Keith Hunt - ALL ABOUT WATER BAPTISM Restitution of All Things


ALL ABOUT WATER BAPTISM
(Section One, Part A)

HOW SHOULD IT BE DONE, BY SPRINKLING, POURING, SPLASHING? WHEN
SHOULD IT BE DONE AND BY WHOM? WHERE SHOULD IT BE DONE? IS WATER
BAPTISM NECESSARY FOR SALVATION? THESE AND OTHER QUESTIONS WILL
BE ANSWERED AS WE LOOK AT THIS IMPORTANT DOCTRINE OF THE
CHRISTIAN CHURCH.

                             by

                         Keith Hunt


     Did you know that baptism is not just a New Testament(NT)
doctrine?  On one very specific and special occasion, thousands,
if not a few million, were baptized, so says your NT (see 1
Cor.10:1-2).  Israel was the "church in the wilderness" - the Old
Testament(OT) church of God (Acts 7:38).  It is written:
"Moreover, brethren, I would not that you should be ignorant, how
that our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the
sea.  And were all BAPTIZED unto Moses in the cloud and in the
sea."

             IS BAPTISM NECESSARY FOR SALVATION?

     We are saved by Christ's LIFE - His Spirit in us (Rom.5:10;
8:9,11). How do we RECEIVE that Spirit of life?  God inspired
Peter to tell us: ".....REPENT and be BAPTIZED.....and you shall
RECEIVE the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
     God is a God of principle and order. He lays down the rules.
He is the one in charge of things and not ourselves. He says His
thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways (Isa.55:8,9).  He
does require us to perform TWO basic things to be saved -
1) REPENT  2) BE BAPTIZED.  Then He says He will give us the
Spirit of LIFE that saves.
     John the Baptist knew Christ had no need to be baptized. But
what did Jesus say?  He said this: ".....Suffer it to be so now;
for thus it becomes us to fulfil ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Mat.3:15).
     You may ask: What is righteousness?  The Bible answers:
".....ALL thy COMMANDMENTS are RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Psalm 119:172).
     Being BAPTIZED is RIGHTEOUSNESS!  It is a COMMANDMENT of
God. Peter was inspired by God on that day of Pentecost to TELL
people WHAT TO DO when they asked him what they should do. 
Christ also set us an EXAMPLE that we should do as He did 
(1 Peter 2:21).
     Further, to the importance of this ordinance, we have more
words from Peter.  "Christ also has once suffered for sins, the
just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God; being put to
death in the flesh, but quickened(made alive) by the
Spirit......the LIKE FIGURE whereunto even BAPTISM does also NOW
SAVE US.......by the RESURRECTION of Christ" (1 Peter 3:18-21).
     
     Baptism is a command of God. It is part of His
righteousness.  Christ will not save anyone that He cannot rule
over!  "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should
reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me" (Luke
19:27).
     Christ only gives His SAVING Spirit to those who will OBEY
Him (Acts 5:32). 
     Baptism then IS NECESSARY for salvation or to be saved.  Not
that the act itself saves you, for no literal physical work can
save you, (as you are saved by grace through faith and not by
works - Eph.2:8-10), but REBELLING at the will and wish and
command of God earns for you DEATH (Rom.6:23).  A heart and
attitude of WILLFUL "no I will not do it God" puts you out of His
grace and into willful sin, which if not repented of will
eventually lead to the second death in the lake of fire.

     The question is then asked: What about the person who DIES
or is KILLED in an accident etc. BEFORE he/she can be baptized.
Are they then NOT saved?

     God looks upon the HEART, the attitude of mind. If an
individual has be called of God, chosen by God, and is truly
REPENTANT - understands what God basically requires of him, and
WANTS to conform to the will and commands of God, wants to be
BAPTIZED and REQUESTS(possibly they may even die before doing the
literal requesting, but they do so intend to do) to be baptized,
but before they are ACTUALLY baptized they die, God(who is the
one in charge of all things, and has permitted the person to die)
WILL NOT HOLD HIM GUILTY!
     The HEART and MIND of the individual concerned was RIGHT! 
They will be saved!  BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, if an individual
KNOWS what is the will of his Master - the Eternal God - and
STUBBORNLY REFUSES to do His will, then that is REBELLION; that
is SIN.  For to him who knows to do good and does it not, to him
it is sin (James 4:17).  God will never save such a willful
rebellious "snub your nose at God" sinner (Heb.10:26-31).

          BAPTISM - SPRINKLING, POURING, SPLASHING?

     What does the word "baptism" mean?  Here is what Strong's
Concordance of the Bible has to say: " 'Baptizo' from 'bapto' - a
prim verb; to whelm - i.e., cover wholly with a fluid."
     Please take the time to look up this Greek word in other
Greek Lexicons and Dictionaries.
     
     Now, does a few "sprinklings" or "dabbings" with water COVER
WHOLLY?  

     Let us look at the examples of the NT and see if we can find
HOW people were baptized.

