Bap., vol. 3, pp. 575,579.)

12. Dean Stan

ley (Episcopalian): In speaking of immersion, he says: "The cold climate of Russia has not been found an obstacle to its continuance throughout that vast empire. Even in the Church of England it is still observed in theory. The Rubric in the public baptism for infants enjoins that, unless for special causes, they are to be dipped, not sprinkled." (Institutes, pp. 18,19.) The Church of England has changed to sprinkling, but its creed teaches immersion.

13. Sir John Floyer: "I have now given what testimony I could find in our English authors, to prove the practice of immersion from the time the Britons and Saxons were baptized, till King James' days, when the people grew peevish with all ancient ceremonies, and through the love of novelty and the niceness of parents, and the pretense of modesty, they laid aside immersion." (History of Cold Bathing, p. 61.)

14. Bishop A. C. Coxe, editor of Ante-Nicene Fathers (Episcopalian): "The word (baptizo) means to dip. In the Church of England dipping is even now the primary rule. But it is not the ordinary custom. It survived far down into Queen Elizabeth's time, but seems to have died out early in the seventeenth century. I ought to add that in France (unreformed) the custom of dipping became obsolete long before it was disused in England. But for this bad example, my own opinion is, that dipping would still prevail among Anglicans. I wish that all Christians would restore the primitive practice." (In a letter to J. T. Christian.)

Thus we have the testimony of all the scholars in all the churches, who are recognized as Greek experts outside of their own party, that the New Testament teaches immersion and that it has been changed to sprinkling and pouring by human authority. We do not believe that this change was made with a bad motive. It was evidently done in sincerity and in the honest belief that it was the right thing to do. We must accept the honest testimony of these scholarly experts that the New Testament teaches immersion, but we certainly believe they were mistaken in taking the liberty to change Christ's command. If we take such liberties, all of the commandments of Christ will soon be set aside and confusion will be worse confounded. Indeed, it is this very liberty of substituting what men thought best for the things revealed in the New Testament, that has caused our present sectarian divisions by adding human names, creeds, customs, etc., to the primitive gospel.

Scriptures to Show It is Wrong to Change Christ's Commands.

"They have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant" (Isa. 24:5).

"Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandments of God, ye hold the tradition of men. Ye reject the commandment of God that ye may keep your own tradition. Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered; and many such like things ye do" (Mark 7:7-9, 13).

"Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto" (Gal. 3: 15).

"Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (I Sam. 15:22,23).

"He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination" (Prov. 28:9).

"Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell; and great was the fall of it" (Matt. 7:24, 26,27).

"If ye love me, keep my commandments. He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. If a man love me, he will keep my words. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 14: 15,21,23; 15:14). "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say" (Luke 6:46).

"And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him" (Luke 7:29,30.)

"And hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (I John 2: 3,4).

But, after all, the very best way for ordinary people to learn the meaning of baptism, is to go to the English Bible. Although human authority and prejudice have hindered the translators from translating the Greek word, and thus telling us what it means in English, the contexts and sidelights on the subject make its meaning so plain that all can readily see it if divested of prejudice and preconceived ideas.

By reading the introduction to the English Revised Bible, you will learn that the translators of the Authorized Version were forbidden to translate the word. Other translators have followed their example; so that it is neither translated to sprinkle, to pour nor to immerse in our standard English Bibles. The Greek word baptisma has simply had the last letter dropped and been carried over into English bodily. But the word has been translated in numerous editions in various languages, and whenever it has been translated, it was always by the word immerse or an equivalent term. No scholar, in any language, has ever had the temerity to translate it to sprinkle or to pour. Even our English translators translate it when it is not used as an ecclesiastical term. And when they translate it, they say it means to dip. In 2 Kings 5:14, we read of Naaman, "He went down and dipped [baptizato] himself seven times in Jordan." We may not have a sufficient knowledge of Greek to determine what Jesus meant when he commanded us to be baptized. But the Apostles certainly understood him; and if we can find out what they did when they baptized, and we do the same thing, then we know we are right, and have done what Christ commanded.

Let us turn to the Sacred Record and see what they did when they baptized.

We read: "And there went out unto him all the country of Judaea, and all they of Jerusalem, and they were baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. . . . And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in [Greek into, marg. of A. R. V.] the Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him" (Mark 1:5,9,10). "John was baptizing in AEnon near to Salim, because there was much water there" (John 3:23). "And they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water . . . he went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:38,39). "We are buried with him by baptism," "planted in the likeness of his death," "and raised in the likeness of his resurrection" (Rom. 6:4,5). "Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:22). "Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven" (John 3:5). The italics are mine.

