The Baptist Pillar ©      Brandon Bible Baptist Church     1992-Present

"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

We Have No Right to Change

the Ordinance of Baptism

John Craps

From A Concise View of Christian Baptism, 1827

God is particularly jealous of the honor of his ordinances. He admits of no human encroachment. Twice have we the order in this chapter (Ex. 25). “According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” Human inventions are not admitted into holy things."—Condensed Commentary

1. The Scriptures have, instituted the immersion of believers as a rite of the gospel, without the least intimation that sprinkling should ever be substituted for immersion, or infants for believers. The divine sanction cannot therefore be produced in favour of such a change.

2. Man has no right to change a divine institution. As much authority is required to change an institution as to establish one. If we change a divine law we put ourselves in the place of God, or rather in direct opposition to him.

3. To change a divine institution, is virtually to deny the wisdom of its appointment. If we make a change we pretend it is for the better. Is not this, in effect, to say we are wiser than God?

4. To change an ordinance is to betray a trust and to handle the word of God deceitfully. As stewards we are required faithfully to keep and stedfastly to maintain the scriptural laws and regulations of Zion.

5. To change the ordinance from the immersion of believers to the sprinkling of infants is to subvert it. No instance can be produced, in which, by either precept or example, the Scriptures authorize the sprinkling of infants. The immersion of believers and the sprinkling of infants are quite distinct and different things. As the immersion of believers is baptism, and as there is but "ONE BAPTISM," infant sprinkling, so far as it prevails, makes void the scriptural ordinance of believers' immersion.

6. We have no more right to change baptism than we have to change any other part of the revealed counsel of God. If therefore we change this ordinance, may we not with as little impropriety change the Lord's Supper and every other part of revealed worship? If we admit a departure from the Scriptures on this subject, why should we not admit a departure from them on every other subject? If we may, without scriptural authority, sprinkle an infant, why may we not worship an image and invoke a saint?

7. A faithful adherence to divine ordinances is commended in the Scriptures. "Now I praise you brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them unto you." (I Cor. 11:2)

8. It was one of the great sins of the scribes and Pharisees, that they rejected the commands of God to keep the traditions of men, "For laying aside the commandments of God, ye hold the tradition of men.—Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition.—Howbeit, in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Mark 7:7-13) Thus they were turned from the truth by giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men. And will not our worship be worse than vain, if we set aside the divine ordinance of believer's immersion for the human tradition of infant sprinkling?

9. The Scriptures represent it as a crime of great enormity to change a divine ordinance. Awful threatenings are denounced by the prophet Isaiah. “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isaiah 24:5) One of the sins for which these threatenings are denounced is, "they have changed the ordinance." Whatever ordinance is intended, it is plain that to change an ordinance is a great sin. When two of the sons of Aaron made a change in the offering of incense, "there went a fire from the Lord and devoured them." (Lev. 10:1-3)

The most severe judgments are denounced against those who "add to" or "take away from" the book of God. “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22: 18, 19) These passages should make us tremble at the thought of changing a divine institution.