Year after year I sat in
church (a most excellent church) watching - mostly strangers -
bring their babies to be baptised. It was part of our church
life and was accepted without question. It was how things had
always been, and only change catches your attention.
As these (usually unknown) parents made a confession of faith
and made very spiritual vows to raise the baby in a Christian
manner I thought nothing of it, other than the service was
lovely and the baby was cute.
As the (usually unknown) godparents made very spiritual vows
to ensure that the child was raised in a Christian manner I
thought nothing of it.
As the baby was sprinkled with water from the baptismal font
a large acetate was displayed overhead with the scripture from
Mark 10:13&16 saying ' Then they brought little children to Him
that He might touch them...and He took them up in His arms, and
blessed them' and this gave what was happening below a feeling
of scriptural security.
Finally we the congregation would make very spiritual
promises and the baby would be welcomed either into "the
church", the visible church" or the "family of God" (varies from
minister to minister) and the baby would be shown to us all.
It was lovely!
The sad thing was we rarely saw any of the participants
again. Never mind. The service was lovely.
Then one day I was suddenly a little uncomfortable with what
was going on. I knew (we all knew really) that most if not all
of these unknown parents and godparents were making confessions
and taking vows dishonestly.
They were getting there baby 'done in the church' It is
what churches are for isn't it? That and
weddings and funerals.
Sometimes there were Christian parents from our church
getting their babies baptised and that was very pleasant because
we knew they were making confessions of faith that were genuine
and were making vows that they really intended to keep.
Then as time went on I got very uncomfortable. There was ..
well ..a lack of Kingdom integrity about the whole thing and in
my inward parts I was even in what I would call 'spiritual pain'
as these baptisms were taking place.
Oh, I listened as the words about Abraham and outward mark of
circumcision was equated to baptism for today's parents, but it
all began to ring untrue.
However I had no intention of being more than.. well, quite
uneasy with the whole thing until I got the phone call.
A lovely man whom I had the honour of leading to the Lord in
the kitchen of our home a year earlier phoned me and said that
he wanted to be baptised and felt that God had laid on his heart
that I was to be the one who baptised him. This was (and still
is) a very godly man who has followed Christ with a passion
since the moment he gave his life to Jesus. I was honoured that
he was asking me. He suggested a local beach that Sunday morning
and I agreed.
Come the sunny Sunday morning at 7.30 I was met not only by
this man and his wife, but a lady complete with towel who also
wanted to be baptised. My wife and I had also been instrumental
in leading her back to the Lord a year earlier and she also said
that she felt the Lord had witnessed to her that she was to be
baptised by me that morning.
As I baptised this good friend, suddenly his wife came wading
out and also asked to be baptised. My wife had been instrumental
in bringing her back to the Lord and I had been helping to
disciple her so we knew the reality of her faith also.
I can honestly say that it was one of the most fulfilling
half hours of my life!
A week later a young girl who came to my home every Wednesday
for Bible teaching suddenly asked me to baptise her! Again we
agreed on the next Sunday morning on a different beach. Her
father and friends showed up and there was quite an excitement.
Unfortunately this beach necessitated a long walk into the water
before we even got waist deep, but we got there and I baptised
her. Again, a wonderful feeling of Kingdom service!
As we walked in to shore there was one more surprise waiting.
Her father came towards me and asked if I would go out again and
baptise him. He was a Christian of longstanding but he suddenly
knew that what he had watched was right and he stepped forwards
and out we went.
Five people in a matter of a few weeks. What was God up to?
I didn't have long to wait to find out!
A close friend who is a minister of the same denomination
told me that my church would be most upset if they heard what I
had done. I was shocked I had no idea that what I had done was
I went straight to my minister, with whom I had an excellent
relationship, and told him what had happened.
So began the first of two lengthy
healthy debates on baptism.
I believe with all my heart the whole thing was the Lord's
doing, because as we debated the matter I became more and more
convinced that what I had done was in fact very scriptural and
what I watched regularly in church was very unscriptural.
I was glad to hear the case for infant baptism from a man I
respect greatly. In fact one of the finest ministers I have ever
met. Yet I was aware that the debate had only solidified the
reasons for my unease over the previous year.
It was only on this one issue that I was not in agreement on.
The minister and the church were a major source of blessing and
thankfully no friendships were effected even to this day. That
is how it should be.
But it is a subject that has brought a
measure of division between the more traditional denominations
and the more recent Pentecostal/Charismatic denominations so it
is a subject that does need aired.
So here goes!
Let’s start with Abraham.
God established an everlasting covenant with Abraham and with
all his physical seed.
Children of Israel came into God's covenant through natural
The Children of Israel - in reality the children of Abraham -
were God’s chosen
people. A people brought into covenant through no merit of their
own. Pure grace.
