THE FIRST-CENTURY WAY
Baptism: What In the World For?
About 1270, THOMAS AQUINAS - CATHOLIC: "As the Apostle says (Rm. 6:3), 'all we, who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in
His death.' And further on he concludes (Rm. 6:11): 'So do you also reckon that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus our
Lord.' Hence it is clear that by Baptism man dies unto the oldness of sin, and begins to live unto the newness of grace. But every sin belongs to
the primitive oldness. Consequently every sin is taken away by Baptism." (Summa Theologica, Tertia Pars)
About 1550, JOHN CALVIN - REFORMED CHURCHES: "Baptism resembles a legal instrument...for he commands all who believe to be
baptized for the remission of their sins. Therefore, those who have imagined that baptism is nothing more than a mark or sign by which we
profess our religion before men...have not considered that which was the principal thing in baptism - which is, that we ought to receive it with this
promise, 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved' (Institutions, Book 4, Chap. 15, paragraph 1).
About 1700, MATTHEW HENRY - PRESBYTERIAN: "First, they must admit disciples by the sacred rite of baptism....Baptism is an oath of
abjuration, by which we renounce the world and the flesh as rivals with God for the throne in our hearts....In baptism we take Christ to be our
Prophet, Priest and King, and give up ourselves to be taught and saved and ruled by him....Disciples, all baptized Christians....In the latter clause
baptism is omitted because it is not simply the want of baptism, but the contemptuous neglect of it which makes men guilty of damnation"
(Commentary, Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16).
About 1750 - GEORGE WHITEFIELD - METHODIST (Commentary, John 3:5, Vol. 4, pg. 302, 355). ...."He who persists in this act of
rebellion against the authority of Christ will never belong to his kingdom....Does not this verse urge the absolute necessity of water baptism?
Yes: when it may be had. But how God will deal with persons unbaptized we cannot tell" 
About 1775 - JOHN WESLEY - METHODIST: "Buried with him in baptism...alluding to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion...." 
By baptism we enter into covenant with God....made members of Christ; made the Children of God. By water, as the means, the water of
baptism, we are regenerated or born again" (Commentary on the New Testament, pg. 350 and Preservative, pg. 146-150). 
About 1800 - ADAM CLARK - METHODIST - "Undoubtedly the Apostle here means baptism...Baptism is only a sign, and therefore should
never be separated from the thing signified....It is a rite commanded by God himself and therefore the thing signified should never be expected
without it" (Commentary, John 3:5 and Titus 3:5). 
1864 and 1881, CHARLES SPURGEON - BAPTIST [Note changes in outlook between those 17 years]:  "Do we who baptize in the
name of the sacred Trinity as others do, do we find that baptism regenerates? We do not....Baptism does not save the soul....the preaching of it
has a wrong and evil influence upon men....most atrocious that in a Protestant Church there should be found those who swear that baptism saves
the soul....He has no right to be baptized until he is saved.... "  "They had faith, and a glimmer of knowledge sufficient to make them right
recipients of baptism....He who has been baptized into Christ sees Christ in baptism....our representative union with Christ....we were thus
buried with him....Baptism is an acknowledgment of our own death in Christ....You are brought up again from the pit of corruption unto newness
of life....now you have been dead and buried and have come forth into newness of life....baptism represents resurrection....this life is entirely
new" (Sermons in the Metropolitan Pulpit, London, Sermon No. 573 1864, Sermon No. 1627 in 1881).
Thank you, Jesus, for all you did to save me. You left heaven for earth. You left protection to walk alone. Finally you left life for
death. Sin causes a chain reaction that only a miracle can stop. So you came back to life.
In happened in Korea sometime between the Korean War and the Viet Nam War.
The men involved were in the American Air Force on a military base near Seoul near the DMA leading to Communist North Korea. The
men had just been confined to the base for their protection because the Koreans had just started rioting and the Korean government wanted to
get it under control themselves.
Coincidentally, when this happened these men had gathered with missionaries from all over Korea for a religious retreat. It certainly was a
retreat ~ in more ways than one. In fact, they retreated longer than they had intended. So they took advantage of the time. They just had more
sessions of talking about the Bible and what God meant to their lives in a foreign country and away from their families.
It had an impact on all of them. After a few days it had an especially powerful impact on one of them. He decided he wanted to be
Well, they had a predicament. In order to immerse the man they had to find something on the base large enough to immerse him into. No
bathtubs anywhere. No water troughs either. They couldn't think of anything.
Then it hit one of them. The well. There was an old well on base. Full of anticipation, these hardened military men scouted out the well,
threw some pebbles down it to confirm it still had water in it, then lowered some long objects into it to determine how deep the water was.
Their conclusion was that it was over six feet deep. Plenty enough.
But how to get the man down there? This man's Air Force was not full of a bunch of dummies. It didn't take them long to figure it out. They
would lower the man down into the well.
Was he out of his mind? It was just a baptism. Couldn't it wait? But he insisted he did not want to wait. Well, then, why didn't he just let
them pour some water on his head? No, it had to be immersion.
At first they considered lowering him by a rope, but he didn't want to go down there alone - not for obvious reasons, but for reasons that will
be apparent in a moment.
Okay. So how far was it down to the water? They estimated 15 feet, maybe more. They needed volunteers. And got them.
Then the man desiring baptism sat on the side of the well, took hold of the hands of the man who would be baptizing him, the latter kneeling
by the well. When they had stretched as far down into the well as they could, a third men took hold of the second man's ankles. Then the
second man started slowly down into the well. No water yet. So a fourth man took hold of the ankles of the third man.
Someone yelled from down in the dark well. "I've reached the water! It's up to my waist!"
Then something holy happened. From down in the old well, the men could hear the words, "I believe Jesus is the Son of God!" It echoed up
through the well, swirled around the hearts of the men, and then rushed beyond to the soul of Jesus.
A pause. Then the echo again. "I now baptize you...." Baptize you? In a well?
"....in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!"
That was it. Now for the final moment.
The man still on the ground above bent slowly down, estimating about three feet, then pulled himself back up with the aid of his buddies.
One by one, then, each man was pulled to the top of the well and light. Finally they saw their new Christians friend.
Grins. Tears. Laughter. Hand shakes. Bear hugs.
It was over. But as they walked back toward their barracks to change clothes, they knew it wasn't over. They knew everything had just
God, not that again. I wish you'd made them leave this chapter out. I get so tired of it.
Form and Substance
Wasn't all that much ado about nothing? Surely God wouldn't want people to be humiliated like this. It's bad enough for people to be
baptized in a church baptistery. It's a little embarrassing. Actually, not just a little embarrassing. It's extremely embarrassing. Mortifying.
