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William

Is sprinkling a proper mode of baptism?

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Question:

 

I've seen the case for the Reformed view of the proper mode of baptism and find the article Is Immersion Necessary for Baptism? very helpful. I wonder about the validity of sprinkling if the water does not touch the skin/scalp of the person being baptized because of the thickness of his/her hair. A Roman Catholic website has this to say about such a situation.

It is to be noted that it is not sufficient for the water to merely touch the candidate; it must also flow, otherwise there would seem to be no real ablution. At best, such a baptism would be considered doubtful. If the water touches only the hair, the sacrament has probably been validly conferred, though in practice the safer course must be followed. If only the clothes of the person have received the aspersion, the baptism is undoubtedly void. (
)

 

 

Do Roman Catholics view the administration of baptism in this way because they believe in baptismal regeneration? What is the Reformed response?

 

 

Answer:

 

Thank you for submitting a most interesting question. I've never heard this Roman Catholic view before, and have never even thought about the issue. I consulted A Christian Directory, by the famous Puritan pastor Richard Baxter. It contains responses to hundreds of perplexing questions about what is right and wrong (or wise and unwise) in the Christian life (these are technically called "Cases of Conscience"), but there is no mention of this question. You may be the first to have asked it within the Protestant and Reformed community! Baptism, as our confessional standards (which are doctrinal formulations of what the Scriptures say) state, is:

  1. Is to be with water as the outward element, cf. WCF 28:2.
  2. "Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary" (i.e. the common Baptist view is that it is necessary), "but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person." (WCF 28:3).

The biblical basis for these is that

  1. Many biblical references to the act of baptism make specific reference to the use of water (e.g. Acts 8:36, 38; 10:47); and water, as an element, is perfectly suited to the symbolism of baptism as a cleansing or washing (e.g. Acts 22:16, Tit. 3:5).
  2. New Testament baptisms, like the various Old Testament washings or cleansings (which are called "baptisms," Mark 7:2-4, Luke 11:28, Heb. 9:10), were invariably done by sprinkling or pouring the ceremonial cleansing element (usually water or blood) on the person or object being "baptized," cf. Heb. 9:13, 19, 21. This is most clearly illustrated in Acts 16:33, in which the "washing away of the stripes" that Paul and Silas had received as punishment from the Philippian city magistrates (Acts 16:23) is coupled with the baptism of the newly converted Philippian jailer and his family. Water was applied to them by sprinkling (or, more likely, pouring) even as it was to Paul and Silas.

Now, in no case is water applied to the whole body of the person baptized, but the biblical texts are clear here and elsewhere that the whole person is baptized, i.e., "he and all his family were baptized" (Acts 16:33). In other words, the ceremonial cleansing (baptism) of a part of the person is taken as the baptism of the whole person. And the Bible in no place raises the very fine point made by the Roman Catholic website, i.e., whether a certain part of the body is actually touched by the water and whether the absence of such touching by water may invalidate the baptism. We must not be wiser than God. If the Scriptures do not even raise such an issue, neither should we raise it or be bothered by it. Hair is part of a person's body. In fact (and most interestingly, given your question), the Bible even speaks of a person's hair as part of the glory of the person (1 Cor. 11:2-16). So, there can be no doubt that even if only the hair is touched by the waters of baptism, because we (and the Bible) customarily speak in terms of "part for the whole," the person is truly baptized.

 

It is also interesting that in Psalm 133:2, the anointing of the head of Aaron (who, we assume, had hair) is clearly connected with the anointing of the whole person. While this anointing is not, technically, a baptism, the principle is the same: Blessings that flow from heaven begin with our heads (usually covered with hair) and proceed to the whole person.

 

So, don't let this question vex you. The Gospel liberates us from, among other things, the "doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to [God's] word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship" (WCF 20.2, in the chapter "Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience," a section I strongly urge you to study). I hope that you are looking, in faith, to Christ alone as your Savior and your Lord. That issue is infinitely more important than any particular questions about the administration or mode of baptism. If so, I also trust that you have been baptized with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and by a Christian minister. I also trust that you have publicly professed your faith in Christ and are a member in good standing of a church that sincerely believes the Bible and faithfully ministers it as our final and sufficient authority for all faith and life (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Under the ministry of a church like that, you will grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus and also be increasingly freed from unnecessary speculation about minor matters that in no way contribute to our godliness or usefulness in the service of Christ (1 Tim. 1:3-4).

