The Importance of Water Baptism
Written by: Rev. Charles F. Parham (1902)
In the early stages of his ministry, Charles Parham struggled with the absoluteness of water baptism as it related to regeneration. But soon he had a clearer understanding, that not only did Jesus expect it from a believer, but that water baptism would be the emminant response of a believers faith in Christ, and one of the identifying marks of the Apostolic faith. In his theology, Parham realized that as believers, we are buried with Christ by baptism into His death. In his book entitled, A Voice Crying In The Wilderness, which he first published in 1902, Parham deals with the subject of water baptism as it pertained to the doctrines of his Apostolic Faith Movement.
Parham writes, "For years after entering the ministry, we taught no special baptism of water, believing the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to be the only essential one; having been marvelously anointed from time to time, and received the anointing that abideth, we put the question of water baptism aside. One day, while meditating alone in the woods, the Spirit said, 'Have you obeyed every command you believe to be in the Word'. I answered, yes; the question repeated, and the same answer was given. The third time the question was asked, I answered, no! for like a flood, the covincing evidence of the necessity of obedience rushed in upon me, how Peter said, 'Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ'. Was not this one baptism?"
"Then came the second; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Again Peter preceeded at once to baptize Cornelius, and all his house, who had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, with the Bible evidence of speaking with other tiongues. Thrusting aside all arguments, Peter replied,'Can any man forbid water, that these should be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we'. Paul did not recognize the baptism of John to repentance as sufficient, but rebaptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ before he would lay hands upon them that they might receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. These and other Scriptures were so convincing that the next day we were baptized by single immersion".
Parham continues by saying, "I can well remember when we sought God in this cleansing, how some of the teachings we had believed to be so Scriptural, and some we had loved so dearly were wiped from our minds. Among them was triune immersion; we could not afterward find a single argument in its favor. One day at the Bible School we were waiting upon God that we might know the Scriptural teaching on water baptism. Finally, the Spirit of God said: 'We are buried by baptism into His death'. Although we had known that for years, again the Spirit said: 'God the Father and the Holy Ghost never died." Then how quickly we recognized the fact that we could not be buried by baptism in the name of the Father, and in the name of the Holy Ghost, because it stood for nothing, as they never died or were resurrected. So, if you desire to witness a public confession of a clean conscience toward God, and man, faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ, you will be baptized by single immersion, signifying the death, burial, and resurrection: being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ".