There has been very much written on the subject of baptism, perhaps more in an endeavor to evade the force of New Testament teachings than in support of them. The very fact that so much skill has been employed on the negative side of the question is a strong proof of the truth of the affirmative side. One glancing over the New Testament statements, implications and inferences on the subject cannot but be impressed with the boldness, not to say the presumption, of that undertaking which seeks to make the sprinkling of water in the face of a babe or an adult answer the purpose of baptism; nor is it any less surprising that there should be an effort to treat the subject as one of indifference,--as a doctrine which is not a vital part of the plan of salvation.
The carnal mind is responsible for these evils. It reasons with itself, asking, "What difference can it make as to the quantity of water; or whether one is sprinkled with a few drops, or immersed in a quantity sufficient for that purpose?" In others the same carnal mind asks, "What virtue can there be in water to save one from sin and death? Why should salvation be made dependent upon the use of water at all? It is the blood of Christ that saves; and surely one can receive the benefit of the precious blood of Christ without going to a pond or a river. Suppose one should be where there is no pond or river? Why, if you say baptism is a saving ordinance, then you make out that salvation is in a pond or in a river or in a bath tub," etc., etc.
Reasoning (?) thus the carnal mind can easily satisfy itself, because when the wish is father to the thought, "the way may seem right unto a man," while "the end thereof is the way of death;" and it is quite as easy for the same fleshly mind to carry the same argument to the matter of belief (which many do) and to the efficacy of the blood of Christ. Leave God and His revealed plan of salvation, with all its requirements, out of the question, and the natural man, the man of mere sight without scripturally-produced faith, can assume premises from which to reason and reason, to his own conceited satisfaction, yet ignorant all the time of the fact that he is sowing to the wind only to reap the whirlwind, and knowing not that God has declared that "Your thoughts are not my thoughts; neither are your ways my ways." The "wisdom" of the natural man is foolishness with God, and "the world by [its own] wisdom knew not God." The really wise man, he who desires to know and do the right and to obtain salvation, will seek to know what God hath spoken and required; then he will find that he is not required to obey blindly; but he will see why it is so, and the real fitness of Godís requirements will be manifest to him and command his admiration and true devotion.
The word "baptism" has been very troublesome to those "scholars" whose denominational theory has substituted sprinkling for baptism. It has proven to be a most unfortunate word for them. What a vast amount of trouble they would have been spared had the inspired writers used a word to suit their theory, or even some vague, indefinite word that would have left the matter so obscure as to allow of the "learned" quieting the consciences of the "unlearned." The earnest among the "unlearned," knowing that sprinkling is not baptizing, will ask the pulpit questions, awkward questions, to which the creed of the pulpit will not admit of satisfactory answers. To make even the shadow of a show the meaning of the word must be evaded and a little sermon must be preached about the unreasonableness of attaching importance to the quantity of water, or even to water at all. The "learned" are compelled to take this course to save the reputation of their "scholarship," for which many of them have more respect than they have for the clear and unmistakable declarations of Godís word. This may seem a bold assertion, but since so many are trying to make believe that sprinkling will do, and yet none of them have ever dared to translate the Greek word (bapto) by the word sprinkle or pour, what other conclusion can we come to? If the original word finds its meaning in the act of sprinkling, why not translate it by the word sprinkle? For many years the declaration of the author of the Emphatic Diaglott has been before the world, and no one that we have ever heard of has challenged it. In his Alphabetical Appendix, he gives the following:
BAPTIZE, bapto, baptizo. Bapto occurs 3 times, Luke ; John ; Rev. 19: 13, and is always translated dip in the common version. Baptizo occurs 79 times; of these, 77 times it is not translated at all, but transferred; and twice, viz. Mark 7: 4; Luke 11: 38, it is translated wash, without regard to the manner in which it was done. All lexicographers translate it by the word immerse, dip or plunge, not one by sprinkle or pour. No translator has ever ventured to render these words by sprinkle or pour in any version. In the Septuagint version we have pour, dip and sprinkle occurring in Lev. 14: 15, 16--"He shall pour the oil, he shall dip his finger in it, and he shall sprinkle the oil." Here we have cheo, to pour; raino, to sprinkle, and bapto, to dip.
BAPTISM, baptisma, baptismos. These words are never translated sprinkling or pouring in any version. Baptisma occurs 29 times, and baptismos 4 times.
Here we have the whole
matter, so far as the meaning of the original words is concerned, reduced to a
small compass, and no room is left for dispute; and now how do we find baptism
presented in the New Testament? It confronts us everywhere, in plain language
and by implication and inference; it is either the principal subject of
discourse or introduced incidentally. Prominently, forcibly, essentially it
stands out in the entire book. John the Baptist came to prepare a people for
the Lord by preaching "the baptism of repentance for the remission of
sins." "Then went out unto him
Then Jesus himself preached baptism, and it is said that "Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John" (John 4: 1). This continued till Jesus exemplified the meaning of baptism by his death, burial and resurrection. After his resurrection and just before his ascension Jesus gave his commission to his apostles: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned"--Mark , 16. Here are the only authoritative terms of salvation, which show that baptism is as essential as belief; and that belief is as essential as baptism--no salvation by one without the other, no salvation without both.