Just think about it. We'd have to actually allow someone else to push us under water. It's like handing our lives over to them. What if they
held us under?
Then, when we came back up out of the water, we'd be a mess. Our clothes wet and clinging, water in our eyes, hair a holy mess. Not a
professional look at all. Not a distinguished look. Not a look of dignity. All that just so someone can dunk us. We'd look like fools.
Did you know that in our English Bibles, the word "baptism" was never translated from the original Greek? Never. It was transliterated. It
was anglicized. The Greek word is "baptizo" or variations of it, depending on the sentence structure.
The word is found in the ancient Greek writings of Homer about 900 BC, Plato about 400 BC, Polybius about 100 BC, Diodorus about 40
BC, Strabo between 50 BC and 25 AD, Josephus about 75 AD, Plutarch about 120 AD, and others. For example, Homer used it in his Iliad
numerous times to describe dipping or sinking. Polybius used it to describe the sinking of a ship. Diodorus used it to describe animals going into
After baptism was introduced as part of Christianity, historical records still bear this out. THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA states
explicitly that the word baptism is derived from the Greek word "bapto" or "baptiso", to wash or to immerse. It goes on to say:
"The most ancient form usually employed was unquestionably immersion. This is not only evident from the writings of the Fathers and the
early rituals of both the Latin and Oriental Churches, but it can also be gathered from the Epistles of St. Paul, who speaks of baptism as a bath.
In the Latin Church [Rome], immersion seems to have prevailed until the 12th century. After that time it is found in some places even as late as
the sixteenth century." 
The earliest archaeological evidence of a baptismal font was found at a house at Dura Europos which was remodeled as a place of Christian
meeting around 233 AD and destroyed about twenty years later. One room was set aside for baptisms. At one end of this room was a basin
under a canopy. The basin was 5'4" long and 3'4" deep. 
Anyone observing Medieval coats of armor and lengths of beds realizes that people were not nearly as tall then as modern people are. This
is borne out in historical documents also. Therefore, a baptismal font 5'4" would be plenty long enough to lay a person down in the water. And
the depth would be plenty for a person to stoop until underwater also.
There were no church buildings as such until the time of Constantine in the early 300s. Constantine had originally been named
Emperor/Caesar of Gaul, which we today call France. But he wanted more, so he invaded and obtained control of other parts of Europe,
concentrating most on Italy. In Rome he built a palace with attached chapel and baptistery, considered to be the first ever church building. They
are today called the Lateran (papal) Palace, the Basilica Constantiniana, and the Fons Constantini.
There is an interesting history of the baptistery architecturally, baptistery originally referring to a building where baptisms occurred. With
Constantine setting the prototype, until the 11th century, baptisteries were frequently buildings separate from but next to church buildings, and
often large and ornately decorated.
Beginning about the 4th century, the entire baptistery was dome roofed. The dome symbolized death to sin and opening up of the heavenly
realm. This led to the baptistery being built in octagon shape. Seven was considered the number of completeness (3 + 4, heaven plus earth),
and eight meaning new beginnings, "as the sacrament of baptism marks the beginning of the Christian life." The actual font was also octagonal.
The baptismal fonts themselves were pools or cisterns with edges at floor level, or built up with sides above floor level. During the 4th and
5th centuries, fonts were large enough to accommodate several people at the same time.
Between the 6th and 9th centuries baptisteries were reduced to small chapels inside larger church buildings or cathedrals. According to the
Encyclopedia Britannica, these chapels were small rectangular rooms with an apse (semi-circular extension) at one end which contained the
actual font. 
In earlier temples to the gods, the apse was where the statue to a particular god or goddess was placed. Also, the apse sometimes appeared
in palaces where the king would sit and pronounce judgment.
During the Middle Ages, the outside walls of the pools and basins were very ornate with symbolic and geometric motifs of imbedded
Baptismal fonts large enough to baptize by immersion were built until the 13th century when pouring and sprinkling began to be accepted by
the Catholic Church. Then commonly the font was just a small basin on a pedestal. 
God, that's okay for those people. I'm happy for them. But it had nothing to do with me.
Gradual Changes in Form
Writings of first-century Christians regarding baptism are at the end of this chapter. In the second century we have the following, with
approximate dates, and capitalizations mine:
120 AD, Egypt, Barnabas, 11:1,8,11 - "Let us inquire if the Lord was careful to make a revelation in advance concerning the water and the
cross....Blessed are those who placed their hope in his cross and DESCENDED into the water....We DESCEND into the water full of sins and
uncleanness, and we ascend bearing reverence in our heart and having hope in Jesus in our spirit." 
130 AD, Rome, Italy, Shepherd of Hermas, Vision III.iii.3; Mandate IV.iii.1; Similitudes IX.xvi.3-6 - "Your life was saved and will be
saved through water....there is no other repentance except that one when we DESCENDED into the water and received the forgiveness of our
former sins....Before a man bears the name of the Son of God he is dead, but whenever he receives the seal, he puts away mortality and
receives life. The seal then is the water. They DESCEND then into the water dead and they ASCEND alive. The seal itself, then, was
preached to them also, and they made use of it in order that they might 'enter into the kingdom of God.'...They DESCENDED therefore with
them into the water and ASCENDED again. The former went down alive and came up alive, but the latter who had fallen asleep previously
went down dead but came up alive." 
150 AD, Rome, Italy, Justin Martyr, Apology I,61 - "As many as are persuaded and believe that the things taught and said by us are true
and promise to be able to live accordingly are taught to fast, pray, and ask God for the forgiveness of past sins, while we pray and fast with
them. Then they are led by us to where there is water, and in the manner of the regeneration by which we ourselves were regenerated they are
"For at that time they obtain for themselves the washing IN water in the name of God the Master of all and Father, and of our Savior Jesus
Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. For Christ also said, 'Unless you are regenerated, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.' " 
170 AD, Sardis, Turkey, Melito, On Baptism, fragment - "Are not gold, silver, copper, and iron, after being fired, baptized with water?
One in order that it may be cleansed in appearance, another in order that it may be strengthened by the DIPPING....why is Christ also not
washed in the Jordan?" [See Bible account below] 
180 Antioch, Turkey, Theophilus, To Autolycus II.xvi - "Moreover, the things which CAME FROM the waters [at creation of earth] were
blessed by God, in order that this might be a sign that men were going to receive repentance and forgiveness of sins through water and the
'washing of regeneration,' namely all those who come to the truth and are born again, and receive blessing from God." 
