Baptism Holds a Prominent Place in the Scripture
by O. F. Fauss
When we make a careful study of the Bible, we will find that “water” has been in God’s plan from the very beginning. We read in Genesis 1:2, “And the earth was without form, and void; and the darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” And again, in Genesis 2:10, “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden.” It was God’s pleasure to deal with water. It also became His means of judgment in the sending of the flood.
When God led Israel out of Egypt’s bondage, their first test or trial, or God’s first great manifestation and blessing to them enroute to the Promised Land, was at the great Red Sea. The Apostle Paul wrote about it by saying, “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (I Corinthians 10:1, 2).
Elijah, facing wicked King Ahab and 450 prophets of Baal on the top of Mount Carmel, in the presence of backslidden Israel, completely “baptized” his sacrifice and altar with twelve barrels of water. God’s approval was evidence by the fire that consumed it.
We will not forget Gideon and his army of 32,000. God’s test came at the water’s edge and left him only 300 men, yet not one of them failed in the battle that followed.
At the very beginning of the New Testament era, John, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness,” began preaching on the banks of Jordan, “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:3-5).
Jesus declared that “The Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:30). When Jesus began His own ministry, He proved that, to fulfill all righteousness, it was very essential to be baptized, by submitting Himself unto John to be baptized. It is absurd to believe that Jesus, our “example,” would have been baptized in water, had it not been essential. It is useless, too, to try to prove that He was not “buried” in baptism. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water” (Matthew 3:16).
Jesus fixed “water baptism” in His plan for the saving of mankind, when He included it so boldly and plainly in His great commission (of which we shall study later), delivered unto the disciples before He was taken up from them to heaven. The special emphasis our Lord placed upon water baptism need not be questioned by those who desire to obey His commandments. Neither should anyone question the perfect understanding with which He blessed His apostles (Luke 24:45; Acts 1:1-4).
In the Book of Acts we are confronted with the fact that whenever and wherever people believed on the Lord Jesus, they were baptized in water. All this proves the importance and essentially of baptism. Even
the Philippian jailer knew not to wait until daylight, but was “the same hour of the night: [midnight] baptized, he and all his, straightway” (Acts 16:33). Certainly had it not been necessary, with the apostles suffering with their wounded backs and the family all retired, baptism could have waited until the next day; but not so! Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ required immediate action in obeying the terms of the gospel.
We must not overlook the case of Paul at the time of his conversion. Becoming acquainted with the LORD for the first time in his life, he asked the Lord Jesus what He would have him to do. Jesus emphasized that it would be told him after he got to the city, “what he must do.” When Jesus made this clear, Paul did not try to “out argue” the question. When that devout man named Ananias came to him and said, “The Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 9:17). “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
There is no other doctrine or practice of the church that holds such a prominent place in the Scriptures as that of water baptism. And it must be performed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, as we shall study further on.
We all believe that baptism should be practiced by “immersion;” we further believe that “speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance” is the accompanying sign of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. We contend and preach that “anointing with oil in the name of the Lord” is the New Testament method or practice in praying for the sick, that we should observe the Lord’s supper literally, and that giving our substance in tithes and offerings is God’s ordained plan to support and carry on the church. Yet, many forget that there is far more Scripture in support of the use of the name of Jesus in baptism than in any of the above-mentioned doctrines or practices.
There is not one single instance recorded in the New Testament, or in any genuine book of the first century, concerning the teaching and practice of the early church, where any other method (or formula) was ever used.
If baptism in the name of Jesus was so prominent in the New Testament days, and continued for at least the first 100 years of the early church, it surely should encourage us all to be willing to look into the subject with open minds and open hearts and allow the Holy Ghost to lead and guide us into all truth.
The words of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 28:19, were never intended by our Lord to be used as a “formula” in water baptism, and, therefore, were never used as such by His Apostles. Therefore, to more fully understand the true meaning of the words of Jesus in His giving the “Great Commission,” we shall, in the next chapter, study it in detail, comparing the recorded references of the same Commission, as given us by other writers of the gospels, with that of Matthew. Scripture compared with Scripture always reveals the “deeper meaning” of God’s Holy Word.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY WORD AFLAME PRESS, 1985, PAGES 235-238. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.