A river baptism at the Mount Hagen Rally
2002 Few people today realise the blessing association with WATER BAPTISM. This
article will give you simple Bible facts about water baptism, and also show the
origin of the false and unscriptural practice of infant sprinkling as a method
Water baptism is the complete immersion in water of
a believing person. The word "Baptism" as used in the Bible, is translated from
the Greek world "Baptizo", which means to dip, or to immerse. (Greek-English
Lexicon. T.S. Green M.A. 22nd edition.) Even to this day the Greek Church still
baptises by immersion. They, of all people, should know the meaning of the word
The word "sprinkle" is found only seven times in the
English New Testament. It is never translated from the word "baptizo", nor used
once in relation to the subject of baptism. "To sprinkle" is translated six
times from the Greek word "Rhantizo", and once from "Proschusis". The
distinction in the New Testament between sprinkling (rhantizo), and immersion
(baptizo), is crystal clear.
EXAMPLES OF BAPTISM IN THE BIBLE
The baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ in the river
Jordan provides the Bible's greatest example of water baptism. Jesus was
baptised to set the pattern for all His followers. As Jesus was about to be
baptised He said, "Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." (Matthew
Of His baptism the Bible says, "And Jesus, when He
was baptised, went up straightway out of the water": (Matthew 3:16). It is
clear that Jesus had gone down into the waters of Jordan to be immersed by John
CORINTH. The baptism of believers at Corinth is
recorded in Acts 18:8. "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed
on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed,
and were baptised". Note that only believers were baptised. Hearing, they
believed and were baptised.
JERUSALEM. "Then they that gladly received this word
were baptised: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand
souls." (Acts 2:41).
SAMARIA. "But when they believed Philip preaching
the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the Name of Jesus Christ, they
were baptised, both men and women" (Acts 8:12).
DAMASCUS. (Paul's baptism.) "And now why tarriest
thou? Arise, and be baptised, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of
the Lord." (Acts 22:16).
CAESAREA. "Can any man forbid water, that these
should not be baptised, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And
he commanded them to be baptised." (Acts 10:47-48).
EPHESUS. "When they heard this, they were baptised
in the name of The Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:5).
GAZA ROAD. "See, here is water; what doth hinder me
to be baptised? 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 baptised him." (Acts 8:36). Note
that immersion was clearly the mode of baptism, Philip and the eunuch both
going down into the water.
In all the instances those baptised heard, and
believed the Gospel before being baptised. Jesus said, "He that believeth and
is baptised shall be saved" (Mark 16:16).
THE ORIGIN OF INFANT SPRINKLING
The sprinkling of infants, or "Infant Baptism", as
this practice is often called, has no connection whatever with baptism as
commanded in the Bible. Bible baptism only relates to those who have repented
and believed the Gospel, i.e., to those who have come to an age of
understanding. Thus infant sprinkling is total error because - (1) Baptism is
by immersion, not sprinkling, and (2) Baptism is for those who are old enough
to know what they are doing, not infants.
The practice of infant sprinkling was instituted by
the Roman Catholic Church, as admitted by their own historians, and did not
receive general acceptance until about the 12th century.
A Roman Catholic priest, Brenner, has made the
following statement with regard to this matter - "For thirteen hundred years
was baptism generally and regularly an immersion of the person under the water,
and only in extraordinary cases a sprinkling or pouring of water; the latter
was moreover, disputed as a mode of baptism, nay even forbidden" (Historical
Exhibition of Administration of Baptism. Page 306.)
A quotation from Cardinal Gibbons, (1834-1921)
another Roman Catholic authority, is also most illuminating. Cardinal Gibbons,
an American, was the author of several books on Roman Catholicism. He stated,
"For several centuries after the establishment of Christianity, baptism was
usually conferred by immersion; but since the 12th Century the practice by
sprinkling has prevailed in the Catholic Church, as the manner is attended with
less inconvenience than baptism by immersion."
SOME COMMENTS BY GREAT PROTESTANT LEADERS AND
LUTHERAN. Martin Luther, in his works, Volume 1,
page 336 wrote, "Baptism is a sign of both death and resurrection. Being moved
by this reason, I would advise those to be baptised to be altogether dipped
into the water, as the word doth express and the mystery doth signify."
CHURCH OF ENGLAND. Dr. Lightfoot, Bishop of Durham,
in his notes on Colossians 2:12 said, "Baptism is the grave of the old man, and
the birth of the new. As he sinks beneath the baptismal waters, the believer
buries there all his corrupt affections and past sins: as he emerges thence, he
arises regenerate, quickened to new hopes and a new life. Thus baptism is an
image of his participation both in the death and in the resurrection of
PRESBYTERIAN. The following statement is cited from
John Calvin. (Inst. Book. 4.C.15 A.D. 1555.) "The word 'baptise' signifies 'to
immerse', and it is certain that the rite of immersion was observed by the
METHODIST. John Wesley, leader of the great Wesleyan
Revival of the 18th Century, in his "Explanatory notes upon the New Testament"
said, "We are buried with Him - alluding to the ancient manner of baptizing by
immersion." (Comment on Romans 6:4.) George Whitfield, famous preacher and
associate of John Wesley, made the following comment, "It is certain that in
the words of our text, Romans 6:4, there is an allusion to the manner of
baptizing which was immersion."