190 Carthage, Africa, Tertullian, On Baptism 1, 7, 4, 12 - "We as little fishes, in accordance with our 'ichthys' Jesus Christ, are born IN
water....Baptism itself is a bodily act, because we are baptized IN water, but it has a spiritual effect, because we are set free from sins. There is
no difference whether one is washed IN the sea or IN a pool, IN a river or a fountain, IN a reservoir or a tub, nor is there any distinction
between those whom John DIPPED in the Jordan and those whom Peter DIPPED in the Tiber, unless that eunuch whom Philip DIPPED in the
chance water found on their journey obtained more or less of salvation....It has assuredly been ordained that no one can attain knowledge of
salvation without IMMERSION. This comes especially from the pronouncement of the Lord, who says, 'except one be born of water he does
not have life.' " 
195 Alexandria, Egypt, Origen, Homilies on Exodus V:5 - [in commenting on the crossing of the Red Sea speaks of Christian baptism]
"The evil spirits seek to overtake you, but you DESCEND INTO the water and you escape safely; having washed away the filth of sin, you
COME UP a 'new man,' ready to sing the 'new song.' " 
In the same century that Constantine who built the first known separate baptistery and font, these early Christians wrote describing baptism
as an immersion:
350 Jerusalem, Palestine, Cyril, Catechetical Lectures XCVII:14 - "For as he who PLUNGES into the waters and is baptized is
SURROUNDED on all sides by the waters, so were they also baptized completely by the Spirit. The water, however, flows around the
OUTSIDE, but the spirit baptizes also the soul within completely." 
350 Caesarea, Palestine, Basil, On the Holy Spirit XV:35 - "How then do we become in the likeness of his death? We were BURIED with
him through baptism....How then do we accomplish the DESCENT into Hades? We imitate the BURIAL of Christ through baptism. For the
bodies of those being baptized are as it were BURIED in water." 
380 Milan, Italy, Ambrose, On the Sacraments III.i.1,2 - "We discoursed yesterday on the font, the appearance of which in shape is like a
TOMB, into which we are received, believing in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and we are PLUNGED and we LIFT ourselves
UP, that is we are RESURRECTED....So therefore also in baptism, since it is a likeness of death, without doubt when you DIP and RISE UP
there is made a likeness of the RESURRECTION." 
390, Antioch, Turkey, John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions II;26; Homilies on John XXV:2, on John 3:5 - "When the priest
pronounces, 'So-and-so is baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,' he three times puts the head DOWN and
RAISES it UP, preparing you to receive the DESCENT of the Spirit by this mystical initiation....Exactly as in some tomb, when we SINK our
heads in water, the old man is BURIED, and as he is SUBMERGED BELOW, he is absolutely and entirely HIDDEN. Then when we LIFT
our heads UP, the new man again COMES UP." 
Only once in the 2nd century is anything preserved of writings saying baptism did not have to be immersion, only once in the 3rd century, and
only once in the 4th century. They are as follows:
100, Syria, Didache 7 - "Concerning baptism, baptize in this way. After you have spoken all these things, 'baptize in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,' IN running water. If you do not have running water, baptized in other water. If you are not able in cold,
then in warm. If you do not have either, pour out water three times on the head 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit.' Before the baptism the one baptizing and the one being baptized are to fast, and any others who are able. Command the one being
baptized to fast before hand a day or two" [Notice the person is standing IN water and then water is poured over the head.] 
250, Carthage, Africa, Cyprian, Epistle 75 :12 - "You have asked also, what I thought concerning those who obtain God's grace in
sickness and weakness, whether they are to be accounted legitimate Christians, because they are not washed with the water of salvation but
have it poured on them....In the sacraments of salvation, when necessity compels, and God bestows his mercy, the divine abridgements confer
the whole benefit on believers, nor ought any one to be troubled that sick persons seem to be sprinkled or poured upon when they obtain the
Lord's grace....Whence it appears that the sprinkling also of water holds equally with the washing of salvation." [Notice this was in case of
"sickness and weakness." 
320 Caesarea, Palestine, Eusebius, Church History VI.xliii.14, quoting a letter from Cornelius of Rome, Italy, 251-253 - "[Novatian] fell
seriously ill and was thought to be about to die. In the bed itself on which he was lying he received grace by water being poured around over
him, if it is proper to say that such a one received it." [Notice, this was one instance when someone was ill. The text goes on to state that
immediately Novatian was then made a bishop of the church. Neither was approved by the writer, Cornelius.] 
It is obvious, then, from history that the views of pouring and sprinkling were not generally acceptable or accepted.
God, they are entitled to their opinion and I'm entitled to mine. I wish this chapter would hurry up and end.
Ultimately, however, it does not matter what people did through history. These are given to show the slowness in a substitute form of
"baptism" being developed, it being contrary to what Christians were originally taught in the scriptures by the apostles. Ultimately, God's opinion
and directions are the only ones that matter. We are not being saved by our fellow man, but by God. So, we do what he asks us to, grateful for
Below are the scriptures which indicate that the person was immersed:
JOHN THE BAPTIST'S FOLLOWERS, Matthew 3:6 - "Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him IN the Jordan RIVER." Mark
1:5 - "Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him IN the Jordan RIVER." John 3:23 - "Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim,
because there was PLENTY of WATER, and people were constantly coming to be baptized."
JESUS' BAPTISM, Matthew 3:15-16 - "Jesus replied, 'Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.' As soon as
Jesus was baptized, he went UP OUT of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dover
and lighting on him." Mark 1:9-10 - "At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John IN the Jordan [River]. As
Jesus was coming UP OUT of the WATER, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove."
ETHIOPIAN'S BAPTISM, Acts 8:38-39 - "And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went DOWN INTO
the WATER, and Philip baptized him. When they came UP OUT of the WATER...."
APOSTLE PAUL & "ALL OF US", Romans 6:3-5 - "Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized
into his death? We were therefore BURIED with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was RAISED from the dead
through the glory of the Father, we too many live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united
with him in his RESURRECTION."
How important was it to the first Christians? The first four books of the New Testament are the life of Christ. The fifth book is the Acts of
the Apostles which tells how they started the church and how people became Christians. Make for yourself a chart itemizing what each
scripture says people did to become Christians under the direction of Jesus' own Apostles.
Only those acts which are mentioned should be listed. In other words, even though we assume they all believed, if it is not listed in the verses, it
is not checked off. Here are the Bible-recorded conversions to Christianity:
Acts 2:37-41, 47 - 3000 Jews in Jerusalem
Acts 8:5-6, 12 - People in Samaria
Acts 8:30-39 - Ethiopian
Acts 9:3-6, 17-19 - Saul/Paul (future apostle)
*Acts 10:1-2, 48 - Cornelius and household
Acts 16:14-15 - Lydia and household in Philippi
Acts 18:1,8 -Corinthians
Ephesians 19:1-6 - Ephesians
**Acts 22:7-16 - Saul/Paul
*Receiving Holy Spirit is another study. Notice, even though he was morally upright, he still had to do something else to be saved.
