The other morning I was reading the Bible as I usually do and I just happened to be reading the account in Acts 19:1-7:
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.
I had just got done writing the last article on clothing and was enjoying it and was trying to figure out what I could write about next. As I read this account it reminded me of baptism which I will explain.
In the church I grew up it was common that youth between the ages of 17-18 applied for church membership. There was rarely anyone younger and occasionally someone older but most were in this age range. They were hesitant to baptize those younger than 16 because even tho the ministers believed that people could be saved before then they thought they should wait until they were older before making such a big step in becoming a member of the church.
In the spring, maybe late May early June those who desired to join church would decide on a certain Sunday morning and while the ministers were in the anteroom before the service started they would enter and express their desire to become a member of the church and one of the ministers would write down the person's name and their dad's name and then announced them at the end of the church service they would announce them to the congregation.
Towards the end of July instruction classes started. The main Sunday service was still held in the morning and then at 2:00 the class started.
I am too timid to go visit a church service now and take pictures but here is a picture I found to give you an idea...
All the youth were expected to go and the applicants sat nearest the preachers. (Sketch at the end of article) The girls sat on the front benches on the left and the boys on the right. The ministers sat on the bench against the wall. The song leaders sat at the table and led the songs.( In a regular church service the married ladies and widows would sit to the left in the section nearest the ministers and the men on the right. Behind the photographer, on both sides the floor rose gradually like risers (except for the walkway where the photographer was standing)and the girls sat on the left and the boys on the right.
Instruction class was for going over the 18 articles in the Saving Faith book, a small black book with several sections in it. One of my friends gave me a book with the copy in it of which I took pictures and since a lot of people probably can't read the German characters I want to write it with English letters and then you may see if you can make sense of it.😊
So lasset euch in Namen Jesu auf euren Knieen.
So in the name of Jesus you may let yourself down upon your knees.
(Everyone in the class would kneel down, boys and then girls in one long line down the middle of the church.)
So sollet ihr am ersten gefragt sein ob ihr glaubet an der allmächtigen Gott und Vater, So you will be asked first if you believe in the almighty God and Father,
Schöpfer Himmels und der Erde, Creator of heaven and earth,
der den kläglichen Sündenfall der
Menschen so zu Herzen genommen hat Who took man's lamentable fall into sin so seriously to heart
dasz er schon in frühern Zeiten versprochen hat sein eingebornen Sohn zu senden als Mittler und Erlöser; That even in ages past He promised to send His only begotten Son as mediator and redeemer;
und ob ihr glaubet dasz Jesus Christus sei der eingebornen Sohn Gottes, And if you believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God,
der sei unser Mittler, Erlöser und Heiland, der in der erfüllten Zeiten nach der Propheten Weissagungen, Who is our Mediator, Redeemer, and Saviour, who in the fullness of time according to the predictions of the prophets,
empfangen war vomit Heiligen Geist, Was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
geboren durch die Jungfrau Maria, Born of the virgin Mary,
gelitten unter Pontus Pilatus, Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
an Kreuz genagelt war, Was nailed to the cross
und gestorben am Stamme des Kreuzes, And died on that tree of the Cross,
in einen neuen felsenes Grab begraben, Was laid in a new tomb of rock,
und am dritten Tag siegreich auferstanden, And on the third day arose victoriously from the dead,
und in vierzig Tag gen Himmel gefahren, And after 40 days ascended to heaven,
sitszet zu der rechten Hand der Kraft Gottes, Sitting at the right hand of the power of God,
von dannen Er kommen wird mit viele tausend heilige Engel, From whence He will come again with many thousands of holy angels,
zu richten die Lebendigen und die Toten. To judge the living and the dead.
Und ob ihr glaubet an den Heiligen Geist, And do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
der ausgeht vom Vater und der Sohn Who proceeds from the Father and the Son
und strafet die Welt um der Sünde mit ein gerechtes Gericht. And reproves the world because of sin with a righteous judgment?
So glaubet ihr an Gott den Vater, And so do you believe in God the Father,
Sohn Jesus Christus, Son Jesus Christ,
und den Heiligen Geist, der sei der einige, And the Holy Spirit as the only,
Ewige, und ermächtige Gott in dessen Namen ihr begehret getauft zu sein mit Wasser. Almighty God in whose name you desire to be baptized with water?
