Can baptism be done by sprinkling or pouring?
Does Scripture Authorize and Permit Sprinkling or Pouring in Performing the Biblically Commanded Act of Baptism for the Remission of Sins?
In an article entitled “Is Immersion Necessary for Baptism,” William Shishko, who is described as “the pastor of Franklin Square OPC [Orthodox Presbyterian Church] in Franklin Square, N.Y., concludes that it is not. His article is well written, but unfortunately it is written in a manner to delude rather than to illuminate. In responding, all of the narrative will be discarded and the underlying arguments will be examined.
Household baptism. Mr. Shisko argues that “household baptism” includes infants. The implication is that if there were infants in the “household” (1) they must have been included among those who were baptized and (2) since infants are not immersed they must have received sprinkling or pouring. These conclusions are logically unjustified. A). He assumes as true that which he must prove – that there were infants in the family of, e.g. the Philippian Jailor (Acts 16:32-33) or Lydia (Acts 16:15). In neither case are infants said to be or not to be part of the household. Thus, the argument made is an argument from silence which means that it is based on no explicit evidence. That the absence of evidence regarding a proposition does not prove it one way or the other is too well established to need comment. (B). If a passage is to be taken out of its context and the balance of scripture ignored, then no one else in the Jailor’s household, young or old, needed to be baptized. In Acts 16:31 Paul said that if the Jailor believed both he and his house would be saved. Would anyone argue that the Jailor’s belief would serve as the basis of salvation of others? Paul was obviously saying that all of the Jailor’s house who believed would be saved. (C). But is it not reasonable to assume that there were infants, or at least young children, in one or both of these households? Absolutely not. Some households, though in the minority, have no children. Many more households have only children of sufficient age to believe. Moreover, the term “household” in these cases does not necessarily include infants and young children even if present. It is true that “all” means “all,” but it only includes “all” of the class to which it refers. In this case it applies to those baptized. To be a part of this class there are conditions to be met, i.e., the baptismal candidate must be a penitent believer (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15-16). An infant doesn’t have the capacity to believe and has no sins of which to repent. Thus, infants are excluded from the class of baptismal candidates in the household. All of those in the households who believed and repented were baptized. There are other examples of this use of “all” in scripture. God told Noah that he was going to destroy “all flesh” but that obviously did not include Noah and his family. It is even used of God in that sense. Mark writes that “with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27.) There is clearly a limitation on the meaning of the word “all”; it is limited to those things that are possible. It is impossible for God to do the impossible. Not even God can make a square circle as they are defined. He could make a square and call it a circle, but the nature of the square is not changed. The Bible supports this fact (Heb. 6:18; James 1:13). It ill becomes anyone to assert as truth gratuitous assumptions arrived at by fallacious reasoning, especially in matters of eternal importance such as this. In the case of Lydia there are at least four assumptions – she was married, she had children, some of her children were infants, and some of these infant children were with her even though she was in Philippi some 300 miles from her home in Thyatira. On these assumptions Mr. Shisko bases his “Lydia” argument for infant baptism and, in turn, sprinkling. While the evidence is scant, what evidence there is is contrary to these assumptions. When Paul was released from the Philippian prison he went to Lydia’s house where “when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them.” This statement speaks of “brethren” (which includes females). There is not the least hint, not even a scintilla of evidence, that there was an infant in Lydia’s house. The Jailor’s house is as barren of evidence of infant baptism and thus sprinkling as Lydia’s. Before they were baptized Paul “spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.” That should be understood that Paul spoke to all of the house who were able to believe and repent. On the other hand, if, as Mr. Shisko asserts of the fact that all of his house were baptized, this statement proves by the same logic that there were absolutely no infants in the Jailor’s house.
Major premise: Only those who believe and repent can be candidates for scriptural baptism.
Minor premise: No infants (and young children) are capable of believing and repenting.
Conclusion: No infants (and young children) are capable of being candidates for scriptural baptism.
This conclusion is further supported by the fact that after the Jailor and all his house had been baptized they all rejoiced “having believed in God” (Acts 16:33-34). These facts conclusively negate either the presence of infants in the Jailor’s house or establish that “all” who were baptized were capable of believing. Paul did not preach the gospel to infants, and infants did not rejoice, believing in God because of blessings that they could neither understand nor receive. Nowhere from the beginning of Matthew to the end of Revelation is there any precept, promise, hint, or allusion to infant baptism. Is there any doctrine in Scripture concerning our duty and eternal happiness that rests upon such flimsy evidence and unfounded assumptions? Is it not true that anywhere such is found it is the work of man and not the word of God? Is it not true that anywhere such is found it is the work of man trying to avoid the clear teaching of the word of God?