By this command and by this authority the apostles went forth upon their mission. About eight days after the departure of their Lord they began their work, when, according to their Lordís promise, the Holy Spirit came upon them when assembled on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit was to "guide them into all truth;" and it equipped them with authority from heaven, and endowed with the Holy Spirit they proceeded to preach the gospel, resulting in a conviction which caused the people to cry out, "What shall we do?" the answer to which, true to the Lordís commission, was, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for (or unto) the remission of your sins"--Acts 2: 38, 39. What followed? Was there any quibbling about whether sprinkling would do, or whether belief without baptism or baptism without belief, or whether baptism and belief could be dispensed with? No, no. "Then they that gladly received the word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls"--verse 41. So we may follow the course of the apostles and disciples throughout their entire ministry until the New Testament is left in our hands with the doctrine of baptism taught, proved and practiced as one of the vital principles of essential truth.
No man could preach
Christ without preaching baptism. In Acts 8: 5 we have the simple words,
"Then Philip went down to the city of
Why was not Cornelius a saved man, seeing he was devout and God-fearing, and alms-giving and a praying man? See Acts 10:1, 2. That he was not is evident from the fact that he was commanded to send to Joppa for Peter, "who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved"--Chap. . The words of the gospel were preached by Peter, and upon a belief of those words "he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord"--chap. 10: 48. It is needless to continue. Everywhere we go we find the doctrine of baptism wherever in the New Testament we find the gospel preached and obeyed. We may summarize the subject as follows:
BAPTISM IS ONE OF THE CONDITIONS OF SALVATION
Mark , 16--And he (Jesus) said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Acts --Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins.
Acts 10: 47, 48--Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized, seeing that they have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
John 3: 5--Jesus
answered, Verily I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of
the Spirit he cannot enter the
ALL BELIEVERS OF THE GOSPEL WERE BAPTIZED
Acts --Then they that gladly received his (Peterís) words were baptized.
Acts 18: 8--And many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized.
Acts --And when they believed Philip * * * they were baptized, both men and women.
Acts 8: 38--Philip baptized the eunuch.
Acts 16: 33--The keeper of the prison was baptized, he and all his straightway.
Acts 19: 5--When they
(twelve men at
BAPTISM IS FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS
Acts 2: 38--Be baptized for the remission of your sins.
Acts 22: 16--Be baptized and wash away thy sins.
I. Pet. 3: 21--Baptism doth also now save us--by the answer of a good conscience.
II. Pet. 1: 9--Purged from his old sins.
Eph. 5: 26--The washing of water by the word.
BAPTISM INTO CHRIST REQUIRES WATER
Acts 8: 36--See here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
Acts 10: 47--Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized?
John 3: 23--John was baptizing in AEnon near to Salim, because there was much water there.
BAPTISM IN WATER IS A BEING BURIED OR IMMERSED THEREIN
Rom. 6: 3-5--We are buried with him by baptism into death * * * planted together in the likeness of his death.
Col. 2: 12--Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him.
John 3: 5--Born of (Greek, out of) water.
In other cases where the word baptism is used, it is with the idea of complete covering over with the thing or element it is related to.
Proof: Acts 1: 5; 2: 2--Baptized with the Holy Spirit * * * it filled all the house where they were sitting.
I. Cor. 10: 2--
Luke 12: 50--Christís baptism of suffering: it overwhelmed him.
The matter may be the more easily discerned by keeping in mind that a saving relationship to Christ is expressed in the New Testament by the phrase "in Christ." He is the "name of the Lord" which is a "strong tower, into which the righteous runneth and is safe"--Prov. 18: 10. "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name," etc.--Acts . "In whom we have redemption through his blood"--Eph. 1: 7. "But now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ"--Eph. . "If any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creature"--II. Cor. 5: 17. Now there is only one way by which a believer can come into this relation, and that one way is made most clear and unmistakable by the Scriptures. Writing to the Galatians the Apostle Paul says, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus"--Chap. . No one is a child of God who is not "in Christ Jesus," and it is by means of the one faith that such a relationship is effected. The one faith is dead without the one baptism (Jas. ). The conditions are, "He that believeth and is baptized." Now let the same apostle settle how the faith inducts one "into Christ:" "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ * * * and if ye be Christís then are ye Abrahamís seed and heirs according to the promise"--Gal. -29. The matter stands thus then: No salvation out of Christ; no way unto Christ but by belief of the gospel and baptism.