 

Source: https://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=467

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Question:

 

I've seen the case for the Reformed view of the proper mode of baptism and find the article Is Immersion Necessary for Baptism? very helpful. I wonder about the validity of sprinkling if the water does not touch the skin/scalp of the person being baptized because of the thickness of his/her hair. A Roman Catholic website has this to say about such a situation.

It is to be noted that it is not sufficient for the water to merely touch the candidate; it must also flow, otherwise there would seem to be no real ablution. At best, such a baptism would be considered doubtful. If the water touches only the hair, the sacrament has probably been validly conferred, though in practice the safer course must be followed. If only the clothes of the person have received the aspersion, the baptism is undoubtedly void. (
)

 

 

 

Do Roman Catholics view the administration of baptism in this way because they believe in baptismal regeneration? What is the Reformed response?

 

 

Answer:

 

Thank you for submitting a most interesting question. I've never heard this Roman Catholic view before, and have never even thought about the issue. I consulted A Christian Directory, by the famous Puritan pastor Richard Baxter. It contains responses to hundreds of perplexing questions about what is right and wrong (or wise and unwise) in the Christian life (these are technically called "Cases of Conscience"), but there is no mention of this question. You may be the first to have asked it within the Protestant and Reformed community! Baptism, as our confessional standards (which are doctrinal formulations of what the Scriptures say) state, is:

  1. Is to be with water as the outward element, cf. WCF 28:2.
  2. "Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary" (i.e. the common Baptist view is that it is necessary), "but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person." (WCF 28:3).

The biblical basis for these is that

  1. Many biblical references to the act of baptism make specific reference to the use of water (e.g. Acts 8:36, 38; 10:47); and water, as an element, is perfectly suited to the symbolism of baptism as a cleansing or washing (e.g. Acts 22:16, Tit. 3:5).
  2. New Testament baptisms, like the various Old Testament washings or cleansings (which are called "baptisms," Mark 7:2-4, Luke 11:28, Heb. 9:10), were invariably done by sprinkling or pouring the ceremonial cleansing element (usually water or blood) on the person or object being "baptized," cf. Heb. 9:13, 19, 21. This is most clearly illustrated in Acts 16:33, in which the "washing away of the stripes" that Paul and Silas had received as punishment from the Philippian city magistrates (Acts 16:23) is coupled with the baptism of the newly converted Philippian jailer and his family. Water was applied to them by sprinkling (or, more likely, pouring) even as it was to Paul and Silas.

Now, in no case is water applied to the whole body of the person baptized, but the biblical texts are clear here and elsewhere that the whole person is baptized, i.e., "he and all his family were baptized" (Acts 16:33). In other words, the ceremonial cleansing (baptism) of a part of the person is taken as the baptism of the whole person. And the Bible in no place raises the very fine point made by the Roman Catholic website, i.e., whether a certain part of the body is actually touched by the water and whether the absence of such touching by water may invalidate the baptism. We must not be wiser than God. If the Scriptures do not even raise such an issue, neither should we raise it or be bothered by it. Hair is part of a person's body. In fact (and most interestingly, given your question), the Bible even speaks of a person's hair as part of the glory of the person (1 Cor. 11:2-16). So, there can be no doubt that even if only the hair is touched by the waters of baptism, because we (and the Bible) customarily speak in terms of "part for the whole," the person is truly baptized.

 

It is also interesting that in Psalm 133:2, the anointing of the head of Aaron (who, we assume, had hair) is clearly connected with the anointing of the whole person. While this anointing is not, technically, a baptism, the principle is the same: Blessings that flow from heaven begin with our heads (usually covered with hair) and proceed to the whole person.

 

So, don't let this question vex you. The Gospel liberates us from, among other things, the "doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to [God's] word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship" (WCF 20.2, in the chapter "Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience," a section I strongly urge you to study). I hope that you are looking, in faith, to Christ alone as your Savior and your Lord. That issue is infinitely more important than any particular questions about the administration or mode of baptism. If so, I also trust that you have been baptized with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and by a Christian minister. I also trust that you have publicly professed your faith in Christ and are a member in good standing of a church that sincerely believes the Bible and faithfully ministers it as our final and sufficient authority for all faith and life (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Under the ministry of a church like that, you will grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus and also be increasingly freed from unnecessary speculation about minor matters that in no way contribute to our godliness or usefulness in the service of Christ (1 Tim. 1:3-4).