     "And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway OUT OF
the water......" (Mat.3:16).
     "John did baptize......and there went out unto him all the
land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of
him IN the river Jordan......." (Mark 1:4,5).
     "And John also was baptizing in Aenon, near Salim, because
there was MUCH WATER there......" (John 3:23).
     "And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went
DOWN both INTO THE WATER, both Philip and the eunuch, and he
baptized him" (Acts 8:38).

     There is not one verse in the Bible that uses the words
"sprinkling, pouring, splashing, dabbing" in connection with
being baptized.  But we do find phrases like "went up.....out of
the water"  "baptized....in the river"  "much water there"  "went
down into the water."
     For a full in-depth technical study on this Greek word for
baptism, I refer you to the SECOND section of this study.

     If baptism could be done merely by "splashing" a few drops
of water over someone, you would not need "much water" and you
would not need a river.  The person doing the baptism in the
river would not have to go "down into the river" nor would the
one BEING baptized.  A cup or less of water from someone's house,
or well, or even the river, would do.  But we CANNOT find any
example, or indication, in God's word that baptism was done with
only a few drops of water.

     The word "baptism" means to COVER WHOLLY.  The examples in
Scripture show us that people were fully IMMERSED in water when
baptized.
     The THIRD section of this study will show you that for a
number of CENTURIES after the start of the NT church of God, even
the popular "Christianity" that became known as the Roman
Catholic Church BAPTIZED by COMPLETE IMMERSION in water, AND ONLY
MUCH LATER adopted their present practice of baptizing with a few
drops of water.

                   WHAT BAPTISM SYMBOLIZES

     Paul wrote in Col.2:12, "BURIED with Him in baptism, wherein
also you are RISEN with Him through the faith of the operation of
God, who has raised Him from the dead."
     Again Paul states: "Know you not, that so many of us that
were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His
death......" (going down under the water is symbolic of our dying
as Christ died. He died for our sins - the transgression of the
law of God, see 1 John 3:4; Rom.7:7.  We are saying that by going
under the waters that we will die to sin, that sin will no longer
rule us, and that we accept the death of Christ as our
reconciliatory sacrifice with God, see Rom.5:10; 6:12,14)
"Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism into death....."
(Rom.6:4).
     Yes, if we DID NOT come up out of the water we would drown -
DIE!  Baptism is AS IF we died - because in actual death we would
be free from sin.  We would not be able to sin.  So our sins -
past sins - sins committed up to the point of going under the
water - are cleansed away, FORGIVEN.  The slate is clean! 
Nothing now stops us from entering God's presence (Isa.59:8-9). 
And it is Christ's DEATH, His shed blood, that gives us
JUSTIFICATION (Rom.5:9).
     
     But Paul does not STOP with Christ's death, and our going
under the water to show we accept His sacrifice.  He goes on to
say, "That like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the
glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of
life....." 
(Coming up out of the watery grave symbolizes our acceptance that
we will live a new life, where sin no longer reigns but where
righteousness is our desire. Just as Christ was raised from the
dead and is now completely free from even the temptation to sin,
remember He did no sin, but was tempted as we are, see Heb.4:15. 
So our goal and desire is to live a sinless life)  ".....for if
we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we
shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: knowing this,
that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin
might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve
sin......"  (We are not to serve, obey the dictates of sin, the
breaking of the law of God)  ".....Likewise reckon you also
yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto
God......Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body......but
yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the
dead......" (Rom.6:1-13).

     Romans chapter six is one of the main sections of the
Scriptures that give us the MEANING of WATER BAPTISM.  I
recommend you read this chapter in some of the  modern
translations such as the Amplified Bible, Phillips, Living Bible,
and others. 

                 WHEN SHOULD WE BE BAPTIZED?

     
     As baptism is the recognizing of sin - that we have broken
God's law - that we are guilty before God - that we have incurred
the death penalty (Rom.3:23; 6:23) and only Christ's death - His
shed blood - can reconcile, justify us to God (Rom.3:19-25).  As
baptism is also declaring to God that you intend to put away sin
- to change your life from a life of going the opposite to God's
law - to a life of serving the Eternal in righteousness, which is
the keeping of the law (Rom.6:11-13; Ps.119:172).  As baptism
means ALL OF THIS, it should be plain to see that baptism is NOT
FOR SMALL CHILDREN OR INFANTS.

     Baptism is for people who KNOW exactly what it MEANS.  Who
can accept Christ as their PERSONAL Savior; who have COUNTED THE
COST (Mat.10:37-38; 19:16-27; 7:21-27; 13-14; 6:24; 5:17-20;
18:3-4; Mark 4:14-20; 10:28-30; Luke 6:46-49; 14:25-35).