It is surely amazing, that despite these statements
by eminent men, the very denominations represented have set aside Bible baptism
as commanded by Christ, the Head and Founder of the Church, and in its place
have substituted a useless tradition invented during the dark ages. Jesus said
of religion of that time, and the same can be said of this time, "For laying
aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men ... Full well 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 .
. ." (Mark 7:8, 9 and 13).
BAPTISM IS ESSENTIAL
The significance of baptism lies in the following
Baptism demonstrates true repentance. Such
repentance is a turning to believe, follow, and obey the Lord Jesus Christ, and
is the only kind of repentance that will save us. A repentance which refuses
the command to be baptised in water is unknown in the Bible. To mentally assent
to the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ, but refuse to obey His words is mock
repentance which will not save anyone. True repentance must lead a person to
the waters of baptism. Thus we see the saving importance of a believer's
baptism. The Bible says of this, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth
also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the
answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
(1 Peter 3:21). At the first revival meeting of the early church on the day of
Pentecost the command was given "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in
the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the
Gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38).
In baptism we identify ourselves with the death,
burial and resurrection of Christ. Jesus died, bearing our sins and paying the
penalty for them in Himself. He was buried, taking our old life into the tomb
with Him. He was raised from the dead, that He might give to us by the power of
God, His new life, a supernatural resurrection life of peace and joy and
victory over all that previously bound us.
This uniting of ourselves with the Lord Jesus
Christ, with His dying and rising again, by our dying and rising again with Him
in water baptism we see clearly in Romans 6:3-5. "Know ye not, that so many of
us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptised into His death? Therefore
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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His
death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection." (see also
FAITH MAKES BAPTISM AN EXPERIENCE OF GOD'S
In water baptism, by faith, we line ourselves up
with the supernatural salvation of the Gospel provided for us by the death and
resurrection of Christ. BAPTISM THUS BECOMES MORE THAN JUST A FORM, OR SYMBOL.
Many have been touched by the power of God as they have united their hearts
with the Lord in the waters of baptism. Others have spoken with tongues either
at their baptism or straight afterwards as God has filled them with the Holy
Ghost as promised. (Acts 2:4.).
As we are buried beneath the waters of baptism we
acknowledge that our old life was buried with Christ in the tomb. Rising from
the waters, we see ourselves now as risen with the Lord Jesus Christ, and as
rightful partakers of His resurrection life and power. Faith in these simple
facts makes our baptism in water a blessing, and a real experience of the
tangible resurrection power of God's Spirit.
TEN REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD BE BAPTISED
Jesus Himself was baptised to set the pattern for
all His followers. He said, "Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness"
Immersion in water is the only manner of baptism.
Baptise means "to immerse". (Greek, Baptizo - to immerse, or to dip in.)
Believers are commanded to be baptised. Jesus said,
"He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; . . " (Mark 16:16. See also
To identify ourselves with Christ's death and
resurrection on our behalf. "Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into
death:. . " (Romans 6:4.) "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are
risen with him . ." (Colossians 2:12.).
To justify God by giving public testimony that we
believe the truth of His word. " . . . the publicans justified God being
baptised with the baptism of John." (Luke 7:29 .). The Word of God tells us
that not only John the Baptist, who is spoken of here, but the Lord Jesus
Christ, a greater than John, commanded His followers to be baptised.
It is dangerous to reject baptism. "But the
Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not
baptised of him." (Luke 7:30.). To refuse baptism is to refuse the counsel of
To show the answer of a good conscience toward God.
". . . baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the
flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of
Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 3:21.).
Baptism required much water. Sprinkling will not do!
"And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much
water there: . . " (John 3:23.). We must forsake traditions which make the Word
of God of none effect, and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Mark 7:13-14. "We
ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29.).
To find salvation we must repent. Repentant people
do what Jesus said. He is "the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that
obey Him." (Hebrews 5:9.). Jesus said, "If a man love Me, he will keep My
words: . . ", and "Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John
14:23. and 15:14.).
THE INSTRUCTIONS ARE PLAIN
The answer on the day of Pentecost to the convicted
cry of the multitude - "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" - is clear to all:
"Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the
remission of sins, and ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts
This is the Bible way, and the only way, into a
Scriptural, safe, and satisfying experience of the power of God, and of Bible