 

Source: https://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=467

 

Some good information. I was baptized as an infant in the RCC. I am in the process of looking for another church but I am holding church/Bible Study in my home each week in the mean time. Based on the Nicene Creed and Peter's word I think that baptism should suffice and I don't need to be re-baptized.

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Some good information. I was baptized as an infant in the RCC. I am in the process of looking for another church but I am holding church/Bible Study in my home each week in the mean time. Based on the Nicene Creed and Peter's word I think that baptism should suffice and I don't need to be re-baptized.

I agree, but not on account of the "Nicene Creed" or the professed orthodoxy or heterdoxy of the baptizer, but because of the name "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" in which the baptism was done. In scripture there is only one incomplete form of Christian baptism recorded, and it is not being baptized into the name of the Lord. Acts 19:1-6.

 

If you have been baptized into his name, then you have been baptized. The question arises, what happens if the baptizer falls away, or is deluded about their own faith, which amounts to the same thing, possibly. It must have arisen countless times throughout history. The answer must surely be that it is inconsequential. As long as the baptizer knew what he was doing, and it was sincere at the time, i.e. not a blasphemous invocation, then it can stand. Otherwise people would forever be being re-baptized on account of some defect in the baptizer.

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I agree, but not on account of the "Nicene Creed" or the professed orthodoxy or heterdoxy of the baptizer, but because of the name "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" in which the baptism was done. In scripture there is only one incomplete form of Christian baptism recorded, and it is not being baptized into the name of the Lord. Acts 19:1-6.

 

If you have been baptized into his name, then you have been baptized. The question arises, what happens if the baptizer falls away, or is deluded about their own faith, which amounts to the same thing, possibly. It must have arisen countless times throughout history. The answer must surely be that it is inconsequential. As long as the baptizer knew what he was doing, and it was sincere at the time, i.e. not a blasphemous invocation, then it can stand. Otherwise people would forever be being re-baptized on account of some defect in the baptizer.

 

Good point regarding the Scripture. I was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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Some good information. I was baptized as an infant in the RCC. I am in the process of looking for another church but I am holding church/Bible Study in my home each week in the mean time. Based on the Nicene Creed and Peter's word I think that baptism should suffice and I don't need to be re-baptized.

 

I disagree. The RCC is a twisted authoritarian church. They made salvation their way and took personal decision and confession out of the equation. I had a friend had to hospitalized some day for he died of mersa We got to talking about baptism and like you he was under the delusion that he was saved by his infant baptism .I explained that one must understand stand sin and desire to be baptized for the remission of sins. His name was Doug and having this explained he said I want to be baptized right away. Doug was bed ridden unable to get out of bed. I had no choice. I got a bowl of waster and baptized him in the name of Father , The Son, and the Holy Ghost for his sins . One week later doug was gone.

 

Now do you see the need to be taught right knowing why

Edited by mitchel

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We got to talking about baptism and like you he was under the delusion that he was saved by his infant baptism.

The RCC is obviously a highly controversial organization, and will baptize anyone, irrespective of faith, or the faith of parents. If unbelieving parents take their child in for baptism having no intention to bring him up as a Christian, the baptism is probably blasphemous, and yes, such an unbelieving child who grows up and eventually finds Christ may want to be re-baptized, and if so it should be allowed. Yet that is an extreme case, where the re-baptized is making serious aspersions against his parents. I could identify with that myself, but on the other hand, I know I was given a lot of opportunity to become acquainted with the faith by my possibly unbelieving mother.

 

In the majority of situations the child is brought up in a christian education, of sorts, and choses voluntarily to leave the faith, possibly having never really understood it, but possibly having tasted it. He then may repent at a later date. That is really an issue of faith as much as baptism. One can't continually be being re-baptized everytime one discovers and repents of sin. Some sins are very grave, very prolonged, very deep rooted. What is going to count is the sincerity of the repentance from them Ps 51;17, and not the decision to be, or not to be, re-baptized.

 

I think re-baptism is a very serious issue, and is not to be untaken lightly. One cannot make aspersions against others for lack of faith if oneself is primarily to blame.

Edited by outlawState
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I disagree. The RCC is twisted authoritarian church. They made salvation their was and took personal decision and confession out of the equation. I had a friend had to hospitalized some day for he died of mersa We got to talking about baptism and like you he was under the delusion that he was saved by his infant baptism .I explained to one must understand stand sin and desire to be baptized for the remission of sins. His name was Doug and having this explained he said I want to be baptized right away. Doug was bed ridden unable to get out of bed. I had no choice. I got a bowl of waster and baptized him in the name of Father , The Son, and the Holy Ghost for his sins . One week later doug was gone.