See the article “What Is the History of Infant Sprinkling?” by Wayne Jackson of The Christian Courier.
It should not be surprising that the history of sprinkling parallels the history of infant baptism. Mosheim, in his classical Ecclesiasticl History, wrote of the first century church:
The sacrament of baptism was administered in this century, without the public assemblies, in places appointed, and prepared for that purpose, and was performed by immersion of the whole body in the baptismal font. (Vol. 1, p. 36.)
In the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. 1, p. 451-2, we find:
The burial in water continued to be the standard usage of the Roman Church for more than a thousand years. Thomas Aquinas speaks of it as ‘the more common’ usage. It was the practice in Britain till the reign of Elizabeth, and is still demanded in the order of the Church of England [The “new” version of this work was published in 1907 which dates the “is” in this sentence.] for the baptism of infants unless the parents certify that the child is weak. Though pouring or sprinkling is now employed as rather a matter of convenience, affusion was for many centuries resorted to only in case of necessity.
The first extended discussion of the question is found in the epistle of Cyprian to Magnus written about the middle of the third century. Being asked whether those can be deemed legitimi Christiani, ‘Christians in full standing,’ who, being converted in sickness are non loti sed perfusi, ‘not immersed in the water but having I simply poured over them,’ he gives an affirmative opinion bug does so with the very greatest hesitation. His words are: ‘So far was my poor ability comprehends the matters;’ and ‘I have answered your letter so far as my poor and small ability is capable of doing;’ and ‘So far as in me lies I have shown what I think.’ He disclaims any intention of saying that other officials should recognize affusion as baptism and even goes so far as to suggest that those who have thus received affusion may on their recovery from sickness be immersed. . . . This epistle makes it clear beyond all controversy that in the third century the ordinary baptism was immersion, and that even in the Lain Church there were those who declared it the only baptism. It further appears with equal clearness that affusion was never practiced in the Apostolic Church, for had the apostles resorted thereto even in a single instance Cyprian would certainly have known the fact and would have never presented to mild an apology from a usage which had apostolic precedent, not indeed would any one have taken exception to the practise.
For a thousand years the resort to the use of affusion was justified only on the ground of necessity. And the supposed necessity existed in the idea that baptism was essential to salvation and so that when immersion, the established rite, was out of the question, something must be put in its place or the soul would be lost. The use of affusion would never have been thought of except for the idea that water baptism was essential to salvation. . . . .
The first certain baptism by affusion was that of Novation in 251 A.D. Eusebius, the father of church history, wrote of this occasion in his classic Ecclesiastical History, Book 6: “Who [Novation] aided by the exorcists, when attacked with an obstinate disease, and being supposed at the point of death, was baptized by aspersion, in the bed on which he lay; if, indeed, it be proper to say that one like him did receive baptism.” (Baker House Publishing, 1968.) Sources differ on the amount of water poured in Novation, but they range from “buckets” to “three barrels.” Those involved wanted to get as close to immersion as they could. Because of the illness associated with such “baptisms,” they were called “clinical baptisms.” This baptism was though imperfect, and not solemn, for several reasons. Also those who were so baptized were called clinici, and by the 12th Canon of the Council of Neocaesarea, were prohibited from the priesthood. This clinical baptism slowly advanced, but never gained much favor for thirteen centuries. In 1311, a the Council of Revenna declared that from henceforth baptism by affusion is as acceptable as baptism by immersion. The Reformation not only failed to reform the Catholic Church, it adopted and continued every departure from scripture by the Catholic Church, including sprinkling and pouring.