**Notice, even though he had seen a vision of Jesus, he still had to do something else to be saved.
Now back off from this page for a moment and look at the chart without being able to read what it says. Something stands out. It is the fact
that only one row is completely checked off. What is that row? Some things were taken for granted, but the writers always emphasized one
thing so that people would never take it for granted. They were all baptized! Isn't that amazing?
God, I don't like the direction this whole thing in going in. No one is ever going to convince me to get dunked.
Even Denominational Creeds Agree
Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism, Part Four, Articles I-IV: "Baptism is not simply water, but it is the water comprehended in God's
command [Matthew 28:19-20]....It worketh forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and confers everlasting salvation on all who
believe....the water without the Word of God is simply water and no baptism....a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy
Ghost; as St. Paul says to Titus in the third chapter verses 5-8....It signifies that the old Adam in us is to be drowned....St. Paul, in the Epistle to
the Romans, chapter 6, verse 4 says: 'We are buried with Christ by baptism into death'. "
Institutions, c. xvi: "Baptism resembles a legal instrument properly attested, by which he assures us that all our sins are canceled, effaced and
obliterated so that they will never appear in his sight, or come into his remembrance, or be imputed to us. For he commands all who believe to
be baptized for the remission of their sins."
Confession of Faith, Chapter xxviii, Sec. i: "Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn
admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be to him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his engrafting into
Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life."
The Larger Catechism: "Baptism is...a sign and seal of engrafting into Christ, of remission of sins by his blood and regeneration by his Spirit."
Wesley's Commentary on the New Testament, pg. 350: "Baptism administered to penitents is both a means and a seal of pardon. Nor did
God ordinarily in the primitive Church, bestow this upon any unless through this means."
WESLEYAN/CHURCH OF NAZARENE:
Church Constitution, Articles XIII: "We believe that Christian baptism is a sacrament signifying acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of
Jesus Christ, to be administered to believers." 
God, I really do love you. You know that. I've lived my whole life for you. And I don't like people telling me what to do. I've made
up my mind.
I Love You, But....
When we love someone, we don't try to see how much we can get by with NOT doing that they ask. When we love someone, we do
everything we can that they ask. The only exception is if we think the request is unfair. Do we think God bringing up baptism in the New
Testament is unfair?
When we love someone, sometimes jealous outsiders try to break us up by various means, usually telling what one did or said that the other
wouldn't like. When we truly love someone and we know it is right, we don't care what other people do to break us up. Our love will endure
all outside attacks.
Yet there are pamphlets, books, sermons, articles too numerous to even begin to count explaining why we are justified in REFUSING to be
baptized. What is it about baptism that turns so many people off? This is the only thing that the early Christians did to be saved that many of us
bristle about and say, "Never!"
Why? Even though some people love the idea, why do some people hate it so?
Confession is only mentioned 26 times in the New Testament. But we don't refuse to confess.
Repentance is only mentioned 57 times in the New Testament. But we don't refuse to repent.
Baptism is mentioned 98 times in the New Testament. But we refuse to be baptized. Why?
Why don't we hate confession and refuse to do that? Why don't we hate repentance and refuse to do that? Why is it we pick on baptism
and refuse to do that?
The "sinner's prayer" is expounded by many as the only thing people need to do to be saved. But where in the Bible is the sinner's prayer or
an example of it?
Many people, when the subject of baptism is brought up, brag that they have never been baptized. Shouldn't this be embarrassing for them
to admit? After all, Jesus was baptized. Are they wanting us to use them as our standard or Jesus?
I have known men go to church for forty years before becoming humble enough to be baptized. I have never known of women doing this.
Baptism seems to be especially hard for men. Men perhaps need to feel in control more than women do. Do we not realize that once we
submit to Jesus, he makes us spiritual warriors; but it doesn't happen until we are Christians?
Some time ago there were two men who had been ministers of the gospel for many years who finally decided they needed to be baptized as
part of their salvation. Of course, being ministers and used to leading things, they maintained part of that dignity by calling together all their
friends to where they were going to be baptized. Then they preached long sermons about baptism. Then they were baptized.
Justification. That's a good word if used regarding God's use of it. When God justifies us, he takes us as the sinners we are, and making us
just in his sight. But when the word is used regarding man's use of it, it is wrong. When we justify, we take something we do that is unjust, and
try to make it sound just. God has the right to do this. We do not.
How do we know when we are justifying? It is hard for us to identify our own sins. Probably the best way is if we make a statement, then
go into long discussions as to why we had to do it. "I had to take the money under the table because...." "I had to lie to them because...." "I
had to pretend I wasn't home because...."
Applying this to biblical principles, we are justifying if we take a scripture and go into a long explanation as to why it doesn't really mean what
it says. Usually this explanation ends up giving the scripture a symbolic rather than literal meaning.
For instance, some people say the water mentioned in connection with New Testament baptisms was the symbolic water of life or the water
of the Word.
In that case, John baptized by a symbolic Jordan River where there was much symbolic water (John 3:23). It was also in the symbolic
Jordan River that Jesus was baptized and came up out of (Matthew 3:6, 15-16).
In that case, the Ethiopian, after being taught by Philip, rode along in his chariot until he could find some symbolic water. Then "both Philip
and the eunuch went down into" the symbolic water "and Philip baptized him" (Acts 8:37-39).
In that case, it was symbolic water that saved Noah when he passed through it with symbolic floods below and symbolic rains above (1
Other people justify themselves for not being baptized by saying that water cannot save us. Of course the power is not in the water any more
than the power was in the wooden cross Jesus was nailed to. It is the blood of Jesus that made it possible for us to be saved. But that wooden
cross was necessary. Why? Because there was some magic in a wooden cross? No. Because that's what God chose (for reasons he does
not choose to tell us).
Also water is necessary. Why? Because there is some magic in the water? No. Because that's what God chose (for reasons he does not
choose to tell us.) If God had told us we had to be buried for one second under earth in imitation of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection, would
we be willing to do it? Earth could have been God's choice, but instead he chose water. Who are we to question God and twist around the
symbols he has chosen?
To claim that people who are baptized are claiming there is something magic in the water is just as bad as claiming that the bread and wine of
the Lord's supper is magically turned into the actual body and blood of Jesus. You can't have one without the other, for these are the only two
Still other people say that baptism is a work and we are not saved by works. True, we are not saved by works, but what are works? They
are activities that benefit another person. We are not being baptized to help another person.
Salvation is free, but we do have to do something to receive our free gift. God does not force it on us. What if you went to work and told
each person you work with that if they'd walk over to your desk at 6:00, you'd give them $50? What is likely to happen? Probably no one will
come. Why? Because they don't believe you. That is one of the reasons people do not receive salvation. They do not believe God.
What if the next day you told everyone again that if they'd walk over to your desk at 6:00, you'd give them $50? The second time they
probably wouldn't believe you either. Therefore, no one would come.
But what if you did this for a week and finally someone came to your desk at 6:00 to collect their $50? Would they have worked for it?
No, it would be your free gift. Certainly their making the trip over to your desk would not be considered work. But that was the stipulation you
laid out for them to receive their free gift of the $50.
Please, God. I've told so many people they don't need to be baptized. Why did you have to include it in the Bible?
God warned us of religious practices and attitudes which "have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship" (Colossians 2:23). Do we
worship God according to our will or his?
Do we take the scriptures at face value or expend entire books trying to "spiritualize" and "symbolize" and explain them away? Why can't
we take scriptures at face value? Why do we have to justify ourselves? Why can we not see our own arrogance?
Refusing to yield our bodies to the humiliation of baptism demonstrates that we are antagonistic to complete surrender to the example and
command of Jesus Christ whom we claim to be our Lord. BAPTISM IS A TEST FOR STUBBORN HEARTS.
Despite all the mentions of baptism in the New Testament, some people will still say, "But it only takes faith to be saved." In that case, we
need to eliminate hearing the gospel and confession.
Others say, "It only takes the blood of Christ to be saved." In that case, we need to eliminate hearing, faith and confession.
Isn't it ridiculous the extremes we will go to in order to justify our own actions? Our arguing among each other over the obvious is tearing us
The exact moment we are saved, the exact second in time, doesn't matter. Why not just do it ALL? Once we've done it all, we know we
are saved. The exact moment of salvation is known to God. As long as we do it ALL, we can have no doubts.
When we are walking or driving near the edge of a dropoff, do we try to see how far from safety and close to the edge we can go? Of
course not. We do as much as we can to stay away from that edge. Why tempt our prospects for survival?
Besides, when we leave off one of the things to do to be saved, we are going "....after the commandments and doctrines of men....have
indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship...." (Colossians 2:22-23, KJV).
Whose will do we worship? Our own or God's? Why do we bother to worship God? Do we not want to be confused by the facts? Why
do we bother to go to church at all?
Are we going to church for the social interaction only? If so, we don't care what the Bible says. We're going to do what we want.
Are we going to church to put in our time so God will feel guilty if he doesn't take us to heaven when we die? If so, we don't care what the
Bible says. We make our own rules.
Are we going to church so we can perform or hear the performances? If so, we don't care what the Bible says. It has nothing to do with
Are we going to church because we love ourselves? If so, we don't care what the Bible says. We're not interested in loving the Author.
The Bible is not just a book of stories about Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus. There are rules in it. The audacity of God telling us what
to do! But we must remember that God is our Creator and loves us so very much, just like any other parent who gives rules to a child.
Sins are things that we do that will ultimately hurt us. God does not randomly list things for us to stay away from or things for us to do just to
give us a hard time. As our creator, he knows what will hurt and help us. He doesn't want any of us to be hurt.
When the apostles were arrested and taken before the ruling body of the Jewish religion, "Peter and the other apostles replied: 'We must
obey God rather than man!' " (Acts 5:29).
There are many church leaders who have been educated in the Bible and yet tell us we do not need to be baptized and that some uncaring
people are just pressuring us to do that. After all, they were never baptized, so why should anyone else?
I personally know many people who went to their ministers requesting that he baptize them, and the minister refused, adamantly telling them
they didn't need to be baptized. Could it be that, if they did, they would be telling others that everyone needed to be, including themselves?
On a call-in religious program just this week, a woman called in to ask about baptism. The man told her that "those people" believed water
saved them instead of Jesus' blood (something "those people" do not believe). He said that "those people" who believe baptism saves them are
lost and she should stay away from them because they were dangerous.
Extreme caution must be given when listening to a person who (1) tells you what other people believe, as though they can climb into their
heads and know; and (2) refuses to tell you just what they believe a religious act is for. We must give ourselves more credit for reading and
understanding the Bible for ourselves, and less to getting seminary-trained religious leaders' opinions and calling it gospel.
First, putting all the educated church leaders end to end around the globe will only give us a multitude of opinions. Many church leaders do
not take the Bible literally. Many do not believe in the miracles of the Bible. Many believe that the god of the Buddhists is just as true. Many
believe that the church is more infallible than the Bible.
Secondly, will these educated church leaders judge us at the end of our life? No. They, too, will be judged by the same God you and I will
be. We must read the Bible for ourselves. That is what we will be judged by.
Some will say that their deceased relatives went to church all the time and were never baptized. Others will say that people in remote parts
of the world never had a Bible or never learned to read, so never even knew about Jesus. In both of these instances we must remember that
God knows whether they would have been baptized had they known to.
Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teachings....He who does not love me will not obey my teaching....You are my friends if you
do what I command" (John 14:23-24; 15:14). WHAT ARE WE WILLING TO DO TO BE SAVED?
Do we only pay lip service to Jesus? Do we draw the line as to how far we will go? If God said we must climb cathedral steps one hundred
times on our knees to be saved, would we? If God said we must go without food for twenty days to be saved, would we? If God said we had
to cut off our hand to be saved, would we? How far are we willing to go for an eternity with the God who loves us?
Is it hard to go against our friends? You bet it is. For, as soon as we are baptized, if they are still used to following man's word instead of
God's word, they will feel threatened by you and will possibly persecute you.
Look at the persecution of thousands of Christians through the ages for insisting on following the Bible. Get a copy of FOX'S BOOK OF
MARTYRS and read the detailed descriptions of torturous deaths endured for the sake of following God and not man or look at later chapters in
Even more than that, look at the persecution Jesus went through for you and me....
God, I never saw things this way before. But I can't go back now. It's too late for me. I just can't. Could you forgive me, God?
Just this one thing?
Jesus, I Didn't Understand
Oh, Jesus, I didn't understand. Your flesh. It was torn for me. I was the one who should have received the lashing that turned Your back
into meat. And the thorny slivers on the cross. The slivers that went into Your already shredded back to create gangrene. The lashing and
thorns were supposed to be for me, not You. And the nails too, Jesus. The nails too. How could You go through that in my place?
