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Volume 21, Issue 5 (February 3, 2019)

The Silence of Scripture
By Kyle Pope


How we view the bounds that Scripture places upon collective Christian behavior will determine what we do as a church. If we believe that our conduct is not restricted to only what Scripture reveals, then we may use wide latitude in deciding congregational activities. If instead, Scripture itself sets the limits by what has been written for what the church should do, to go beyond these bounds would be presumptuous, divisive, and in rebellion to divine authority.

Are we bound by the silence of Scripture? There are a few important examples in Scripture that demonstrate that the answer is yes:

1. Noah. God gave Noah the instruction to build the ark out of a wood called “gopherwood” (Gen.6:14). Yet, it wasn’t necessary for God to list all the types of wood Noah could not use.

2. Moses. To give water to the children of Israel God told Moses to—“Speak to the rock before their eyes and it shall yield its water” (Num. 20:8, NKJV). Yet, Moses instead struck the rock, and because of this he was not allowed to enter Canaan. We should note that he was punished for this act of disobedience even though he had previously been commanded on another occasion to strike the rock for water (Exod. 17:6).

3. Nadab & Abihu. These two priests, who were sons of Aaron offered incense—“Before the Lord which He had not commanded them” (Lev. 10:1). Because of this, fire came down from heaven and killed them.

Inspired writers themselves made arguments calling upon the silence of Old Testament Scriptures:

1. The Hebrew Writer. In order to prove Christ’s superiority to the angels this writer quotes Psalms 110:1 in asking—“To which of the angels has He ever said ‘Sit at my right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’” (Heb. 1:13).

2. Paul. To show the subtle promise of Christ in prophecy Paul in Galatians 3:16 points out—“He does not say ‘And to seeds’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed’ who is Christ.”

Because of the supreme authority that belongs to the Lord, it is absolutely essential that we who seek to please Him view His word as the bounds that restrict our conduct. When it comes to questions of worship, organization, or even church finances we must be careful not to—“Think beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6). Let’s remember what God told the Israelites; in order to—“Keep the commandment of the Lord your God” one must “Not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything away anything from it.” (Deut. 4:2). Let us strive to do the same.

 


 

Is Sprinkling or Pouring Baptism?
By Kyle Pope


When the Lord told Moses the second time how to secure water for the people he instructed him to “speak” to the rock. When Moses “struck” the rock instead (as he had been told to do the first time), he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because he did not “hallow” the Lord before the eyes of the children of Israel (see Exod. 17:1-7; Num. 20:1-13). It is obvious that striking is not the same action as speaking.

In the New Testament it is revealed that the gospel of Jesus Christ commands any who would come to Christ seeking salvation to—“...Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...” (Acts 2:38, NKJV). Jesus declared—“He who believes and is baptized will be saved;...” (Mark 16:16). The apostles taught—“...As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). Unfortunately, many in the religious world do exactly what Moses did when it comes to the matter of baptism as they teach that sprinkling or pouring is being “baptized.”

The word baptize is a verb. It describes an action. It is a word that has been brought into the English language from ancient Greek. Scholars almost universally acknowledge that the word means, “to immerse.” Consider a few examples of this:

“To dip repeatedly, dip under...” (Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon Abridged, 17th ed. 1880, 126).

To dip repeatedly, to immerge, submerge,... To cleanse by dipping or submerging...” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Joseph Henry Thayer, 94).

Dip, immerse...” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature by Walter Bauer, 130).

To dip, immerse; to cleanse or purify by washing...” (The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised by Harold Moulton, 65).

To make whelmed (i.e. fully wet)...” (A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament by James Strong, 18, no. 907).

Submerged...” – (Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament Illustrated from the Papyri and Other Non-Literary Sources by James Moulton and George Milligan, 102).

To dip in or under, to dye, to immerse, to sink, to drown, to bathe, to wash. In the New Testament... only in the literal sense...to dip... (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Geoffrey Bromiley, 92).

The action that this word describes is clear, it involves someone (or something) being overwhelmed (generally by water). The New Testament gives it’s own illustration of what the word means. Romans 6:4 speaks of being “buried with Him through baptism” then speaks of this in the next verse as “being united together in the likeness of His death” (Rom. 6:5). What action could be described as a “burial” and “the likeness of His death”? Immersion in water!

Is immersion the same action as sprinkling? Is immersion the same action as pouring? Those of us with children know that if we tell our children “go take a bath” and instead they sprinkle or pour water on their head they have not been obedient. The same is true when the religious world substitutes the distinct actions of sprinkling or pouring for immersion!

There are statements made in Scripture that can only make sense if immersion is what is being described. Consider the chart below:

Requirements of Each

Baptism

Immersion

Pouring

Sprinkling

Water (Acts 8:36)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Much Water (John 3:23)

Yes

No

No

A going down unto the water (Acts 8:36)

Yes

No

No

A going down into the water (Acts 8:38)

Yes

No

No

That both the baptizer and the one to be baptized go down into the water (Acts 8:38,39)

Yes

No

No

A burial (Romans 6:4)

Yes

No

No

A resurrection (Col. 2:12)

Yes

No

No

A birth (John 3:5)

Yes

No

No

Body washed (Heb.10:22)

Yes

No

No

A coming up out of the water (Acts 8:39, Matthew 3:16)

Yes

No

No

  

Given all the evidence, we must conclude that sprinkling and pouring are not “baptism” and are thus unscriptural substitutions for it. All who would seek to be obedient to the Lord must reject this human innovation and follow what the Lord had commanded in truth.


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