The second argument is based on the meaning of bapto and baptizo. In this amazing argument Mr. Shisko goes against all of the scholarship of the ages by saying that the word baptize does not mean “immerse.” Only those who sacrifice scholarship on the altar of false teaching would make such a statement. The only sense in which his statement is true is if you accept Noah Webster’s definition over that taken from New Testament Greek lexicons. Such a statement should make it hard to believe anything else that he says. If he is serious about his argument let him produce one Greek lexicon that defines baptizo as “sprinkling” or as he calls its, a “process.” Provided with this response in a listing of each use of bapto and baptizo (in various forms) found in the New Testament and the definitions given of each of them by Lexicographers. The truth is that there is not a great deal of dispute (Some say there is none) among Greek scholars on the definition of baptizo, and not a one of them says that it means “sprinkling” or “pouring.” It is illogical to say that because one word means “A” a second word does not or cannot mean “A.” It is certainly possible for two words to mean the same thing. For example a “meadow” and a “pasture” are the same thing. That is especially true when one is the root word from which the other comes, as is the case with bapto (root) and baptizo (derivative). Unfortunately for Mr. Shisko, the meaning of a word is not an opinion – it is a fact. Clearly God gave a specific word, not a general one, when he commanded baptism. Jesus choice of a specific word dictates that he must have intended some specific action to be performed by his ministers and submitted to by penitent believers in his command to baptize them. That being the case, either he did select such a word or he could not or would not do it. This is a trilemma from which there is no exit. If he could not do it either the language he used or his knowledge of the language he used was deficient. If the former, the language was unfit to be the vehicle for divine revelation on which rested man’s salvation; if the latter his divine character and mission are assailed. If he could have but would not, he impeaches either his sincerity, his benevolence, or both. How could he be sincere in demanding obedience in a particular case for which he cared nothing? How could he be benevolent in exacting a particular service in an ambiguous and unintelligible term that would confound his followers in every age? The second misfortune for Mr. Shisko is that when he admits the meaning of bapto, he also admits the meaning of baptizo. Since baptizo is a derivative of bapto, it derives its specific meaning from that word. Derivative words legally inherit the specific (though not necessarily the figurative) meaning of their roots and never stray so far as to indicate any action that is specifically different from that indicated in their root. Accordingly, neither of these words can represent both immersion and sprinkling. What has Mr. Shisko admitted? He has admitted that bapto means to dip or immerse. He admits that baptizo is the word Jesus chose to represent the action that he intended called baptism. Since the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree so to speak, that is an admission that baptizo means to dip or immerse and does not mean to sprinkle or pour. Let us illustrate with English. Take the verb “adduce” – “duce” from “duco” meaning “I lead” is the root. The family or derivatives include “abduce, adduce, conduce, deduce, educe, induce, introduce, obduce, produce, reduce, seduce, traduce, circumduction, deduction, induction.” Take the noun “”guard,” from which comes “guard (verb), guarding, guarded, guarder, guardedly, guardship, guardian, guardianship, guardless.” Notice that each derivative retains the same sense through every branch of their respective families. It was certainly not that Jesus could not have chosen “sprinkling.” The Greeks had a word for it – rantizo. Jesus did not use it and, try as he might, Mr. Shisko cannot put it in his mouth. It does him no good to appeal to the Old Testament or classical Greek. Although the Old Testament was translated into Greek in the Septuagint, it was written in Hebrew. The New Testament was not written in Classical Greek but in Koine Greek. He is wrong when he says that baptize “translates” baptizo.” Baptizo is not a translation but a transliteration, meaning that the word was brought over bodily into English and given an Anglicized ending. Had the word been translated it would have been rendered “immerse.” A translation would destroy the argument that baptizo refers to a process and an effect and not a mode. Mr. Shisko tries to support that assertion by reference to Old Testament passages and references in Hebrews, but once again his argument fails. In Trench’s work on Biblical Greek he writes:
“By baptismos in the usage of the N. T. we must understand any ceremonial washing or lustration, such as either has been ordained of God (Heb. ix. 10), or invented by men (Mark vii. 4, 8); but in neither case as possessing any central significance: while by baptisma we understand baptism in our Christian sense of the word (Rom. vi. 4; 1 Pet. iii. 1; Ephes. iv. 5); yet not so strictly as to exclude the baptism of John (Luke vii. 29; Acts x. 37; xix. 3). This distinction is in the main preserved by the Greek ecclesiastical writers. Josephus indeed calls the baptism of John baptismos (Antt. xviii.5. 2); but Augusti (Christi. Archdol. vol. ii. p. 313) is strangely in error, affirming as he does of the Greek Fathers that they habitually employ the same for Christian Baptism. So far from this, it would be difficult to adduce a single example of this from Chrysostom, or from any one of the great Cappadocian Father. In the Latin Church it is true that ‘baptismus’ and ‘baptisma’ are both employed to designate Christian baptism; by Tertullian one perhaps as frequently as the other; while ‘baptismus’ quite predominates in Augustine; but it is altogether otherwise in ecclesiastical Greek, which remains faithful to the distinctions which the N T. observes.
