“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:25, 26).
Some claim that Ezekiel 36 supports the doctrine of baptism by sprinkling. But what is Ezekiel 36 talking about? In the Old Testament there were various purifications ordered in the Mosaic ceremonial law in which water was used (Num. 8:7; 19:9, 17, 18).
Let’s examine these verses closely: in Numbers 8:7, Moses was instructed to set the Levites apart for the priesthood. And the Lord said, “Sprinkle water of purification on them.” And in Numbers 19:16-18, it talks about certain unclean people who touched dead bodies and were isolated until they had been sprinkled with the water of purification. It is clear that these ceremonies had nothing to do with the ordinance of baptism.
Under the New Covenant, the Mosaic ceremonies of sprinkling were done away with “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:12-14).
The word “baptism” comes from the Greek word “baptizo.” It means “to dip under or submerge or immerse.” There are eight different Greek words in the New Testament used to describe the using of liquids. But among these various words–meaning to sprinkle, to pour, or to immerse–only the one meaning “to immerse” (baptizo) is used to describe the ceremony of baptism.
The Bible teaches that the only true mode of baptism is by immersion. “Jesus … was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened.” (Mark 1:9, 10). John always found a place to baptize where “there was much water” (John 3:23), so it would be deep enough for baptism. Therefore, in baptism, we should follow Jesus’ example (1 Peter 2:21).
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