IS BAPTISM SPRINKLING, POURING, OR IMMERSION?

Wayne S. Walker

     Question:  “Since many teach that baptism may be by immersion,
sprinkling, or pouring, what does the Bible say about this?”

     The Bible has a lot to say on the subject of baptism.  If baptism is
as non-essential to our salvation as some say, there ought to be very
little mention of it in the scriptures.  But throughout the New
Testament, there are many passages which teach about baptism, and many
examples of it, from both of which we can draw some very important
conclusions.  Of course, Jesus Himself commanded baptism as a condition
of salvation (Mark 16.16).  Also the apostle Peter declared that baptism
is “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2.38).  And Paul wrote that we
become children of God in Christ Jesuis by faith when we are “baptized
into Christ” (Galatians 3.26-27).  But are there three different modes of
baptism acceptable to God?

     To answer this question, first, the word translated “baptize” in our
Bibles itself means to immerse, dip, or plunge.  Furthermore, every
example where the action of baptism is portrayed necessarily implies
immersion.  For instance, Acts 8.38-39 tell us, “…And both Philip and
the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.  Now when they
came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away….”
So when the eunuch was baptized, both he and Philip went down into the
sater and came up out of it.  Why would this be necessary if just
sprinkling or pouring would do?
 

    Also, whenever New Testament writers describe the action of baptism,
they always use language reminiscent of an immersion.  In Romans 6.3-4
Paul said, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into
Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were BURIED with
HIm through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the
dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newneww
of life” (emphasis mine, wsw).  Paul declared that baptism is a burial.
It is a type of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus
Christ.  Sprinkling and pouring do not portray this idea at all.  You
simply do not bury a person by sprinkling or pouring a little dirt on top
of him.
 

    In the Bible, there are separate words for immersion, sprinkling,
and pouring.  In Leviticus 4.6-7 we read, “The priest shall DIP his
finger in the blood and SPRINKLE some of the blood seven times before the
LORD…and he shall POUR the remaining blood of the bull at the base of
the altar…” (emphasis mine, wsw).  In describing New Tesatmen baptism,
the Bible never uses the words for sprinkling or pouring–only the word
for dipping or immersion.  Therefore, the action of baptism cannot be
carried out by the practice of sprinkling or pouring.  Only immersion
carries out the proper action of baptism and therefore meets the
stipulations laid down in the New Testament for our salvation.  “Buried
with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith
in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2.12).

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