These distinctions are there so constantly maintained, that all explanations of Heb. vi. 2 (baptismwn didache), which rest on the assumption that Christian baptism is intended here, break down before this fact; not to urge the plural baptismwn, which, had the one baptism of the Church been intended, would be inexplicable. If, indeed, we take the baptismoi, of this place in its widest sense, as including all baptisms whatever with which the Christian had anything to do, either by way of rejecting or making them his own, we can understand a ‘doctrine of baptisms,’ such a should teach the young convert the definitive abolition of the Jewish ceremonial lustrations, the merely preparatory and provisional character of the baptism of John, and the eternal validity of the baptism of Christ. We can understand too how these all should be gathered up under the one name of baptismoi, being that they were all washings; and this without in the least allowing that another save baptisma was the proper title of that loutron paliggenesias which is the exclusive privilege of the Church of Christ.”
Notice that Trench makes specific reference to the form baptismois (the dative plural of baptismos) used in Hebrews 9:10 and says that it is to be understood to include any ceremonial washing or lustration ordained by God or invented by man. He then proceeds to say that baptisma is an ecclesiastical word consistently used to refer to Christian baptism with only few exceptions. Thus it is not the word used in Heb. 9:10 since there is in view ceremonial washing or lustration from the Old Testament which were imposed only until the time of reformation, i.e., the Christian age. In Mr. Shisko’s attempt to equate these Old Testament washings or lustrations with New Testament baptism (He calls them “ceremonial baptisms” and “Old Testament baptism.), he fails to inform that the word used for them in Heb. 9:13, 19, and 21 is not any form of either bapto or baptizo, but forms of the Greek word for “sprinkling.” One can only conclude that such a misuse of language is intentional to enable him to slip Old Testament practice over New Testament practice. That this is his purpose is clear because he begins to use the term “baptism” to refer to these practices when the only place that “baptism” is used to refer to them is not in Hebrews but in his paper! Even so, he still must use the word “sprinkling” to describe what is done because he knows that everybody can read the English where “sprinkling” is used. But true to his purpose, shortly after each use of “sprinkling” he reverts to the use of “baptism.” Apparently he subscribes to the proposition that if you say something often enough and loudly enough people will believe it.
His point in such language is to argue that the emphasis or focus of Biblical baptism (Notice how he cleverly links Old and New Testament baptisms together by the term “Biblical baptisms.”) is on purification and identification. He had already asserted without any basis except his assertion that “baptizo” does not refer to a mode but to a process and an effect. Having built his foundation upon the sand, he then proceeds to make a very convoluted and misleading argument.
Having discussed Hebrews 9:13, 19, and 21, he then proceeds to his conclusions. He summarizes: “In every case the process of baptism included a dipping of the instrument used to baptize into a substance such as blood or water. The instrument was then used to sprinkle the person(s) or thing(s) to be baptized. This process had the effect of identifying the substance used for the baptism with that which was baptized. As a result, the people were regarded as ceremonially cleansed by that substance. The baptism was not the dipping, but the process of dipping and sprinkling according to God’s order.” He acknowledged earlier that the Septuagint used bapto to refer to the dipping of the hyssop. Having said that, he now takes the word applied to the hyssop and uses it for the entire ceremony. The scripture does not do that. In scripture the hyssop is dipped to collect the substance and then the hyssop is used to sprinkle the substance upon that which is to be cleansed. The second act is not referred to as a “dipping” but as a “sprinkling,” two entirely separate actions. In order to get the sprinkling into the dipping Mr. Shisko has to refer to these acts as a process, and cleverly concludes, “This process had the effect of identifying the substance used for the baptism with that which was baptized.” This is strange language since only the hyssop was “dipped” (bapto) and that term was never applied to that on which the substance into which the hyssop was dipped was sprinkled on the object. The object itself was never “baptized” except in Mr. Shisko’s convoluted and unwarranted conclusion. Certainly there was a process involved from the dipping to the sprinkling, a process commanded by God and all of which had to be obeyed.
