DR NORRIS: This morning may I call your attention to
this question: "What does the Bible teach concerning
Baptism? There has been a great deal of discussion, misinterpretation concerning this all-important
As a church we believe that Scriptural baptism is the
immersion in water of a believer in the name of the
Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost by the authority of the church, to show forth in a solemn, beautiful,
emblematic form our faith in the crucified, buried and risen Saviour with its
effect in our death to sin and
resurrection to a new life — that it is prerequisite to the privilege of church membership and
This is one question that every believer
is keenly and vitally interested in. The one question before
every man is: "What does God command?" What is the "thus saith the Lord" to the law and to the
testimony? If we speak not according to these there is no light in them.
Jesus says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
There are three questions: First, who should be baptized? Second, what is the design or purpose of
baptism? Third, what is the scriptural mode of baptism?
Baptism, perhaps, more than any question,
has been the subject of controversy throughout all the ages It is an undisputed fact that every church historian agrees to this, that
for the first three hundred
years after Christ there was only one mode of baptism, namely, immersion.
Why Mode Was Changed
By the order of the bishop of Rome it was changed from immersion to sprinkling or effusion. And
then when the mode was changed certainly the design of setting forth the Lord's death and
resurrection was lost. And hence, we had baptismal regeneration. That became popular.
Therefore, since the mode was changed, then the next question was, instead of the believer being
baptized, then infants of unaccountable age were christened.
On the day of Pentecost they believed and were baptized, and so on throughout. Now, get this
question before you. Who is to be baptized, a believer or an unbeliever? On the day of Pentecost
three thousand came and they received the word, and then they were baptized.
Saul of Tarsus first believed, and then he was baptized.
In the preceding chapter the Ethiopian believed and then he was baptized. And in the fifteenth
chapter, Lydia by the seashore, maker of purple, she received the word and then was baptized.
The Design of Baptism by Roman Catholics
Now, on the purpose or design of baptism, our Roman Catholic friends, no doubt, sincerely, they
declare in their Catechism these words — the subject is, "What is baptism?"
I quote now the exact
language, "Baptism is a sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, and makes us children of God
and of the church. " Second question, "Is Baptism necessary for salvation?" Answer, "Baptism is
absolutely necessary for salvation."
In answer to those two questions which I read with greatest kindness — we do not believe the
scriptures support this position. Baptism is not essential to salvation, but is essential to obedience.
Therefore, Jesus said, "If ye love me, obey me" or keep my commandments. And the scriptures very
plainly declare that baptism is not an act by which we receive the forgiveness of sins. I Peter 3:21
says, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us." You remember that the
scriptures first deny error and then affirm truth. The inspired scriptures, "came not, not, not, but." The
new birth, "Not by the will of man or the will of the flesh, but of God." And I could go on and name
every doctrine, first deny error, second, affirm truth.
Here he says, "Baptism doth also now save us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, the
forgiveness of sins, but the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus
Christ. That is, it sets forth His resurrection."
Baptizo Not Translated
If the translators of our King James version, which was translated three hundred and thirty or more
years ago, had followed the method of translating instead of anglicizing the word "baptize" you would
not find baptize, but it would read " immerse."
The scholars of all denominations will tell you without a single exception that it means "to dip, to
plunge, to bury, to cover. "Therefore, dismiss all prejudices, all traditions and all relations, family or
otherwise and let the scriptures tell us what it means. That is why Jesus said, "If ye love me, if ye love
father or mother, brother or sister more than me, ye are not worthy of me."
I have had people to say, "Well, I would come and be baptized in the New Testament manner as I
believe it does teach immersion, but it would grieve my old father and mother. "
How Was Jesus Baptized?
Then, you are putting human relation above that of the Lord Jesus Christ. How was Jesus baptized?
"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
"But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
"And Jesus answering said unto Him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all
righteousness. Then he suffered him.
"And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and lo, the heavens were
opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him:
"And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
We read that after he baptized him he went up straightway, that means immediately, out of the water,
and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and
lighting upon him. Three times that voice was heard in the life of Jesus.
Now, suppose you had never heard of baptism, a sermon, or read a word on it, and you would read
where these two went down into the river Jordan, and he baptized him, and came up, what would be
Therefore, we follow both the spirit and the letter of the New Testament: What would you conclude
if you had read this the first time — "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 8:39, "And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the
Lord caught away.
Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing."
A professor of English would tell you that is tautology and it is. Why did God see fit to repeat its
First, go down, both into the water; second, both Philip and the eunuch; third, and he baptized him;
fourth, and when they were come up out of the water.
