Christian Baptism for the New World Society
“We will walk in his [Jehovah’s] paths.”—Mic. 4:2, AS.
1. Should each one now making a dedication to Jehovah be immersed? Does this include the “other sheep” of the Lord?
IN THIS and the preceding issue of The Watchtower much has been set out concerning dedication to Jehovah and baptism in symbol thereof. Here the discussion is further developed. On the basis of what has gone before, should the “other sheep” of the Lord Jesus be baptized? (John 10:16) The answer to this question is, Yes. All who make a dedication to do God’s will should be immersed in evidence thereof, and this includes those who find themselves thereafter members of the Lord’s “other sheep,” the “great crowd,” the class with earthly hopes of everlasting life. (Rev. 7:9) They wish to carry out all that is righteous. Immersion for them is proper to that end, even as stated by Jesus concerning his baptism, at Matthew 3:15. That these worshipers of Jehovah now being gathered make a dedication individually is proved by, among other scriptures, the ancient prophecy of Micah. “Many nations shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Mic. 4:1-5, AS) That shows devotion to God, dedication, to “walk in his paths.” It is necessary here to observe the matter of procedure to enable us to be certain that we perform baptism in the proper way.
SPRINKLE, POUR OR DIP?
2. What forms of application of water are advocated in orthodox religions today?
2 A common orthodox view of baptism is as expressed here: “By the present authorized ritual of the Latin Church, baptism must be performed by a laving of the head of the candidate. It is pointed out that “water must flow, not merely touch.” Further “the very word ‘baptize’, as we have seen, means a washing. Three forms of ablution have prevailed among Christians, and the Church holds them all to be valid because they fulfill the requisite signification of the baptismal laving. These forms are immersion, infusion, and aspersion. The most ancient form usually employed was unquestionably immersion. . . . In the Latin Church, immersion seems to have prevailed until the twelfth century.”—The Catholic Encyclopedia.
3. Does the word “baptize” mean “to wash”? What does it mean?
3 Orthodoxy allows the carrying of the washing idea to such an extreme that it can be performed upon unborn babes! The question does arise, then, as to the propriety of pouring or sprinkling in contrast with immersing or dipping, and so it must be observed that the pattern Jesus set was that of immersion. The meaning of baptize is not to wash, but rather to immerse or to dip. This is proved by the Scriptures in all references to Christian water baptism and also in other uses of the word “baptize.” Sprinkling or pouring may meet the requirements of orthodox religion that views baptism as a sacrament (which it is not), because it lays emphasis upon its doctrine of washing. However, the Bible shows the significance of the Christian baptism to be a symbol of dedication, burial to one’s former course and a raising to doing the will of Jehovah. Only immersion could thus symbolize it.
4. In what way do “death” and “buried” prove the meaning of the word “baptize”?
4 It is important to observe that our word “baptism” is from the Greek báptisma meaning immersion, dipping, submerging. In the case of the Christian baptism in symbol of dedication it means an immersion in water. In the Bible are also many references made to immersion and dipping that do not refer to the Christian baptism in water in symbol of dedication. For instance, we would not think of a person’s being just slightly sprinkled with death, and yet, in Romans 6:3, 4, Paul speaks of Christians’ being baptized into the death of Christ Jesus and also being buried in his baptism. When one is literally buried he is not sprinkled with a little bit of dirt nor does he have a little dirt poured on him, but he is covered with it. So it is in going down in the death of Christ Jesus.
5. How do other scriptures confront us with the fact that the Bible teaches only total immersion?
5 We have observed how Jesus was immersed in the Jordan and in John 3:23 it is pointed out that there was a great quantity of water where John the immerser was doing his baptizing. Observe, too, the action of an early Christian convert. “‘Look! a body of water; what prevents me from getting baptized?’ . . . they both went down into the water, . . . and he baptized him. When they had come up out of the water, . . . he went traveling.” (Acts 8:36, 38, 39, NW) Many more Bible examples can be cited. One is a reference to the scripture at Exodus 12:22 (NW): “And you must take a bunch of hyssop and dip it into the blood in a basin.” The word “dip” referring to the immersing of the bunch of hyssop into the blood in the basin is translated in the Greek Septuagint Version by the Greek word baptein, meaning “immerse” or “baptize.” (NW, footnote) We are confronted with the fact that the Scriptures teach baptism by total immersion, and with the further fact that the practice of sprinkling and pouring in religious “baptism” is an invention of men and is not authorized by the Bible. The Catholic Encyclopedia states that the Bible is not the sole authority but that tradition in the matter of the so-called “sacraments” must be relied upon. Of course, they must rely upon tradition for support in this issue, because the Word of God does not support them.