 

Now do you see the need to be taught right knowing why

 

I agree the RCC is a twisted church. I was baptized though which meets the Nicene Creed requirement.

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The RCC is obviously a highly controversial organization, and will baptize anyone, irrespective of faith, or the faith of parents. If unbelieving parents take their child in for baptism having no intention to bring him up as a Christian, the baptism is probably blasphemous, and yes, such an unbelieving child who grows up and eventually finds Christ may want to be re-baptized, and if so it should be allowed. Yet that is an extreme case, where the re-baptized is making serious aspersions against his parents. I could identify with that myself, but on the other hand, I know I was given a lot of opportunity to become acquainted with the faith by my possibly unbelieving mother.

 

In the majority of situations the child is brought up in a christian education, of sorts, and choses voluntarily to leave the faith, possibly having never really understood it, but possibly having tasted it. He then may repent at a later date. That is really an issue of faith as much as baptism. One can't continually be being re-baptized everytime one discovers and repents of sin. Some sins are very grave, very prolonged, very deep rooted. What is going to count is the sincerity of the repentance from them Ps 51;17, and not the decision to be, or not to be, re-baptized.

 

I think re-baptism is a very serious issue, and is not to be untaken lightly. One cannot make aspersions against others for lack of faith if oneself is primarily to blame.

 

I was baptized as an infant in RCC, I attended Catholic High School, made communion and confirmation,.... I left the church a few years ago and I was considering re-baptism but it appears that may not be necessary. I was raised by Catholic parents.

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I agree, but not on account of the "Nicene Creed" or the professed orthodoxy or heterdoxy of the baptizer, but because of the name "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" in which the baptism was done. In scripture there is only one incomplete form of Christian baptism recorded, and it is not being baptized into the name of the Lord. Acts 19:1-6.

 

If you have been baptized into his name, then you have been baptized. The question arises, what happens if the baptizer falls away, or is deluded about their own faith, which amounts to the same thing, possibly. It must have arisen countless times throughout history. The answer must surely be that it is inconsequential. As long as the baptizer knew what he was doing, and it was sincere at the time, i.e. not a blasphemous invocation, then it can stand. Otherwise people would forever be being re-baptized on account of some defect in the baptizer.

 

I agree,

  • Notice John 3:22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing.22
  • And now John 4:1-3 4 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.3

Jesus was not baptizing Himself, but no distinction is made between being baptized by a disciple or Jesus Christ. I think even if Judas was baptizing (and as far as we know he could of been) it wouldn't matter so long as the baptism was done in the name of the Triune God.

 

God bless,

William

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I disagree. The RCC is a twisted authoritarian church. They made salvation their way and took personal decision and confession out of the equation. I had a friend had to hospitalized some day for he died of mersa We got to talking about baptism and like you he was under the delusion that he was saved by his infant baptism .I explained that one must understand stand sin and desire to be baptized for the remission of sins. His name was Doug and having this explained he said I want to be baptized right away. Doug was bed ridden unable to get out of bed. I had no choice. I got a bowl of waster and baptized him in the name of Father , The Son, and the Holy Ghost for his sins . One week later doug was gone.

 

Now do you see the need to be taught right knowing why

 

So you think Credo-baptism is necessary for salvation? Do you believe that salvation cannot occur without baptism?

 

BUT, this thread isn't to do with whether baptism is necessary for salvation or that grace is so annexed to baptism that salvation cannot happen without it. It's about the acceptable modes of baptism.

 

God bless,

William

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Not to downplay the need for baptism but the thief at the cross next to Christ was not baptized and he was saved. Also, Paul said to the Roman guard, believe in Jesus and be saved. I think this shows a person can be saved without baptism but baptism is very important.