Oh, Jesus, I didn't understand. Your nakedness. They stripped You instead of me. I was the one who's nakedness should have been
exposed, and put on display for the whole world to gawk at and ridicule. I was the one who was supposed to have been subjected to
exposure, enduring both the heat of the day and the cold of that strange noon-time darkness. How could you have endured this for me?
Oh, Jesus, I didn't understand. Your blood. It was shed for me. If I had been the only sinner in the world, You still would have had to die
to free me from hell. That was my blood that was supposed to be falling off the cross that day, not Yours. How could You love me that
Oh, Jesus, I didn't understand. Your every breath. Taken away from You a gasp at a time as You hung there by merciless nails tearing
away at your life, rendering your lungs almost paralyzed, piercing Your soul. Each time You chose to ignore the screaming blood vessels in
Your back and the unbearable spasms in Your arms and legs just so You could get just one more taste of breath, that should have been me.
How could You volunteer Your own body to be tortured like that in my place?
Oh, Jesus, I didn't understand. In the flames of Your fever and the darkness of my sins, You descended to a horrible place where God does
not go. Completely forsaken by Your God. Completely deserted by Love. Not because You simply bore my sins, but You actually became
my sins. How could You, who struggled a lifetime to make sure You never sinned, become exactly what You hated for me?
Oh, Jesus, I did not understand. All my little lies, little things I took home accidentally and kept, the strangers I never encouraged, the friends
I never shared my love for You with, my arrogance in not following you. Oh, Jesus, I am so ashamed. How can I ever make it up to You?
How can I tell You how sorry I am? I want to see You face to face and tell You how much I love You. How can I convince You to let me do
Jesus personally replies, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies" (John 11:25). Oh, Jesus,
say no more! I do believe that You are the Son of God! I do believe!
Jesus personally replies, "Unless you repent, you too will all perish" (Luke 13:3). I'm so glad You said that, Jesus! I truly am sorry for all
those sins I have committed that caused You to die!
Jesus personally replies, "Whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before My Father in heaven" (Matthew 10:31f). Well, isn't it
enough that I believe? Do I have to get my friends involved? If I told them I believed in You, they'd kill my reputation. Are You sure, Jesus?
Jesus personally replies, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mark 16:15). "Jesus came...to be baptized....'It is proper for us
to do this to fulfill all righteousness' " (Matthew 3:13-15). Oh, Jesus, I wish you hadn't been baptized and said I needed to be also. My friends
and pastor tell me I don't need to be. I know they didn't die for me, but surely they wouldn't steer me wrong. Please, Jesus, not that!
Would it be okay, Jesus, if I just do the first two ~ believe and repent? Everyone says that's all I have to do to please You. I'll even throw in
the third one and tell a few of my friends what You've done for me because I believe in You. But the last one. I know You Yourself said to, but
I just couldn't! Please, spare me that! Please, Jesus! It would kill me....
Punishment or Privilege?
How many people have you met over the years who said they thought they were Christians? But later in their lives they decided they hadn't
been, but now they knew for sure they were Christians? Then later in their lives they decided they hadn't really been Christians then either, but
now they knew for certain they were Christian? What uncertainty must torture their soul!
I have talked with several wives who have said they were astonished when their husbands said they'd like to become Christians. These
husbands had been going to church with their wives sometimes as long as 25 years. "I always thought he was a Christian," the wives would tell
R. L. Coleman day after day mourned for his sins at church in hopes of receiving that assurance of salvation he had been taught to expect.
He knew he was willing to be saved, but he had no assurance that he was saved, and remained unable to give any reason why he did not enjoy
this assurance. After a couple of years, he quit going to church completely. Still uncomfortable and unhappy, he remained at home to read the
Bible and pray.
Finally he went to hear a visiting preacher who quoted from the Bible scriptures about baptism. As soon as Mr. Coleman was baptized, he
felt completely released from his old sense of guilt. He realized that his sins had been washed away in the blood of Christ, and that of this he had
received, in baptism, the assurance he had so long sought in vain. From that moment his former anxieties and fears for ever disappeared. 
John Rogers had earnestly sought for some time that "religious experience" which was supposed to be conversion, and which apparently had
been obtained by some of his friends. Not feeling assured, his friends exhorted him to pray on, which he did, still hoping for some inexplicable,
palpable or sensible manifestation by which he would "know his sins forgiven." Finally he read about baptism in the Bible, and not a religious
experience or a sinner's prayer. Once baptized, he never doubted his salvation again. 
Walter Scott explained that he had been "tossed on the waves of uncertainty, laboring, praying and striving to obtain saving faith - sometimes
desponding and almost despairing of ever getting it." After a long struggle, he at length obtained peace of mind in a retired wood to which he
had resorted with his Bible.
Then he decided to become a minister. "About this time my mind was continually tossed on the waves....Clashing, controversial theories
were urged by the different sects with much zeal and bad feeling. No surer sign of the low state of true religion.
"From this state of perplexity I was relieved by the precious word of God." He spent time reading about baptism and decided that is what
he had to do. Immediately after his baptism he experience a happy relief from the illusive hopes and fears based on frames and feelings, which
for several years had been all he had been taught regarding assurance of salvation. 
Another man, a Dr. Wayland, explained, "I had marked out for myself a plan of conversion in accordance with the prevailing theological
notions. First, I must have agonizing convictions, then deep and overwhelming repentance, then a view of Christ as my Saviour, which should fill
me with transports, and from all this would proceed a new and holy life. Until this was done, I could perform no work pleasing to God and all
that I could do was abomination in his sight. For these emotions, then, I prayed, but received nothing in answer which corresponded to my
theory of conversion."
Then, upon concentrating on what baptism does for sinners as explained in the Bible, he was baptized and received that elusive knowledge
(not sense, but knowledge) of relief. 
Why do we continue to dodge the outward sign God provided for us so that we and everyone around us can know assuredly that we made a
conscientious decision to become a Christian? It is not only hard on us; it is hard on our families.
What a wretched life!
Living in a nation with Christians does not automatically make us Christians, any more than living in a nation with Boy Scouts automatically
makes us a Boy Scout.
Living in a family with Christians does not automatically make us Christians, any more than living in a family with Boy Scouts automatically
makes us a Boy Scout.
Owning a Bible does not automatically make us Christians, any more than owning a Boy Scout handbook automatically makes us a Boy
Showing up at church services once a week does not automatically make us Christians, any more than showing up at Boy Scout meetings
once a week automatically makes us a Boy Scout.
It is not automatic. It is not by osmosis.
There is a way to know for sure! Just as we have to contact the headquarters of the Boy Scouts to do what it tells us to do to become a
Boy Scout, we have to contact the headquarters of Christians to do what it tells us to do to become a Christian.
Where is the headquarters for Christians? It is not on earth. It is in heaven.
Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, AND teaching them to obey everything I have COMMANDED you. And surely I am
with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20).
Why be baptized? So we don't have to guess when we became a Christian. Some will surely say it doesn't matter when we become a
Christian. It apparently does to Jesus. Whose opinion do we prefer - man's or Jesus'?
Dear reader, if you still do not believe a person needs to be baptized, then WHAT IS BAPTISM FOR? Stop right now and answer that
question. And WHY IS IT IN THE BIBLE? Stop right now and answer that question also.
Let us view baptism for what it is. Baptism is the HONOR AND PRIVILEGE OF IMITATING WHAT JESUS DID FOR US!
God describes it beautifully through his apostle Paul: "Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized
into his death? We were therefore buried WITH HIM through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through
the glory of the Father, WE TOO MAY LIVE A NEW LIFE" (Romans 6:3-4).
If we consider baptism a punishment by God and too humiliating to go through, then we are still one step away from admitting that we are the
ones who deserved to die and be buried - not Jesus. God said that if we recognize that fact, then symbolically we can die with Jesus. We can
be with Jesus up on that cross. How do we die? We die to our sinful nature (Romans 6:6-7), that part of us that sins and doesn't care.
Then, just as Jesus was buried, we have the honor and privilege of being buried with him symbolically in the water.
Then, just as Jesus was raised to live forever the Savior, we are raised to live forever the Saved Ones.
What a privilege! How can we even think of holding back? This is when our souls can become one with Jesus!
So, as the Apostle Paul was told at his own conversion, "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away,
calling on his name" (Acts 22:16).
Oh God, I think in the back of my mind I was always curious about baptism, but my family would have disowned me if I'd brought
it up. My church too. How could they have been wrong? They loved you so.
Act of Worship
I have seen numerous baptisms through the years, and heard of many others. I've seen them in public and private. I've seen them in lakes,
rivers, swimming pools, baptismal fonts. I've heard of people being baptized in wells, water troughs, bath tubs, saunas. I have seen people
baptized by being laid back in the water by the baptizer, and I have heard of people baptized by stooping and being gently pushed on their head
until they were immersed.
I've seen baptisms surrounded by fear, excitement, tears, laughter. I've seen people come up out of the water laughing. I've seen people
come up out of the water crying. But no one ever came up out of the water with a ho-hum attitude.
I recall one young lady who decided she wanted to be baptized, but was deathly afraid of water. She even showered instead of bathing, she
was so afraid of water. So we, her close friends, promised to stand close to her and pull her out of the water ourselves if she was held under
too long. We even offered to get in the water with her. She said that was too dangerous; she'd prefer we stay on firm footing. So we stood on
the floor in front of the baptistery, our arms outstretched to her.
When she came up out of the water two seconds later, she was overjoyed. She was willing to go through something so fearful that she
thought she might die, just to be baptized.
I recall a young man who decided he wanted to be baptized where the church was meeting in a school. So a vat of some kind was rushed
out onto the stage on rollers. It was filled with water. The young man got in, and someone guided him with his immersion.
When he came up out of the water, he raised both hands in triumph and the entire congregation stood and let out a shout of victory that
would have dwarfed the roars of the crowd at the most exciting football game ever. You couldn't stop them from clapping and shouting. It went
on and on. It was a victory! One more victory over Satan! One more symbolically dead, then raised to live for ever! One more for God!
Victory above all victories!
Where you worship, why not offer an invitation to the worshippers toward the end of your service to become Christians? Why couldn't
someone stand up and read about one of the first century Christians and what they did? Or read about the many explanations of baptism given
in the New Testament? Then tell people in your crowd, "What are you waiting for? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins!" just like
the Apostle Paul was told.
Perhaps your congregation can then stand and begin singing a song of encouragement so people walking forward to be baptized don't feel
conspicuous. Or sit in silence with your eyes closed, allowing time for people to think and make their decision, praying as you wait for them. Or
even turn to the person to your left or right and say, "Have you been baptized? Would you like to be?"
Early Christians were baptized every day of the week and under every circumstance. So, whenever your congregation meets, ask people,
"Would you like to be baptized right now? Why wait?"
Don't have one certain Sunday of the year or month set aside for baptisms. Allow each person the opportunity to be baptized immediately.
As Paul was told, "What are you waiting for?"
I have known many people decide to be baptized after a private study in their home. In that case, it is the same question, "What are you
waiting for?" They were baptized within the hour.
On the first day of the church's existence when 3000 people were baptized, they were all baptized the same day. "Those who accepted his
message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number [the church] THAT DAY" (Acts 2:41).
When Philip taught the Ethiopian eunuch riding along in a chariot, "as they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch
said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized? And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down
into the water and Philip baptized him" (Acts 8:36-38).
When the future Apostle Paul was taught by a simple Christian named Ananias (he didn't even have a title in the church), Ananias healed Paul
of his blindness. But Paul still had something else he had to do and wouldn't even eat until he did it. "Immediately, something like scales fell from
Saul's [Paul's] eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength" (Acts 9:18-19).
When Peter went to another town to teach Cornelius, "the following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had
called together his relatives and close friends....So he ordered they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with
them for a few days" (Acts 10:24, 48).
When Paul taught Lydia and her household, "we sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there [riverside]....When she
and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home" (Acts 16:13-15). They did not go home until they were baptized.
When Paul and Silas taught their jailer they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved - you and your household. Then they
spoke the word [so they'd know what to believe] of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took
them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized" (Acts 16:31-33).
Never postpone anyone's baptism. Once they know what to do and have thought about their sins and really asked God to forgive them, let
them be baptized immediately.
Do they have to be baptized by an ordained minister? If so, the Apostle Paul did not practice what he preached. The Apostle Paul was
baptized by a man who was identified only as "a disciple" (Acts 9:10). Besides, if we did insist on being baptized by an ordained minister, what
if we found out later that minister was committing some terrible sins and was about to leave the church, or that minister believed Buddhist was
just as holy as Jesus? In that case, our baptism would be invalid. How many of us truly know the heart of another person?
Our baptism does not depend on who baptizes us. It depends on the fact that we were baptized.
So, in the case of people who are baptized privately, when they arrive at worship the first time, it should be announced and people should be
given an opportunity right then to go to him/her and give them a hug or shake their hand and congratulate them. Special prayers should be
offered on their behalf.
Further, their address should be shared unless they insist it not be (I've never seen that happen or heard of it in 50 years), so the members
can follow up with notes, cards, letters of encouragement.
Baptism should be a special celebration. It should be a day each person never, ever forgets. I heard of a tombstone that read something like
this: John Doe. Born: August 21, 1939. Reborn: April 27, 1978. Died: He didn't.
