|Vol. 12 No. 8 August 2010||
Must Baptisms Occur
in Running Water?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Please, I am having problem on the issue of baptising an old man who is sick and cannot work. We were told during our training that the only accepted baptism is the one done in the river or stream. Now I have converted an old fetish priest, who is now sick, and he continues to ask for baptism. How do I do it? Emmanuel Dammy Coker, Republic of Benin, West Africa
A view that Bible baptism can only be done in running water (e.g., a river or a stream) is a view (sincere though it may be) that is narrower than what the New Testament teaches, and it is a view contrary to the practice of immersion at the time Bible baptism was initiated. The baptism of the New Testament is modeled after Jewish baptisms (immersions) that were performed usually in baptisteries or pools. One may baptize in moving water as John the Baptist did in the Jordan River (John 3:23), but baptisms may occur in pools as well. On the birthday of the church, about 3,000 were baptized in Jerusalem, which has no river or stream aside from the Kidron Brook; the Kidron is a dry creek bed or wadi, except when Jerusalem experiences heavy rains. Only baptizing in pools or baptisteries could have accommodated the 3,000 baptisms in Jerusalem about which we read in Acts 2. Any container of water sufficiently filled to completely immerse someone is satisfactory to accomplish New Testament baptism (immersion, Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12). The following URL may be helpful since it deals with how the outward activity of Bible baptism corresponds to religious immersions under Judaism.https://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2010/may/page16.html
Louis Rushmore, Editor
I have noticed that churches of Christ in certain locations are not meeting on Sunday or Wednesday evenings. Would you please address this issue? They say they can’t find it in the Bible where we need to meet on Sunday p.m. and Wednesday. ~ Darrell G Pratt, Orange Park FL
Anyone with any respect for the New Testament will readily admit the impact of Hebrews 10:25 requires Christians to assemble with fellow Christians. The question, though, is, “Must Christians assemble with fellow Christians more than once a week, on the Lord’s Day or first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Revelation 1:10)?” A fellow Gospel preacher and dear friend of mine observed in an article:
How some Christians believe that they are only “required” to attend the services of their choice is beyond my comprehension! … The early church had “daily” services and seemed to do so gladly (Acts 2:46). If their zeal prompted them to assemble daily, surely our zeal should get us out to worship at least two times on Sunday and once on Wednesday evening! Our bodies are to be “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1-2), and yet it sometimes strains us to just “fill a pew” for a couple services each week. How must God Almighty feel about that! Maybe our souls ought to blush, when we consider what we do each week to “sacrifice” for our Lord! You, as well as any and all are commanded to attend worship!
My wife, Bonnie, in an article she wrote addressed the desire to worship God and to fellowship with fellow Christians – that ought to characterize every Christian. Her observation goes beyond consideration of assembling with one’s local church and considers the mentality of worship and fellowship.
When asked “is God most important in your life?” most of us would state, “Yes, God is most important in my life.” But, how DO we show our love and his importance to us? Many of us can honestly say we attend all the worship services at our local congregations. We add that we attend the Sunday morning and Wednesday evening Bible classes. Many of us add that we attend the special services that our elders have set at our home congregations for worship and edification, such as Gospel Meetings, Ladies’ Days, Vacation Bible School, etc. These are important and required in order to be pleasing to God (Hebrews 10:25). However, how many of us make the effort to attend Gospel Meetings, Vacation Bible Schools and other activities of our sister congregations? We are not required to attend every service of all of the events of area congregations. However, if God is first and foremost in our lives, we will make the effort to attend these services as we have opportunity. Attending serves two purposes: (1) To edify and encourage ourselves and (2) To encourage our brothers and sisters in other areas. Just as Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses during the fight with Amalek (Exodus 17:8-16), we too hold up the hands of our brethren by attending their special services.
Now, respecting which service times a Christian is obligated to observe in the congregation of which he or she is a member, consider carefully the following. The elders or men in most churches of Christ in the United States have selected additional times for coming together for studying the Bible and worshipping God, besides the New Testament requirement of assembling to worship each first day of the week. These periods of worship and Bible study, typically on Sunday and Wednesday, as well as additional periods of study and worship from time to time (e.g., Gospel meetings), are intended to provide a healthy, spiritual diet of God’s Word for the Christian. These local decisions are authorized by passages that inform us of the responsibility of elders to feed the flock of God over which they are shepherds (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-2), and Christians are obligated to obey elders who watch over their souls (Hebrews 13:17).
The early church met often beyond the required first day of the week worship (Acts 2:42, 46), and contemporary Christians benefit likewise from frequent interaction with other Christians to help offset living in an unrighteous world (John 17:14-16). Local congregational decisions will determine on which days and at which times that local congregation will assemble for Bible study and worship (besides the obligatory once on the first day of the week), and church members have a responsibility to avail themselves of these meeting times.
That means that some congregations may meet only once a week (perhaps for an extended period of time) as often is the case in foreign lands where opportunity to assemble is more limited than in the USA. However, many other congregations often opt for two Bible classes and two periods of worship weekly, and other churches may opt (unwisely in my opinion) to assemble perhaps once for worship and Bible class when they could meet more frequently. Christians are obligated by Scripture to worship once weekly, and they are obligated by the biblically bestowed authority upon local church leaders to assemble as frequently as they specify.