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Some more thoughts on water baptism

Tuesday October 03, 2017 Published in Letters to the Editor

Kia orana to all our people in the precious name of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ.

 

I write in response to a paid advertisement in CINews, dated September 29. I thank my good friend Lewis E Manuwal for his advertisement, research and findings on water baptism. However, there are a few lines that are of great concern to me.

1. Let the Word of God speak for itself. The Bible is its own defence in terms of hermeneutics (the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation) and exegesis (critical explanation or interpretation of a text) apart from history, commentary and theological studies by scholars. We must not forget that word study is mostly important, because it will take us to the very depth and root meaning of the word.

2.There is no salvation in baptism. Our salvation is only in Christ Jesus by faith, it is not of works, (baptism) otherwise we will boast about it. Referring to 1 Peter 3:21, I believe that Peter is referring to the Old Testament context of the flood in Genesis. In the first part of verse 21, it says, “The like figure….” This refers not to the flood water, because it was not the flood water that saved the eight persons in the ark, but it was the ark that saved them. Those outside the ark perished and were taken away by the flood waters. And it did not put away the filth and depravity from them because later on, Noah got drunk.

3. Even the very words of Jesus in Mark 16:16, only the first part of the verse is quoted, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved….” Be mindful of the second part of the text which says, “…but he that believeth not shall be damned” It is faith that matters most in this text.

4.In John 3:5, it says, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God….” The “water” here does not refer to water baptism. In verse 6, it says “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” Jesus made it clear, and it is self-explained.

5.There is also the mention of infant baptism in the Bible. Yes, I do agree that the Bible does not mention infant baptism but we must be aware of the Abrahamic Covenant with regards to circumcision.

6.Sprinkling on the other hand is what some says refers to baptism, but sprinkling in a practical sense is not carried. The word closer in meaning is the word bapto, which is the root word of baptism and it means “to dip”.

7.Sprinkling or “rantizo” is a beautiful word and it is also a Biblical word used in Jewish rituals mostly in the Old Testament and also in the Book of Hebrews 9:13 – 15, 19 – 22.

8.Still speaking of Sprinkling, the Hebrew word is zaraq which means to sprinkle fluid or solid particles, or to scatter. According to the Septuagint (which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament), the word for sprinkling is rano and it is clear in Ezekiel 36:25, that it refers to cleansing and purification ordained upon Israel. We should not be surprised because the Old Testament that we hold in our hands today is a translation of the Hebrew Bible or Torah into Greek.

9.Baptism is not only a New Testament term. It was also a term used in the Old Testament for various occasions like: washing, bathing, dipping, soaking, putting under water or any fluid whether it be water or coloured fluid like dye. It is also used for ceremonial purposes and for medical reasons.

In 2 Kings 5:10, we read the story of Naaman coming to the Man of God for healing of his leprousy only to be told to go and wash in the Jordan seven times. The word wash in Hebrew is rachats, which also is the equivalent of baptism. As a man of authority, it took time to persuade him to go and wash until alas, he was completely healed. He later returned to man of God to offer him gifts as reward but the man would not accept it. He made this remarkable testimony that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel. Naaman blessed him and sent him away in peace.

In conclusion, whether baptism is commissioned in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit or the Name of Jesus or the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t really matter. In the Book of Acts, we saw the new believers baptised in the Name of James but we must also be aware that the Godhead was also involved in the baptismal act.

We cannot separate the three of them. Let me finish with these words: “You can go into the water a dry sinner and come out a wet sinner”

            Blessings to you all,

            Rev. Vakaroto Ngaro

            Ekalesia Avarua