The following chart summarizes our study of baptism in the English




1. Water. Acts 8:36; 10:47 1. Water

2. Much water. John 3:23 2. Little water

3. Going to water. Mark 1:9 3. Bringing water

4. Going into water. Acts 8:38 4. Staying out of water

5. Putting into water. Mark 1:9 5. Putting water on (Margin of A. R. V)

6. Form of burial. Col. 2:12 6. No form of burial

7. Form of planting. Rom 6:5 7. No form of planting

8. Form of birth. John 3:5 8. No form of birth

9. Form of resurrection. 9. No form of resurrection Rom. 6:4

10. Form of doctrine. Rom. 6:17 10. No form of doctrine

11. Bodies washed. Heb. 10:22 11. Head wet

12. Coming up out of the water. 12. No getting out Mark 1:10

We thus learn that in being baptized they went to water, to much water, went into the water, were put into the water, were buried in the water, planted in the water, born out of the water, raised out of the water, had their bodies washed and came up out of the water. If we do these things, we are Scripturally baptized and have been immersed.

The following passages are the only places where sprinkling and pouring are found in the New Testament:

Sprinkling and Pouring in the New Testament.

1. Heb. 9:13.-Blood. 2. Heb. 9:19.-Blood. 3. Heb. 9:21.-Blood. 4. Heb. 10:22.-Hearts. 5. Heb. 11:28.-Blood. 6. Heb. 12:24.-Blood. 7. 1 Pet. 1:2.-Blood. 8. Matt. 26:7,12.-Ointment. 9. John 2:15.-Money. 10. Acts 10:45.-Spirit. 11. John 13:5.-Water. 12. Luke 10:34.-Oil and Wine. 13. Rev. 14:10.-Wrath.

You will notice that none of these Scriptures refer to baptism and that none of the Scriptures that do refer to baptism hint at sprinkling or pouring as the action. Sprinkling and pouring for baptism must come from some other source. We have already learned whence they came.

Some people will argue against immersion for hours, and when they are driven into their last trenches, and about to be caught, they try to escape by saying, "Baptism doesn't amount to anything at any rate, it's a mere form. The great thing is Holy Spirit baptism."

To begin with, Holy Spirit baptism is not baptism at all, strictly speaking. It is only figurative baptism. It is not always called baptism. It is called an anointing (Luke 4: 18), a drinking (1 Cor. 12: 13), an enduing (Luke 24:49), a filling (Acts 2:4), and a sealing (Eph. 1:13). No person can be literally sprinkled or poured with the Holy Spirit, or immersed into Him, as the Holy Spirit is a person. The figurative meaning of baptism is to overwhelm, and to be baptized with the Holy Spirit is to be submerged or overwhelmed in His power, or to come completely under His control. Holy Spirit baptism is not a command to obey, but a promise to enjoy. It can only be administered by Christ himself (John 1:33). Therefore, whenever in the New Testament baptism is commanded for preachers to administer or sinners to obey, it can never refer to Holy Spirit baptism, but must always refer to water baptism.

In the light of New Testament teaching and practise, it is marvelous that any one who claims to follow its guidance, can make light of baptism. "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why did Christ walk eighty miles to be baptized of John, and insist that it was necessary for him to be baptized "to fulfil all righteousness"? (Matt. 3: 13-17). "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why, in giving his commission to all gospel workers, did Christ say, "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them"? (Matt. 28: 19). Those who neglect to baptize their converts have certainly not wholly obeyed their Lord. "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why did Jesus say, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"? (Mark 16:15, 16). Not only is every preacher commanded to baptize every convert, but every convert is also commanded to be baptized; and baptism is made one of the conditions of salvation with every proper gospel subject. "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why did Jesus say to Nicodemus, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot inherit the kingdom of God"? (John 3:5). All church standards refer this to baptism. "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why did Peter, on Pentecost, when he used "the keys of the kingdom," revealed Christ's will and testament for sinners, and thus proclaimed the conditions of salvation, or of forgiveness, to all whom the Lord should call through the gospel, say to penitent seekers, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit"? (Acts 2:38). And why is it said, "They then that received his word were baptized"? (Acts 2:41). Will not the same follow to-day if people will receive the Word of God without any subtractions? "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why is it said of the Samaritans that "when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women"? (Acts 8: 12). Will not the same follow to-day when people believe the whole gospel? "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why is it said of the eunuch that when Philip "preached unto him Jesus," he said, "Behold, here is water; what does hinder me to be baptized?"? And why did he not go "on his way rejoicing" before he "came up out of the water"? (Acts 8:35,39). If our converts do not ask for baptism, and we send them away as finished products without going down into the water with them, are we preaching and practising the same gospel as did the primitive evangelists under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why did not even Christ himself speak peace to the soul of Saul, but sent him to Damascus and directed Ananias to tell him what he must do, who said to him, "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord"? (Acts 9: 6, 7; 22: 16). Does not the Lord send his servants to-day with the same message to those who put off their obedience to him in baptism? "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why was there a special miraculous demonstration to avoid objections to the baptism of the household of Cornelius, the first Gentile converts; and why did Peter command them to be baptized with water, after they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit? (Acts 10:44-48). Does not this show that Holy Spirit baptism was not to displace water baptism? "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why was Lydia baptized as soon as she gave "heed unto the things which were spoken by Paul"? (Acts 16: 14, 15). If properly instructed, will not all people be baptized as soon as they are willing to give heed unto the word of the Lord? "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why, when the Philippian jailor was told by Paul and Silas what he "must do to be saved," was he baptized "immediately," "the same hour of the night"? (Acts 16: 29-33). Will not the same gospel, if preached in the same way, have the same effect to-day? "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why is it said that "many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized"? (Acts 18:8). Will not those who hear and believe in sincerity to-day also be baptized? "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why is it said by the Holy Spirit that Priscilla and Aquila expounded unto Apollos "the way of God more accurately," after "he was mighty in the scriptures" and "had been instructed in the way of the Lord," and "taught accurately the things of Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John"? (Acts 18:24-26). If the Lord was then concerned to have preachers set right on water baptism, even when their gospel knowledge was accurate in every other particular, does he not have a similar concern now? and if our hearts are in perfect accord with his, will his concern not be our concern? "Baptism a mere form?" Then, why was it Paul's first concern, when he came to Ephesus, to set the brethren right on water baptism, even though they were called "disciples," and had already been baptized (immersed) once? (Acts 19: 1-7). This shows that baptism is not a mere outward act, but is important because of its relation to the Lord Jesus, an obedient heart, and to the Holy Spirit. If the Lord, through the Apostle, directed these disciples to be baptized a second time, when they found they were not Scripturally baptized, are not these his directions for to-day also? and should not his preachers show people the truth if they have not been Scripturally baptized, and, if possible, induce them to obey the Scriptural baptism, even when they thought they had been Scripturally baptized?

