Thursday, April 13, 2017

38 - John Baptised in a River

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight." And the same John had his clothing of camel's hair and a leather girdle about his loins. And his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea went out to him, and all the region round about Jordan. And they were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. Mat .3:1-6 

Baptism: is it the biggest point of contention in the Church?

The Jewish nation was expecting the Messiah; their hope was that the Messiah would set them free from Roman suppression. However, the plans for the Messiah were much greater than assuring freedom for one nation.  This was His Father's plan: Jehovah has laid on Him, Christ, the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6  We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:8.

When the people came to be baptised by John they saw an unusual man, so far above the ordinary that all men mused in their hearts concerning John, lest perhaps he was the Christ. Luke 3:15.  John denied that he was the Messiah, he said, There is One coming after me who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down to loosen. Mark 1:7.

If John would have been the ordinary, self-seeking, person he might have thrown in this interesting tidbit, however, the Messiah and I are second cousins.  That would have elevated him even more in the eyes of the populace.

About the Messiah, John said, I indeed have baptized you with water, which is the symbol of the real baptism. Mark 1:8.  He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Where did John Baptise

John came baptizing in the wilderness. Mark 1:4  

And he came into all the country around Jordan. Luke 3:3

they were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. Mat 3:6

John was also baptizing in (the river) Enon near Salim.  John 3:23.

It sounds as if John was a wandering preacher who went from one location to another.

The importance of baptism

Baptism in the Christian church has been the source of a lot of heated debate.  Anything I write about it could, of course, be debated and proven wrong with the Bible, by those who hold fanatical views of baptism.

Here is an example of what I mean:
1. This baptism is not to be rested in; it is only an emblem of that which you must receive from him (Christ). Clarke

2. we all have to be immersed in the name of Y’shua for the forgiveness of sins. 
Focus on the kingdom, Oct. 2016.

Is baptism vital or not?  The answer you get all depends on whom you ask.

The method of baptism 

1. Some baptise by sprinkling water on the person
2. Some by pouring water on a person
3. Some by completely immersing a person in water by bending them forward
4. Some immerse by aiding the adherent to lean backwards and dunking them under water.
                                                                                                                                    A common consensus is that all of the instances of baptism recorded 
in the Acts of the Apostles suggests the idea that it was by dipping the person baptized, i.e. by immersion.  Easton Bible Dictionary.  For those who insist on baptism by immersion, this statement sounds like a valid argument.  However, there are a few cases recorded in the New Testament which really causes one to doubt that dictionary's conclusion. 

1. John was also baptizing in Enon near Salim, because there was much water there. John 3:23.  Much water indicates deep water suitable for immersion.  But, notice the difference in a different translation.  

John was also baptizing in Aenon, near Salim, for many waters were there. John 3:23 LITV.   "many waters" indicates many streams.  If a small river like the Aenon is divided into many streams forming a delta, it is likely that none of the streams will be very deep.  There is no proof, as to the method of baptism, either way, from this argument.

2. In Acts 16 the story is told of the jailer who was baptised by Paul; And he was baptized, he and all his, immediately. Acts 16:33.   Was there a river close to the jailhouse?  Was there a swimming pool?  I feel confident that the jailhouse did not have a baptismal tank.  Because we do not know the answer to these questions we cannot say with certainty that the jailer was immersed.  

Those who insist on infant baptism say that everyone in the jailer's family, including children, was baptised.  We do not even know if the jailer had any young children.  So this argument does not sway the jury in either direction.

Baptise, (in Greek Baptismos) is held by some scholars to mean "to dip, immerse".  But this meaning is held by others to be not the most exact or common, but rather a meaning that is secondary or derived.  By the latter it is claimed that all that the term necessarily implies is that the element employed in baptism is in close contact with the person." Unger's Bible dictionary.

To sum up:

1.  The depth of the River Aenon has not been proven to be deep enough for baptism by immersion.
2.  The age of the Jailer's children is not given therefore that argument cannot be used for or against baptising children or infants.
3.  The origin and meaning of the word "baptism" are not clear enough to force the idea that baptism must be by immersion.
4.  Since baptism is a representation of a person's death to the carnal lifestyle and the new life in Christ, baptism by immersion, seems to be the best picture available. 

The age of the adherent

1. The Roman Catholic and many Protestant churches believe that baptism is necessary for salvation, therefore they believe that infants should be baptised as soon as possible.  Some believe that if they are not baptised before they die they have no chance at eternal bliss.  

2. Some believe that baptism is necessary before marriage, so it is normal for those churches to baptise teenagers.  This can degenerate into a mere formality done for those who hope to get married soon.

3. The majority of evangelical churches believe that baptism should happen only after a person has accepted Christ as their Saviour.  So this can be at any age that a person can understand the implications of being a Christian.  Even though it is a ritual, and usually quite formal, it is expected that the one getting baptised is doing it to show all in attendance that he/she is serious about following the teachings of Jesus.

The Formula for Baptism

Christ commanded Christian leaders to baptise Christ's followers.  Our Bible says to use this formula, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Matthew 28:19.

Here again, we have a problem created by the Catholic Church.  About this, a former pope of the church (2005-2013) said:

"The basic form of our (Matthew 28:19 Trinitarian) profession of faith took shape during the course of the second and third centuries in connection with the ceremony of baptism.
So far as its place of origin is concerned, the text (Matthew 28:19) came from the city of Rome.
The Trinity baptism and text of Matthew 28:19 therefore did not originate from the original Church that started in Jerusalem around 33 A.D. It was rather, as the evidence proves, a later invention of Roman Catholicism completely fabricated.
Very few know about these historical facts.”

From the blog; "Probation is about to close"

So, since the Bible does not recognize the Trinity, Christians should not be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Some, with very good reason, suggest it should be "in the name of Jesus Christ".  Note: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Act 2:38  

In this post we sort of lost John the Baptist in the wilderness, but we will find him again in the next post.