The first person I ever baptized was a junior high boy at church camp south of Bloomington, Indiana. The camp had a stock tank filled with water that we baptized in. I bent the poor boy over double. I’m surprised I didn’t break him in two.
I have had the privilege of baptizing a lot of people, young and old. I think I have baptized more people in the pool at Shelby County Christian Assembly than anywhere else (http://www.scca-online.com/).
That word, “baptism,” created a problem. It is a transliteration. That’s a big-ol word that basically means you take each letter in one language and find the same or a similar letter in another language and create a new word in that language. That’s what they did a long time ago with the Greek word batptizo.
Take each letter in baptizo and you get b-a-p-t-i-z-e, baptize. What does it mean?
The word baptizo literally means “to dunk.” I baptize my donut in my coffee. I slam-baptize the basketball in a game (I mean, I used to could do that). I grab my friend Ken in the pool at church camp and baptize him in the name of camp and fun. I dunk the donut. I dunk the basketball. I dunk Ken.
It means to dunk, to plunge, to dip, to completely immerse. Most Christians, most churches actually immerse, though there are some that take and make baptism something it’s not, sprinkling or pouring which doesn’t accomplish the total immersion physically, literally or spiritually (cf. Romans 6:1-10). And there are no current Bible translations that translate the word immerse. The latest one that I am aware of is the Simple English Bible.
We need to understand that the meaning of the word is the form and function of the command that goes with the word. Baptize means to immerse and when someone believes and confesses Christ, what do I do? I immerse them. So, we understand here that when the word baptize and baptism is used, it means to immerse totally under the water.
“Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” Acts 2:38.
I believe in Jesus, so I want to know what to do. The Apostle Peter, under the authority of Jesus Christ and with the power of the Holy Spirit of God replies, “now you need to repent and be baptized so you can be forgiven of your sins.”
I need to be baptized. I want to obey God’s will, I want to be freed from my sin, I want to do what is necessary. I need to be baptized.
Other than that I need to be baptized to obey (fulfill righteousness), why do I need to be baptized? That’s our next episode.