Such a person was physically born into this covenant through
natural birth and the so the seal ..or ‘God’s stamp of
ownership’ ..or God’s guarantee of this position of grace was
also a physical one - circumcision of the flesh.(the
No circumcision of the flesh meant no part of God’s Covenant no
matter how fine a person you were.(Gen.17:4) For instance, no
uncircumcised person could partake of the Passover. (Ex.12:48)
The physical outworking of the old covenant established through
Abraham proved to be almost the mirror image of the spiritual
and greater covenant that God would later establish through
Under the New covenant one is
spiritually born into the family of God through the new birth,
or being ‘born again’ and so the seal - or ‘God’s stamp of
ownership’ - is a spiritual seal whereby the circumcision mark
is the circumcision of the heart.
This spiritual seal - the evidence of ‘God’s
stamp of ownership’ - is the deposit of God’s own Spirit within
the heart resulting in the new man.
In Ephesians 1:13 Paul says..
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of
truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having
believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption
of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Much more pleasant than circumcision as a seal.
Both seals were established right at the start of the person’s
arrival into their position of grace. The first seal without,
through physical birth and the second seal within, through
'O seed of
Abraham His servant, You children of Jacob, His chosen
the Old Covenant depended on whose physical seed you
were born from, and the physical seal was the
circumcision of your flesh. That's why, in the Old
Testament, it was so important for Jews to know who
their earthly father was.
the New Covenant depends on whose spiritual seed you are
born from and the spiritual seal is the circumcision of
your heart which is the clear evidence of the work of
the Holy Spirit in your life. That's why, in the New
Testament it is important to know who your spiritual
been born again, not of corruptible seed but
Scripture is careful to use the words
'incorruptible' seed in the New Testament covenant so that it
will be equated correctly with corruptible 'seed' in the Old
Scripture is careful to use the
word 'circumcision' (of the heart) in the New Testament covenant
so that it will be equated correctly to 'circumcision' (of the
flesh) in the Old Testament covenant.
Paul says in Romans 2: 28-29 After all, who is the real Jew, truly
circumcised? It is NOT the man who is a Jew on the outside,
whose circumcision is a physical thing.
Rather the real Jew is the person who is a
Jew on the inside, that is whose heart has been circumcised, and
this is the work of God’s Spirit
Paul showed that prior to baptism - 'being
buried with Christ' - there must be this spiritual circumcision
by Christ which clearly results in the 'putting off the body of
the sins of the flesh'.
'In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made
without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh,
by the circumcision of Christ,' Colossians 2:11
He spoke of this spiritual principle in 1st
Corinthians 15:46 when he said ‘It is not the spiritual which
comes first, but the physical, and then first the spiritual’.
Now that is easy to understand. I think.
Circumcision of the flesh followed the Jew's
physical birth just as circumcision of the heart follows the
believer's spiritual birth.
So Old Testament physical circumcision does
not equate to New Testament water
baptism. It equates to spiritual circumcision.
Being 'born again'
And yet, somewhere along the line, this
circumcision of Hebrew babies is used as the foundational
doctrinal prop to permit the baptism of babies in our churches.
The theology is that baptising babies has something of the same
effect in the New Covenant as circumcising babies in the Old
I do not believe that this is a valid mandate. Because as we’ve
seen circumcision did not equate in spiritual terms to baptism..
in any way at all. (Even if it did equate to circumcision
the type remains the same. Circumcision followed natural birth
therefore baptism would follow spiritual birth, not precede it)
The children of Israel were in Egypt - which in spiritual terms
typifies the world, where Pharaoh typifies Satan, and Moses
Moses engages Pharaoh and finally - through the blood of a lamb
- defeats Pharaoh and his magician’s powers of darkness, and
delivers God’s people out from under Pharaoh’s authority.
This - being transferred out of Pharaoh's kingdom into new life
in God's Kingdom - was the grace of God and the exercising of
their faith in God by believing that God had raised up Moses as
their deliverer, and leaving all to follow him.
However they were not free from the old
kingdom until they had passed beneath the waters of the Red Sea.
The uncircumcised Egyptians - those who belonged to Pharaoh’s
kingdom - were not permitted to pass through, and so God’s
chosen people were safely separated from Egypt through the
exercise of their faith and passing beneath the waters of the
They had made their decision to follow Moses
and now having passed through the water there could be no going
In 1st Corinthians 10 : 2 Paul says that as these children of
God passed beneath the waters they were ‘baptised into Moses’.
The New testament equivalent of course talks about believers
being baptised into Jesus.
In Romans 6:3 Paul says.. ‘or do you not know that as many of us
as were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His
Again in Galatians 3:27 Paul says.. ‘for as many of you as were
baptised into Christ have put on Christ’
Again I see scripture being careful to use the
words 'baptised into Jesus' in the New Testament so that it
will be equated correctly to 'being baptised
into Moses’ in the Old Testament.
‘Baptised into Moses’ ‘Baptised
“First the natural”, Paul says, “then the spiritual” 1st
Corinthians 15:46 [see
Now under the Bible’s ‘law of first mention’ the first time an
issue is mentioned we find that within that first little
scriptural seed the whole truth that develops on that issue is
to be found.
