Baptism is a common practice in most Christian churches. It is a religious ceremony in which people wishing to turn to a religious faith are either immersed in or sprinkled with water. The common denominator is the use of water as the medium for baptism. Why water?
sundayword BY PROSPER TINGINI
The sanctity of water is derived from its source. It is the only thing that we use daily that falls from the skies (the Heavens). In religious circles, the majority of people believe that the Lord God dwells in the skies, hence there is a link between water and the Almighty. Even though there is a scientific explanation to its formation, there is some sacredness attached to it. We all know that water brings life to all living creatures, plants and everything else that has a life to it.
Naturally, we humans need water for both drinking and getting rid of any uncleanliness on ourselves or of things around us. There is, therefore, a purity attached to water. We can rightly conclude that water itself acts as a cleansing agent. Not only can water be used to cleanse us of dirt, but can also be used to cleanse us of our sins.
The Lord our God directed us to make use of water to purify ourselves of any uncleanliness. In the scriptures the Lord points to us in the direction that water can be used to wash away our impurities. In Leviticus 11:24-26, God spoke to those who touch or carry the carcasses of what He termed as unclean animals: “Whoever touches their carcass shall be unclean until the evening, and whoever carries any part of their carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening.” In Leviticus 15:16-18, He proceeds to say: “If a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water, and be unclean until the evening. And every garment and every skin on which the semen comes shall be washed with water and be unclean until the evening. If a man lies with a woman and has an emission of semen, both of them shall bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the evening.”
There are many other examples in the Bible in which God directs us to use water as a medium to rid ourselves of uncleanliness of one kind or the other, after violations of some of his statutes. We can come to the conclusion that water is used at baptism to cleanse us of all our past sins. We are thus transformed into a new person free from sin by the water of baptism. A person is born again into a sphere of purity by the act of baptism.
Jesus Christ was baptised by John the Baptist first, before he could start preaching. He had to be immersed in water by an anointed man to cleanse both his body and to purify his soul. He was thus born again into the arms of his Father, the Lord our God. Matthew 3:16-17 reads: And when Jesus was baptised, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”. At birth, Christ was named Emmanuel as per the directive given to Joseph by an angel. Prior to baptism he had really not started preaching in earnest, neither had he performed any works of miracles. The water of baptism transformed Emmanuel into the Jesus Christ. He thus became a new person after being baptised by the waters of the Jordan River.
Provided it is administered by an anointed man of God, the water of baptism gives a rebirth to an individual by washing away all the sins of the past. It is then no wonder why some churches even then give a person a new “Christian” name at baptism in fulfilment of the ceremonial ritual of transforming an individual into a new domain in terms of spiritual holiness.
Before delegating the duties of baptism and anointment to chosen individuals, God used His voice to administer the practice. In one early example He appeared to a man then known as Abram and said: “I am God almighty; walk before me and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him: “No longer shall your name be Abram but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” (Genesis 17:1-5).
In this instance the Lord was both baptising Abraham by giving him a new name and image, but also anointing him to give him a purpose in life. The same goes for Jacob, Abraham’s grandson whom he renamed “Israel” with a promise and anointment for his descendants to be given the land of Canaan, which we know as the country of Israel today. With time God delegated the duties to baptise and to anoint with oils to consecrate individuals, like He did with John the Baptist.
Anointment as an act is the sacred ritual of consecrating someone with oil. Unlike the water which can be randomly used to baptise, anointing oil should have a specified formula to it. You cannot just take any kind of oil and use it to anoint someone. For a person to be anointed for a special godly purpose, one should have gone through the baptism process first. Baptism is for everyone. Anointment is done on only a few individuals who have chosen or are selected to perform holy functions in representation of God’s work and divinity. Those anointed should be people who are committed to fully dedicate their lives to be of full service to the Lord. These consecrated people will act as God’s servants in the execution of their duties and normally constitute membership of the clergy, e.g., priests, bishops or archbishops of any denomination.
Anointing oil should be the medium through which people are consecrated into the holy spiritual realm. In the book of Exodus 31: 22-36, the Lord our God said to Moses: “Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, two hundred and fifty, and of aromatic cone two hundred and fifty, and of cassia five hundred, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and of olive oil a hin; and you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the performer; a holy anointing oil it shall be.” In verses 31-33 He declares: “This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It shall not be poured upon the bodies of ordinary men, and you shall make no other like it in composition; it is holy, and it shall be holy to you. Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.”
Contrary to God’s words on anointing oil, it is quite common these days to come across some “men of God” actually selling “anointing oils” to ordinary citizens for use. Be warned against such practices.
Prosper Tingini would like to invite interested individuals, well-wishers, church organisations, donors and people from all walks of life to assist or form partnerships in establishing training centres across the country for pastors and priests. These training centres would be interdenominational (non-aligned). Those interested can phone or WhatsApp on 0771 260 195 or email: email@example.com