Summary: A look at why we practice baptism at Central Christian Church.
Kids will ask some interesting questions. Why is the sky blue? Why are there clouds? Why can’t I go outside? Why do I have to be nice? Sometimes kids will continue to ask why and we just want to jerk our hair out because it drives us crazy!
But adults also ask “why” questions. Such as, why are there flotation devices under plane seats instead of parachutes? If a cow laughed, would milk come out her nose? Why do noses run and feet smell? Why is it that doctors call what they do "practice"?
Today we are starting a four week sermon series that is going to simply ask why? As I was planning my preaching for the year, I realized there was a good possibility that after Easter we could pick up several new friends. Therefore, I wanted an opportunity to explain why we do some of the things we do here at Central Christian Church. Plus, it is always good for those of us who may be long time members here to be reminded of why we do these things.
Central Christian Church is an independent Christian Church. We have no denominational headquarters, no creeds but Christ. Our roots come from what is known as the Restoration Movement. We simply want to restore the church as it is found to be in the New Testament.
Here at Central we believe the Bible is God’s Word. The Bible contains God’s message for mankind to come to know Him. It is relevant to our lives today. Everything we need to know concerning God and His plan for salvation and life is contained in the Scripture.
We view the Bible as our foundation and therefore everything we believe must be based on the foundation of God’s Word. As the minister, I want Central Christian Church to be ASAP - As Scriptural as Possible!
With that introduction we move into the first topic we will discuss in our “why?” series, which is baptism. Why baptism?
There tends to be a lot of confusion with the subject of baptism. Honestly I will not be surprised if this topic today brings out strong emotions from you because it may not line up with what you’ve been taught your whole life. Therefore, I want to ask all of us to do something: clean the board.
Before we get started with this sermon, I want you to clean the board. Clear the work space of your mind. I think it is critical when studying a passage of Scripture to try and lay aside all preconceived thoughts and start with a clean sheet.
Today I want us to answer 3 questions about baptism. The first one is…
1. What is Baptism?
Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He told His disciples in Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Now obviously baptism is part of the plan and will of God. But what is it?
To answer that question we must start with the word “baptism” itself. Baptism is what we call a transliterated word. Meaning it was brought from the Greek language over to English. Baptism comes from the Greek word “baptidzo” which means to dip, plunge, or immerse.
If we were to watch the Titanic, while at the same time speaking Greek, we would say that the Titanic was “baptidzoed.” In all seriousness this word baptidzo was used to describe ships that had sunk in the sea. This word baptidzo was also used to describe a piece of cloth being dipped into coloring dye.
It is interesting that in the Greek language there are other words that mean “sprinkle” or “pour.” But the writers of the Bible never use these words. They always use the word baptidzo. Therefore, baptism is a complete immersion of the body in water.
Over the years, “baptize” has come to mean other things than what was originally taught. In 1311 A.D., nearly 1300 years after the beginning of Christ’s Church, there were some Catholic Church leaders at the Council of Ravenna, Italy, who declared that sprinkling and pouring were of equal standing with immersion.
After that, many Protestant churches, such as the Lutheran, Episcopal, and Presbyterian Churches, simply adopted the Catholic practice of sprinkling without checking further into the Scriptures.
But from study we see that the Greek word for baptize is “baptidzo” and in the Bible this word always means to immerse, to dip into, to plunge into. That is why here at Central we believe and practice that baptism is immersion into water.
When Philip baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch the text says in Acts 8 we read, “36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?" 38And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.”