Yesterday morning at FBC El Do I had the privilege of baptizing 3 adults, 3 teenagers, and an 8 year old boy. In a word, it was awesome.
In helping prepare these Jesus followers, I was asked a really good question:
Where in the Bible does it actually say we have to be baptized by immersion?
Great question. The person asking had been influenced by different denominations throughout his life – all holding to a different view of both mode and meaning of baptism. He genuinely wanted to know.The Scriptures had been searched by this person. Nowhere was the command found to be completely dunked underwater when being baptized.
My answer was brilliant.
My answer was one of those moments I wish could have been captured on tape.
My momma would have been proud.
My seminary professors would have asked for my autograph.
My full blooded Baptist family heritage would have been so pleased to know they had raised such an astute professional.
It was one of those answers that probably made God love me a little bit more than He did the day before.
Ready? Want to know what I told him? Hope you’re sittin’ down. . . Here’s what I told him:
(I know, I know – pretty amazing. . . come by later and I’ll sign a copy of the Baptist Faith and Message for you. I’m also working on a new book about humility – come by and I will give you the first chapter for free.)
That’s right. I told the dude asking me that the Bible never says to baptize by dunking.
“WHAT?” You ask. “Then why in the world do you ‘make’ people get dunked?” Great question.
Why would I have people – who had gotten all prettied up for the day – go all the way underwater if the Bible never commands it?
Why would I have people get soakin’ wet in front of hundreds of people – most of whom are horrified of standing in front of crowds anyway – if the Bible never commands it?
Why would I have people miss half of the service because they have to blow dry their hair and redo their makeup before they ‘go public’ again after being dunked – if the Bible never commands it?
Why would I subject myself to being obligated to hold people’s nasty greasy noses when they go under water – if the Bible doesn’t command it (do you know who much oil and dirt gather around people’s snozzes?)?
If the Bible never commands baptism by immersion, then why do it that way? Two reasons:
1. The Bible commands baptism.
2. The biblical word for ‘baptize’ literally means ‘to dunk underwater.’
Read Matthew 28:19. Jesus followers are commanded to baptize other Jesus followers. We know how it is to be done simply by the meaning of the word. The word for ‘baptize’ means ‘to dip’ or ‘to submerge’ or ‘to completely immerse underwater’ or ‘to dunk like you do an Oreo in milk.’ Though it does not explicitly demand immersion underwater – the very meaning of the command ‘to baptize’ means to dunk. You will never see a verse like this: “Thou shalt baptize by dunking the whole person underwater.” Why? Because the very meaning of the word ‘baptize’ means to dunk a whole person underwater.
If I say to my son Luke, “Go vacuum your room.” We all know what that means. We know what it means to vacuum. It would be pointless to say, “Go vacuum your room by going to the laundry room, get out the Dirt Devil, take it to your room, plug it in, and guide it across your floor until every piece of spilled fish food is sucked up into the machine.” The very meaning of the word vacuum informs how it is to be done.
Make sense? What other questions do you have about baptism? The ordinances? Why grease and dirt gather around our noses? Seriously, other questions about baptism out there?