If he should read these four statements, does that look like that Philip and the eunuch went to the
edge of the water, and he dipped up some and he poured it on him? Let the scriptures speak for
Oh, then, let us follow the example of our blessed Lord, and I will show you later the joy that comes
from absolute, unequivocal obedience. Now, this question. Why did he not sprinkle?
Not long ago I had a young mother come to me and say, "Will you christen my baby for me?"
I said, "you bring your baby to me and I will talk to you about it. " And I did.
Why We Do Not
First, there is not one single, solitary example of sprinkling in the whole Book. Second, the word "
baptize " in the original Greek means to Immerse As I told you it has not been translated, but
anglicized. Third, sprinkling does not set forth the design in the New Testament which is to represent
the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. I will notice that later.
Why We Don't Sprinkle Babies
Why we do not sprinkle a baby. First, because only believers,
in the New Testament, were baptized.
How then are babies saved? Their sin. their original sin was nailed to the cross, and babies have
no Sin; only those who reach the years of responsibility. Sin is the transgression of the laid, and a
baby can not transgress the law. Second. there is not one single, solitary case in the
where babies or infants were ever sprinkled.
There was a great preacher a generation
ago. His wife was a Presbyterian. They were wonderful
people. They lived in Richmond, Virginia. She wanted their baby to be christened. And this preacher
was Dr. Jeremiah Bell Jeter, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Richmond. said. Well it is your baby,
and I will go with you, and I will hold the baby while the Presbyterian minister christens it.
"Well," she said, "that is a bit unusual.
"No, I want to be courteous. I
want to help You."
And so they came down the line, and where
he was to take the vows for the baby. He and this
Presbyterian minister were quite good friends. And so when they came to Dr. Jeter holding the
baby, asking him If he would take the vows for this baby, he said, "Yes, I will, but I want to ask
a question. Will you take that Bible, and give me one single, solitary verse or word where a baby
was ever sprinkled' He said, "Now, give me that, and I will take the vows
The Presbyterian minister was honest. and he said, " I can't do it." But he said, "I am coming next
Sunday morning to the First Baptist Church, and have you immerse me.
Why We Don't Accept Baptism From Other Denominations
Here is the question. Why don't we
receive so-called baptism from other churches People say, "Well. I have been baptized." Let me tell
you something. In most cases they are immersed by ministers who, themselves, are not immersed. I
want somebody to immerse me who was immersed. Second, their so-called immersion does not set
forth the proper design or purpose, namely, the burial and resurrection or Jesus.
And if you destroy the design you destroy the character and meaning of baptism.
This is the error of many of our friends like the "Church of Christ," so-called, that means baptismal
regeneration. We believe in one faith, one Lord, and one baptism. Not many baptisms I say to
multitudes Who come, and say, "I am satisfied with my baptism." I say, "All right. It doesn't take
you long to be baptized in scriptural manner." I have baptized thousands and I have never baptized
anybody that doesn't feel like 'I wish I could be baptized again.' "
Twenty-four Truths Set Forth on Baptism
I want to give you briefly twenty-four truths, there may be others, that are set forth in the ordinance
First, every time a believer is baptized he declares his faith in the authority of our Lord and Saviour,
Jesus Christ. He came and said, "All power," and the word power there means authority, "is given
unto me in heaven and in earth."
Then, after "teaching" he said, "baptizing them." On what basis; on what authority? Three sources
of authority known in the religious world, the Rationalist, the Romanist, the Revelationist.
The Rationalists say, "We go by reason. There is no such thing as revelation."
Our Romanist friends say, "We believe in the infallibility of the papacy. And everything is interpreted
in the light of that decree " I read that in the original Latin yonder in the library of the Vatican. It says
three things, "Supremacy," ''immutability,'' "infallibility," in one sentence, written by Cardinal Manning.
We come back and answer, "Not in a man's reason; not in some ecclesiastical power, but in the
Word of God. What is revealed in the law and the testimony? What do they say?" Therefore, every
time that we baptize we acknowledge Him as our Supreme authority.
Second, Baptism Declares We Have a New Captain
One of the finest illustrations of that, is what Paul said in I
Corinthians. 10:1-2, " Moreover, brethren, I
would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed
through the sea.'' Remember that the sea divided. Two walls on either side, and the cloud
overshadowed them. They were immersed. And by that dividing of the sea, overshadowed by the
cloud, they said this, "We are now coming under a new leadership. The tyranny of Pharaoh is
through. We have left Egypt. We are on our way to Canaan's fair and happy land."