His last conclusion in this paragraph is: “The baptism was not the dipping, but the process of dipping and sprinkling according to God’s order.” That process involved one dipping or baptism. Since Mr. Shisko does not believe that the mode is important, and says so in the next paragraph, does it not logically follow that, contrary to God’s command, the substance to be sprinkled could have been sprinkled on the hyssop instead of dipping the hyssop? Would that have been obedience to God’s command? No. It would have been a process ordained only by man. But was it not have been close to what God had commanded? Does going through the process that God commanded change baptism into sprinkling or permit changing the acts that God has commanded? One thinks of the occasion on which Moses spoke to the rock rather than strike it has God had commanded. Close, you say. It was enough to keep Moses out of the promised land.
All that Mr. Shisko has said about the Old Testament ceremonial cleansings was said with one aim in view. That aim is found in the last paragraph of his discussion of “Old Testament Baptisms”: “The emphasis of these Old Testament baptisms was not on the mode of baptism, but on the effect: cleansing or purification. These baptisms did not represent something the people did, but something that God did in providing a cleansing from sin and guilt. Baptisms were his means of ceremonially providing such purification.” How blithely he dismisses the command of God – what God said about how to perform an action is unimportant as long as you accomplish the effect! One wonders what other commands of God Mr. Shisko has found unnecessary. What Mr. Shisko fails to recognize is that in saying that in baptism the emphasis is not on the mode he admits that baptism is a mode. Moreover, he admits that whatever the process is, it is God’s method of providing a cleansing from sin and guilt. Does he not know that “means” is a synonym for “mode” and “method?” Thus, the very process that he describes is God’s mode. By what authority other than his own does Mr. Shisko remove the mode from God’s means or method? Can he find one example in scripture where God’s purpose was accomplished while denying his mode? 2 Samuel 6 is apropos. One could say that this involved a process that was God’s means of getting the ark returned to Jerusalem. Unfortunately for Uzzah, God’s mode was not followed. The ark was to carried only by the Levites (Uzzah was not a Levite.) and was not to be touched. Uzzah, thinking he was saving the ark from falling, touched it. He was struck dead.
Contrary to Mr. Shisko’s argument, these ceremonial cleansings were something that people did. Had they not done them they would not have been cleansed. This does not change the fact that God did the cleansing because spiritual cleansing is something that man cannot do. However, God’s promises, in this case cleansing, are often conditional. God provides the blessing only when the conditions are met. Had the Jews not done what God commanded in the manner (mode, method, means, way, pick your word) that he commanded the cleansing and purification would not have followed.
NEW TESTAMENT BAPTISMS
Now Mr. Shisko comes to the real reason for all that has proceeded. Unable to find sprinkling or pouring as baptism in the New Testament, he seeks to bring it in through the Old Testament. He begins with a rule that he has already violated – “it is important that we always define our terms biblically.” All of this could have been avoided if, following that rule, he had gone to New Testament Greek lexicons dealing with New Testament Greek, found the definition of baptizo, and followed it. But that definition did not suit him because it was contrary to his belief and practice. Thus he sought other justification and definition. He begins by making an assertion that is unjustified by his prior discussion – “… the fuller Old Testament passages to which it refers clearly describes baptisms.” We have seen how he mixes baptism and sprinkling in those passages and then incorrectly refers to the entire mixture as baptism. We have also seen that even if he were correct, the same passage teaches that those ceremonial cleansings were to last only until the Christian age. Perhaps recognizing this weakness of his position he now argues that the New Testament links New Testament baptism with Old Testament baptism (as he defines baptism). He then proceeds to attempt to make New Testament baptism the same as Old Testament “baptism,” using John 3:22-26 as his example. According to Mr. Shisko this passage has absolutely nothing to do with the mode of baptism. He argues that it demonstrates that New Testament baptisms were understood as purification rights. That is true. The baptism of John was of repentance for the remission of sins. The remission of sins was spiritual purification. However, to establish what baptism is for does not speak to its mode. He has said nothing to this point and established nothing to this point that justifies his assertion that “the process of baptizing would certainly be the same in the New Testament baptisms as in the Old Testament baptisms . . . .” He seems to recognize his failure when he adds, “except, of course, that the only element used in New Testaments baptisms was water.” What is the basis for that statement except his own unsupported opinion? “Water” reminds him that he has another problem – the verses in John upon which he relies say that John was baptizing where he was because there was “much water.” That is not required for sprinkling, so once more he opens his container of unsupported opinions and postulates that the “much water” mentioned “may well have been [emphasis mine] the ‘flowing water’ (NASB) [or ‘living water’] mentioned in Numbers 19:17.” Notice that there is no translation reference after “living water.” Some five translations were checked and only one did not translate the term in Numbers 19:17 as running water. One, the CEV, translated it “spring water.”