     God gives us no SPECIFIC AGE as to when baptism should be
performed.  There is NO scripture that says: You must not baptize
anyone until age.....such and such.  The examples we have in the
NT are of ADULTS being baptized.  It must be remembered that
in Jewish culture you were an adult at the age of 12 years. 
Jesus at 12 was in the Temple doing "His Father's business" (as
He told His mother Mary) when His mother came looking for Him, as
He had not followed them to their home after observing the feast
of the Passover (Luke 2).
     Jesus never sinned, so it is written.  What He did on this
occasion was not dis- honoring His physical parents.  He was
regarded in their culture to be an adult, as He was now 12 years
old.  To us this may seem very strange and may seem to be still
very young, yet in a religious home as Jesus would have been
raised, the amount of maturity for a twelve year old would have
been considerably more than most average twelve year old
youngsters in our Western cultures.  Most marriages took place in
Jewish societies during the middle teenage years. It was counted
a family shame if a daughter was not married by the age of
eighteen.
     So under certain situations it is quite possible that a
teenager could be CALLED and CHOSEN by the Lord to His Spiritual
family and Kingdom.  Jeremiah was but a child (Jer.1:6-7) when
called by God.  The phrase is understood by some chronologists as
Jeremiah being in his teens when called.  
     In our Western Nations the average person does not reach
maturity of mind until in their late teens or early 20's as a
general rule of thumb, BUT like many other things there are
exceptions to the rule.  Each must be taken on an individual
basis.  Between Spirit filled parents(or parent if only one is
baptized) and the Elders of the church, knowing the youth,
studying the counting of the cost with the youth, praying and
even fasting about the situation, the Spirit of the Lord will
lead to ascertaining if this person is ready for baptism or not.

     After a person is brought by God to REPENTANCE (see 2
Tim.2:25; Acts 11:18), how long should they wait BEFORE they are
baptized?  The Ethiopian eunuch was brought to repentance and
belief in Christ as personal Savior with one sermon(of course
he was already a reader and observer of the word of God as best
he understood, as the context makes clear) by Philip.  And Philip
baptized him IMMEDIATELY (Acts 8:26-39).

     Peter said: "....Repent, and be (then after be)
baptized...." (Acts 2:38).  Baptism should take place in the life
of a mature adult, as soon as REAL REPENTANCE is clearly
discernable by those who are going to perform the ceremony or are
responsible for having others perform it (Paul he stated did not
baptize very many but others baptized those God called through
his teaching and preaching - see 1 Cor.1:14-17).

     The reader may want to request my in-depth study article on
the subject of REAL REPENTANCE.  It can be sent either via E-mail
or regular Post Office mail.

                 WHY SHOULD WE BE BAPTIZED?

     Peter was inspired to say on the Day of Pentecost (the day
that God poured out His Holy Spirit on the NT church - Acts
2:1-4),  "......Repent and be baptized every one of you......and
YOU shall receive the GIFT of the HOLY SPIRIT" (Acts 2:38).
     God is a God of ORDER.  He is not a God of CONFUSION (1
Cor.14:33).  He told the church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38) DO
THIS, and I will DO THIS for YOU!  Obey Him and He told them He
would  BLESS them!  If they DISOBEYED then they would NOT be
blessed, but would have CURSES! (Deut.28:1-68).
     God tells us through Peter - REPENT and be BAPTIZED, and
THEN I will give you the Holy Spirit.  THAT'S THE ORDER friends.
I did not write it. It's been in your Bible for nearly 2,000
years.  Those are the TWO basic and general CONDITIONS that God
lays down to receive His GIFT.  It is a one, two, three, general
process.  God does not leave it up to us to decide how we shall
receive His Spirit.  He PLAINLY TELLS us HOW!  All we can do is
either obey or not obey.  But He even tells us that He gives His
Spirit ONLY to those who have the heart and mind attitude of
OBEYING Him (Acts 5:32).

     Why do we need God's Spirit?  Paul answers: ".....Now if any
man HAS NOT the Spirit of Christ, he is NONE OF HIS.......If the
Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead DWELL IN YOU, He
that raised up Christ from the dead shall also QUICKEN(make
alive) your mortal bodies by His Spirit that DWELLS IN YOU"
(Rom.8:9-11).
     Unless we have God's Spirit IN us we CANNOT be saved, for we
are saved by His LIFE (Rom.5:10).
     God's Spirit is Christ IN US (living His life again within
us - His mind in us - Phil.2:5; Gal.2:20).  It is the POWER of
God to enable us to do His will (Acts 1:8).  It is God's LOVE
flowing from Himself and Christ into us.  It enables us to keep
His commandments (Rom.5:5; 1 John 5:3).  God's Spirit LEADS to
TRUTH (John 16:13).

     WE NEED TO BE BAPTIZED IN ORDER TO RECEIVE GOD'S SPIRIT, AND
SO BE SAVED (see also Acts 19:1-6).

                       A GOOD QUESTION

     Someone is bound to say: But what about Cornelius and the
Gentiles; did they not receive God's Spirit BEFORE being
baptized?

