WATER BAPTISM (IV)
There is not one instance in the New Testament in which baptism itself is said to involve the going down into the water, or a coming up out of the water. In cases where movement to or from the water is mentioned, without exception, the baptism is an entirely separate action.
There are indeed in the New Testament a number of instances of baptism in which it seems highly improbable if not impossible, that immersion was the practice. On the day of Pentecost, “they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). In this case at least, baptism by immersion, with the limited water resources at hand, would have been extremely difficult for the apostles. On the other hand, baptism by sprinkling, after the manner of the Old Testament purifying ceremonies, would have been quite feasible.
In the conversion of Saul, and his subsequent baptism by Ananias, in Damascus, when his sight was restored after Ananias’ prayer, he “arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened” (Acts 9:18-19). Now whereas the word, he “arose,” need not be taken in a very limited sense, yet in the context, the most natural meaning is, he “stood up and was baptized.” If the baptism had required his going to some place where immersion could be performed, most naturally he would have partaken of food, on account of his weakened condition, before going out. Thus again baptism by sprinkling, according to the Old Testament pattern, is the most natural meaning.
In the baptism of the household of Cornelius, as soon as Peter perceived that the Holy Spirit was manifestly present in their lives, he said, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (Acts 10:47). It was no question of going out to some pool or lake or river, it was simply a question of someone bringing in water for the baptismal service.
THOUGHT: “Water more or less, the gospel is the best” (T. Tow).
PRAYER: Father, I thank Thee for the good news of Jesus Christ that has saved me from my sins.