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Why They Believe It

by J. G. Bow, D. D.


A cultured lady, reared a Catholic, made profession of faith in Christ. The Episcopalians, Methodists, and Presbyterians were soliciting her to join their respective churches. I was a visitor at the home prior to her profession of conversion. When I called after this event, I said: "I am not going to run after you to get you to join my church, but I have one request to make of you." She asked, "What is the request?" I replied, "Before you join any church carefully and prayerfully read the New Testament with a view of learning your duty, and then do whatever it requires." She answered, "I will do that." She did, and as a result joined a Baptist church. One of her former solicitors said: "Well, I suppose you have done right to join the Baptists, even if you did have to sacrifice principle to go with them."

She resented the imputation, and said frankly: "I have made no sacrifice of principle. I joined a Baptist church after careful and prayerful investigation, because I believe them to teach and hold the doctrine and ordinances as taught by Christ and the apostles, fully persuaded I was following the Divine teaching."

Here is some of the evidence she had from the Scriptures on baptism "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins" (Matt. 3:5-6).

Now, if I should say, any number of converts joined the First Baptist Church in Eufaula, and on a certain day I baptized them all in the Chattahoochee river, no one would have any trouble to understand what was done or how the baptizing was performed. Yet Matthews statement is equally as plain.

Affusionists do not sprinkle and pour their candidates while in the river.

"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water" (Matthew 3:16).

Did anyone ever see anything like that at a sprinkling or pouring? Do the babies or adults go up out of the water after they are sprinkled?

"And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins" (Mark 1:5).

Here the statement is plain and positive, "in the river of Jordan." Literally "in the Jordan river."

"And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him" (Mark 1:9-10).

Now, candidly, it must take a great deal of imagination to see anything but an immersion in that plain, simple statement. No one would ever suspect anything else unless prejudicial training supplanted the plain teaching of the Word. A great many people are thoroughly convinced that Jesus was immersed in the Jordan, but vainly excuse themselves from following the Masters example.

A message came to me that a lady wished to talk to me on the subject of baptism. I called at her house. Before I entered the door she began to parade her objections against immersion. I said: "Madam, if you were thoroughly convinced that Jesus was immersed, would you be immersed?" Her reply was: "No, I would not." I simply said, "Good evening," and walked away without entering the house.

I was on the train with a good Methodist brother. He introduced the subject of baptism. I said: "Do you believe that Jesus was immersed?" He answered: "If he was, it does not follow that I should be immersed." I pressed the question, asking him to say yes or no. After a number of evasions and attempted explanations, he finally answered

"Yes, I believe he was immersed in the river." Now, if baptism could mean a dozen things, which it does not, and cannot, still I would never be satisfied to be baptized in any way different from the example the Saviour set us. Many others are not satisfied, but still refuse to obey.

No one has ever been able to explain away the plain facts set forth in the baptism of the eunuch, which facts are about as clear a claim for immersion as words could present.

"And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:38-39). Now, some have tried to quibble about the Greek preposition apo (used in the account of the Saviours baptism, and translated "out of") not meaning out of, but from. Here in this case apo is not used, but ek, and its literal primary meaning is out of. Affusionists have attempted to make capital out of the expression used concerning Pauls baptism, "Arise, and be baptized," saying that "he arose, stood up, and was baptized," the very thing he must have done if immersed, and f the very thing he would not have done if sprinkled.

Paul certainly ought to have been a competent witness of how it was done; and here is what he says about it: "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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Rom. 6 :4-5).

"Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead" (Col. 2:12).

Certainly, if a burial and resurrection are to be represented in baptism-and there is no room for doubt unless Paul was mistaken-then only a dipping, an immersion, can possibly fill the conditions required.

In none of the New Testament baptisms is the act of immersion in anywise impracticable or improbable. Many of the accounts and references to the ordinance demand an immersion to fill the conditions plainly set forth. Baptists believe immersion alone is baptism, because Christ was immersed in the river. John baptized in the river. The apostles practiced immersion, for Paul calls it a burial and resurrection. Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and after Philip had baptized him they came up out of the water. Many others believe with us but prefer to follow Rome rather than to obey Christ.

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