Therefore, as we come into baptism that means we no longer are led captive by his will, the devil,
but we have a new Captain
Third, baptism is a commandment. And, every time we
are baptized we say to the world, "I'm obeying His command
to where Peter said, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you.'"
Fourth, baptism declares the New Birth. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized."
And receiving His word is the human side of "Ye must be born again."
Fifth, Baptism declares our faith in the Divine Trinity. And every time that a believer is baptized he
says to the world, I am not a Unitarian. I believe in the triune God. "Therefore we are baptized in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."
Sixth, Baptism declares the Fatherhood of God. Oh, what an error — "the Father of all men." God is
our Father save and only through faith in Jesus Christ. And there is not a worse error that has crept
into this world, than to say that all people are children of God. We are made children of God by faith in Jesus Christ, and that is how
the family of heaven is made up.
Seventh, Baptism declares the Sonship of Jesus. We are baptized in the name of the Son And that
means in His authority; in His likeness; and we accept His word and we follow Him.
Eighth, Baptism declares the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in the name of the Holy Spirit by
which we are regenerated born of the Spirit, not of the flesh. It is by the Spirit of God that He
offered Himself on the cross. The first mention of the Holy Spirit is in the second verse of the first
chapter of the Bible, "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the deep." And in these first
three verses you will find the whole plan of salvation. Creation perfect; creation imperfect; creation
made again. That is exactly the state of man — created in innocence; second, failure and sin; third,
made a new creation in Christ Jesus. That tells us how that sin and righteousness met on the cross;
that tells us how that justice and mercy met on the cross; that tells us how that all of heaven and all of
hell met on the cross; that tells us how that time and eternity met on the cross. Therefore, God was in
Ninth, Baptism declares the death of Christ — "Know ye
not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?"
Tenth, Baptism declares the resurrection of Christ, "Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism
into death, 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death,
we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. " The three great miracles, my friends the birth of
Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ. In baptism we set forth all three. We tell the
world that there was only one resurrection.
None of the pagan religionists of the world ever claimed that they
would rise. Read all the writings of Confucius, Mohammed, Zoroaster, not one of them ever claimed that he would rise from the dead. But
Jesus said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again"
The one impassable gulf between
the religion of Jesus Christ and all the false religious of the world is
the "Come and see the place where he lay. " Therefore in baptism we set forth that miracle.
Eleventh, Then Baptism declares the death of the old man. You do not bury live people, you bury
dead people. We do it as a matter of love, though with sorrow. But here we bury an old man that is
dead, with joy. Knowing this, that the old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be
destroyed that henceforth we should not serve sin. You are carrying that old corpse that has your
name — therefore, we rise to walk in newness of life.
Twelfth, I am just calling to your attention the great truths set forth in baptism. Oh, isn't it a joy that
you have been baptized, and don't you want to be, you who are ready for it?
Baptism declares freedom from the dominion of sin. Dominion — the word there in the original
language means tyranny. Talk about dictators, talk about tyranny — "But he
that is dead is free from sin." Then it says, "Death hath no more dominion over him. Likewise, reckon
ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
sin therefore reign." In the preceding chapter it tells us of the reign of sin; the reign of life; the reign of
grace and the reign of righteousness. Therefore, we are no longer under the reign or tyranny of sin.
So, sin shall not have dominion over you.
Thirteenth. Baptism is an evidence of the hope as we approach the end. That which is seen is not
hope, for man when he has hope doesn't see it, but is living it. Last Monday morning I found out that
a great woman in this church, Mother Sehuch, and what a great woman she is, was very ill. I doubt if
any one ever belonged to this or any church who was more genuinely or sincerely loved than that
great woman who is way yonder past her four score years. When I heard it I said, "I must go out
and see her." And I know how she stood in the days when we needed to have somebody to stand
against all the conspiracies of hell when this church was fighting for its life, and she stood, as many of
you did. Thank God for you!
And I went in and I looked at her. She didn't look sick. Oh, yes, she is frail, but the light and glory of
God were in her eyes. I bent over and I kissed her brow. She is a mother; I
love her And she talked about the crossing. I believe that we ought to talk about it. I believe that we
ought to call our little children around when all is well, and talk about it, and say, "I don't want you to
weep when we go. Oh, no."
I said, " When you get over there I want you to hunt up my mother and tell her how I am getting
She said, "I certainly will." And she smiled and said, "I can hardly wait. "
Isn't it glorious to live a life so that when we come to the end, not of a setting
sun, but of a rising
sun, we can hear the voices of those we have loved who have gone on before. No wonder Paul said,
"I am in a strait betwixt two. I have a desire to depart " No wonder he said, "To die is gain. " Lose a world and gain heaven; lose sorrow and
gain joy, lose death and gain life everlasting!
