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October 22    Scripture

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Easton's Bible Dictionary

 

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Baptism, Christian
        an ordinance immediately instituted by Christ (Matt. 28:19, 20),
        and designed to be observed in the church, like that of the
        Supper, "till he come." The words "baptize" and "baptism" are
        simply Greek words transferred into English. This was
        necessarily done by the translators of the Scriptures, for no
        literal translation could properly express all that is implied
        in them.
        The mode of baptism can in no way be determined from the Greek
        word rendered "baptize." Baptists say that it means "to dip,"
        and nothing else. That is an incorrect view of the meaning of
        the word. It means both (1) to dip a thing into an element or
        liquid, and (2) to put an element or liquid over or on it.
        Nothing therefore as to the mode of baptism can be concluded
        from the mere word used. The word has a wide latitude of
        meaning, not only in the New Testament, but also in the LXX.
        Version of the Old Testament, where it is used of the ablutions
        and baptisms required by the Mosaic law. These were effected by
        immersion, and by affusion and sprinkling; and the same word,
        "washings" (Heb. 9:10, 13, 19, 21) or "baptisms," designates
        them all. In the New Testament there cannot be found a single
        well-authenticated instance of the occurrence of the word where
        it necessarily means immersion. Moreover, none of the instances
        of baptism recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (2:38-41;
        8:26-39; 9:17, 18; 22:12-16; 10:44-48; 16:32-34) favours the
        idea that it was by dipping the person baptized, or by
        immersion, while in some of them such a mode was highly
        improbable.
        The gospel and its ordinances are designed for the whole
        world, and it cannot be supposed that a form for the
        administration of baptism would have been prescribed which would
        in any place (as in a tropical country or in polar regions) or
        under any circumstances be inapplicable or injurious or
        impossible.
        Baptism and the Lord's Supper are the two symbolical
        ordinances of the New Testament. The Supper represents the work
        of Christ, and Baptism the work of the Spirit. As in the Supper
        a small amount of bread and wine used in this ordinance exhibits
        in symbol the great work of Christ, so in Baptism the work of
        the Holy Spirit is fully seen in the water poured or sprinkled
        on the person in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
        That which is essential in baptism is only "washing with water,"
        no mode being specified and none being necessary or essential to
        the symbolism of the ordinance.
        The apostles of our Lord were baptized with the Holy Ghost
        (Matt. 3:11) by his coming upon them (Acts 1:8). The fire also
        with which they were baptized sat upon them. The extraordinary
        event of Pentecost was explained by Peter as a fulfilment of the
        ancient promise that the Spirit would be poured out in the last
        days (2:17). He uses also with the same reference the expression
        shed forth as descriptive of the baptism of the Spirit (33). In
        the Pentecostal baptism "the apostles were not dipped into the
        Spirit, nor plunged into the Spirit; but the Spirit was shed
        forth, poured out, fell on them (11:15), came upon them, sat on
        them." That was a real and true baptism. We are warranted from
        such language to conclude that in like manner when water is
        poured out, falls, comes upon or rests upon a person when this
        ordinance is administered, that person is baptized. Baptism is
        therefore, in view of all these arguments "rightly administered
        by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person."
        The subjects of baptism. This raises questions of greater
        importance than those relating to its mode.
        1. The controversy here is not about "believers' baptism," for
        that is common to all parties. Believers were baptized in
        apostolic times, and they have been baptized in all time by all
        the branches of the church. It is altogether a misrepresentation
        to allege, as is sometimes done by Baptists, that their doctrine
        is "believers' baptism." Every instance of adult baptism, or of
        "believers' baptism," recorded in the New Testament (Acts 2:41;
        8:37; 9:17, 18; 10:47; 16:15; 19:5, etc.) is just such as would
        be dealt with in precisely the same way by all branches of the
        Protestant Church, a profession of faith or of their being
        "believers" would be required from every one of them before
