Sprinkling, Pouring, or Immersion?
Those in the religious world differ on the acceptable mode of baptism. Some support sprinkling, while others promote pouring. Some insist that immersion is the only way, while others argue that any mode will do. How do we determine which answer is right? Let me suggest that we go to God’s word and let it be our authority (Col. 3:17). After all, we will one day be judged by it (John 12:48).
Although modern usage of the word baptism, such as that found in an English dictionary, may include sprinkling and pouring as possible meanings, New Testament usage does not do so. The Greek word for baptism means “to dip, to plunge, to immerse.” Although an understanding of Greek is helpful, one does not have to be a student of New Testament Greek to arrive at the proper meaning of baptism. The meaning of the word is clearly established in a number of New Testament passages. Please consider the following:
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12). Please note that baptism is referred to as a burial. As you know, when someone is buried, they are completely covered with dirt. Sprinkling or pouring a little dirt on them is not burying them. In like manner, baptism is a burial in water. Those who are baptized must be completely covered with water. When we are baptized, we obey a form or pattern of doctrine (Rom. 6:17). We die, are buried, and rise to walk in newness of life just like our Lord did. Sprinkling and pouring will not fit this pattern. Our Lord was placed in a sepulcher with a huge stone sealing the door. Above, below, behind, and in front of him was stone. He was buried.
“And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized” (John 3:23). Please note why John was baptizing in Aenon – “because there was much water there.” Why did John need “much water?” Would sprinking or pouring require “much water?” Clearly, they would not. However, immersion would.
“And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him” (Acts 8:38). Clearly, for sprinkling or pouring it would not have been necessary for anyone to get into the water. However, a burial or immersion in water would have required such.
I wish space would allow me to elaborate on this important matter, but it will not. Hopefully, these verses are enough to help those seeking truth to understand that immersion is the correct mode of baptism.
The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz
Denis Avey's story is hard to believe, but it is true. He is known to history as the man who broke into Auschwitz. You heard that right. He broke into, not out of, Auschwitz.
I suppose the first question is, Why would anyone break into Auschwitz? To make a long story short, Avey broke into the notorious concentration/extermination camp to be an eyewitness to history so that after the war men would know what happened there. He had doubts that any Jews would actually survive to tell the story.
The second question is, How did he break into Auschwitz? Denis Avey was a soldier in the British Army. He was captured by the Germans while fighting Rommel in the desert. He escaped briefly when the ship that he was being transported in was torpedoed and sank. However, he was quickly recaptured and sent to a prison camp in Poland that bordered Auschwitz III. Although Avey's conditions as a prisoner of war were not good, they were far better than the ghostly figures that he saw on the other side of the fence. Eventually, Avey became friends with a Jewish inmate named Hans. On two different occasions, Avey and Hans changed positions for a day. They met in a wooden shed that bordered the two camps and quickly changed into each other's clothes. Avey described in detail his emotions as he took off his British uniform and boots to put on the dirty, striped uniform and rough, wooden shoes of his friend. The little protection and comfort that his uniform provided him under the Geneva convention was gone when he became a stripey. For a short time, Avey was one of them. He was walking in their shoes.
As amazing as this story is, you and I know an even better one. We know the story of One who left the ivory palace of heaven for a poor man’s cottage in Nazareth. In Psalms, we read, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions. All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia, Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad” (Psa. 45:6-8). We know the story of One who didn’t just put on our garments, but our nature (Phil. 2:5-8; John 1:14; 13:4). We know the story of One who fully understands what it is to be one of us (Heb. 2:10-18; 4:15). We know the story of One who died to set us free (Heb. 2:9; Rom. 5:6-10). Let's make sure that we tell His story for the world to hear!
Three Kinds of Sin
There are few subjects that you can preach on that you know cover every person in the audience. Sin is one of those subjects. Sin is a problem that we all have (Rom 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Sin is from a Greek word (harmatia) which means “to miss the mark.” It is to fall short of the glory of God and to transgress God’s law (1 John 3:4). The Bible identifies three kinds of sin.
Sins of Commission
The psalmist declared, “We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly” (Psa 106:6). Notice first the word committed. This word identifies the kind of sin that we are talking about. Then, notice three words for sin - sinned, committed iniquity, and done wickedly. These three terms are just different ways of referring to the breaking of God’s law. We have an example of this kind of sin in the case of Achan. We read, “Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity” (Josh. 22:20). Notice the word commit. This identifies the kind of sin that is under consideration. Notice also the words trespass and iniquity. These are two more ways that the Bible refers to sin.
Sins of Omission
Jesus declared, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Mat. 23:23). First, notice the word omitted. This identifies the kind of sin that is under consideration. These individuals had omitted the weightier matters of the law - judgment, mercy, and faith. Yet, at the same time they were giving tithes of the smallest spices - mint, anise, and cumin. No doubt, they wanted men to praise them for giving a tenth of these tiny things. Jesus wasn’t impressed. They were majoring in minors and minoring in majors. We must be careful not to be guilty of omissions of our own. James wrote, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Jam. 4:17).
