Vol.IX No.VI Pg.4
August 1972

What Is "Baptism"

Robert F. Turner

Some years back a cartoon made the round of bulletins -- a drawing of a Bible, immersing a dictionary, with the caption: "Now, that's Baptism". Of course the dictionary gives the meaning of words according to current usage, and must be changed from time to time; but even the dictionary will show the original idea of "dip" or "immerse". The Bible gives ample evidence of God's teaching concerning the subject, element, action, and the purpose of baptism.

Sinners are to be baptized "for the remission of sins" (ACT.2:38), to "wash away thy sins" (22:16); to make the transition from the old, sinful life, into the new life in Christ. (GAL.3:26,27; ROM.6:1-7,17f) This does not concern infants, but responsible adults who are taught, hear, learn, and come unto Christ. (JOH.6:44,45) The "cleansing" is not a physical washing only, to which an unaccountable infant would be limited; but necessitates believing (MAT.28:19; MAR.16:16), the "word" (EPH.5:26), and is a response of the conscience toward God. (1PE.3:21)

The element of baptism is water -- just plain water. (MAT.3:11-17; JOH.3:22,23) Although Jesus baptized certain ones (overwhelmed, immersed) in the Holy Spirit, the baptism of the great commission was an act which men could perform -- a command, and not a promise. Jesus said, "Go," "teach," "baptize." (MAT.28:19) Men could go, teach, and baptize with water; but men can not baptize with the Holy Spirit. Peter "commanded them to be baptized" (ACT.10:48); a foolish and impossible order to obey, if reference was to Holy Spirit baptism which God alone can give. As Philip rode in the chariot with the Ethiopian eunuch "they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what cloth hinder me to be baptized?" Upon confession of his faith in Christ, "they went down both into the water," and he was baptized. (ACT.8:36-38) This is the "one" universal baptism of the Christian dispensation. (EPH.4:5)

The Greek "bapto" or "baptidzo" means "dip, plunge, immerse," as any good lexicon will show. But one does not have to know Greek to understand the action of baptism. Paul says "we are buried with him by baptism into death;" later calling this "planted." (ROM.6:4-5) "Sprinkle" and "pour" are from distinct and separate words altogether, and have nothing but human traditions and apostate church doctrine to back their claims as baptism. The only way either could qualify is for water to be "poured" until the subject was completely immersed -- and then there would have to be a "resurrection." The spirit that causes people to quibble about such plain teachings of the Scriptures, and seek to "get around" them, is certainly not of God. It is of the devil.

One can read this article, and run all Bible references, at a single reasonable study period. In the quiet of one's home, with nothing more than a Bible and the willingness to give the matter serious thought, mature men and women can understand the truth, and desire to obey. If we can assist, please call or write.