        baptism. The point in dispute is not the baptism of believers,
        but whether the infant children of believers, i.e., of members
        of the church, ought to be baptized.
        2. In support of the doctrine of infant baptism, i.e., of the
        baptism of the infants, or rather the "children," of believing
        parents, the following considerations may be adduced:
        The Church of Christ exists as a divinely organized community.
        It is the "kingdom of God," one historic kingdom under all
        dispensations. The commonwealth of Israel was the "church" (Acts
        7:38; Rom. 9:4) under the Mosaic dispensation. The New Testament
        church is not a new and different church, but one with that of
        the Old Testament. The terms of admission into the church have
        always been the same viz., a profession of faith and a promise
        of subjection to the laws of the kingdom. Now it is a fact
        beyond dispute that the children of God's people under the old
        dispensation were recognized as members of the church.
        Circumcision was the sign and seal of their membership. It was
        not because of carnal descent from Abraham, but as being the
        children of God's professing people, that this rite was
        administered (Rom. 4:11). If children were members of the church
        under the old dispensation, which they undoubtedly were, then
        they are members of the church now by the same right, unless it
        can be shown that they have been expressly excluded. Under the
        Old Testament parents acted for their children and represented
        them. (See Gen. 9:9; 17:10; Ex. 24:7, 8; Deut. 29:9-13.) When
        parents entered into covenant with God, they brought their
        children with them. This was a law in the Hebrew Church. When a
        proselyte was received into membership, he could not enter
        without bringing his children with him. The New Testament does
        not exclude the children of believers from the church. It does
        not deprive them of any privilege they enjoyed under the Old
        Testament. There is no command or statement of any kind, that
        can be interpreted as giving any countenance to such an idea,
        anywhere to be found in the New Testament. The church membership
        of infants has never been set aside. The ancient practice,
        orginally appointed by God himself, must remain a law of his
        kingdom till repealed by the same divine authority. There are
        lambs in the fold of the Good Shepherd (John 21:15; comp. Luke
        1:15; Matt. 19:14; 1 Cor. 7:14).
        "In a company of converts applying for admission into Christ's
        house there are likely to be some heads of families. How is
        their case to be treated? How, for example, are Lydia and her
        neighbour the keeper of the city prison to be treated? Both have
        been converted. Both are heads of families. They desire to be
        received into the infant church of Philippi. What is Christ's
        direction to them? Shall we say that it is to this effect:
        'Arise, and wash away your sins, and come into my house. But you
        must come in by yourselves. These babes in your arms, you must
        leave them outside. They cannot believe yet, and so they cannot
        come in. Those other little ones by your side, their hearts may
        perhaps have been touched with the love of God; still, they are
        not old enough to make a personal profession, so they too must
        be left outside...For the present you must leave them where they
        are and come in by yourselves.' One may reasonably demand very
        stringent proofs before accepting this as a fair representation
        of the sort of welcome Christ offers to parents who come to his
        door bringing their children with them. Surely it is more
        consonant with all we know about him to suppose that his welcome
        will be more ample in its scope, and will breathe a more
        gracious tone. Surely it would be more like the Good Shepherd to
        say, 'Come in, and bring your little ones along with you. The
        youngest needs my salvation; and the youngest is accessible to
        my salvation. You may be unable as yet to deal with them about
        either sin or salvation, but my gracious power can find its way
        into their hearts even now. I can impart to them pardon and a
        new life. From Adam they have inherited sin and death; and I can
        so unite them to myself that in me they shall be heirs of
        righteousness and life. You may without misgiving bring them to
        me. And the law of my house requires that the same day which
        witnesses your reception into it by baptism must witness their
        reception also'" (The Church, by Professor Binnie, D.D.).

Bibliography Information
Easton, Matthew George. M.A., D.D., "Biblical Meaning for 'Baptism, Christian' Eastons Bible Dictionary".
bible-history.com - Eastons; 1897.

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