No one will waste time speculating about the doctrine of baptism who understands the plan of salvation. There is a fitness which impresses one with its consistency, its beauty, yet its divine philosophy, which so satisfies the humble mind as to reduce the speculations of those who oppose baptism or pervert its meaning to an absurdity undeserving of a momentís consideration. An understanding of the mode and meaning of baptism comes as a natural sequence to an understanding of "Jesus Christ and him crucified." Let the seeker after saving truth come to see the true gospel, and it will be unnecessary to impress upon his mind the necessity of baptism. He, like the eunuch, will cry out, "Here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?" In order to see the consistency and beauty of baptism, and that acceptable obedience to it is not by ignorantly submitting to it as an arbitrary command, it will be well to take a wider view than we have hitherto taken. Let us therefore retrace our steps and then come down through other channels of thought.
At first sight the
subject of baptism seems to be abruptly introduced in the New Testament. The
first we read of it is in Matt. 3: 5. 6--"Then went out to him (John)
The fearful disease of leprosy is a symbol of the death which we are all under. Under the law of Moses, a leper when cleansed must "bathe himself in water;" so with one who touched a running issue of the flesh; and with those who accidentally or otherwise touched a dead body. There were washings for physical cleanliness and for legal and spiritual cleanness. The latter was represented by the former, the spiritual by the natural; as one who had become physically unclean was unfit to mingle in society until he was bathed, washed or baptized; so one who had become offensive to the law was unfit to enter the camp till his legal defilement was washed away by bathing in water.
Now these truths lead
up to the baptism of Jesus. Why was he baptized? Some are satisfied with the
simple answer that it was because God required it. This answer is correct, of
course, and it is good enough so far as it goes; but we must remember that God
always has a good reason for his requirements; and he invites us to "Come
and let us reason together." "He that hath an ear,
let him hear." "Blessed is he that heareth," etc. The reason why
the offerings of
But how would baptism "fulfill all righteousness?" What is "all righteousness?" What is "Godís righteousness," which some, "going about to establish their own righteousness, forsook?" Is it not evident that the phrase stands for a system, like the words "Truth," "Gospel," and "Faith?" The "righteousness of God" represents Godís plan upon which is predicated salvation. If the "all righteousness," or "Godís righteousness" had never been fulfilled and really exemplified in actual life under trial and temptation, His plan of salvation would have failed. Jesus was the one and the only one who could exemplify "Godís righteousness," or "all righteousness." Now all that Jesus did is focused, as it were, in his death, so that when we read of being saved by the death of Christ, all that leads up to his death as an acceptable sacrifice is implied, involved in, and represented by his death. In this sense, then, we may say that "Godís righteousness" and "all righteousness," or Godís right ways of saving men, was fulfilled in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ; and thereby salvation became possible.
But if "all righteousness" was fulfilled thus, by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. how could Jesus apply the phrase "all righteousness" to baptism, as he did when he said to John, "Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness?" The answer is that baptism is a "form of doctrine" analogous to and symbolic of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ; and it is a provisional death, burial and resurrection which reaches forward to the real and permanent one and partakes for the time being of part of its virtue or efficacy, sufficiently to justify one or put one so in unison with God as to be regarded as clean in his sight to the extent of allowing a oneness, legally, mentally and morally, pending the absolute cleansing which will take place when the "vile body is changed and made like unto his glorious body." Therefore, as soon as Jesus emerged from the water, the voice of God declared, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." And this was part of that work described by the Apostle Paul in the words, "Great is the mystery of Godliness: God was manifest in the flesh (Christ), justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory"--I. Tim. 3: 16.
"fulfilled all righteousness," typified by the law, for instance,
after the type of Aaron when he was bathed as a means of preparing him for the
priesthood--he was consecrated to the Lord as a priest in behalf of his
brethren. And since Aaronís sons had also to pass through the water of
consecration, we must do the same, in order that we may have access to the throne
of grace, to offer our "bodies living sacrifices, holy (having been
provisionally cleansed or spiritually washed) and acceptable unto God, which is
our religious service." Christ has become our righteousness, by means of
having "fulfilled all righteousness;" but he is not ours, he is not a
garment, a "tower," a "name," a "tabernacle," a
"temple," to us until we have put him on as a garment, entered into
him by doing our part in "fulfilling all righteousness" after the
example he has given us. Of baptism therefore we may also say, "Thus it
becometh us to fulfill all righteousness," and if we do not perform all of
our part we shall not be consecrated to the Lord, we shall be "without
Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of
promise, having no hope and without God in the world"--Eph. 2:12. But if
we have been baptized into Christís death, we are in Christ, and the words will
apply to us: "But now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far
off are made nigh by the blood of Christ"--verse 13. But the blood will
not touch us without the word and the water; for the three meet in testimony of
our becoming children of God. Hence we read, "There are three that bear
witness, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one,"
not separately. The Spirit (through the word) reveals to us the virtue of
the blood of Christ and it teaches us how we may receive of its virtue. It
therefore leads us into the water of consecration, where we come within the
scope of the cleansing blood and thus, "If any man be in Christ Jesus he
is a new creature." Noah and his family were saved by going into the ark. "The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us"--