Summary: Consider what we believe: 1. About the method of baptism. 2. About the meaning of baptism. 3. About the motive for baptism.
Why We Believe What We Believe about Baptism
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Jan. 9, 2013
*Baptism is a big deal in Ukraine. Most churches don't have a baptistery, and the winters are very cold, so they only get to baptize once or twice a year. On those days the whole church loads up and goes to the river. I have seen 70 people lined up on the bank to be baptized. As each person came out of the water, the choir broke into a chorus of praise. Then they welcome the people coming out of the river with hugs and kisses and a bouquet of flowers.
*Baptism is a big deal in Ukraine. It is also a big deal in here in Grayson, LA. Let's look into the Word of God tonight and see why we believe what we believe about baptism.
1. First consider what Baptists believe about the method of baptism.
*Simply put, we believe that baptism is by putting people under the water. Verse 13 says: "Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.
*That word "baptized" in the original Greek is "baptizo," and it means "to dip, to immerse, to submerge, to make something fully wet, to cleanse by dipping or submerging."
*Okay -- If that is what "baptizo" means, then why didn't the translators just say "dip" or "submerge?" The reason why is because the churches in control when the Bible was first translated into English did not dip people down into the water. Those Catholic and Anglican churches practiced infant baptism by sprinkling water.
*Many churches still do today. In fact, I was "baptized" as a baby in a Presbyterian church. But I wasn't really baptized, because I didn't get saved until I was 24 years old. And in the Bible, baptism wasn't for babies. It was for believers.
*Well, the men translating the Bible 500 years ago knew that translating the word "baptizo" would contradict the accepted method of sprinkling. So they just used the original Greek word in our English Bibles without explaining the meaning.
*But Jesus was submerged. Everybody John the Baptist baptized was submerged. When those 3,000 new Christians in Acts 2:41 were baptized, they were submerged. Every person baptized in the New Testament was submerged. How do we know? -- Because that's what the word means.
*There is a word for "sprinkling" in the New Testament. It's found 4 times in Hebrews 9, but that word is not "baptizo." So the Biblical method of baptism is by submerging.
*Now the method of baptism surely doesn't seem like a big deal at all to us today. But we need to understand that thousands of people were put to death simply because they wanted to be baptized the Biblical way. That seems unreal to us. But here are a couple of quotes to help you see how bad it was:
*In his book, "History of the Baptists," John T. Christian wrote this about the situation in Switzerland. "The Council of St. Gall determined to rid themselves of the 'Dippers.' (Since) the Baptists dipped for baptism, they were to be drowned for punishment. The edict read in part as follows: 'In order that the dangerous, wicked, turbulent and seditious sect of the Baptists may be eradicated, we have thus decreed: If anyone is suspected of rebaptism, he is to be warned by the magistracy to leave the territory under penalty of the designated punishment.
*Every person is obliged to report those favorable to rebaptism. Whoever shall not comply with this ordinance is liable to punishment according to the sentence of the magistracy. Teachers of rebaptism, baptizing preachers, and leaders of hedge meetings are to be drowned.
*Those previously released from prison who have sworn to desist from such things, shall incur the same penalty. Foreign Baptists are to be driven out; if they return they shall be drowned. . .'" The date of the decree was Sept. 9, 1527. (1)
*Many Baptists in England were burned at the stake. Here is another quote from John T. Christian's book: A man named "Ammonius, under date of Nov. 8, 1531, writes to Erasmus of the great numbers of the Anabaptists in England. He says: 'It is not astonishing that wood is so dear and scarce. The heretics cause so many holocausts, and yet their numbers grow.' Erasmus replied that Ammonius 'has reason to be angry with the heretics for increasing the price of fuel for the coming Winter.'" (2)
*They were actually complaining about the price of firewood going up, because so many Baptists had been burned at the stake. Only God knows how many people were burned at the stake for Biblical baptism. It was brutal beyond our imagination.
*That is one of the reasons why our Constitution contains a Bill of Rights to protect our God-given freedoms, including the Freedom of Religion.