The Scriptural Mode of Baptism

We believe and teach that scriptural baptism is immersion for the remission of sins, and is in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost/Spirit.  (Act 8:35-38; Mat 28:19).

In the last article from our doctrinal statement we established, from Scripture, the essentiality of baptism to salvation. However, there are many who believe that the command to be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) can be satisfied by the mode of sprinkling or pouring. There are also those who believe that the biblical baptism necessary for salvation does not involve any physical element at all and is completely an act of the Holy Spirit. They believe that it is Holy Spirit baptism that is necessary for salvation. By clarifying the biblical mode of baptism we will know for certain what God is commanding of us when he says that we must be baptized to be forgiven of our sins.

First, we can eliminate the modes of sprinkling and pouring for biblical baptism simply by the definition of the words themselves. We know what sprinkling and pouring are because they are English words that we use all the time. The dictionary definition of sprinkling is, “1: to scatter in drops or particles; 2a: to scatter over; 2b: to scatter at intervals in or among; 2c: to wet lightly” (Webster’s 11th). The Hebrew and Greek words that mean the same thing are: zaraq (Hebrew, i.e. Ex. 24:6), naza (Hebrew, i.e. Lev. 8:11), rhantizo (Greek, i.e. Heb. 9:19, 21; 10:22; 12:24; 1 Pet. 1:2). This word is never used in the Bible in reference to the act of baptism.

The dictionary definition of pouring is, “1a: to cause to flow in a stream; 1b: to dispense from a container” (Webster’s 11th). The Hebrew and Greek words that mean the same thing are: yasaq (Hebrew, i.e. Lev. 8:12), katacheo (Greek, i.e. Matt. 26:7). Again, these words are never used in the Bible in reference to the act of baptism.

We notice a stark difference between giving the dictionary definition to these common English words and the dictionary definition of the word Baptism. “1a: a Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community; 2: an act, experience, or ordeal by which one is purified, sanctified, initiated, or named” (Webster’s 11th). This is not a definition, it is an interpretation. The reason is that the word baptize is not an English word, it is Greek. Where the Hebrew and Greek words for “pour” and “sprinkle” are translated into equivalent English words, the word “baptize” is a transliterated word. That means that it is a non-English word given an English spelling. For example, when I wrote rhantizo above, I transliterated it. The Greek word looks like this, ???????. But you don’t read Greek so I changed the Greek text into English so you could read it. That is what was done with the word “baptism.” If the Greek word, ??????? (baptizo), was actually translated it would say “immerse.” It would be “John the Immerser” (Matt. 3:1) and “repent, and be immersed every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).

Baptism is an immersion. This is also clear from its description as a burial (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12). A burial is a complete immersion in the earth, it is not having a little dirt poured on your head or sprinkled over your body. There is absolutely no way that these can fit the description of scriptural baptism.

The fact that scriptural baptism is immersion is beyond any doubt. But immersed in what? There are many who would argue that it is immersion in the Holy Spirit. This morning’s sermon outline is included here to address this point.

“Are People Still Baptized In The Holy Spirit?”

  • Who would administer Holy Spirit baptism? (Matt. 3:11; Jn. 1:33; 14:26; 15:26; Acts 2:33).
  • Who would receive Holy Spirit baptism? (Acts 1:5; Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4).
  • Holy Spirit baptism is mentioned only one other time (Acts 10:44-45).
  • What was the purpose of Holy Spirit baptism?
    • To guide the apostles into all truth (Jn. 16:13).
      • This purpose was fulfilled.
      • Ja. 1:25; 2 Pet. 1:3; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Jude 3
    • To confirm what was preached (Mk. 16:18, 20).
      • This purpose was fulfilled.
      • Hebrews 2:1-4
    • To confirm God’s acceptance of the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-45).
      • This purpose was fulfilled.
      • Acts 11:15; 15:7-9
  • How many baptisms remain active? (Eph. 4:5).
    • Paul said “one baptism” (ca. 64 AD).
      • Day of Pentecost – two baptisms (Acs 2:1-4, 38-41) (ca. 30 AD).
      • Household of Cornelius – two baptisms (Acts 10:44, 47-48) (ca. 41 AD).
    • Which one ended?
      • Holy Spirit or Water?
      • One of them had to have ended by 64 AD or Paul would have been wrong!
    • Holy Spirit baptism was promised and administered by Jesus.
    • Water baptism was commanded:
      • Great Commission baptism was to be done by men (Matt. 28:19).
      • Great Commission baptism would last till the end of the age (Matt. 28:20).
    • One baptism remains.
      • It is water baptism of the Great Commission (cf. Acts 22:16 and Eph. 5:26).
      • Therefore, Holy Spirit baptism cannot still be occurring!
      • Those who claim Holy Spirit baptism today:
        • Must reject water baptism, or
        • Make Paul a liar!
  • Does Holy Spirit Baptism Still Occur Today? The Bible Says – NO!

The baptism that is essential to our salvation is the answer of a good conscience to God (1 Pet. 3:21). That means it must be done in obedience to the will and commandment of God, in exactly the way he commanded it to be done and in complete faith that God will forgive our sins when we have obeyed him. He commands that we be baptized in water (Acts 8:36), for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) by the authority of Christ (Acts 2:38) in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). Baptism for any other reason and by any other mode is not scriptural baptism and is, therefore, not effective for salvation.

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