For instance where the serpent first appears in Genesis and says
‘did God really say’ we find that that contains his working
pattern throughout scripture.(e.g. 'if you
are the son of God')
When baptism first appears the issue is to do with repentance
and turning away from sin and from following the pattern of this
world.. because love of this world is enmity with God.
People came to John it says “confessing their sins, and
he baptised them in the Jordan” Matthew
“I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance.”
Jesus affirmed this baptism of John's by
submitting Himself to it, even though, as John knew, He had
committed no sin. Jesus never asks us to walk a path He has
not already passed along. He still says
As Marks gospel comes to an end we see the great commission in
Jesus tells His disciples.. “preach the gospel to all mankind”
..(that’s part 1) ..”whoever believes.. and is baptised (that's
part 2) will be saved” ..(that’s part 3).
In Acts, right at the start of the church we see the clear order
of God's in action.
Peter had preached the gospel (part 1). Then
he to them, "Repent, (part 1) and let every one of you be
baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins
(part 2); and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'
(part 3) Acts 2:38
I don’t think we have been given any authority
from scripture to reverse that order, no matter how pleasing to
our minds it may seem.
Matthew Henry commenting on Acts 2;38 says.. "
Peter shows them the course they must take. Repent: This is a
plank after shipwreck. This was the same duty that John the
Baptist and Jesus Christ had preached, and it is still insisted
on: "Repent, repent, change your way" Be baptised every one
of you in the Name of Jesus Christ. Believe in the Name of
Jesus, that is, firmly believe the doctrine of Christ, and make
an open solemn profession of this, and renounce your
infidelity" They must be baptised in the Name of Jesus Christ.
Believe in the Name of Jesus, that He is the Christ.
The Messiah promised to the fathers.
They must be baptised in His Name for the remission of their
sins. This is pressed upon each individual person: Every one of
you. . "Even those of you who have been the greatest sinners,
if they repent and believe, are welcome to be baptised"
Indeed in Acts 2 we read of Peter proclaiming
that the promise of salvation is not only for the Jewish people
but now it is for all. Not only for you and your children he
tells them, but now also '' to all who are afar off, as many as
the Lord our God will call." Jews and Gentiles.
As Matthew’s gospel comes to a close Jesus
tells His disciples to make other disciples .."teaching them to
obey ALL that He had commanded them" ..that’s part 1..
“baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy
Spirit”.. that’s part 2.
As I said, we have no scriptural mandate to reverse the order
that Jesus plainly laid down.
Baptism is a public profession and pledge, an oath of fealty to
Christ, the taking one’s stand with Christ, the symbolic picture
of the change wrought by faith already. (In fact in many nations
- especially in the Middle East - the public act of water
baptism will be the act that really identifies the believer with
Christ and bring persecution)
who gladly received his word (step one) were baptized (step two)
and that day about three thousand souls were added to them'.
himself also believed (step one) and when he was baptized (step
two) he continued with Philip', Acts 8:13
'Now as they
went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch
said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?"
Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart (step
one), you may (be baptised in the water - step two)" And he
answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of
God." So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both
Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized
him. Now when they came up out of the water', Acts 8:36
Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you
came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled
with the Holy Spirit." Immediately there fell from his eyes
something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he
arose and was baptized' Acts 9:16
Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord
with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing
(step one), believed (step two) and were baptized (step three)
No where, simply nowhere in the New
Testament is there any mention of God's order being reversed.
Yet learned theologians have produced great volumes in order to
convince us that what we see plainly in scripture is not what
God intended us to see.
In the new testament God's order is spiritual birth from Father
God's incorruptible seed (1) marked immediately by the spiritual
circumcision of the heart, then - and only then - the passing
beneath the waters of baptism. In other words just as the Jew
had the mark of circumcision that proved he was in covenant
relationship with God, so the believer must have the
evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart to prove
his is in covenant relationship with God before he can receive
In Acts 10:47 Peter says to the Jewish believers from Joppa..
‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptised who
have received the Holy Spirit as we have?”
In other words baptism would have been forbidden if there was
not clear evidence of the Holy Spirit having been received.
Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon
all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who
believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because
the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles
also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered, "Can anyone forbid water,
that these should not be baptized who have received the
Holy Spirit just as we have?" And he commanded them to
be baptized in the name of the Lord.' Acts 10:44
Peter says clearly that no one could now
forbid baptism with water since there was clear evidence of
their acceptance that they had received the Holy Spirit.
Scripture is clear that there must be evidence of the Holy
Spirit's work in a professing person and Peter speaks of the
Holy Spirit.."whom God has given to them that obey him" Acts
How far we have moved from the integrity that
the early church demonstrated in the book of Acts!
In the baptism of infants we often quote the
scripture where the disciples were keeping the children away
from Jesus until He rebuked them and took the little children on
His knee and blessed them.
Then they brought little children to Him that
He might touch them...and He took them up in His arms, and
blessed them. Mark 10:13&16
So often has it been used in infant baptism
that we’ve almost come to read that He took the little
children and baptised them.
He did not baptise them. He blessed them. There is a difference.
That blessings did not save them. Nor did it
guarantee their salvation. That would be their freewill choice.