It is true that Paul said to the Corinthians, "I thank God that I baptized none of you, save Crispus and Gaius; lest any man should say that ye were baptized into my name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (1 Cor. 1: 14-17). In the words I have placed in italics, we are told why he was glad he baptized only a few of them. It was lest they should be his partisans, as they were divided on human leaders. We certainly dare not so interpret the words, "for Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel," as to contradict the commission of Christ and all the numerous clear Scriptures we have just quoted. He evidently meant that he himself did not do the baptizing, but had others do that part of the work, while he gave his time and strength to the preaching of the gospel. The same was true of Jesus himself, as we learn from John 4:1, 2: "When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples)." He baptized them and he didn't baptize them. That is, he commanded them to be baptized and had his disciples perform the act. So evidently with Paul. If he meant that his converts were not to be baptized, then he would certainly not have baptized any of them.

That Paul was zealous in seeing that all his converts were baptized, is apparent from the cases already quoted, especially the baptism of the Ephesians. For when he discovered that their baptism was not Scriptural, he, first of all, insisted that they be baptized again. It is further apparent from his teaching in his Epistles. In 1 Cor. 12:13 we read, "For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body … and were all made to drink of one Spirit." In Gal. 3:26, 27, we read, "For ye are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ." In Rom. 6:3, 4, we read, "Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life." In Col. 2: 12, we have similar language, "having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who also raised him from the dead." In Heb. 10:22, it is said, "Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water." After reading these Scriptures, no one can doubt that Paul had all his converts baptized, and believed in baptism just as strongly as Christ and Peter.

That Peter had the same opinion about baptism near the end of his life, as at Pentecost, is evident from his words in I Pet. 3:21: "Which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

That to refuse to be baptized after knowing that Christ has commanded it is to disobey him and to rebel against his authority, is clear from the words of the Holy Spirit recorded in Luke 7: 29, 30: "And all the people when they heard, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected for themselves the counsel of God, being not baptized of him."

And yet, despite all these Scriptures, many pious saints are so blinded by their prejudices and traditions, that instead of encouraging and exhorting people to obey this command to be baptized, that is given to test the soul's complete surrender to Christ, and is called the "obedience of faith" or of the gospel, they encourage people to live in disobedience to Christ by affirming that baptism is "a mere form" or "non-essential." If subordinates in an army or earthly kingdom act thus and use their influence to induce others to disobey the orders of those over them, they are punished for treason. Any army that is thoroughly united in the authority of its commander and cheerfully and promptly obeys his orders, is usually successful; while the largest and best army on earth would be doomed to defeat the moment its officers and men would disobey orders and each do as he pleases, or as he thinks best. The reason Christ's, army on earth to-day is weak and constantly defeated and retreating is because his orders are disregarded and the "think so's" and traditions of men are followed instead. Implicit obedience to the few simple commands of Christ would at once unite all his followers into one invincible army that would enable the world to believe and know that he is the Christ of God (John 17:20, 23).

If anything is clear, it is that Christianity is a personal matter. That each individual must meet and accept for himself the claims of Christ. No one can be saved by proxy. No one can go to heaven because of the faith, obedience or prayers of a parent, wife, husband, sister or brother. This being true, as Christ has commanded every creature to be baptized (Mark 15: 15, 16; Acts 2: 38, etc.), it is evident that infant baptism is not valid. The parents cannot obey for the child, however good their intentions. The child, when it reaches the age of accountability, must face the commandments of Christ for itself, and either deliberately obey or disobey and reject him. If infants remained infants, they would do no harm in the church, even if they could do no good. But they will grow into accountability and then the church is full of unconverted people.

May we prayerfully do all in our power to hasten the day when all of Christ's followers will forsake the traditions, in which men have changed Christ's teaching on baptism, and will gloriously reunite in his will on this command which is so clearly revealed in the New Testament.

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