Oh, Jesus, I fall at your feet. Forgive me. I didn't understand. I want to be baptized. I want to follow your example. If it meant
enough for you do it, I want to also. Forgive my putting it off all this time. Forgive my arrogance.
First Century Church Accounts
Ignatius wrote about 90 AD in his Epistle to Polycarp, v. 6: "Let your baptism abide with you as your shield; your faith as your helmet; your
love as your spear; your patience as your body armour. Let your works be your deposits, that ye may receive your assets due to you." 
A collection of miscellaneous writings called Didache 9,written about 100 AD, says, "No one is to eat or drink of your eucharist except those
who have been baptized in the name of the Lord. For also concerning this the Lord has said, 'Do not give that which is holy to the dogs.' " 
Justin Martyr wrote in his Apology I, 65 about 150 AD, "After we thus wash [baptize] him who has been persuaded and agreed entirely with
our teachings, we take him to the place where the brethren have gathered together yo make fervent prayers in common on behalf of themselves
and of the one who has been illuminated in baptism and of all others everywhere. We pray that we who have learned the truth may be counted
worthy and may be found good citizens through our works and keepers of his commandments so that we may receive the eternal salvation.
When we cease from our prayers, we salute one another with a kiss.
"Next there is brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of water mixed with wine. Taking these he sends up praise and glory
to the Father of all through the name of his Son and of the Holy Spirit and makes thanksgiving at length for the gifts we are counted worthy to
receive from him. When he completes the prayers and thanksgiving, all the people present sing out their assent by saying 'Amen.'....give to each
of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water for which thanksgiving has been given, and they carry some away to those
who are absent." 
Addendum I: Baptism of Infants
Some people, in their enthusiasm for baptism, have decided to baptize their babies. It certainly does not hurt a baby to be baptized since the
baby has no idea what is going on.
Some people do it as a way of dedicating their baby to God. Others do it for the baby's salvation. The clergy knows that when these babies
grow up, they tend to feel affiliated with their particular denomination. The baptism is a kind of down payment toward having that person in
Because baptism does not really hurt a baby, this topic is not part of the main chapter. But for those interested in investigating it, some food
for thought follows. The reasoning given by church leaders for baptizing infants is that it is a Christian substitute for Jewish circumcision.
To be consistent, babies must be baptized on the eighth day and can only be boys. And, everyone who works for that family must also have
their baby boys circumcised or be fired. (See Genesis 17:12,13).
The only time baptism is mentioned in connection with circumcision is this [capitals mine]:
"In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, NOT with a circumcision done BY THE HANDS OF MEN but
with the circumcision done by Christ, having been BURIED WITH HIM IN BAPTISM and raised with him through YOUR FAITH in the
power of God, who raised him from the dead.
"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our
sins, having canceled the written code [Old Testament] with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away,
nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:11-14).
This scripture refers to someone with faith and a form of circumcision not performed by men, which would eliminate babies and baptism
which is performed by men.
Further, whenever the apostles argued with Jewish Christians not to circumcise their babies as a religious rite, never did he tell them to
baptize their babies instead (Acts 15:1-21; 1 Corinthians 7:17-20; Galatians 2:3-5; 5:1-12; 6:12-16).
Never in the scriptures is there a story saying directly that a baby was baptized. None. Preachers who practice this will say it is inferred
when entire households were baptized. But if you investigate these, you will find those entire households also believed. Can infants believe?
The scripture most cited for infant baptism is in the Old Testament where David said in Psalm 51:5, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from
the time my mother conceived me."
David had just had to admit he had committed adultery and she was now pregnant. It nearly killed him. And while he was at it, he referred
to the adulterous situation under which his lineage was born, as though "It has happened again."
Why? Because Deuteronomy 23:2, part of the Law of Moses David lived under, says, "No one born of a forbidden marriage nor any of his
descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation." What was a forbidden marriage? Among others, it was
one between a father and daughter-in-law (Leviticus 18:15).
Genesis 38 says that Judah's son married Tamar and then died. But for various reasons, his brothers refused to carry on their deceased
brother's name as commanded in Deuteronomy 24:5-10. So she dressed up like a prostitute, and when Judah, newly widowed, saw her, he
went to bed with her. As a result, she had an illegitimate son named Perez, David's ancestor.
Matthew 1:3-6 gives the lineage of David. Counting the generations between Perez and David reveals it to be ten generations (remember
Deuteronomy 23:2 regarding this?). In this sense, David was conceived in sin. (And, by the way, it was his son, Solomon of the 11th
generation who built the temple.)
All babies and little children are as saved as adult Christians. Hebrews 1:14 says, "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those
who will inherit salvation?" And Jesus himself said in Matthew 18:10, " 'See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you
that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.' " Did he say only baptized children? Never.
Further, Jesus said in Matthew 19:14, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such
as these." He did not say, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to children after they are baptized. He said the kingdom of heaven right now
belongs to them.
Never did David believe a baby was doomed to hell. This psalm was written when he found out Bathsheba was pregnant by him outside of
wedlock. The account of that event is in 2 Samuel 11 and 12. After the baby was born, he got sick and died seven days later, too early to be
scripturally circumcised. Did David believe his uncircumcised baby went to hell? No. He said, "'Can I bring him back again? I will go to him,
but he will not return to me' " (2 Samuel 12:23).
. Campbell, Alexander, Millinneal Harbinger, Extra on Baptism, October 10, 1831, pg. 44
. Campbell, Alexander, Millineal Harbinger, Extra on Baptism, October 10, 1831, pg. 45
. Campbell, Alexander, Millinneal Harbinger, Extra on Baptism, 1830
. Thayer, Joseph H., Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 1974, pg. 94
. Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. II, 1967, pg. 261-262
. Ferguson, Everett, Early Christians Speak, Sweet Publishing, Austin, 1971, pg. 50
. Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. III, William Benton, Publisher, Chicago, pg. 139
. Ibid, Vol. IX, pg. 529
. Ferguson, pg. 33
. Ibid, pg. 34
. Ibid, pg. 34-35
. Ibid, pg. 35
. Ibid. pg. 36
. Ibid, pg. 45
. Ibid., pg. 46
. Ibid., pg. 34
. Ibid., pg. 46
 Campbell, Alexander, Millennial Harbinger, "Extra on Baptism," Published by Editor, 1830, pg. 47-50
. Richardson, Robert, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, Vol. II, pg. 314-316
. Richardson, Vol. II, pg. 374-376
. Richardson, Vol. II, pg. 206-220
. Richardson, Vol. II, pg. 113-115
. Ferguson, pg. 93
. Ibid., pg. 94