However what Jesus did here, was to give us a
mandate for us to bring our little children to be blessed by
My father broke all the rules of his day in
church by refusing to have me baptised. He had me 'blessed' but
not baptised. Apparently he found it difficult to find a
minister who would do this, but eventually a Methodist minister
agreed to do it privately. Sadly, my father died two years
before I was saved, but not only was I saved, I was free to be
baptised as scripture intended. However as the church I attended
for seven years only did sprinkling I was baptised (my wife and
I both) by full immersion at a Baptist church. Not only that
but I have known Christ's blessings upon my life in a very
special way indeed. Thank you dad for being so brave all those
No where in scripture is there one sentence where we read of a
new born baby being baptised, let alone hundreds of households
queuing up to have thousands of babies baptised.
We do read though of thousands of adults
choosing to be baptised after they have heard the word and
received it gladly.
'And with many other words he testified and
exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that
day about three thousand souls were added to them.'
The good news was preached. Those who believed
were baptised. God's order.
Infant baptism is contra Biblical. It is a
long standing tradition made of man, and a tradition opposed to
the clear will of God. It is a tradition that the combination of
state and church liked, and it was against this backdrop that
the Anabaptists appeared. They could be criticised in some
doctrinal areas but I do believe that God raised them up and
gave them the honour of laying their lives down in their
thousands to bring the unscriptural nature of infant baptism
into public view. State and church authorities thought that by
torturing them and killing them they could kill the simple
scriptural principle they lived out.
But like the martyrs of the reformation, it
was God at work, and it seems that it always takes the blood of
martyrs to bring reformation, especially when something has been
common theology for more than 1,000 years.
The gates of hell will not prevail against
those referred to in Revelation '12:11, 'And they overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and
they did not love their lives to the death'
Where a whole family is baptised in scripture
it is reasonable to assume from what is written that the family
were all of an age to understand and make a freewill choice to
The much abused Acts 16: 31 is clear evidence of this, where
Paul and Silas told the jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and
you will be saved - you and your household”
The abuse of this portion of scripture comes when it ends here..
and it used to paint a picture of ‘babies’ being baptised
because dad believes.
The following verse (32) removes this picture because it clearly
states that Paul and Silas spoke to the jailer AND to ALL the
others in the house. The result was exactly as Paul and Silas
had declared. The whole family were saved and baptised.(33)
The last verse recording this incident (34) refers to the
jailer’s joy. It does not say the jailer was filled with joy
because his family were baptised, it says he was filled with joy
because he had come to believe and his family had also
come to believe.
'So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Then
they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in
his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and
washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were
baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set
food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God
with all his household' Acts 16: 31 -34
Note that the order of scriptural integrity is
maintained. Belief, then baptism.
Let's imagine that only dad believed, and that
he had three children who were not believers and grew up to be
baal worshippers and died baal worshippers. Would Paul's promise
stand ..'you will be saved, you and your household'
Hardly! Imagine meeting them and thousands
like them in heaven, all wondering what they were doing there.
Crispus was another man who saw his household saved. Again it
makes clear that they all heard and all believed.
'Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the
Lord with all his household' Acts 18:8
Having shown this twice I don't believe scripture needs to
repeat it with Stephanus (1st Cor: 1:16) and Lydia (Acts 16:15)
Indeed the theology that states 'if dad is saved the whole
household will be saved automatically' cannot apply in the
latter because it talks of Lydia hearing. In fact scripture
shows that both she and her household were baptised before
she invited the Apostles home so it would imply that her
household were with her when she heard the gospel. Indeed it
says that was a lady who 'worshipped God' so doubtless her
household (sons / daughters / servants?) were already of the
'Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She
was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped
God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by
Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, (then) she
begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the
Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us. Acts 16:
Here's the good news for
a Christian parent.
It is God's heart to have children who are 'holy' in
His sight. Listen to God's heart being expressed so
graphically through the prophet Malachi..
'And this is the second thing you do: You cover the
altar of the Lord with tears,
With weeping and crying; So He does not regard the
Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you
say, “For what reason?”
Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the
wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your
And your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one,
having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks
godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your
spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of
his youth' Malachi 2:13
The outworking of God's heart on this issue is, I
believe, that any child of a believing parent. (that is
one whom God has called into His covenant) who dies
before adulthood will be accepted by God as 'holy'
David was in covenant with God. His sinned grievously
wounded God's heart. He not only committed adultery with
Bathsheba, but also had her loyal husband murdered.
Yet when the first child of that terribly ungodly
relationship died within days of its birth, we read of
where David declared that his illegitimate and
uncircumcised child was with God. He said that the child
could not come back to him, but that he would be going
to where the child was.
