The Saviour said to His apostles, in giving them the great commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned” (Mark 16:17, 16). On the day of Pentecost, when the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and began their work of preaching “repentance and remission of sins in the name of Christ,” the Spirit/filled apostle Peter, in answer to the question: “What shall we do?” said: “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). For clearness of expression these texts stand at the very head of the divine statements of the plan of salvation. They condense that plan into the fewest words possible and con’ found the theological world with their brevity and simplicity. Realizing that these passages destroy every vestige of denominational teaching, the theologians have given battle to these inspired passages more than any other in the attempt to get rid of the doctrine therein set forth, and relieve the doctrines of men of the withering effect of these passages.
Prejudice often prevents men from ascertaining the truth upon all religious subjects. Baptism is conspicuous among the subjects thus misjudged by thousands of sincere but misguided people. No other New Testament subject is so detested by many professed Christians.
The Term Baptism in the New Testament
The terms “baptism,” “baptize,” etc., occur in the New Testament 92 times. As a positive command it occurs four times, as a universal command, one time; as connected with a promise, thirteen times.
The office of the “baptizer” is mentioned fifteen times. Baptism is one time declared to be “unto (for, in order to) the remission of sins”; twice it is stated that we are “baptized into Christ;” once that “baptism doth also now save” us; once, that we must “be baptized and wash away” our sins; twice that we are “buried with Christ in baptism” and from that burial raised with Him to walk in newness of life.
Out of the eight detailed cases of conversion recorded in the Acts of Apostles, faith as a condition of salvation is actually mentioned four times, repentance once, but baptism is stated in all eight instances. Faith and repentance are implied, but not baptism—it is actually named. It is definitely stated that the Pharisees and lawyers in rejecting baptism “rejected the counsel of God against themselves.” These facts are too numerous to be ignored by people who claim to have the knowledge of the Bible and believe it. There is something radically wrong with a theology that can set aside, as worthless, such a volume of evidence on any subject. Yet, according to theology, I mean of course the doctrines of denominational churches, nothing in the Bible is so worthless and nonessential as baptism! According to denominational teachers, baptism is not only unnecessary, but in reality the) make it very necessary to say nothing about it. by the sinner before his death and burial.
The Passages Considered
In the first text quoted (Mark 16:16) the Lord Jesus said: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” He did not say: “He that believeth is saved, and should be baptized as an outward sign of an inward grace.” The Lord placed salvation after baptism, not before it. In the second text (Acts 2 :38), the Holy Spirit through Peter said: “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.” In this passage repentance and baptism come before remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is why both repentance and baptism are “unto” the remission of sins, and the reception of the Spirit. But Jesus said that one must believe before he is baptized; therefore, faith precedes repentance. Faith, repentance and baptism are the conditions of pardon. They are in order to the remission of sins. Belief results in a change of mind; repentance kills the sinner, and baptism buries the dead man. The sinner can do nothing more for himself in obtaining salvation. That is why he must be baptized—he cannot baptize himself any more than a dead man can bury himself. Believe and repent are verbs in the active voice, something done by the living child of Satan. But “be baptized” is in the passive voice—something that must be done for the dead sinner by another—by the gospel agent whom God has appointed, and hence by the Lord, through his agent (Matt. 28:18-20). Thus the sinner is “buried in baptism.” Man can kill; but man cannot make alive. Life comes from God. “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” The dead and buried sinner is now in God’s hands only. Through the name acknowledged in that name does God raise him from the dead into newness of life in Christ.
The scriptural subject for baptism is the believing penitent. Only one who is old enough, and intelligent enough, to believe in Christ, and repent of sins, can be scripturally baptized. Infants cannot believe, and have no sins of which to repent, and are not commanded to be baptized, and therefore cannot be. Infant baptism is a relic of Rome.
Sprinkling is not Baptism
In passages cited we learn that baptism is immersion in water. Sprinkling and pouring cannot be baptism. There is no such thing as “modes” of baptism. Baptism is an action. Then, if sprinkling, pouring and immersion are modes of baptism, what is baptism? Of course, sprinkling is mentioned in the Bible, but never in connection with baptism.
In the Old Testament, in the Jewish law, there are twenty sprinklings; eight sprinklings of blood; three sprinklings of blood and water mixed; two sprinklings of oil; four sprinklings of mixed water and oil; hence, six sprinklings only in which there was water and then the water was mixed, and never unmixed. The truth is, God never at any time, in any dispensation, commanded anybody or anything to be sprinkled with water only (unmixed water) for any purpose.
Now, let us see that is in the New Testament on sprinkling. I shall give you every passage where it is mentioned. (1) Heb. 10:22: “Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience;” (2) 1 Peter 1:2: “The sprinkling of blood;” (3) Rev. 19:13: “Garments sprinkled with blood;” (4) Heb. 11:28: “The sprinkling of blood;” (y) Heb. 9:13 : “Blood of bulls and goats; ashes of a heifer;” (6) Heb. 12:24: “Blood of sprinkling.” So sprinkling is never used in connection with baptism in the New Testament. What Baptism Requires out of the water (Acts 8 : 39). The lexicons define baptism to dip, to immerse, etc. The use of the word in the New Testament carries out this definition. Note what baptism requires:
A subject; the believing penitent (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38)
An administrator; a gospel preacher (Matt. 28:19)
Water; “see here is water” (Acts 8:36)
Much water (John 3: 2 3)
Going to the water (Matt. 3:5-8)
Going down into the water (Acts 8:38)
A burial in water (Rom. 6:4)
A resurrection from the water (Col. 2:12)
Coming up out of the water (Acts 8:39).