Könnet ihr das mit Ja antworten? Can you acknowledge this with yes? (Then starting with the boys each person individually answered yes. )
Der Heiland sphricht(6 Matthäus) dasz niemand kann zwei Herren dienen; The Saviour says in Matthew 6 that no man can serve 2 masters.
Entweder wird er den einen hassen und den andern lieben, Either he will hate the one and love the other,
Oder er wird den einen anhangen und der andern verachten. Or he will hold to the one and despise the other.
So sollet ihr gefragt werden on ihr willig sind der Satan und sein ganzen Anhang und sinsteres Reich und betrügliche Reichtum von dieser Welt, So you are [now] asked if you are willing to renounce Satan and his followers, and the deceitful riches of this world,
Dazu eure eigene böse Willen, Lüsten, und Begierden absagen As well as your own carnal will, lusts, and affections;
Und Gott die Getreiheut zusagen, And do you pledge to be faithful to God,
Der Heiland Jesum Christum anzunehmem, To receive the Saviour Jesus Christ,
Und euch führen lassen vom Heiligen Geist, And to allow yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit,
In alle Wahrheit gehorsam zu sein, In all obedience to the truth
Und des zu verbleiben bis in den Tod. And to remain in this unto death.
Könnet ihr des mit Ja antworten? Can you acknowledge this with yes? (Again starting with the boys each individual would answer yes)
So sollet ihr auch gefragt sein ob ihr willig sind für des ganze Evangelium Jesum Christum anzunehmem, So you shall be asked if you are willing to embrace the whole gospel of Jesus Christ,
Die Regeln, Ordnungen, und Geboten all zu halten, To adhere to all the teachings, ordinances, and commandments,
Wie auch die Evangelischen Regeln und Ordnung von der Gemeinde zu halten. As well as to hold to the evangelical rules and regulations of the church.
Könnet ihr das mit Ja antworten? Can you acknowledge this with yes? (Again starting with the boys each individual would answer yes.)
If I remember right at this point the bishop would ask the congregation to stand and he would pray over those who had solemnly made these promises on their knees. Then the congregation would sit down and the baptizing began with the boys. The deacon would carry the water pitcher and the bishop would cup his hands on top of the individual's head as the deacon would pour a bit of water on the person's head. In the process of the water being poured on the bishop would say:
Auf Busz und Besserung deines Lebens und der Glauben dasz du bekennt hast vor Gott und viele Zeugen Upon the repentance and amendment of your life and the faith which you have confessed before God and many witnesses,
Wirst du getauft mit Wasser im Namen den Vater, den Sohn Jesu Christo, und den Heiligen Geist. You are baptized with water in the name of the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
After everyone was baptized in this manner he went down to the beginning of the line, take the individual by the hand and help them up, and would say:
Im Namen des Herren und im Namen der Gemeinde, beite ich dir die Hand: In the name of the Lord and in the name of the church, I offer you my hand:
Stehe auf zu eine neuen Anfang, zu ein neuen Lebenswandel. Arise to a new beginning, to a new life.
After the person was on their feet he (would give the boys the "holy kiss" and for the girls his wife would come along behind and kiss them after he had pronounced the blessing) would pronounce this blessing over them:
Der Herr stärke dich den neuen angefangenes Werk aufzuführen, The Lord strengthen you in the carrying out of this newly-begun work,
Sein Jünger zu sein, To be his disciple,
Die Wahrheit zu erkennen, To acknowledge the truth,
Und die Wahrheit wird dich frei machen. And the truth shall make you free.
As the bishop came along to baptize the girls the ministery's wives would come along and take off the coverings so they don't get wet (years ago coverings had been made out of fabric that would be ruined if water got on it) and then after they were baptized the ladies would put the coverings back on the girls and tie the strings.
We were used to having pins to hold our coverings on and so we would have to take them out before we got baptized so the ladies could take them off. It was kind of nerve-wracking trying to not risk the embarrassment of our coverings slipping off before we had a chance to stick the pins back in.
