Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 8, 1957
NUMBER 14, PAGE 10-11b

Spoiling The Sprinklers' Arguments -- No. II.

Joe S. Warlick

Sometimes those who practice "sprinkling" in place of baptism will try to make an argument on Paul's statement that the Israelites, passing through the Red Sea on dry ground, "were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea." They connect with this David's statement in the 77th Psalm, "The clouds poured out water." They then guess that the water was poured out of the clouds on the people as they were in the sea, and that in this way they were "baptized" by sprinkling. But they ignore the fact that there was only one cloud at the sea, while David uses the term "clouds", not cloud. It is impossible, therefore, that the same incident is indicated by both passages. The "cloud" which accompanied the people in that Journey, by night, was a pillar of fire; and that Israel crossed the Red Sea by night is clearly declared in Exodus 14. The simple truth is that the time when the clouds poured out water, as mentioned by David in Psalm 77, is the same time named by him in Psalm 68:8,9: "The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God, the God of Israel. Thou God didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary."

Thus we see it was at Sinai, a month after they had crossed the sea, one month after their baptism, when the clouds poured out water, and not at the time of their baptism at all. Is it not strange that honest and otherwise intelligent people can be so easily deceived as some folks seem to have been upon this very plain question?

Holy Spirit Baptism

Another very popular argument used by the Sprinklers on the "mode" as they call it, is based on their imagination of how God baptized with the Holy Spirit. They say Joel promised (chapter 2) that the Holy Spirit would be poured out; Peter declared (Acts 2) that the event of Pentecost was a fulfillment of Joel's prophecy. Both Christ and John the Baptist had promised the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Jesus saying to the apostles, "Ye shall be baptized by the Holy Spirit not many days hence." Peter describes the event at Cornelius' house as a baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 11); and Luke says that the Holy Spirit "fell on the people" that day (Acts 10:44). Putting all these passages together, our Sprinkling friends exclaim. "Now, you see the people were baptized with the Holy Spirit, and when they were so baptized, the Spirit fell on them; hence, we have a baptism by pouring."

But this definition is ridiculous when we reduce it to its legitimate result. For instance, in Acts 2:3, we are told that when the people were baptized with the Holy Spirit, "it sat upon them." Is this, too, a "mode" of baptism? If so, we may safely say that when Philip took the eunuch into the water and baptized him, he not only "poured out" the eunuch into the water, but also "fell upon" him and then "sat" on him! What are the facts as to why this was called a "baptism" of the Holy Spirit? The "pouring" was not the baptism; the baptism occurred after the pouring was over. Water may be poured into a pool, and many persons may be baptized in that pool, but the pouring is one thing and the baptism is something very different. The fact that the people were filled with and "overwhelmed" by the Holy Spirit is the reason the Bible calls it a baptism. Dr. Ditzler, one of the brightest lights the Sprinklers have ever had, says that among the words which mean definitely to immerse, is the word "enduo"; and this, by the way, is the very word employed by our Lord in Luke 24:49 when he promised the baptism of the Holy Spirit to the apostles. He said, "Ye shall be endued with power from on high."

Baptize "With" Water

The fact that in the King James translation we have the expression, "baptize with water", and not "baptize in water", has caused some incompetent men to assume that the act of baptizing must be one in which the element is applied to the subject, and not the subject to the element. Hence, it is argued that baptism can properly be administered by applying the element, water, to the subject, the person, by sprinkling or pouring. This is a foolish conclusion. There is nothing in the word "with" to indicate how the act was performed. One physician may say, "I cured my patient with water," and another may say, "I cured mine with oil." But there is nothing in either statement to show how either the oil or the water was applied. A woman washes her clothes with soap. But that does not say how she applies the soap. She washes her clothes with water, but that statement does not indicate whether she puts the clothes into the water or pours or squirts the water upon them. We thresh grain with a threshing machine, but we do not apply the machine to the grain. When John said, "I baptize you with water, but Christ shall baptize with the Holy Spirit," he was simply denoting the element of each baptism, and saying nothing at all as to the how of applying the element.

Pour, Sprinkle, Baptize

But someone is heard to say, "The word 'pour' is found in the Bible over one hundred times, and the word 'sprinkle' nearly one hundred times; but the word `immerse' does not occur there at all!" To this I reply that the very fact that the three words "sprinkle", "pour" and "baptize" are all found in our English Bible is itself an argument that the three words do not represent the same idea. If you find the names of three children recorded in the family Bible, do you suppose they are all the same child? One says it would be silly to call all three children by the same name. Right! And it would be just as silly to suppose that the three words, "sprinkle", "pour", and "baptize" all refer to the same thing. Shame on the sprinkling preachers who try to claim that all three are the same child.

Bible Requirements

Turning now from the traditions of men, we ask: What are the things required in performing a baptism according to the Bible? The answer may be found by reading the following passages:

John 3:23 — 'Much water" must be used.

Acts 8:36 — The person to be baptized must "come unto" the water.

Acts 8:38 — There must be a "going down into" the water.

Rom. 6;4 — The one baptized must be buried."

Col. 2:12 — The one baptized must be "raised."

Acts 8:39 — The one baptized must "come up out of the water.

Sprinkling and pouring do not fill any of these requirements therefore sprinkling and pouring are in no sense Bible baptism. Immersion fills all the requirements, and is therefore the act commanded by Christ, and practiced by his Apostles and the early church. Nothing else is scriptural baptism.