'Then his servants said to him, "What is this that
you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while
he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate
food." And he said, "While the child was alive, I fasted
and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord
will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But
now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back
again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to
me." 2nd Samuel 12:21
This wonderful issue of grace exists unchanged in the
New covenant. Even where there is only one parent in
covenant God will regard the children as 'holy'
'And a woman who has a husband who does not believe,
if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce
him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the
wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the
husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but
now they are holy.1 1st Corinthians 7:13
This is why as parents we must use this period of
their childhood to raise them, by word and deed, in the
sure knowledge of God, so that when they come of age
they may choose whom they will serve
"Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep
yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have
seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days
of your life. And teach them to your children and your
grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood
before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to
me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear
My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days
they live on the earth, and that they may teach
their children' Deuteronomy 4:9
"Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in
your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on
your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your
eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of
them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the
way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you
shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on
your gates, that your days and the days of your children
may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to
your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens
above the earth' Deuteronomy 11:18
Baptism awaits those children who, when they have
come of age choose freely to respond to the gospel. This
response can be at any age of understanding, while they
grow up safely as 'holy' under their Godly parental
covering, or later when they leave and cleave to their
God is good.
When scripture first unfolds we see a
principle at work where only Noah was righteous and that meant
his family were saved while the heathens..the
Rahab the prostitute who hid the spies in Jericho was saved..
and that meant that her whole household were saved also..
This is good stuff. Saved if dad or mum are saved.
However every coin and every spiritual
principle has two sides.
Achan disobeyed God and not only was he put out of the camp but
his whole family perished with him. Joshua 7
Likewise Korah Dathan and Abirim. Numbers 16: 27-33
Not so good!
Doomed if dad is doomed.
The children of Israel understandably did not
like this side of the coin and quoted the parable “The fathers
have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth have been set on
First through Jeremiah God declares the days are coming when
people will no longer use this parable (Jeremiah 31: 29) and
through Ezekiel 18 God explains in great detail that the new
principle would be that only ‘the soul that sins is the one who
The parents righteousness would not save the children’s lives,
nor would the parents unrighteousness cost them their life if
they are righteous.
In other words life or death would be an issue between the Lord
and each of us individually.
Unlike in the days of Noah or Rahab, Mum or
Dad’s standing will not save their children. Each of us are now
accountable to God for our own individual destiny.
Those who favour infant baptism declare that
'The infant officially enters into the covenant community, the
visible church, by his baptism. It affords him all the rights
and privileges of being in the visible church'.
Only the new birth from above brings a person
into the true covenant community, the family of God. Any other
'covenant community' is a counterfeit, and a spiritually
destructive one at that. The visible church is not the true
church, but the true church exists within the visible church.
It is unsaved ministers, elders, worship leaders and Sunday
school teachers in the visible church that have wrought much
pain upon the true church.
Telling non Christians that they are now
'welcomed into the church / visible church / church family
/family of God' can lead them to interpret
this as meaning they are now Christians being embraced as
Christians within the Christian family.
In Ezekiel chapter 44 verse 6 God says to
Ezekiel again.. (and we can sense His outrage here)
Say to the rebellious house of Israel, ‘This is what the
Sovereign Lord says “Enough of your detestable practices, you
brought foreigners uncircumcised in heart and flesh into my
temple, desecrating My temple..”
Three verses later the principle is restated clearly..
“I, the Sovereign Lord, declare that no uncircumcised foreigner,
no one who disobeys Me, will enter My Temple, not even a
foreigner who lives among the people of Israel”
The spiritual equivalent for today is obvious.
And yet month after month we see people whom we’ve never seen
before, and usually never see again, bring their babies to be
Foreigners with uncircumcised hearts being brought into God’s
people through a sacrament given to God’s people.
We ask these nice people to make solemn vows
with their mouths that they would not otherwise have any
intention of making, and after baptising the helpless infant, we
as a church then agree to accept the child into the family of
Something we have no scriptural right to do.
In fact as the above scripture clearly shows, the opposite is in
These are usually uncircumcised (in heart)
parents bringing their always uncircumcised
(in heart)babies into the Temple as
part of a social ritual that has become part of the fabric of
the church and society.
In later years the church, should it get their attention, will
tell them that they need to be saved. The sad thing is that many
evangelists will tell you that it is hard to get through to many
adults the truth that they need to be
saved because they insist that they were baptised and accepted
into the church at birth when they were infants.
Baptise them now and try and get them
saved later is not a Kingdom of God principle. Never has been.
Never will be.
Yet those who practise infant baptism
(paedo-baptism) confidently state.. 'Those converted without any
background will naturally and rightly see that obedience to
God's word will mean baptism. If they have been baptised as
children, yet have not been brought up in Christian nurture,
they will be shown that God has overruled their lack of teaching
and understanding of faith, and has now done inwardly what
formerly was done outwardly'
There is no scriptural mandate for presuming
on God as the hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of
baptised babies who never came to faith in Christ demonstrates.
When a minority of babies baptised come to faith later in life
this is no cause for then saying 'see, we got it right here!'
And yet so strongly is this tradition woven
into some of our denominations that a man cannot in certain
denominations be an elder unless he has had his children
baptised. The man who dares to adhere to the integrity of
scripture on this issue cannot hold the office of elder. I know
of a most God fearing man who was removed from eldership because
he wished his children to be free to choose baptism for
themselves when they came to an age of understanding.