     Yes, they did!  But let's read the whole context and
understand the circumstances.  It will become plain to see that
God was telling Peter and the Jews that the Holy Spirit
was now available to EVERYONE - Jew and Gentile!  Remember, the
way of God, His covenants, promises, were ONLY given to Israel
under the OT (Rom.9:4).  A Gentile could become (under the old
covenant law) an Israelite by being circumcised, adopting
the religion of Israel and living among the nation of Israel. 
The Gentile nations as a whole, were NOT GIVEN God's truth or
ways or His Spirit(Eph.2:11-12), even in Israel, it was only the
few that were given God's Spirit (see Num.11).
     God was here, showing the Jews and the NT church that His
Spirit and Gospel was NOW to go to all the world (Acts 11:1-18;
Luke 24:46-47).  He told them this by sending down His Spirit on
those Gentiles in a somewhat similar manner as when He poured it
out upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost.
     This was a SPECIAL TIME in history.  It was a FIRST!  It had
to be SHOWN in a SPECIAL WAY.  Or shall I say, God chose to show
it in a special way.  God wanted Peter and the other Jews to
CLEARLY UNDERSTAND God's PLAN and purpose!
     Notice!  After the Lord poured His Holy Spirit on those
Gentiles, Peter STILL said they should be BAPTIZED! (verses
47-48).

     If God did, for a SPECIAL reason, (or for no special reason
but that He is God and can make exceptions to the norm if He
chooses), give His Spirit to an individual PRIOR to baptism -
that individual would STILL be commanded to be BAPTIZED.  That is
the CLEAR teaching in this example.  If he refused, it would be
proof that he really never did have God's Spirit in the first
place, but some other spirit from another spiritual power, that
is in REBELLION to the will and ways of the true Almighty God. 
For as we have before proved, those with the Spirit of God will
OBEY that God, just as Jesus did, who was baptized when He had no
need to be baptized, but He would as He said, fulfil all
righteousness.

     God's OVERALL teaching is - 99.9% of the time - a ONE, TWO,
THREE step!   REPENT,  BE BAPTIZED, THEN receive the Holy Spirit!
     Now, there is also a difference between God's Spirit LEADING
a person and God's Spirit being IN a person.  Everyone whom the
Lord calls to repentance and His truth is being LED by the Spirit
(1 Cor.2:11,14; 2 Tim.2:25).  But AFTER baptism God's Spirit is
IN (UNITED WITH, AS AN EGG AND SPERM BECOME UNITED IN HUMAN
REPRODUCTION) THAT PERSON (Rom.8:11). The person is BEGOTTEN
again (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3) by the resurrection and LIFE of
Christ. 

     This is, as I have stated, the OVERALL way of the Lord, BUT
as He is God, He can make EXCEPTIONS to the rule of things, or
the norm.  But in this we must be careful that we do not make the
exception  the rule, or the rule will become the exception, and
we will have turned black into white, and put the cart before the
horse. 

     We need to be baptized in order to receive the Spirit of God
that is the LIFE of God, that IN us will give us the gift of
Eternal life in the Kingdom and family of our heavenly Father.

               BY WHOM SHOULD WE BE BAPTIZED?

     Jesus Christ did not baptize one single soul!!  "The Lord
knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized
more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself baptized NOT, but
His disciples)" (John 4:1-2).  
     Paul only baptized a relatively few!!  ".....for Christ sent
me NOT TO BAPTIZE, but to preach the Gospel" (1 Cor.1:17).

     When Christ's disciples were baptizing they were doing it by
His authority. They were His agents, acting on His behalf.  They
were students of Christ - His followers - His servants.  It was
yes, a different situation then, than now, for at that time the
Holy Spirit had not come to fill them. They were technically
unconverted in one sense of the word (Luke 22:31-32; John
16:7-13; Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4). Yet they were in heart and attitude
committed to the Lord(all except Judas who betrayed Him). 
     The IMPORTANT thing for us to see from all this is that the
person DOING the baptizing represents God to the very best of
their knowledge and understanding at the time. That they DO IT in
the name of or by the authority of, Jesus Christ. That they, and
the one being baptized,  realize it is really Jesus doing the
baptizing but through a human person.  And of course that the one
baptizing does it in the basic CORRECT way, as we have seen, by
complete IMMERSION in water.

     The BAPTISM itself is the MAIN issue and not so much as to
which sincere Spirit filled(coming now to the present, after the
day of Pentecost of Acts 2) person actually performs the rite on
the one desiring to be baptized.
     This then should answer a lot of questions such as: It the
person who baptized me should loose their faith, is my baptism
valid?  
     Quite frankly no human can know what another human may do 5,
10, 20 etc. years from now. God only knows such things.  Your
repentance, conversion, and baptism is NOT dependant on any human
individual.  It only is dependant on the Eternal, and we need to
be ever thankful that that is the truth of the matter.  The
person doing the baptism is not to be looked at in some special
way as being tied to your person relationship with God in heaven.

It is God and Christ that you need ALWAYS to look at from the
beginning to the end, and that will then include your baptism.
     The age of the person doing the baptizing, their height,
their physical looks, their color of hair,  the color of their
skin,  and whatever else about them is physical, is NOT
important.  What IS important is REPENTANCE in the heart of the
one being baptized, and that they are being baptized as an
outward sign to God that they are willing to die to sin and live
to righteousness, as they accept the sacrifice of Christ Jesus.

               IN WHOSE NAME IS BAPTISM DONE?

