ATP: What Is The Proper Mode Of Water Baptism?
When GCCC began I wrestled with this very question. As I mentioned over the years, I was raised in a denomination that did not emphasis water baptism, just Spirit Baptism. I then met my wife Sheryl at a Baptist church; being Baptist they believed the only mode of baptism was immersion. Then God placed Sheryl and me at a Methodist church for the first six and a half years of our ministry; most of the baptisms were by immersion as well, although exceptions were made.
As people gave their lives to Christ and desired to continue growing in Christ, baptism was the next step. Some would ask, "Could I be sprinkled?" or "Could I be poured?" It was amazing what my study produced. The root word baptize in the Greek is "bapto" which means to "place into, to dip as to dye, immerse, moisten, bathe, wash, or overwhelm." Dependence on the commentator's denomination background determined what mode they proposed.
So with that in mind I went to the Old Testament, always the pattern for the New. Here we find hyssop and fingers dipped in water and blood then sprinkled on someone or thing for cleansing. Do you recall the words of John to those he baptized?
"I baptize you with water for repentance." Matthew 3:11
The picture was a person humbling himself/herself (repentance) admitting the need for cleansing. Is God concerned with the method or mode, or the posture of the heart? Do you recall God's comments to the Jews in Joel 2:13? When called upon to fast, the Jews were going through the motions -- tearing their garments, pouring ashes on their heads - but they did not change their hearts, and that is what fasting is all about.
Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God,
In seeking the LORD on this matter I continued to immerse, pour and sprinkle - not sure what was the more correct mode. Then the answer came. We were using the Olivet Wesleyan Church (Glassboro, NJ), I had immersed all baptizees, and then Aaron Buck (George and Janet's son) asked to be poured. As I poured Aaron, it was as if I had a vision - the water turned blood red, and as it washed over Aaron's body it absorbed every particle of dirt. It was awesome! Right then and there I knew that God was not looking on the method or mode of one's baptism, but the posture of the heart. So today, I have no reservations when I sprinkle or pour.
Charles Finney, a Presbyterian, sprinkled his converts. Twenty years later when following up on those who had received Christ in his crusades, they found that 85% of all converts who were baptized were still faithfully serving Christ.
Although, I do believe immersion is the best picture - the old man is buried and new man has come forth - it is still just a picture, the real issue is the heart.
for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
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