Baptism took place near the end of preparatory services the day before Communion, usually on Saturdays.
For me I joined the church because it was the only thing I knew and there were no other churches nearby that I could've gone to with my parent's blessing.
I had lots of questions but I didn't trust anyone enough to ask and even if I did the answers were vague and very unsatisfactory. It wasn't until about 10 years later when I began working for a Holiness Pentecostal couple that I gradually learned to trust them and started asking questions. They helped me understand the Bible and taught me what they knew. Some things were still confusing and I also wrote to a preacher in my church and asked him some questions. I finally got so tired of people's opinions that I told the Lord I want Him to show me what to believe. And He did. It finally came to the point that I knew I had to make a choice between pleasing my parents by staying in their church or would I please the Lord by obeying what He showed me in His Word? With what He had showed me I knew I could no longer wholeheartedly support that church which put me in a hard spot because I didn't want to be a hypocrite.
It was the middle of February 2017 I think when I made my decision that i would choose to follow God. My one sister was getting married the middle of March and I decided to wait to break the news to my mom till after the wedding so I don't ruin the day for anyone. I remember standing in a circle with some of my relatives and thinking that if they knew the secret I was carrying they would be very displeased and my mom would be broken hearted. The wedding was on a Thursday and I waited till the weekend and then I called my mom and told her. She started crying and said that she would appreciate if I'd still wear my Mennonite clothes when I come home (which I did to honor them till the last time I was home (the weekend of Aug. 1st 2020)and I just couldn't. I felt like the Lord was saying no in my heart. I still took them along and prayed about and I just couldn't wear them.)
It was maybe a year later when I studied about what the Bible says on baptism ( I was driving an hour and a half to a holiness church each weekend at the time). It had never dawned on me to study it before because I had been sincere when I had gotten baptized into the Mennonite church. When I realized that the Greek word for baptism meant "immersed" I was so excited and longed to be baptized the "right" way. After thinking about it though and considering my sincerity before I questioned whether it was right because I had been taught according to Ephesians 4:5 and Hebrews 6:1-8 that it was a sin to be rebaptized. I didn't make sense and I was confused as to what was right and asked the Lord to sow me what I'm supposed to do about it.
I don't know how long after that I was reading the account in Acts 19 and it just hit me out of nowhere: the men had been baptized to what they knew at the time (John's baptism) but when Paul came along and gave them the "rest of the story" they were baptized again. It erased all doubt in my mind for I had been baptized to what I knew and God had given me so much more truth that it was only right for me to be baptized by immersion. I again looked eagerly forward to that day.
A few months later I was at a church near to my current church and they were having services for the youth. The first service the sermon was about surrendering everything to God. As far as I could think I didn't have anything unsurrendered but when I went to the altar to pray the thing that came to mind was church. I was only going to m current church because it was the only one I really knew of. But I felt like God was calling me elsewhere o i took note of other churches that had special services posted on the bulletin boards and I would ask the Lord where He wanted me to go next. And so for the next month and a half I went to so many different churches but none of them seemed to be the right one.
Finally I found out about this church in West Virginia that was having a revival and so I asked my pastor's wife of the church I had first been going to for the phone number of the pastor's wife at this church so I could let her know I was coming. (It was a 2 1/ 2 hr drive till I had to move and then it was 3 hrs. The pastor's wife of this church I wanted to visit had been a speaker at a ladies conference and was the only person I slighty knew in the church.) As I walked into the church on Monday night, late, knowing no one, I felt as tho I had come home. It was so weird for I had never before had such a feeling in my life. (I continued going to that church for the next 2 1/2 years leaving only about a month ago.)
I started going there the middle of June 2018 and it was not until Aug. or Sept. of the next year when there was a baptismal down by the river close to my pastor's house. I had been waiting for that day for at least 2 years. There were about 10 of us that got baptized and when my turn came my pastor wanted me to testify but all I could say was, "I'm just so happy!"
When I realized that the Bible in original Greek language meant immersion I was curious to see where the sprinkling instead of immersion baptism came from or who started it. In my research I discovered that it was started by the Catholic church years before the 1500's because it was easier. Here are a few links:
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have any questions or topics that you would like for me to write about, you may contact me via social media or my website...