6. While “baptize” always means immersion, is it sometimes used in the Bible with reference to other than water immersion?
6 The word “baptize” is also used with reference to immersion in God’s holy spirit through Christ Jesus of those who are called to be members of the body of Christ. (Acts 1:5; 2:1-4, 32, 33, NW) The word “baptize” is also used, not with reference to the immersion in water in symbol of dedication, but with reference to being made a member of the body of Christ, “immersed” in him as such. (1 Cor. 12:12, 13; Gal. 3:27, 28; Eph. 4:4, 5) In regard to being plunged into Christ’s death, the word “baptize” is used at Mark 10:38, 39; Luke 12:50; Romans 6:3, 4; 1 Corinthians 15:29, and Colossians 2:12. So, not every time that the word “baptize” is found in the Bible does it refer to water immersion of Christians. It is necessary for us to know what the passage of Scripture is discussing, what the context is showing and the point that is being made. That is the way we read any publication. We must not allow ourselves to be misled by human tradition from the teachings of God’s Word. Note too that overwhelming fiery destruction from Jehovah upon his enemies is represented as a baptism with fire.—Matt. 3:11, 12; Luke 3:16, 17, NW.
7. To summarize at this point, what about dedication and baptism?
7 It is hoped that the discussion of the matter of dedication and baptism to this point has been made clear. To summarize: You should make a dedication to Jehovah God. You should symbolize that dedication by the act of obedience of being baptized in water before witnesses of others of Jehovah’s people. Now, after dedication, what is required?
8. Repeat Jesus’ words at Matthew 28:19, 20. Are they a sacramental formula? What do they show?
8 Some say that Jesus’ words at Matthew 28:19, 20 are a formula to be repeated in substance at the time of immersion and that the repetition of these very words accomplishes some sacramental purpose. That is not the case. Rather, these words of instruction by Jesus to his disciples show what is now required of dedicated ones and what can be expected of them. The words are: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.”—NW.
9. Being ‘baptized in the name of the Father’ shows what as to the one to whom the dedication has been made?
9 “In the name of the Father,” most certainly, because the dedication itself is to the Father, Jehovah God. To be baptized in his name means to have made a dedication to him, to be baptized in symbol of that dedication in full recognition of his office, supremacy and his authority as the Most High. As expressed by our Leader: “I am come . . . to do your will, O God.” (Heb. 10:7, NW) The dedicated one approaches Jehovah through Christ Jesus, and “he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Heb. 11:6, NW) Jesus himself stated: “Father, let your name be sanctified.” “I have come in the name of my Father.” “The works which I am doing in the name of my Father, these bear witness about me.”—Luke 11:2; John 5:43; John 10:25, NW.
10. The Father requires what of one baptized in his name?
10 It is expected of the dedicated one that he will uphold the cause of the Father, the cause of true worship, will preach in honor of the Word and name of Jehovah God, will fully bear his responsibilities as a minister, a preacher in the field service from house to house, and otherwise participate fully in the activities of the New World society, to advance the proclamation of the Kingdom and uphold the true worship of Jehovah. The dedicated one must be a house-to-house witness as was Christ Jesus and the apostles to the extent of his ability, and must otherwise be a witness and announcer of the theocratic kingdom of righteousness. It is God’s will that the dedicated one continually study his Word, that such one preach his word and that such one progress in righteousness. The dedicated one is in a personal relationship to God; his integrity to Jehovah must follow.
11. One ‘baptized in the name of the Father’ will do what respecting the New World society organization?
11 Even as the love of righteousness was an essential precedent to his turning to Jehovah in the first place, so the love of righteousness must continue with him to keep him in the way of integrity, faithful to his dedication vows. That means that he will keep the New World society clean, upright and at unity. He will take care of difficulties between himself and any other individual in the New World society in a Scriptural way, will do no wrong that affects the congregation and its service, and will accept private reproof, and, if given, public reproof from his fellow servants in the New World society, the theocratic organization. He will not engage in doctrinal uncleanness, in moral uncleanness or in troublemaking. He will, in all of these and in other matters, private and ministerial, endeavor to conform to the will of the heavenly Father in whose name he has been baptized and to whom his dedication has been made.