The other sad side to this arrangement is that when a person
does get saved and then dearly wants to go through the wonderful
sacrament of baptism they have it refused to them because they
were baptised before they believed. As babies they had baptism
forced upon them and this has now robbed them of the joy of
It is because of this that many people who are baptised as
children but come to faith later (as in my wife's case) are
forced to go to another denomination for this sacrament to be
carried out as per scripture.
And then we have ‘sprinkling’.
The gentle, inoffensive, ritual of ‘sprinkling’.
One church magazine article defending ‘sprinkling’ states ‘As
used by those who wrote the New Testament, baptise means a
ceremonial washing.. by sprinkling’
One could hand the New Testament to a million new readers and I
do not believe one would come away with that impression upon
Under the law of first mention we see people coming to the
Jordan where they could have lined up and been ‘sprinkled’ - but
they were immersed.
Likewise Jesus could have set the standard and been ‘sprinkled’.
One does not get the image of Phillip ‘sprinkling’ the
Ethiopian. In fact scripture is, as usual, completely clear that
he went into the water.
as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the
eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me
from being baptized?" Then Philip said, "If you believe with
all your heart you may" And he answered and said, "I believe
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." So he commanded the
chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch
went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when
they came up out of the water,' Acts 8:36
was a court dignitary. He would have been wealthy, well dressed
and of good social standing. Unlike Naaman the army commander
(who we will discuss shortly) he had no pride problems about
going into the water. Phillip could have led him to the water's
edge and gently sprinkled him, but he wouldn't because it was
not the way it was done.
Full immersion is an important facet of our
spiritual life. It graphically acts out the death of the old
life and the beginning of the new life lived for Christ. In
Jesus' day when a slave was purchased at an auction the slave
would be led to a tank at the side of the platform. The old
owner would put his hand on the slave's head and then the new
owner would put his hand upon the previous owner's hand. The
new owner would push the slave under the water and there the old
owner would slide his hand away and the slave would re surface
with only the new owner's hand upon his life. How graphically
the church of the day would have understood the spiritual
implications of water baptism.
immersion signifies that when we are baptised into
Christ Jesus we are in fact being baptised into His
We are signifying our belief that if
we have been united with Him in the likeness of His
death, then we shall be united with Him in the likeness
of His resurrection.
We are signifying that our 'old man'
whose 'father was the devil' has been crucified with Him
and is dead, but that the life we now live is the new
life in the resurrection power that raised Christ from
' ..buried with Him in baptism,
in which you also were raised with Him through faith
in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead'
'Or do you not know that as many of us as
were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His
death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism
into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by
the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in
newness of life. For if we have been united together in the
likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the
likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man
was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done
away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he
who has died has been freed from sin'' Romans 6:3
Powerful stuff indeed.
Does infant baptism or sprinkling convey the power in this
sacrament of baptism? Certainly not. But sadly - and here is
deception's rub - once you accept infant baptism as the normal
practice the consequence is that you must accept sprinkling as
the normal practice for few parents, especially the parents of
unbelievers, would allow their babies to be submerged under the
It may have been - we do not know - that Paul
‘sprinkled’ the jailer and his family. We dare not assume so
because it is contrary to its foundational practice in the
Gospel, but if Paul did, then it would only have been because
there was not an alternative, and to avoid it because of that
would have been legalism. The thief on the cross had no baptism
of any kind because of the squeeze of circumstances.
In church we have no such squeeze of
circumstance. Therefore no such excuse.
Let’s go back to the Old Testament for a look at the natural
equivalent of a spiritual principle.
Leprosy equated to sin in spiritual terms.
And we have the story of a proud leper - Naaman, the commander
of the army of the King of Aram - coming to Elijah to be made
Elijah’s instruction was an offence to his flesh.
“Go wash yourself seven times (God’s
number for completely) in the Jordan”
Naaman was not keen to humiliate himself in
front of others.
“I thought he would ‘wave his hand over
the spot’..” Naaman said.
There would probably be a similar offence, a
similar turning away in rage, if ‘sprinkling’ - i.e. waving the
hand over the place - was done away with, and the scriptural
pattern of immersion was restored to the whole church.
If anyone thinks that 'wash yourself seven
times' equates to sprinkling I would say this. Next time you
have a dirty breakfast plate go to a bowl of water and wash it
seven times. You will find yourself dipping the whole plate
under the water and not removing it from the water until it is
In scripture only blood is sprinkled.
'Therefore not even the first covenant was
dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept
to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of
calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and
sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, "This
is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded
you." Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle
and all the vessels of the ministry'. Hebrews 9:18
Washing is a thorough cleaning.
Sprinkling is not washing and washing is not
sprinkling. Scripture is able to say sprinkling when it means
sprinkling and washing when it means washing
'let us draw near with a true heart in
full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an
evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water'
A congregation seeing infant baptisms week
after week could be led to believe that the church was alive and
growing. Introducing true scriptural baptism - which
necessitates the church preaching the gospel, sinners receiving
the gospel gladly, confession and a turning away from sin and
then public baptism - would soon reveal the truth as to the
measure of the Lord’s favour upon them.
