David Pawson-Key Steps to Becoming a Christian Pt4-Baptism in Water
“Thoughtful Thoughts”, 22.5.20 by John Dunning.
“Keys to becoming a Christian, Part 4: “Believer’s Immersion”.
After Peter finished his sermon at Pentecost, Acts 2 says;- ‘When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied “Repent and be ‘baptizo’ every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” ’.
WHAT does the word “Baptizo” mean?
The word ‘Baptizo’ means to immerse something into a liquid, or to ‘sink’ it. Greek newspapers will write that a ship has been “baptizo” when it has sunk. The Greek word “Baptizo” is also used when wool is ‘dyed’. Because that is the meaning, Greek orthodox priests will immerse the entire baby under water, because they know their own language better than English church translators. They know that ‘baptizo’ means to immerse.
So in that case, where does the word “baptism” come from?
It was created as a “transliteration”, by the church from the Greek word ‘baptizo’. By “tweaking” the Greek word in this way, without actually translating it, the church concealed its true meaning, which is, “immersed”. The church wrote a clause into the constitution of the Bible Society strictly forbidding the word “baptizo” from being translated. Instead the word ‘baptism’ was created. (The “Complete Jewish Bible” translates the word as “immersed”.)
WHY must we do it?
Jesus told us to; (John 3.22 and Mark 16.16). Jesus also says elsewhere that His Father loves those who obey Him. Notice too from Acts 2:38 that believer’s immersion is so important, after repenting, that only after that obedience, does God promise to offer us His Holy Spirit.
It is not only John the Baptist who immersed but Jesus also had His own disciples immerse repentant believers. Immersing believers kept continuing on thereafter. The Apostles taught it and set the example for others. Paul was immersed after his conversion, just as God directed Ananias to do for him. Paul then baptised his converts.
WHEN should it be done?
Peter tells us to do it AFTER we have repented of sin.
John the Baptist refused to baptise those who were not repentant.
The Greek Orthodox Church gets the METHOD right, (by immersing), but not the TIMING, about when to do it. (Because they inherited incorrect practices from Catholicism after they split away, just as the Orthodox churches did).
Acts 2.38 tells us that immersion (‘baptizo’,) follows repentance. In fact it ALWAYS did in the New Testament, and there were no exceptions. ALL those repenting of their sin in the New Testament were immersed AFTER they repented. There is no record in the New Testament of babies being ‘immersed’, (‘baptizo’). Immersion is an act of obedience. John the Baptist refused to baptise the pharisees, because they had not repented. Immersion had to be a personal decision made by those repenting. Established churches ‘Christen’ all and sundry by the wishes of parents and guardians, and the church goes on to welcome the baby into the family of God. This misleads people, making churches that do it, signposts pointing people the wrong way.
WHAT does believer’s ‘immersion’ (ie ‘baptizo’) signify?
Paul tells us in Col. 2.22, that believer’s ‘immersion’ means, “I have been buried and raised with Christ”, (identifying with the death of Jesus paying for our own sin.) Dirty people only need a bath. Dead people need a burial.
Peter in 1 Peter 3.21 adds that it also cleanses the conscience of sin.
Peter also tells us in Acts 2:38 that believer’s immersion follows repentance which leads on to God offering His Holy Spirit, which we should receive. (More on that next week).
HOW did the church get it all so wrong, if “baptizo” means ‘immerse’?
Constantine had tried to fix the problem of heresies creeping into the church by introducing an agreed statement of beliefs, called the Nicene Creed. Whilst the Creed lasted, church practices quickly went off course. Baptism became a “deathbed conversion” experience, as the church taught that it was their sacrament of ‘baptism’ that forgave you of your sins, right up to that point. That heresy created unforeseen circumstances. As many babies died in those days, parents started asking, ‘what about my baby?’ So, the church changed it all around and created what they called ‘infant baptism’ (or ‘christening’). This wouldn’t have happened if man hadn’t kept on getting in the way of God’s Word, by creating a man made religious religion, out of what had been faith in Jesus Christ. Martin Luther exalted;- “Man only needs Jesus Christ!”
Established church law requires that they treat ‘infant christening’ as your ‘baptism’. (In the old days if you went against this particular church tradition, the church might well drown you if they found out, by labelling you a heretic; - an “Anabaptist”. (ie meaning “second baptiser”). They viewed believers getting believers receiving immersion as second time baptisers.
I know of a vicar in England who lost his job after conducting a believer’s immersion service, so he went on to join the Baptists!
Having myself once been put forward by the church for a selection conference, I went to their weekend clergy selection retreat. Once there, I was asked if I would “baptise babies”, to which I replied, “No”. The result was a letter from the Bishop rejecting me as “not sufficiently Anglican minded”. They weren’t interested in anything else, as they said they were looking for ‘employees’! So on that particular point, the bishop was quite right! I wasn’t sufficiently Anglican minded! So I can safely advise believers from experience, not to bother asking vicars to provide believers’ immersion. They will try to persuade you to let them just moisturize your forehead in a service they call ‘recommitment’.
Furthermore, if you were not ‘christened’ as an infant, they will wipe moisture on the forehead and call it ‘baptism’, even though ‘baptizo’ means immersion. (As a vicar, my father would set aside Monday nights for members of the general public to arrange for the “baptism” of their new born baby.) So as a result of my Anglican upbringing, I can safely advise that it is not helpful to go to the established churches for “believer’s immersion”, or “baptism”.
If you have repented of your sins, but not yet had believer’s immersion, (or believer’s ‘baptizo’), I recommend you find your local evangelical church minister and ask them to give you believer’s ‘immersion’, or ‘baptizo’. A local evangelical church may not always get everything else right, but they should immerse believers as a minimum. If you have repented but not yet followed up with believer’s baptism by ‘immersion’, this message is for you. As Peter said in Acts 2:38, Repent, be immersed, and receive the Holy Spirit.
I’m John Dunning and that’s “Thoughtful Thoughts” for another week.
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