12. The Son has what name?
12 “Baptizing them in the name . . . of the Son.” The very act of baptism is following the example set by the Son who thus symbolized his dedication to Jehovah. He is the proper one to follow because, as his heavenly Father states: “Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples.” (Isa. 55:4, AS) “God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:9-11, NW) This high office Christ Jesus fills, and to be baptized in his name is in recognition of this, appreciating the authority that he exercises by Jehovah’s appointment. As stated at Revelation 19:16 (NW): “He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
13. Being ‘baptized in the name of the Son’ means what?
13 The salvation for which we hope and in which we trust and for which he eventually officiates in our behalf in priestly office is dependent upon him as Jehovah’s great provision. Such point is made by Paul when he wrote: “He became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him, because he has been specifically called by God a high priest after the likeness of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 5:9, 10, NW) His name is called King of kings, Lord of lords, the High Priest after the likeness of Melchizedek, and also, “his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6, AS) To be immersed in the name of this great One, therefore, shows that the dedication to Jehovah is not without recognition of the Son but is in appreciation of the fact that our relationship to Jehovah God is through the Son, Christ Jesus, and we confess his lordship to the glory of God the Father. We have seen that, not getting wet with water, but the sacrifice of Christ, is the basis of our salvation and forgiveness of sins. “This man is for a certainty the savior of the world.” “He is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.” (John 4:42; 1 John 2:2, NW) So we gladly recognize the office of authority, even the “name” of the Son.
14. Why ‘baptized in the name of the holy spirit’?
14 “Go . . . baptizing them in the name of . . . the holy spirit.” What is the holy spirit? It is the active force of God, through which he accomplishes his purposes. God’s Word itself was provided through his power under inspiration of his spirit and has been preserved by such, and this we must recognize. Being baptized in the name of the holy spirit, therefore, is in recognition of the function and purpose of God’s holy and righteous active force. This acts upon his people, and walking in accordance with it means walking in accordance with righteousness, because it is truly a holy spirit. (Gal. 5:16-26; Eph. 5:18, NW) It is required of us that we so do. As stated, “he who is sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit.” (Gal. 6:8, NW) Of the dedicated one it is required that he engage in Christian warfare faithfully, loyally, without throwing down the weapons, without seeking furlough or release, joyful in the opportunity to uphold Jehovah’s side of every controversy. Of the spirit we have a great sword that we must wield, as it is stated: “Accept . . . the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word.”—Eph. 6:17, NW.
15. Is denominationalism a Christian principle?
15 A Christian, therefore, cannot be baptized in the name of the one actually doing the immersing or in the name of any man, nor in the name of any organization, but in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy spirit. This shows, among other things, that Christianity is not a denominational affair, that sects have nothing to do with it. “Does the Christ exist divided? Paul was not impaled for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I am thankful I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.”—1 Cor. 1:13-15, NW.
16. Should one be urged into being baptized?
16 With the blessed divine requirements to be met by dedicated servants of God in mind, we can see that the decision of dedication must be one of free will, and that it is not to be urged upon anyone. We “beg” persons to “become reconciled to God,” but each must finally decide for himself what, if anything, he is going to do in response to the truth. (2 Cor. 5:20, NW) The way the apostle Paul put it in his first letter to the Corinthians is: “For Christ dispatched me, not to go baptizing, but to go declaring the good news, not with wisdom of speech, that the torture stake of the Christ should not be made useless.”—1 Cor. 1:17, NW.
17. What about infant baptism?
17 This rules out infant baptism because infants cannot make this vital decision. Faith is the basis of the turning to Jehovah. Faith is, in turn, based upon knowledge of God and acceptance of his Word of truth. “‘Anyone that calls upon the name of Jehovah will be saved’. However, how will they call upon him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard?” (Rom. 10:13, 14, NW) Baptism is not a sacrament but is a symbol of dedication. Therefore, baptism of infants or small children under the age of responsibility is unchristian and should not be indulged in. Dedication follows a training period. The training must continue. Baptism follows dedication, and training must continue thereafter. The orthodox Roman Catholic provision for the “baptism” of unborn babes is as ridiculous as it is pagan. The argument that infant baptism is necessary is based upon the false premise that baptism is a sacrament, as has been previously discussed.
18. In what manner is public expression made to show baptismal qualifications?
18 Who are eligible for baptism? Those who at the time of coming to be immersed can stand and say, aloud before the witnesses present, “Yes” to each of the following questions. (1) Have you recognized yourself before Jehovah God as a sinner who needs salvation, and have you acknowledged to him that this salvation proceeds from him the Father through his Son Christ Jesus? (2) On the basis of this faith in God and in his provision for salvation have you dedicated yourself unreservedly to God to do his will henceforth as he reveals it to you through Christ Jesus and through the Bible under the enlightenment of the holy spirit?