     Should you be baptized in God the Father's name only?  Or
should it only be in Christ's name?  Maybe some would argue it
should be in only the Holy Spirit's name (although I've never met
any such persons).   Or should baptism be performed with a
combination of the above three names?

     Some of the scriptures on this are:

     ".....Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of
Jesus Christ......" (Acts 2:38).
     "......And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of
the Lord" (Acts 10:48).
     "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the
Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:5).

     There are to be sure a number of such scriptures as the
above in the NT.

     Then there is:  "Go you therefore, and teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Spirit" (Mat.28:19).
     Those words were spoken by Jesus, personally.  The debate
and arguing in the churches of God over the years concerning this
question of "in whose name"  has been long and vociferous at
times.  Some want to pit one set of scriptures against others. 
Some want to say Matthew 28:19 was not in the original Greek. 
Still others want to take the majority of verses, so Matthew
28:19 is relegated to the trash pile.
     I have found the harmonizing of all the verses not really
that difficult.  It is quite simple to retain them all and come
up with a basic baptism formula that covers all the bases.  Here
is what I will say(after I have possibly said other things) to
the person being baptized, if I'm officiating the ceremony.

     "As you have confessed that you repent of your sins.  As you
have confessed that you have accepted Christ as your personal
Savior, confessed that His shed blood cleanses you of sin.  As
you have confessed that you desire to die to sin and live to
righteousness, to follow in the steps of Jesus, I now baptize you
in the name of, which is by the authority of, Jesus Christ, into
the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

                   THE LAYING ON OF HANDS

     After the disciples were scattered abroad, Philip went down
to Samaria and preached Christ unto them. Many indeed BELIEVED
and were baptized (Acts 8:4-12).  Yet when Peter and John came
from Jerusalem to them, they discovered that the Holy Spirit had
not come upon any of them.  Notice what is written in verses
15-17.

     "Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they
might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet he was fallen upon none
of them: only they were baptized in name of the Lord Jesus). 
Then LAID THEY THEIR HANDS UPON THEM; and they received the Holy
Spirit."
     Here we have people being baptized, correctly I might add,
for not one word is said about it not being performed incorrectly
up to a certain point.  Then we are told that when Peter and John
prayed and laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came into them.  

     Another example is found in Acts 19:1-6.

     ".....Paul.....finding certain disciples, said unto them:
Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?  And they
said unto him: We have not so much as heard whether there be any
Holy Spirit.  And he said to them: Unto what then were you
baptized?  And they said: Unto John's baptism.  Then said Paul:
John truly baptized with the baptism unto repentance, saying unto
the people that they should believe on Him which should 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 HIS HANDS UPON THEM, the Holy Spirit came on them......."
     
     I see no other reason than that these examples as given to
us so that we might know that a very important part of the
baptism ceremony and rite, is that after those being put under
the water have come up from the grave(in type), prayers and the
laying on of the hands of those who have gone before and in whom
dwells the Spirit, is also to be performed, for the receiving of
the Holy Spirit.

             WHERE SHOULD A PERSON BE BAPTIZED?

     Baptism is the complete cover of the person being baptized
by water.  This is the important thing; not WHERE it takes place!
     The COLOR of the water is not important.  The TEMPERATURE of
the water is not important(unless it must be a certain
temperature for health reasons).  It does not matter to God if a
person is baptized in the sea, in a lake, in a swimming pool, in
a deep bathtub, or in a 50 gallon drum, as long as they are
completely immersed in the water for a few seconds.
     The PLACE and the CONTAINER of water is unimportant to God.

            ARE SOME BAPTISMS VALID BEFORE COMING
          INTO THE SABBATH KEEPING CHURCHES OF GOD?

     This can be a large topic, covering many points, and it is
not the purpose of this article to go into detail answering all
the ramifications that could be argued.  I think we
can condense the answer to a few sentences.
     God is the one who calls a person to Himself and to His
truths.  He is looking for a heart attitude in the main.  A heart
attitude of humility and repentance, one that says I want to do
all your will Lord. I want to be led by your Spirit, I want to
obey your commandments, I desire to put away sin, and to live and
follow after righteousness. I desire to grow in grace and
knowledge, to be taught and to be corrected.  
     This is what God is looking for. Then He will lead and teach
and correct error AS HE SEES FIT AND WHEN HE SEES FIT.  There is
no one who can claim 100% knowledge and truth of God's WAY and
PERFECTNESS upon their baptism(outside of course Jesus Christ
when He was human).  No one!  We must all GROW in spiritual
knowledge as we are led by the Spirit into all truth.
     Can God call someone say in the Sunday observing churches,
who sincerely believes Sunday is the 7th day, or is the NT
Sabbath, and observes it accordingly, thinking they are obeying
the 4th commandment.  Can God call them, see their attitude
of mind is correct,  given them His Holy Spirit upon correctly
being baptized, and leave them for A TIME in their blindness to
the Sabbath truth, only to reveal it at a later date to them? 
Yes, I believe God can!  Well, God of course can do anything, for
nothing is impossible for Him, as it is written.  So we should
say, has God done such a thing at times?  I think He has!
     There are, as I've stated before, EXCEPTIONS to the rule. 
Could the question I pose and the answer I've given be an
exception to the general rule?  I believe so.  Please do not
misunderstand.  The Lord will never leave someone He has called
and chosen and given His Spirit to, in sin as concerning His TEN
Commandment law.  He will at some point REVEAL to them their
error, so they can do as the Scriptures admonish, and that
is "become you therefore perfect as your Father in heaven is
perfect" and "grow in grace and knowledge of your Lord and Savior
Christ Jesus."
     Each of these previous baptisms of  persons must be taken
and judged on an individual basis. Time, prayer, meditation,
seeking God's direction and answer to such questions, will net
the desired result for each person coming from that background.
Some, may only need the laying on of hands(it may never have been
done at their baptism).

               SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS AND BAPTISM

     The young person or adult who was raised in an environment
of righteousness (in a God-fearing family or church) sometimes
has more trouble coming to deep repentance than those who came up
in the "dirt and mire" as we say.  They have been "good people"
have they not?  So what does real repentance mean to them, or how
do they understand what it is?  

     The life of Job will I think help us here.  Immediately, in
the very first verse it is said that Job was BLAMELESS and
UPRIGHT, someone who FEARED God and SHUNNED EVIL!  Wow, now that
is righteousness for you!  In verse eight God even said to Satan
that Job was blameless.  No other man alive was like him.  Satan
answered that it PAID Job to be so - he had nothing but good
things.  If those "things" were taken away Satan said, then Job
would curse God.  So the Lord allowed the Devil to strip Job of
most of his physical goods, 
     Ah, Job did not do what Satan expected him to do.  And God
still called Job blameless in chapter 2:3.
     Then the Devil was allowed to inflict physical pain on Job;
but he still did not sin with his lips (verses 4-10).
     Job's three friends finally came along and tried to accuse
Job of being a sinner, of clandestinely keeping a great sin
hidden somewhere in his closet. They wanted him to pull it out
and confess it to the whole world, but Job answered them one by
one and showed he was not practicing some secret sin (chapters
4-31). Just look at the righteousness of Job. He would put most
Christians of today to utter shame if they tried to compare
themselves against his standards and righteousness.

     Job never took a bribe (chap.6:22).
     He never committed violence (16:17).
     His prayers were pure (16:17). 
     Job obeyed all of God's commandments (23:11-12).
     He never lied or was deceitful (27:4).
     His heart was clean - it never condemned him (27:6).
     Job helped the poor and fatherless (29:12).
     He helped the widows, the blind, the lame, etc. (29:13-15).
     Job never lusted after a woman (31:1)

     More of Job's righteousness is listed in chapter 31.  He was
in human terms indeed blameless!  God never once said Job lied or
was wrong in claiming to be righteous.  Job was probably the most
perfectly righteous person, next to Christ, who ever lived.
     
     Now, you who have been raised in a God fearing manner, can
anyone say they have NEVER lied, or spoken untruth, never been
angry without cause, never been disobedient or rebellious against
their parents, never been deceitful, never lusted in their mind,
never broken the Sabbath day?  Can you say your heart has never
condemned you?  Have you always been kind, polite, thoughtful,
self-controlled, thankful, giving and serving?  Can you say you
have NEVER had jealousies, resentment, and revenge in your
mind and heart against someone?
     Can you really say with Job, you are BLAMELESS?  I think
maybe not!

     If you are honest with yourself you will have to admit you
are not even close to being what Job was, let alone the perfect
Christ.  And good old Job, well he was not perfect either. For
within and among all his wonderful righteousness he had never
really seen the TRUE PERFECT ALMIGHTY GOD of this universe.
     A fourth friend of Job's finally spoke up and hit the nail
on the head, took the two by four plank and struck him between
the eyes with it.  He showed Job how GREAT GOD WAS and how
little, weak, puny, and insignificant was Job and all mankind
when compared with the Eternal God (chapters 32-37).
     Afterwards, God Himself stepped in and really laid it on Job
(chap.38-41).  The Lord with His Spirit HUMBLED Job;  brought him
to DEEP REPENTANCE!  God helped him come to really SEE with
spiritual insight the AWESOMENESS and PERFECT HOLINESS of  the
one who created all things.  Job came to see very clearly that
all HIS personal righteousness was nothing but FILTHY RAGS when
placed next to the PERFECT POWER, MIGHT, GRACE, WISDOM, and
JUSTNESS of the God of heaven. 

     Job came to the point, as we all must do(if we want to be
saved), where he could say:  "I have heard of you (only) by the
hearing of the ear; BUT NOW my (spiritual) eye SEES YOU. 
Therefore, I LOATHE (my words) and ABHOR myself, and REPENT in
dust and ashes" (Job 42:5,6  Amplified Bible).

     When you get to that point.  When God has given you REAL
REPENTANCE, then you are ready to be BAPTIZED!

               .............................