Evidence of the "I Am With You All the Way"
Fourteenth. A woman who used to sing so wonderfully, our dear Mrs. Kennison, who went home to
God not long ago; her dear husband was talking to me about it, when he rode with her in the
ambulance to the hospital that last trip. She told him something that I will never forget. She said, "Oh,
Daddy, from now on you will be alone." No, no. He is not alone! Although a man who had
companied with his wife for more than two score years, he is not alone in the world!
I went over one night to see a dear friend who had lost his dear wife, and I said, "I thought I would
come over, I knew you would be a little lonesome."
"Yes," he said, "yes, but do you know what I was thinking about I have been thinking. I have been
thinking that it won't be long until I shall see her again." And instead of my giving him a blessing he
gave me a blessing.
Fifteenth, baptism is an evidence that we shall see our loved ones again — "Else what shall they do
which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?" And every time that you see a believer baptized that means
that the family circle shall be complete when you all shall be in the glorious heavenly family circle. We
shall be the same individuals, but we shall be one great family.
Not long ago an old man 76, can hardly walk, has had a stroke — his daughter brought him to see
me. He said, "I know that the end is not far away." He had one, and only one son who was killed in
World War I. He has never ceased to grieve for him.
And as that old father sat there, trembling, he said, "I don't know, I have wondered — he was a dear boy fortunately he had a Christian mother." Thank God for our Christian mothers. Be sure to write
your mother often and tell her how much you love her; tell her as the years go by how sweet she
has become. She will take that letter and hold it in her trembling hands and bathe it with her tears. If
you don't do it, just wait until that casket lid is closed down and there will come flashing back
through your mind, "Oh, I have neglected her."
I preached a funeral not long ago of a great woman who had given all her property to her children,
and then the in-laws and out-laws had kicked the old woman out. Miss Jane took me out and as we
were going out she told me something — I declare, it was pitiful — of how they mistreated
her — wouldn't even let her have a new Easter bonnet, said that old one will do.
There were eight in the family. I preached eight funerals that day. Miss Jane said, going back, "I
thought you would never get through. I thought I would go through the floor." There they were sitting
over there and I turned to them — I knew they couldn't do anything but just sit there and take it.
don't know whether I did any good — yes, I did for once of them came to me afterwards and said, "I
take my rebuke" — I said, " She is gone; there is nothing you can say; she is beyond anybody's
neglect. You had your opportunity."
Go on, go on, go on, use your old mother, and good old daddy, too, go on, and after while you
would give the whole world if you could just call it back.
Sixteenth, baptism is an assurance we shall be reunited with our loved ones. When we stand in the
baptismal waters together, as a man and his wife stand together at the marriage altar, and as we are
buried in the same cemetery, and as we come forth in the same morning of the resurrection — how
beautiful. As I have baptized thousands, and often father, mother and children, I said, "How
wonderful that one day, as you stand together in an unbroken circle, so will it be in the
To illustrate this great truth: He was an old ranchman and cattleman — he said, "I went out in the barn.
We had three or four saddles and they were all hanging there, and I said, his saddle will never be
ridden on again if he doesn't come back. His horse came and put his head on my shoulder; he said,
'where is my young master? when is he coming back home'" He said, "You know, I went back to my
little home in Tennessee and I remembered when I was eleven years old my father took me by the
hand and said, "Son, I would like for us to take a little walk together." We walked down across the
creek and toward the woods and there was an old stump there and he said, 'Some day father will be
gone and I just wanted to pray with you.' And there we knelt by the old stump." And he said, "You
know, Dr. Norris, a few years ago we were back there at the old home and I went down through
that same path, I crossed that creek and I looked around and I saw that great big old stump still
there and I sat down on it and wept."
And when I led him down into the baptismal waters I
said, "Now," and when I lifted him up, "you will see that father again that led you out in the woods,
and you will see That son again, who went down in the sea in that ship."'
Seventeenth, baptism is a
prophecy of the second coming of Christ. "Lo, I am with you all the way," — how long? — "even unto
the end of the age."
