“Born Of Water” -- By: William H. Bates

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 085:338 (Apr 1928)
Article: “Born Of Water”
Author: William H. Bates

“Born Of Water”

William H. Bates

In Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, John 3:5, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” does he in the phrase, “born of water,” refer to baptism?

In 1915 it was the writer’s fortune to preach on a Sunday morning in the pulpit of a Baptist church where, as a student away from home preparing for college, he led the choir fifty-eight years before. That musical labor was without remuneration, but he recouped himself farther on by carrying off the best thing in the church— the leading alto singer in the choir—by which achievement the solo of his life became a duet whose concord has continued unto this present.

In the evening of that day the pastor, possibly for the education or conversion of the morning guest, preached upon the subject of Baptism. He said that at first he thought the words “born of water,” did not refer to baptism, but later and prolonged study convinced him that they did, and his discourse proceeded accordingly.

“Dr. James E. Talmage” appears to be the doctrinarian of the Mormon propaganda, his disquisitions being published in the secular press throughout the country and paid for as advertisements. In his article on Monday, January 27, 1919, was this paragraph:

“To Nicodemus our Lord declared in such plainness as to preclude dispute: ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’ (John 3:6). That this new birth comprises water baptism by immersion, as was at that time being administered by John the Baptist, and the higher baptism of the Spirit which Christ himself came to give, is evident from the scriptural context. Note the incisiveness of our Lord’s affirmation that without baptism man cannot enter the kingdom of God. No

distinction is made, no exceptions are implied. The indispensable condition is applicable to all men, whether living or dead.”

Before me is a pamphlet, “The Teaching of Baptisms, set forth in the Holy Scriptures and enumerated among the First Principles of Christ.” It was adopted by the First Baptist Church of San Francisco, for use in its Bible schools. It is in the form of questions and answers, and in the answer to question 41 are these words: “The phrase, ‘born of water,’ cannot refer to baptism.” When immersionists disagree among themselves, what can we non-immersionists do but take to the study of Scripture on our own account?

It should be noted that Jesus did not ...

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