                   Part  B  follows  next 



                      THE LAYING ON OF
                            HANDS

     One of the principle foundation doctrines of Christ is the
doctrine of "the laying on of hands" (Heb.6:2).  In this study we
shall only concern ourselves with the laying on of hands as it
relates to the receiving of the Holy Spirit in the ordinance of
Baptism.
     There are only THREE clear passages in the NT that connects
the laying on of hands with the receiving of the Holy Spirit, 
They are:  ACTS 8:14-19;  9:10-18;  19:1-7. 
     It is debatable whether the passage in 2 Tim.1:6-7 is
referring to receiving the Holy Spirit or the special gift given
to Timothy through the Eldership (see the Bible Commentaries).

     Let us look at the THREE passages in the book of Acts.

ACTS 8:14-19

     Philip had recently been set apart by the multitude of the
disciples and 12 apostles as one of the "diakonos" (Acts 6:1-7). 
After the persecution in Jerusalem and the scattering of the
church there, he went down to Samaria and preached Christ to
them.  Many believed and were baptized.  The apostles sent Peter
and John to serve and help.  Coming, they found that the Holy
Spirit had not yet come upon these newly baptized persons.  How
they knew this is not related to us.  Why had they not yet
received the Holy Spirit?  They had been baptized in the name of
Jesus!
     From the context of what happened, it would seem that Philip
did not understand that he should have laid his hands on them. 
Notice verse 17, "Then LAID THEY THEIR HANDS UPON THEM, and they
RECEIVED the Holy Spirit."
     It would seem Philip's understanding was limited at this
time. He knew HOW to baptize and WHY to baptize, but he did not
know about the laying on of hands.

     Surely, this specific incident is recorded for OUR
INSTRUCTION today, so we might see that the "laying on of hands"
is a PART of the baptism ceremony to receive the Holy Spirit.



ACTS 9:10-18

     Ananias is sent by God to restore the sight to Paul or Saul
and to BAPTIZE him.  He is shown by God in a vision to "put his
hands on him" so Saul might receive his sight again (verse 12). 
But notice verse 17 and what else is added to this "putting his
hands on him" - the receiving or being filled with the Holy
Spirit! A second example recorded for us of the "laying on of
hands" in connection with  being filled with God's Spirit.

ACTS 19:1-7

     Paul came to Ephesus and found disciples who had not even
heard about the Holy Spirit.  They had been baptized under John
the baptist's ministry.  Paul revealed to them the baptism of
Jesus Christ as the true Christian baptism; and they were
baptized accordingly.  Verse six says, "And when Paul had laid
his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them."

     The above three recorded examples should be enough for God's
children to realize and understand that the doctrine of the
"laying on of hands" is an important part of baptism and the
receiving of the Spirit of God.

                WHEN SHOULD HANDS BE LAID ON?

     Should the laying on of hands be done BEFORE or AFTER
baptism?

     In Acts, chapter 8 and 19, the example given is that of the
laying on of hands AFTER baptism.
     In Acts 9 Ananias laid hands on Paul BEFORE baptism.  But it
is plain to see that in this case the laying on of hands had a
dual purpose.  It was also to restore Saul's sight.  It would be
much easier to baptize a person with his vision than as a blind
man. 
     Of course he may have laid hands on Paul again after
baptizing him, but the record does not inform us of this.

     Two out of three of these examples are AFTER
baptism........yet, these three examples do show us that God is
FLEXIBLE.  He is not bound by strict RITUALISTIC service in
certain special circumstances.
                                     
               WILL THE HOLY SPIRIT BE GIVEN 
              WITHOUT THE LAYING ON OF HANDS?

     In Acts 8 the people of Samaria did BELIEVE.  They had
REPENTED and they had accepted Jesus Christ.  God's Spirit had
worked WITH them - opened up their minds, given them repentance
(2 Peter 3:9; Rom.2:4).  It had led them to the truth about
salvation and Christ (John 16:13; 6:44,65; 16:7-8).  They were
baptized CORRECTLY! But until they had HANDS LAID ON THEM the
Holy Spirit did not unite with their minds(verse 17).  It was
still WITH them but not IN them.  That is the only way this
passage in Acts can be understood, for it plainly says that they
received NOT (as a begettal) the Holy Spirit until they had had
the laying on of hands.
     But Cornelius and others received the Holy Spirit BEFORE
baptism and the laying on of hands (Acts 10:44-48), some will
say.......and yes, indeed that is so!  What this shows is that
God is NOT BOUND BY STRICT RITUAL.  He is FLEXIBLE!  When He
decides, for whatever reason He decides!  
     This was SPECIAL - Cornelius was the FIRST Gentile to
receive the Holy Spirit.  There CAN BE EXCEPTIONS to the general
rule.  God is in charge of His plan of Salvation, not mankind. 
So, exceptions yes, but the overall rule and instruction stays as
is: 1) Repent  2) be Baptized (which includes the laying on of
hands)  3) YOU SHALL RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT (Acts 2:38).

     Question:  If the person doing the baptism does not lay
hands on the one being baptized, and if the one being baptized
does not know about the doctrine of the laying on of hands, but
has repented and accepted Jesus as their personal savior, will
God withhold begetting them with His Spirit, uniting the Spirit
with their minds?