How We Should Give the Gospel
Oh, the other night how that stirred my soul, and I am sure that it did you, when that streamlined
train with two diesel engines met with a terrible crash out yonder in California a few months ago, hit a
huge gasoline truck with a trailer, and it caught fire and spread that gasoline. Flashed it all over that
train, some sixteen or eighteen cars and Pullmans, and one of these Pullmans turned over and over on
its side. Oh, I have never known a finer, more faithful group of workers in the world than the Negro
porters. I have never found one dishonest yet. And he could have escaped. But he didn't run off and
leave that burning Pullman. No, he pulled them out, and pulled them out, and pulled them out, and
saved every one of them, made himself to suffer.
Oh, can you imagine a single one that Pullman porter saved ever hating him' How they loved him,
how they kept him in their hearts. Therefore, we have been snatched from the burning of hell. How
much more, then, shall we love Him who went down to death for us!
Eighteenth, baptism sets forth our loyalty and love to Christ, in this life, and will not forsake us in
I baptized a fine lad when he was nine years old. He lived until he was twenty-six. He was the chief
pilot of one of those huge B-29's that made that trip from Saipan to Tokyo, a distance of more than
3,000 miles. There were about thirty in the squadron. The anti-aircraft had struck his plane, and as
they returned, they had not gotten far over the Pacific until his ship began to limp and go down. The
others could not help him. And he radioed this message: He said, " Boys, tell Mother that I'll be
"Tell Mother I'll be there, in answer to her prayer,
This message, blessed Saviour, to her bear!
Tell mother I'll be there, heaven's joys with her to share,
Yes, tell my darling mother I'll be there."
Nineteenth, baptism declares the regeneration of the soul — "Which he shed on us abundantly
through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs
according to the hope of eternal life."
Baptism is the outward, symbolic, washing in water, as the soul is cleansed by the word.
That is what Jesus meant in John 3:5,
"born of water and of the Spirit." Water there does not mean
baptism. The fact that there is but one preposition making both the same objective shows that. In
short, it means "of his own word he begat
This is what Paul meant in Colossians. 2:11-13 — "In whom also are ye circumcised with the circumcision
made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.
Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of
God, who has raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision
of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses."
Twentieth, baptism declares a good conscience void of offense before God — "The like figure
whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the
answer of a good conscience toward God.) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (I Peter 3:21).
Twenty-first, baptism declares that our first and only mission is to make disciples, for it is the heart of
the Great Commission, which is to make disciples out from among all the nations.
Twenty-second, baptism honors the church — "Then they that gladly received his word were
baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. " (Acts 2:41).
Let there be glory to Christ in the church — "Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus
throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. " (Eph. 3 :21).
There are three institutions that are a means to an end, which
God established on the earth:
First, the tabernacle of Moses served its purpose.
Second, the temple of Solomon — it served as a means of divine revelation until the temple was rent
Third, and the church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth, as established on the earth is not an
end in itself but only a means to an end and in the fullness of time its mission will be accomplished.
All the churches which the Apostle Paul established or that were established in the New Testament
are only a means to an end. That sets forth the manifold or varicolored wisdom of
God. They served their day and generation and not one single New Testament church exists today.
Quite contrary to the Roman Catholics, who teach that the church, as they understand it, is an end
and make it synonymous with the Kingdom of God. So do the Campbellites and some other sects.
Twenty-third, baptism declares the whole body of truth, the faith once for all delivered to the
saints — immediately after baptism our Lord says, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I
have commanded you," and there the "all things" include every doctrine of our faith. Therefore, every
time a believer is baptized he declares to the world his faith in every truth of our Confession from
Inspiration to the Coming of Jesus Christ.
Twenty-fourth, baptism is the first concrete act of public confession by the believer.
John baptizing them "in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins." (Mark 1:5).
"Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess
me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall
deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 10:31-33).
And that's the meaning Paul says, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the
mouth confession is made unto salvation. " (Romans 10:10). And this is what the believer does when
he stands in the baptismal waters and declares in words, "I confess Jesus Christ as my Lord and only
I went in last night and heard three fine girls, Phyllis, June and Joan sing a song that I love so
much — "I'm Going Home to Die No More." And as that mother received that message on Christmas
day from the War Department two years ago, their hearts were heavy — their only son and child had
sent them that last message as he went down. She said, "It is a sad Christmas for us, but the time is
coming, and I don't think it will be long, when we will have a Christmas that will never end."
At my first baptizing in the river near the little country church — I can hear now that great multitude
led by one of God's good, great deacons:
"How happy are they
Who the Saviour obey,
And whose treasures are laid up above.
Tongue cannot express
The sweet comfort and peace
Of a soul in its earliest love."
Shall we bow our heads and pray while we softly sing that chorus. (More than 40 came confessing
Dr J Frank Norris
March 16, 1947