Monday, November 16, 2015

ImmersionDid you know that United Pentecostal preachers practiced immersion for the remission of sins?  However, they believe the process must be validated by saying, “I baptize you in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins.”  It is true that Acts 2:38; 9:16; and 19:5 have “in the name of Jesus” or “in the name of the Lord Jesus” connected with immersion.  Yet, in none of the examples do we find the one doing the baptizing, quoting a specific phrase “over” the individual before immersing him.  Someone might ask, “If you don’t say it, how will the candidate know what he is submitting to?”  The answer is, “He was taught prior to going to the baptistery,” otherwise, how would the eunuch know his need for immersion (Acts 8:36)?  Besides, why be limited to that one expression when there are others also  in Matthew 28:19; Acts 10:48; 22:16?  Some believe the expression, “for the remission of sins” must be stated over the candidate or his immersion is not legitimate.  Although the expression is found in Acts 2:38, it is not mentioned in the other examples.  Even Jesus did not include it in Matthew 28:19 as a required statement that must be cited just prior to plunging the candidate under water.  Are we guilty of reading a practice into God’s Word as if it was demanded or else?

Just prior to immersing someone, isn’t the usual practice to repeat, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the remission of your sins”?  Don’t we splice part of Matthew 28:19 and some of Acts 2:38 together?  Did anyone if the New Testament do that?  If the preacher only states, “. . . in the name of Jesus” rather than the three, do we feel the Father and Spirit have been purposely ignored!  Why?  If the preacher does not say, “and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” do we believe he is neglecting the Spirit?  If a specific statement must be repeated to validate one’s baptism, why wouldn’t it be Matthew 28:19 rather than Acts 2:38?  What passage implies that what is required may be mixed and matched?  If one repeated just Matthew 28:19 prior to immersing a candidate, why would that be inappropriate?  What not quote Mark 16:15-16 only?  Would quoting Acts 10:47-48 be okay?  Why not Paul’s statement in Acts 16:31 prior to immersing the jailer and his family?  Which statement validates one’s baptism?  Acts 3:19; 8:14-18; or 19:1-5?  What book, chapter, or verse supplies the necessary instruction?  When Peter was asked what one must do to be saved, his reply is recorded in Acts 2:38,39, but he did not stop, repeat that over each candidate, and then immerse him.  Luke records, “They that gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41).  Nothing is said about repeating a formula over the candidates.  The candidates already knew why they were being buried in water.

If it is not essential to make that statement just prior to immersing the candidate, why is it always done?  It is usually repeated to teach the audience, especially if a non-believer is present, to show why the person is being immersed.  However, through years of practice, some have come to deify the statement as if this is required dialogue needed to validate one’s immersion.  Is it wrong to repeat Acts 2:38, or Matthew 28:19, or even Mark 16:16 over a candidate?  No.  Neither is it wrong if one doesn’t do so.  Most do because it is a well established tradition.

It is interesting that brethren have discussed this publicly with United Pentecostal preachers in the past, pointing out that scripture does not require a validating statement prior to immersing the candidate. 1

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11 KJV).

1 http://icotb.org/resources/Wallace-VaughnDebate.pdf