His next paragraph sounds as if he believes in baptismal regeneration – “the process of applying water to someone identifies the person baptized with the cleansing properties of the water.” The water has no cleansing properties in itself. It may be that he has just stated his point poorly as we all do occasionally. I will give him the benefit of the doubt since he shortly says that it is God that does the cleansing. However, this is language that we have seen before. It makes no more sense here than it did there. It merely continues his attempt to minimize if not ignore the mode that is inherent in the word baptizo. Everything that has been said above about the conditional promises of God applies here as well. The New Testament emphasizes the mode when it uses bapto or words derived from it such as baptizo to describe the act. There were other words that Jesus could have chosen but he did not. The only way that one can ignore the mode which is inherent in the word is either to redefine the word or to ignore its meaning. Mr. Shisko has done both. His statement that there is no clear example of immersion in the New Testament is preposterous. It would be humorous if it were not so serious. How can he say that when the very word used literally translated instead of transliterated means “immerse”? Years ago the Baptist denomination, seeking to emphasize the Biblical mode of baptism, published a bible in which every time baptizo in whatever form appeared it was translated with immerse or its corresponding form. After it was released they realized that they had translated their name out of the scripture and they recalled all of them that they could. I forget the name of the translation, but my son has a copy of it that was given to him by my father.
But before we leave this thought, let’s go back to John 3:22-25. He hurries quickly by the two times that baptism is referenced and runs to a mention of purification. Never mind that its only relation to baptism is that it was the subject of a dispute between the disciples of Jesus and John. Their competing (or so it appeared to some) ministries led some of the Jews who were disciples of John to raise questions about the efficacy of this competing ministry. Jesus was baptizing more than John (John 4:1-2) and John’s disciples were disturbed and envious. They did not even mention the name of Jesus. They seemed to be displeased that John bore witness to Jesus. They used hyperbole to emphasize their point – “all men” are coming to him. Both the Jews assertions and John’s answers bear this out. John did not see it as an emphasis on purification; he saw it as a dispute over his importance relative to Jesus. Read John’s answer in vv. 27-36 and you can reach no other conclusion. The only way that purification can be made the point is to ignore the context and the rest of scripture.
Having exhausted most of his artillery, Mr. Shisko tries to respond to some Biblical passages. We are told that baptism cannot be a burial because it is not a burial in the earth. Why would this argument be made when it has already been admitted that water is the element of New Testament baptism? Is it not appropriate that one dead in sin be buried (immersed) in water just a one physically dead is buried in the earth? If “buried” means “sprinkled” does Mr. Shisko sprinkle a little dirt on one whom he buries in he earth? To ask the question is both to answer it and to demonstrate the error of his argument.
The he again seeks to buttress his argument that baptism is an identification with Christ. He suggests that baptism identifies with Christ in his life, death, resurrection and reign. Where that argument is true or false is irrelevant; it does not speak to the mode of baptism. It is a decoy to lead astray. If you want to know what baptism does read Romans 6:3-7 where we are told that we are buried with Christ in baptism and that following the burial there is a resurrection to walk in newness of life. While reading it keep in mind that baptism is translated immersion and is described as a burial.
But what about going down into the water and coming up out of the water as in Acts 8, he asks? He makes assertions without citation. One passage from The Expositor’s Greek Testament should settle the issue. It states in comment on v. 38: “Even if the words are rendered ‘unto the water” (Plumptre), the context aÓne÷bhsan e˙k indicates that the baptism was by immersion, and there can be no doubt that this was the custom in the early Church. St. Paul’s symbolic language in Rom. 6:4, Col. 2:12, certainly seems to presuppose that such was the case, as also such types as the Flood, the passage of the Red Sea, the dipping of Naaman in Jordan.” Having ignored the Greek scholarship of the ages, Mr. Shisko winds up with the Eunuch being sprinkled instead of immersed. The only reason that he can make this argument is because he ignores the literal translation of baptizo which means immerse. Given the nature of some modern translations I will not say that there is no translation of baptizo to by the word “sprinkle,” but I will say that I have never seen one. I will go so far as to say that there is no recognized translation that has ever so translated it.
Here he finally gets to his only real argument – do we really have to be so picky about the mode of baptism? That is the same as asking “Do we really have to be so picky about what God has commanded?” To ask his real question is to answer it. Perhaps Mr. Shisko should read all of Deuteronomy 4:2: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you.”
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)