19. What about immersion of children?
19 Can children answer Yes to these questions? Some of them can, if they have understanding; some cannot, because they do not understand. It is up to the parent to guide the child in pure worship, and then the individual child must, upon reaching an age of accountability, decide whether to make a dedication or not, and, if a dedication is made, the child should be baptized in symbol of it. But the child should not be baptized if there is no dedication by him.
20. State when baptism is proper for a dedicated person who was previously sprinkled or immersed.
20 Someone may say, I was baptized, immersed or sprinkled or had water poured upon me in the past, but I knew nothing of the import of it as contained in the foregoing questions and the foregoing discussion. Should I be baptized again? In such a case, the answer is Yes, if, since coming to the knowledge of the truth, you have made a dedication to do Jehovah’s will, and if you had not previously made a dedication, and if the previous baptism was therefore not in symbol of a dedication. Even though the individual may know he has made a dedication in the past, if he was only sprinkled or had water poured upon him in some religious ceremony, he has not been baptized and is still due to perform the symbol of Christian baptism before witnesses in evidence of the dedication that he has made.
21. At an assembly for baptism, what are some things to be observed?
21 When the candidates assemble for the purpose of immersion, it is well for a dedicated, immersed, qualified minister to address them for a few minutes, perhaps twenty-five minutes or so, reviewing the essentials relative to dedication and baptism. Of course, the candidates must make a dedication before they come to the place of immersion, and they already understand what the ceremony is about, but the review is spiritually beneficial, because it puts the minds of all in the proper frame and centers the attention and heart upon the important symbolism being undertaken. After the discussion and after the candidates have stood and in audible voice answered Yes to the two questions so that those other persons may witness their claim of dedication, it is appropriate that a few brief remarks be made relative to Jehovah’s blessing upon them and the support and comfort of Jehovah through his Word, his spirit, his organization and his people in the New World society. Then all assembled should bow in prayer, asking Jehovah’s blessing upon the occasion and upon those to be immersed in particular, that his will might be done then and in the days to come. Then those who are already dedicated but not yet baptized can take advantage of the provision for immersion in symbol of the dedication.
22. Outline the appropriate conduct at the place of baptism.
22 Thereafter those who are to perform the immersion and those who are to be immersed and others who may be assisting in the services or observing them go to the place of immersion. This may be the seaside, a lake or river or other body of water or an indoor pool, and, if circumstances necessitate, a smaller vessel or tank of water, but, in any event, large enough to provide for complete immersion. There at the place of baptism, on that occasion, it would be inappropriate for any to indulge in play, because it is a serious and solemn occasion. Jesus was praying when he went to baptism. He did not jump in and take a swim and otherwise disturb and act inappropriately. So, do not jump into the pool or tank or stream and swim about, waiting for the candidates to get ready, but let all act with decorum and keep the mind upon what is being done and the reason for it and thus help the candidates do the same thing. In their baptism they are going on record before men, including their brothers, that they are dedicated to Jehovah God. “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. When thou makest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou vowest. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thy hands?”—Eccl. 5:2, 4-6, AS.
23. What are the facts concerning Christian baptism as an ordination ceremony?
23 The New World society is dear to the hearts of God’s dedicated people and they see to it that they associate with it intimately, participate in its activity and support it in every way in loyalty and love. Hence the time of baptism may be taken as the time of Christian ordination. This act of obedience following sincere dedication is evidence before men of the course of action the individual has marked out and it relates to his ordination by God. Its date should be observed as such by each one. It is authoritative because of being done at God’s commands. It is solemn because of what it represents. It is recognized by the New World society and its instruments, by Jehovah’s witnesses and by their servant, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. For purposes of record, baptism or immersion by Jehovah’s witnesses is a valid ceremony of ordination for Jehovah’s witnesses within the meaning of the law. The best proof that one can have that he is thereafter a faithful minister is the same to which the apostle Paul pointed as his letters of recommendation, namely, individuals who due to one’s efforts have, in turn, dedicated themselves to Jehovah God.—2 Cor. 3:1-3, NW.
24. (a) In what way is Jehovah’s worship expanded and the New World society built up? (b) What should you consider wisely?
24 Such is the way the worship of Jehovah expands. This is the way the New World society is built up. You are having a share in this ministry, or you can have a part in it. Consider wisely the blessed future that the Bible opens up to you as a certainty through devotion and faithfulness to the righteous God and his high principles. Be wise. May Jehovah through Christ Jesus bless you as you determine to serve the Most High. With you as a dedicated, baptized, faithful servant of the true God, we share your practice of clean worship in mutual joy now.