Each baptism would mean a new born again
believer into their midst. The Lord adding to the number rather
than the church adding to the number.
The author of a
church teaching paper which
declared that the New Testament ‘baptise’ means a ceremonial
washing by sprinkling must have avoided some words in Strong’s
Concordance in order to arrive at this
‘Baptized’ is used 61 times and ‘Baptize’ is used nine times in
the New Testament and each time Strongs Concordance (numbered
909) unpacks the Greek word as follows..
909 baptismos - from 907; ablution (cerem.or Chr); - baptism,
907 (from which it says Baptismos comes from) reads..
907 baptizo-from a der.of 911; to make whelmed (i.e. fully wet);
used only (in the N.T) of ceremonial ablution, espec.(tech) of
the ordinance of Chr.. baptism;- baptist, baptize, wash.
911(from which it says 907 is derived from) reads
911 bapto- a prim.verb. to whelm i.e. cover wholly with a fluid;
in the N.T only in a qualified or spec. sense, i.e (lit)
to moisten (a part of one’s person), or (by imp) to stain as
with a dye: - dip
The qualified or special sense I understand is where the word
baptize (909) is used for ceremonial sprinkling of hands and
plates in Mark 7:4 and Mark 7:8
And indeed it was this very thing the worthless ritual
sprinkling of cups, plates and hands, that Jesus used to
verbally scourge the Pharisees and teachers of the law.
Listen, and again sense the Lord’s sense of outrage..
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the
law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw
some of his disciples eating food with hands that were “unclean”
that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat
unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding on to
the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace
they do not eat unless they wash (baptiso 907) And they observe
many other traditions, such as the washing of cups (baptizo 909)
pitchers and kettles.
So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t
your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders
instead of eating their food with unclean hands?”
He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you
hypocrites; as it is written ; “These people honour Me with
their lips but their hearts are far from Me. They worship in
vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. You have let
go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions
And He said, “you have a fine way of setting aside the
commandments of God in order to observe your own traditions”
Did we pick up baptising non born again babies - and babies of
non born again parents from reading the Bible, or from the
tradition of the elders?
I think we know the answer.
And I think to use the ‘baptizo’ when used in a ‘qualified or
special sense’ i.e. Jewish tradition - to override the whole
thrust of baptism from Naaman at the Jordan to John and Jesus at
the Jordan qualifies for the rebuke of Jesus
“you have a fine way of setting aside the commandments of God in
order to observe your own traditions”
The absurdity of such a theological conclusion ‘As used by those
who wrote the New Testament, baptise means a ceremonial washing
by sprinkling'..is of course that Jesus gave the church and
world His understanding of the word ‘baptise’ with a
demonstration not only at the Jordan but also on the day of
John's water baptism was a type of Christ's
promised Holy Spirit baptism. A complete dipping or submerging
in God's Spirit. John proclaimed 'I indeed baptise you with
water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit' Mark 1:8
He is the Baptiser. He promised baptism with the Spirit and He
completely soaked, overwhelmed, covered them with His Spirit.
This is not the 'seal' or 'deposit' or
'guarantee' (Ephesians 1:13) that we receive when we come to
faith in Christ's finished work at Calvary as when Jesus
breathed on His disciples in John 20:22 and said 'Receive the
Holy Spirit' (They had confessed Jesus as Lord, but now, on that
first Sunday they believed in their hearts that He rose from the
dead and so they were saved' Romans 10:9)
Rather it is it is the promise of Jesus in
"you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with
water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit
not many days from now"
and which came upon the same disciples (who had received the
Holy Spirit) at Pentecost.
This baptism of the Holy Spirit would bring the power of God
upon the believer's life.
'But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has
come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in
Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of
the earth' Acts 1:8
Sometimes the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes
at the point of Salvation as in Acts 10.
Sometimes, as in Jesus case, water baptism and
the 'baptism of the Holy Spirit' can occur at one and the same
In most believer's experience it occurs at a
later date to their salvation (as in every case that I know of)
This is what I believe happened when Paul met believers at
Indeed this narrative mirrors the events in my own life. I
was saved at a Methodist gathering and later baptised at a
Baptist Church, but it was only when I moved to a wonderful
Spirit filled Presbyterian church a year later that I was asked
'Have you been baptised in the Holy Spirit since you were
saved?' and I had to confess that I had little idea what they
were talking about. I was encouraged to attend a 'Life in the
Spirit' seminar which went on for many weeks and after seven
weeks of teaching about Jesus' baptism in the Holy Spirit
leaders laid hands on me and I was baptised in the Holy Spirit
and spoke in tongues. It was the beginning of the Christian
ministry that i walk in today, and I thank God for that church.
Paul asked these disciples if they had received the Holy
Spirit when they believedand their answer revealed that
they as yet knew nothing of the Holy Spirit baptism that Jesus
was baptising with since Pentecost. This baptism was usually,
but not always outworked through the laying on of hands.
