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What Is the Difference Between Immersion Baptism and Sprinkling Baptism?

Baptism is a ritual act to put off the sinful body and to be born into a new life to become a Christian: To be baptized is to bury our sins in water. Different denominations teach and practice different methods of baptism: immersion and sprinkling. There seems to be no big difference between them, but when we understand the meaning of the Greek word for baptize, we can see that Biblical baptism is immersion, not sprinkling.

The Greek word "(baptizô)" means ‘to dip, to immerse or to submerge.' The English word ‘baptize' is a direct transliteration from the Greek word. Therefore, if we consider the meaning of the original language, there is no doubt that the Biblical method of baptism is immersion.


Immersion Baptism and Sprinkling Baptism

When we watch Christian-related movies or religious paintings, we can often see the scenes of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River or of people undergoing baptism in the water. It is because baptism is a "rite of immersion" just as it means literally.

When burying a dead body, it is not enough to just sprinkle a shovelful of dirt over it once or twice. It is the same with the ceremony of burying sin. We cannot say that one's sin is fully buried by sprinkling just a few drops of water over him or her. For this reason, it is necessary for the whole body to be under water: Being completely buried in water symbolizes the death and burial to sin. So in general, baptism was conducted in a river or sea because there was much water, and when baptism was held in some other places where there was not enough water, it was common to pour water over the whole body until it was completely soaked.

The modern practice of sprinkling for baptism, which many churches are now following, dates back to the time when the early Christian Church was spread to foreign regions. While Christians were traveling a long distance, if there were some who wanted to be baptized after listening to the gospel in a desert area, where it was not even easy to have a sip of water, they sprinkled a few drops of water on them instead of immersing them in water.

It was because there was not enough water to soak the whole body. This informal practice of baptism was only permitted in inevitable or exceptional circumstances. However, after around 120 A.D., sprinkling began to be substituted for immersion; even in places where there was much water, the informal method of baptism was adopted.


Circumcision in the Old Testament and Baptism in the New Testament

Ge 17:10-11 『"Every male among you shall be circumcised. . . . it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you."』

In the Old Testament times, the ceremony of circumcision was performed as a sign between God and His people. This rite of circumcision has been replaced by baptism in the New Testament.

Col 2:11-12 『In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism. . . .』

Thus, baptism is a holy ceremony to become a child of God. Jesus Himself set us an example by being baptized in water (Mt 3:1-17).


Baptism, the Sign of Salvation

As salvation through faith was emphasized after the Reformation, baptism was merely regarded or interpreted as a sign of repentance. And many churches even considered the rite of baptism to be unimportant or unnecessary. However, baptism is absolutely necessary for the person who wants to be born again as a child of God and to receive salvation.

Mk 16:16 『"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, . . ."』

Ac 2:38 『Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins."』

1 Pe 3:21 『and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also. . . . It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,』

For a sinner, there is nothing more important than the forgiveness of sins. So, baptism is an urgent ceremony that cannot be delayed; we must be baptized immediately after realizing the Word. The disciples, who were taught directly by Jesus, baptized people as soon as they accepted their message. There are many cases of immediate baptism in the Bible. This shows how urgent and important the rite of baptism is (Ac 8:35-36; Ac 16:13-15; Ac 16:29-34). Today, most churches teach that baptism should be given after six or twelve months of studying. However, their teaching has come out of their complete ignorance of God's will.


Rebaptism

Some people, when they hear the gospel for the first time, ask, "I have already been baptized in another church. Should I be baptized again?" There is a record of rebaptism in the Bible.

Ac 19:3-5 『So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied. Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.』

The reason why Apostle Paul recommended those who were baptized by John to be baptized again in the name of Jesus was because they could receive the promise of the forgiveness of sins only when they were baptized in the name of the Savior who came in that age. Therefore, those who want to receive the promise of true salvation, even though they were baptized before they received the truth, must be baptized again in the true Church, so that they can participate in the promise of perfect salvation.


Go and Make Disciples of All Nations

One violation leads to another, and yet another. It is the nature of human beings, sinners, to become more bold as they commit more evil. If they become desensitized to sin, they eventually come to interpret God's word in their own way, mistake their own thoughts for God's will, and claim a biblical basis for their own views. However, God's words cannot be compromised with man's words—lies.

We, God's children, must not align ourselves with those who turn away from the teachings of the Bible with an excuse of human convenience or universality. Each and every law which God the Creator has given us is His promise for the salvation of our souls, so we have to obey everything God has said, even if it is small.

We have been born again as the children of heaven by the grace of God.

Our duty is to understand God's will and deliver the truth to many souls.

Following the word of God, let us lead all people around the world to the way of salvation.

Mt 28:19-20 『"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."』

2011.06.22
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