OceanSide church of Christ
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Hebrews 10:22, Sprinkling
Victor M. Eskew
The dictionary defines the word “baptism” as “sprinkling, pouring, or immersion.” Many would agree with these definitions. The New Testament, however, reveals that baptism is a burial (Rom. 6:3-4) and a planting (Rom. 6:5). One wonders how individuals could justify the practices of sprinkling and pouring for baptism if baptism is a burial.
One of the passages used to “justify” sprinkling is Hebrews 10:22. It reads as follows: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Those who believe in the act of sprinkling as baptism say that this verse involves the cleansing of the heart when one is sprinkled in baptism.
It should be noted that two actions are mentioned in Hebrews 10:22. The first action is outward, “our bodies washed with pure water.” This is the action of baptism, immersion in water (Acts 22:16). The second action is inward, “our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” When one is outwardly baptized, the heart is sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ. This sprinkling action takes one back to the Law of Moses. “Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you, moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood, and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:18-22). When things were sprinkled with blood under the Old Testament, they were cleansed, purged, and dedicated to God. In like manner, when one is immersed into Christ, his heart is sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb of God. His sins are purged, and he is dedicated to God’s holy use. With regard to Hebrews 10:22, all one must keep in mind is that the sprinkling is inward, not outward. It is the sprinkling of the heart, not the body.