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We were already identified as belonging to God and we have undergone the curse in Christ. So actual physical circumcision is, in the new covenant, unnecessary. Paul tells those who wish to circumcise themselves, to go the whole way and emasculate themselves.   Acts 2:38, 39 also links circumcision and baptism. In Acts 2:38 the Apostle Peter calls for repentance, faith in Christ and baptism by Jews who are hearing his preaching. In v.39 he gives the reason for this action: “the promise is to you and to your children, and all who are far off….” The Apostle Peter consciously uses the same formula in his preaching as the LORD himself used when he instituted the sign of circumcision in Genesis 17, which the Jews listening understood precisely.   What are the Relations Between Faith and Circumcision?   Romans 4:1–8, 13–25 teaches that Abraham was justified by grace alone, through faith alone and not by works and yet God required that Abraham take the sign (mark) of circumcision. Romans 4:11 says that circumcision was a sign and a seal of “the righteousness that he (Abraham) had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.” Circumcision was a sign of God’s covenantal relationship to Abraham and to Abraham’s children, all who believe in Christ. The meaning of circumcision was spiritual and not just outward. Circumcision as a sign of faith and entrance into the covenant people as a member was also applied to children.   What is the Relationship Between Faith and Baptism?   Acts 2:38, 39 says, Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and for your children and for many who are-for all whom the Lord our God will call. For adult converts, baptism is a sign of what Christ has done for them, forgiven them and washed them. Adult converts are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is through faith in Christ. Baptism is a sign of our new standing with God through faith. Notice, v.39 “The promise (of salvation to those who believe) is for you and for your children.” Our faith is in the Christ who died for us. Like circumcision, baptism is a sign of being united to him in his death by faith. Peter says that the flood waters of Noah symbolize baptism, because baptism is a sign of dying to sin, the washing away of sin by Christ’s blood, and living by faith in Christ.   Everyone, (adults and children), who has been baptized must be united by faith to Christ for salvation. Unbaptized, adult converts, profess their faith before baptism. Children of believers who received the sign in infancy profess their faith as soon as they are able. Both are responsible before God to be faithful to the grace represented by the sign and seal they have received.   That, however, has always been true. No one has ever been accepted by God except by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Christ and his benefits were illustrated by a forward-looking sign and seal under Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets. In Christ the fulfillment has come and we no longer have need of the bloody illustration. It has been fulfilled and replaced by an unbloody, sign and seal that looks back to Christ’s finished work. The promise that God made to Abraham, however, is explicitly repeated in the New Covenant by the Apostle Peter. Therefore that promise (the promise is to you and to your children) does not belong to the illustration (Abraham, Moses et al) only. Rather, the promise is also part of the covenant of grace. The administration of the promise included adults and children under Abraham and, according to Peter, it includes them in the New Covenant as well. This is why the Apostle Paul links circumcision and baptism via Christ’s death.

      in Covenant/Household Baptism

    • Five elements of water baptism in the bible

      1 The baptist should baptize the believer in the name of Jesus but not in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit is Jesus. Jesus is the only God dwelling in the world and appearing to human in flesh. Jesus has flesh body and die in cross for our sin. The sinless lamb became a sacrifice on Passover for saving human’s life. He burdens our sin and takes over the punishment of death. Then we may gain the salvation by the faith in Jesus. Peter said in Acts 2:38 “ Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10:48 “ So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.”   2 The water baptism can only be conducted in living water like river, sea or lake. Water baptism conducted in pool is sin. “ My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own pools, broken pools that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13.  Jesus set an example for us who was baptized by John Baptist in Jordan river. John Baptist also baptized others in River called Aenon. Baptism in living water also indicates Jesus is living water of our life. “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin the impurity.” Zechariah 13:1.   3 The water baptism in bile is full immersion. The Greek word from which we get the word baptism is “baptizo”, which literally means “to immerse”.  All water baptisms in scripture were by full immersion.  Jesus was water baptized by being fully immersed in the water and rising out of it. (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Acts 8:38-39). Full immersion means we die together with Jesus.  “ Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death” Roman 6:3. Submersion in the water symbolizes the death and burial while raising out of the water is a picture how Jesus raised us and gave us a fresh start in life. Sprinkling or any other ways of baptism were not matching the scriptures of bible.   4 When receiving water baptism, the believer should bow his head. Water baptism means die with Jesus. In Roman 6:4-5” We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” What is the shape of Jesus when he die in cross? John 19:30 “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “ It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” It is also a sinner’s altitude to bow the head.   5 The baptist must be baptized with the Holy Spirit before baptizing others. John 20:22-23 “ And with that he breather on them and said, receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” It is Holy Spirit forgiving sin. People without being baptized with the Holy Spirit cannot forgive sins. Only the ones who have been baptized with the Holy Spirit can baptize others with the function of washing up sin. Water baptism has water, Jesus blood and Holy Spirit. 1 John 5:6-8 “ This is the one who came by water and blood- Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”

      in Baptism

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