Highway 9 church of Christ
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|Lesson 19: Baptism Is Immersion|
Our word "baptize" is translated from the original Greek word "baptizo", which means to immerse. "Baptizo" does not mean sprinkle or pour. If our Lord had wanted people to be sprinkled, he would have inspired the New Testament writers to use the Greek word "rhantizo". If our Lord wanted people to be poured He would have inspired New Testament writers to use the Greek word "katacheo". But he didn't, so "baptizo" was used, which can only mean to immerse.
Let's look in the Bible to see how people were baptized. In John 3:23 we read, "Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was must water there." Why was John baptizing near Salim? "Because there was much water there." Scriptural baptism, which is immersion, according to the Bible requires much water.
In Mark 1:5 we read, "Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to Him, and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River." Why was John baptizing in the Jordan River? Could it be "because there was much water there" in a river?
In Mark 1:9-10, we continue to read, "And it came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove." When Jesus was baptized, he was baptized in the Jordan River. Why? Again, because there is much water in a river which is required for scriptural baptism, which is immersion. Also notice that after Jesus was baptized, he came "up out of the water." So scriptural baptism not only requires much water, but it also requires "coming up out of the water." This cannot be said of sprinkling or pouring.
Next we turn to Acts 8:36-39. The evangelist, Philip, had been teaching the gospel or good news of Christ to an Ethiopian eunuch while they were riding along in a chariot. Then in verses 36-39 we read: "Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, See here is water, what hinders me from being baptized? And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing." Here we see that the baptism that God has authorized in the Bible requires the "coming to some water", "going down into the water," and after a person is immersed it requires "coming up out of the water." How much clearer could the Bible be on the mode of baptism? Also notice that after the eunuch was baptized, "he went on his way rejoicing." Why? Because he was now saved and all of his sins had been taken away. This is certainly something to rejoice about.
Romans 6:4 says, "Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death." Here we see that baptism is a burial, which is what is done when one is immersed. Sprinkling is not a burial; it is only sprinkling. Neither is pouring a burial. Both are unlawful substitutions made by man which will cause many people to be lost.
Colossians 2:12 says that we are "buried with him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him." Here again God requires the one being baptized, to be buried and raised when he is baptized. When we bury a dead person in the cemetery, we do not lay him out on the grass and sprinkle a little dirt on him. No, that would be absurd, and it is just as absurd in trying to substitute sprinkling for baptism. Sprinkling for baptism is foreign to the scriptures. God did not authorize it. There is not one instance anywhere in the Bible where anyone was sprinkled for baptism.
But we then ask the question, where then did sprinkling or pouring come from? The first recorded case in all of early church history was that of Novatian in 251 AD, who lay sick on his bed and water was poured on him. Who made this first exception, man or God? Man did without the authorization of God. God has not approved of it. Sprinkling is just as vain as if it had never been done. This man made exception over the centuries became the man made accepted practice until at the Council of Ravenna in 1311 AD, man legalized sprinkling for baptism, but without Godís authority. Since sprinkling is without Godís authority, if you were sprinkled or poured, then you have not been scripturally baptized, and you still have every sin that you have ever committed and are still lost.