     Answer:  That question cannot with any firmness (by the
examples recorded) be answered in the positive or the negative.
GOD MAKES THAT DECISION!

     Yet, anyone coming LATER to the truth about the "laying on
of hands" should take Peter's admonition to Cornelius and the
others in Acts 10:4 and re-phrase it something like this:  "Can
any man forbid that these should not have the laying on of hands
as we did?"

                  WHO CAN PERFORM BAPTISM 
                 AND THE LAYING ON OF HANDS?

     Is it only SPECIAL people, or only those "ordained" to the
Eldership or Deaconship, who can baptize and lay hands upon
someone to receive the Holy Spirit? 
     I may SHOCK some of you reading this, but I will challenge
anyone to find the NT scripture that gives plain instructions
that it is only an "ordained" person who can baptize and lay
hands on another to receive the Holy Spirit.  Get looking for it,
search the scriptures daily, see if you can find any such
teaching or instruction.  Paul sure had lots of space to write
such dogma in his 14 epistles, but he never wrote one word about
it being ONLY ordained persons that could baptize and lay hands
on people to receive the Holy Spirit.  And none of the other
writers of the NT did either ! 

     Philip, in Acts 8, did not lay hands upon those people he
baptized not because he was not qualified, but because he DID NOT
KNOW he should do so!  That knowledge had not been made known to
him until Peter and John came down from Jerusalem to explain it
to him and to those he had baptized.
     Philip went on after this experience and explanation to
BAPTIZE the Ethiopian eunuch and, now knowing what he knew, he
would have also laid his hands on him (Acts 8:26-39).  Philip was
a servant of God.  He had the gift of God's Spirit.  Was he
qualified to pass on that gift to someone else?  The eunuch went
on his way back to Ethiopia as a baptized Spirit filled child of
God.  Philip was qualified as a true child of God to pass on that
gift of God's Holy Spirit!

     But some may say: Philip was ordained to the "diakonos"
(Acts 6:1-7) and so could perform the laying on of hands and
baptism to receive the Holy Spirit.
     What about the eunuch then?  Are we to suppose he never
shared his faith with anyone in Ethiopia?  Are we to suppose that
God never used him in that part of the world to bring others to
Christ?  Hardly now, it certainly would not seem logical to so
reason.  It is I submit more logical to believe that God had
Philip taken to this eunuch to baptize him (and so receive the
Holy Spirit) so that God could use him to bring others to
repentance and salvation in Ethiopia and other parts of the
African continent.  It is again unrealistic to think that those
brought to baptism in Ethiopia would have to wait for the
laying on of hands by the ordained ministry in Jerusalem.  It is
far more realistic to view this eunuch as a chosen vessel in the
hands of the Lord to spread the Gospel in Ethiopia, to baptize
and lay hands on those whom God would call to receive His Spirit.

     This is all SPECULATION, someone will shout.  Well, let me
show you an example that is part of God's word - no speculation!

     We have referred to this passage already - Acts 8:10-18, but
many MISS an important teaching and lesson from this example,
concerning WHO can baptize and pass on the gift of the Holy
Spirit.

     Notice.........Paul was indeed baptized and received the
gift of the Spirit of God (verses 17,18).  WHO baptized and laid
hands upon him?  Why, it was ANANIAS.  Now, WHO was Ananias? 
Look in your Bible Dictionaries or Bible Hand books.  VERY little
is known about him!  Was he called an "apostle" ?  No!  Was he
called an "evangelist"?   No!   Was he called a "prophet"?  No! 
Was he called a "deacon"?  No! What was he called then?  
     Verse 10,  "And there was a certain DISCIPLE at Damascus."

     Ananias is mentioned ONLY as a "disciple."  He was a
FOLLOWER of Christ; a child of God.  The Greek word here used for
"disciple" is the SAME one used EVERYWHERE in the NT for
"disciple" and means, literally:  "a learner (from "manthano"
to learn, from a root "math" - indicating thought accompanied by
endeavor).  Hence, it denotes one who follows one's teaching, as
the disciples of John, Mat.9:14;  of the Pharisees, Mat.22:16; 
of Moses, John 9:28.  It is used of the disciples of Jesus"
(Vine's Dictionary of NT Words, page 308).

     Now, an apostle is a disciple of Jesus, as is any of the
ordained Ministry or Eldership.  But as NO OTHER DISTINGUISHING
remark is made of Ananias other than that he was a "disciple" in
Damascus, the FIRST and most important logical understanding is
that he was a FOLLOWER - a baptized Spirit filled child of God,
who held no other function or ordained position in the church of
God.
     It was he whom the Lord chose to baptize and lay hands upon
Paul, a man whom the Eternal would greatly use to do His work.

     Summary:  A person that has himself been baptized, had the
laying on of hands, and is filled with the Spirit of God is
qualified, and can be used by that same God to pass on His gift
of the Holy Spirit to other repentant believers.

               .........................

First written in 1983.  Re-written and revised in June 1997.

 
Navigation List