These disciples were believers who had been baptised in water
for forgiveness of sins and this was known for obvious reasons
as being baptised into 'John's baptism' - though Jesus and His
disciples did the same prior to Calvary / Pentecost - Matthew
4:17, John 4:2))
Remember that these were termed disciples, committed
believers in Jesus 'who would come after John', who could not be
believers unless the Holy Spirit was already deposited within
them as the promised guarantee or the 'seal' of their salvation.
Salvation was not the issue here. As I have said the issue was
have you been baptised by Jesus in the Holy Spirit.
'And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul,
having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And
finding some disciples he said to them, "Did you receive the
Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We
have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." And
he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they
said, "Into John’s baptism." Then Paul said, "John indeed
baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that
they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on
Christ Jesus." When they heard this, they were
baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid
hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke
with tongues and prophesied'
There is a belief amongst those in favour of infant baptism
that Paul put them through a second water baptism, but the issue
here is clearly not that of their water baptism under John or
one of his disciples
To believe that Paul put them through another water baptism
would mean that every single believer - baptised for repentance
by John (as Jesus was) and every believer baptised for
repentance by Jesus' disciples when they were with Him - would
have to be re-baptised, and there is no feeling of this in
However if Paul did baptise the Ephesus disciples in water
again as well as laying hands on them for the baptism of the
Holy Spirit it is but further evidence - if further evidence is
needed - that water baptism would only have been given where
there was clear evidence of faith.
Baptising babies does not bring them faith. It does not
'engage them be the Lord's.' It does not bring then into the New
Covenant, or the covenant community which is the family of God.
It does not guarantee anything. On the contrary it can give
the recipient - and their parents - the false and dangerous
understanding that they are saved. No matter how carefully
minister's craft their wording at baptism it would take a
substantial measure of Kingdom understanding to see that
salvation was not what was being conferred on the child.
If I was the devil I would love that deception to be loosed
within the church
Little wonder that Colin Urquart’s book on deception in the
popular 'Explaining' series of booklets lists this as such.
Deception because it deceives many unknowledgeable people
into believing that - as with the Roman Catholic 'baptism unto
regeneration' - that their salvation has been taken care of.
One more sacred cow associated with this subject needs put to
the sword of the Spirit.
Jesus asked for disciples. All disciples are believers, but
not all believers are disciples.
The noun 'believers' is only used twice in the New Testament
(Acts 5:15 & 1st Timothy 4:12) whereas the noun 'disciples' is
used 265 times. In Matthew 72 times. In Mark 46 times. In Luke
38 times. In John 79 times. And in Acts 30 times
Jesus laid down very strong conditions for being a disciple,
"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and
mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and
his own life also, he cannot be My disciple" Luke 14:26
"Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot
be My disciple" Luke 14:27
"Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot
be My disciple" Luke 14:33
"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy
of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not
worthy of Me" Matthew 10:37
""If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed"
"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will
ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this
My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you
will be My disciples" John 15:7
Disciples walk in unquestioned obedience to Jesus, their
lives laid unconditionally on the altar for Him and the gospel.
It is disciples that Jesus sends into the world with the
instruction to make other disciples, teaching them to obey
everything that Jesus told them to obey. As the disciples do
this Jesus is working with them, ensuring that they bear fruit
that glorifies the Father.
One of the joys of being a disciple is baptising those whose
lives they have effected for the Lord.
'Then the eleven
disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which
Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they
worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to
them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven
and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit' Matthew 28:16
And He said to them, "Go into all the world
and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and
is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will
be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe:
In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with
new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink
anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will
lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." So then,
after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into
heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went
out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them
and confirming the word through the accompanying signs' Mark
someone to Christ, helping to disciple them, and then
baptising them makes the book of Acts come alive!
always God's heart that disciples would be baptisers.
When Jesus proclaimed 'Repent, for the
kingdom of heaven is at hand' and people came forward to
be baptised I am sure they headed for Jesus Himself (I
would have!) However Jesus made sure that it was His
followers who baptised. The days of the Old Covenant
priesthood was over.
'Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had
heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than
John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His
disciples)' John 4:2
Baptisms do not have to be in church. The earth is
the Lord's and everything in it!
Rivers, Sea, swimming pools,
'Now as they went down the road,
they came to some water. And the eunuch said,
"See, here is water. What hinders me from being
baptized?" Then Philip said, "If you believe with
all your heart, you may." And he answered and said,
"I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." So
he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both
Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and
he baptized him'. Acts 8:36
But baptisms do have to be for
believers who display the evidence of a heart
circumcised by the Holy Spirit. i.e their
old flesh life cut away.
Baptising true believers who have come into the Kingdom of
God through faith as evidenced by the changes wrought by the
Holy Spirit within is both scriptural and one of the greatest
joys of being a disciple. - and
yet some streams within the Body of Christ maintain that
Christ's 'ordinary' disciples cannot baptise,
teaching that only college trained and ordained ministers
I simply believe that this is contrary to scripture
Please ask God now in prayer what He thinks of infant baptism.