Sins of Disposition
God looks on the heart (1 Sam 16:7; Heb. 4:12). He sees our thoughts afar off (Psa. 139:2). We can sin not only in our bodies, but also in our hearts and minds. Solomon wrote, “An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin” (Prov 21:4). Please note that a proud heart is sin. In the twenty-fourth chapter, Solomon wrote, “He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person. The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men” (Prov 24:8-9). Here, we read of a thought that is sin. Other passages will affirm the same. Isaiah wrote, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:7; cf. Mt. 15:19). In like manner, Jesus declared, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Mt. 5:27-28; cf. 2 Pet. 2:14). Please note that it isn’t just the act that is sin, but also the thought. The person who takes pleasure in the sin of others is as worthy of death as them. Paul wrote, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:32).
We must avoid all sin. Sins of commission, omission, and disposition are all forbidden. They all pay the wages of death (Rom. 6:23).
As Jesus hung in agony on the cross, they offered Him “sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink” (Matt. 27:34). The word “tasted” there is not hard to figure out. It is the same word found in John 2:9, when the master of the feast “tasted the water that was made wine.” We understand what it means to “taste” something. Once something hits our tongue, our “taster” decides whether it likes it or not, and whether it wants to have some more or not.
Interestingly, the Greek word that is used for “taste” in the two passages above is most often used metaphorically. Those two passages are among the few that speak of literally tasting something with one’s tongue. When the word is used metaphorically, it means, “to experience something cognitively or emotionally; to come to know something.”
About four times in the New Testament, this word is used of one who would “taste death.” Jesus used the expression Himself (Matt. 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27), but then the Hebrews writer used it with reference to Jesus—that He did “taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9). What a way to describe what Jesus endured. He did not just die—He experienced death and came to know what it was like. He did that for us!
But, consider three other uses of the word and how they apply to you. First, a child of God is one who has “tasted the heavenly gift” (Heb. 6:4). What is this “heavenly gift”? Two possibilities seem apparent, but they are actually the same. Salvation is “the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8), and Christ Himself is God’s “indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15). Think about the illustrative use of the word “taste.” Are you saved? Are you in a deep relationship with Christ? If so, God says that you have “tasted” (or personally experienced) these blessings!
Second, a child of God has “tasted the good word of God” (Heb. 6:5). One might think of Ezekiel or John who ate God’s Word. The New Testament describes God’s Word as both “milk” (1 Pet. 2:2) and “solid food” (Heb. 5:12). The Bible is not merely something that you read—God beautifully designed it for the child of God to personally experience every day! How does it taste to you?
Third, a child of God has “tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Pet. 2:3). God is not just someone we read about in a book. God is someone to come to know and experience on such a deep and personal level that it’s as if you are tasting your relationship with Him. How vivid!
When you taste something, you decide if you like it and if you want more. How does God’s gift, God’s Word and God’s grace taste to you? Don’t you want all you can get!
I Am Ruth Thine Handmaid (Part 3)
Ruth stands out as one of the greatest servants in the Scriptures. In previous lessons, we saw that Ruth was a faithful, fervent, and fearful servant. In this lesson, we will see one final characteristic.
A Fruitful Servant
Throughout the book we find Ruth bringing fruit to Naomi. In the second chapter, she brought her a part of her lunch (Ruth 2:14, 18) and “about an ephah of barley” (Ruth 2:17). An ephah would have been about a bushel and would have lasted for about a week. In the third chapter, she brought Naomi “six measures of barley” (Ruth 3:15, 17). Six measures would have been about twice what she gleaned the first day in the field (Ruth 2:17). Six measures would have been about eighty pounds and would have sustained Ruth and Naomi for about two weeks. Ruth did not come “empty” to her mother-in-law (Ruth 3:17). Interestingly, “empty” was the very word that Naomi used to describe her situation when she arrived back in Bethlehem (Ruth 1:21).
Although the grain was great, the fruit that Naomi most wanted was a son to carry on the name of her husband and sons (Ruth 4:5, 10). As you know, she would not be disappointed. God granted Ruth conception and she bore a son (Ruth 4:13). By the book’s end, Naomi has the child in her arms (Ruth 4:16).
What about us? Are we fruitful servants? Do we come to God “empty” or are our hands full of gifts for Him? Repeatedly, men under the Old Testament system were warned not to appear before Him empty (Ex. 23:15; 34:20; Deut. 16:16). Amazingly, even the pagan Philistine priests knew this much (1 Sam. 6:1-3). Although God made allowances for the poor under the Old Testament system, such as a pair of turtledoves instead of a lamb, all were to bring something (Lev. 12:8; Lk. 2:24; Psa. 96:8). Obviously, if men under the Old Testament system were not to come to God empty, then it makes sense that under a far greater system we must not do so. As His servants, God wants us to bear fruit. Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8; cf. 15:16; Rom. 7:4; Col. 1:10; Heb. 13:15). We are not to be unfruitful (Tit. 3:14; 2 Pet. 1:8). Of course, the fruit that God most desires is someone to wear the name of His son (Rom. 1:13). He wants individuals to be born into His family and to keep the name of His Son alive in the earth.
Are we a servant to our Redeemer as Ruth was to hers? Have we placed ourselves humbly at his feet submitting to His will? Are we faithful, fervent, fearful, and fruitful?