...Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
The subject of baptism is one of great controversy in the religious world, and has been for many years. Historically, the Baptists have had only one position on baptism: immersion by a qualified administrator is valid baptism. Anyone familiar with the meaning of words knows baptism cannot moan sprinkling or pouring. However, as great a controversy regarding baptism is; who is authorized to baptize?
Baptists do not admit immersion by one who is unbaptized to be gospel baptism. This makes perfect sense, for how can one who is not baptized presume to baptize others? So the question comes down to this: what constitutes gospel baptism?
In the early church one of the great debates was whether the baptism of heretics was valid. Both sides agreed it was not. However, each side declared the other one heretics. Today we have a similar problem, - is baptism by one who does not believe the gospel valid? Many of us had been immersed before joining the Primitive Baptists; some of us more than once. Why did we have to go to the water to join this group? Because Arminian immersion is not, and cannot be, gospel baptism.
When we were dipped by Arminians, we proclaimed our identification with those who deny the gospel of Jesus. We declared that we were agreed with those who dipped us. God, through His teaching us better things, showed us the error of these men, and we desired union with those who believe as we had been taught. Part of our shedding off our Arminian rags was the renunciation of their baptism. They brought not the doctrine of Jesus Christ, therefore, we could not accept that they were qualified to baptize. In our own experience we were first led to so-called Primitive Baptists who (for the most part) hold “conditional time salvation”, the most disgusting form of Arminianism. We were dipped by one of them. But they, as a people, do not preach the doctrine of Christ, so when we were led to the Predestinarian Baptists we gladly went to the water to shed our identification with that group and be baptized by one who believed as we.
Some today see no need to make an issue of baptism. These would accept anyone’s immersion if they held to “Calvinistic” doctrine. Brethren, all that goes by the name of “Calvinism” is not the gospel. Indeed, most of those who glory in the name of Calvin hold to doctrines quite contrary to that which the Bible teaches. They invariable declare the law to be the believers rule of life, their perception of election is faulty, and most of them, if they have been immersed at all, were immersed by an Arminian. Remember, the administrator of Baptism must have been baptized properly himself to perform the ordinance.
The subject of baptism, also, has some requirements. He must be one who can give a reason for his hope. Infants cannot do this, therefore they are not suitable subjects for baptism. Many adults as well, who with their mouths claim to be “Christians,” cannot do this. It requires being a partaker of the heavenly birth to confess that Jesus is Lord. Jesus told His apostles to make disciples of men before they were to be baptized. One who gives no evidence of being a disciple is not a proper candidate for baptism.
We have stressed two points: the administrator of baptism must have been a partaker of the ordinance, and the candidate must give evidence of the new birth. Head-knowledge of doctrine never qualified anyone in either point. A man can possess all knowledge, and not have the grace of God enlivening him. Experimental knowledge of the Gospel is neccessitous for all parties in baptism. By the Gospel we do not mean the world’s perverted view, but that which is taught in Scripture and by the Holy Spirit to each of the elect.
Brethren, all that passes for baptism today is not, and we should, by the grace of God, be watchful that the house of God is not infiltrated by those graceless professors who teach that these things do not matter. The basis of open communion is that gospel baptism means nothing. We Baptists deny the Lord’s supper to the unbaptized for they have not followed the Master in all things. Some would tell us, “Oh, we all fall short of following Jesus in some things.” Yes, that’s true, but the plain command of Jesus is at the head of this article: “baptizing them.” We cannot go beyond His command and accept one into our Churches who has not even begun to follow the Lord. Jesus’ first public act was to be baptized by him who God appointed to baptize. If we follow the example of many today, Jesus could have asked any Jew to baptize Him and it would have been alright.
This causes separation. Many feel themselves to be baptized and have no need of baptism to unite with the Old School. They have not fully rejected Arminianism. They believe as the Arminian; man can still do something good for the Kingdom of God. Where would this lead? Only to confusion! We pray that the Old School Baptists will never be ashamed of the Bible doctrine of Baptism, and will continue to uphold the truth; opposing such devious tricks of Satan as a so-called Holy Ghost Baptism being the one true baptism, and other such nonsense. We hope, if the Lord wills, to enter into this subject more fully in future issues. Brethren pray for us.
Volume 1, No. 4
June - July, 1987