The Administrator Of Baptism

The Administrator Of Baptism

             The question that is before us is, “Who is to be the administrator of baptism?” Our sole authority being that of Christ inthe Scriptures, let us go “To the law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to this word, It is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20) 

The Practice Of Baptism In The Gospels And Acts

            When we approach the Scriptures, one important principle that must be applied is that of the normative principleof interpretation. The normative principle of interpretation considers the Scriptures, looks at its examples and commandments, and asks whether these examples and commandments have been replaced by the Word of God or amplified, or if we can fulfill the spirit of the Word in any way other than that which is given. It is with this in mind that we understand that the practice of Christ and the early church, and the commandments of Christ to the local church are binding upon us today, as they have been neither changed nor nullified by God’s Word in any way.

When the practice of Christian baptism began, it began with John the Baptist, whom we can also call the Baptizer. John was sent from God (John 1:6) and had been commissioned to baptize those who repented (Matthew 3:1-10). There are two important things to notice: first, John was not baptized, but began the practice; and, second, John was sent from God with the authority to command all who repented to be baptized.

            Then we find that Jesus’ disciples baptized (John 4:1-3), and in this Jesus is spoken of as baptizing. Jesus is spoken of as baptizing when His disciples physically did the work because they did it under Jesus’ authority and supervision. It is with this same authority that Jesus commissioned His disciples and sent them forth to preach the gospel, make disciples, baptize them, and teach them (Matthew 28:18-20;Mark 16:14-18).

In the Acts we find that there are no names given to those who administered baptism on Pentecost, though there were probably many who did. We the find Philip baptizing in Samaria (Acts 8:12-13), then baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts8:36-38). From there we find Ananias baptizing Saul (Acts 9:18), Peter and other disciples baptizing at Cornelius’ house (Acts 10:47-48), Paul and others baptizing at Philippi (Acts 16:15,33), Corinth (Acts 18:8 cf 1 Corinthians 1:13-18), and Ephesus (Acts 19:1-5). 

It is interesting to note that, in each of these instances, the emphasis is not placed upon the administrator of baptism, but upon the act of baptism and its significance. This was so important that Paul stressed that he baptized very few people at Corinth, because the gospel is more important than the man doing the baptizing (1 Corinthians 1:13-18). We should certainly find it instructive that both Paul and John the Baptist (John 1:15-28;3:22-36) sought no fame for themselves, nor did they consider themselves important or indispensable because they baptized. The significance of baptism is in what it represents ( Baptism represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the death of the believer to sin and his being made alive to God in Christ, and the believer’s inward baptism with the Holy Spirit.) rather than in the person who administers baptism. We should also place our emphasis on the truths of the gospel, and the significance of baptism as a profession of one’s faith in the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ.

The Role Of The Local Church In Baptism

            What do the Scriptures teach us of the role of the local church in baptism? First of all, we find that the local church at Jerusalem was formed by assembling believers who had been baptized by John (Matthew 4:17-22;Acts 1:21-26). Among these were the twelve Jesus chose to be His apostles. Then we also see that there was a greater number in the early church at Jerusalem, as they numbered one hundred twenty in Acts chapters one and two. Having specified that the one chosen to replace Judas must have been baptized by John, Peter seems to have implied that there were those in the number who were baptized by Jesus and/or His disciples (See John 4:1-3).

            It is also instructive to us to consider the order of events on Pentecost: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:41–42) Having heard the Word, many believed. After believing they were baptized. After baptism they were added to the local church. Who were the administrators of baptism on Pentecost? Truly we do not know. It is relatively safe to assume that the apostles took the lead, and perhaps some or all of the seventy (Luke 10:1-12); and who knows who else baptized? We must notice that very little is specifically statedregarding the persons of the administrators while acknowledging and emphasizing that we can be relatively certain that each of them would have been baptized disciples who were members of the Jerusalem church.

            As we take this farther, consider that Paul did not speak of the church baptizing, but of himself baptizing (1 Corinthians 1:13-18). Neither do we see Philip (Acts 8:12-13,36-38) or Ananias (Acts9:10-20) seeking permission from a local church to baptize. 

What can we conclude from this? We can conclude that it is important that one be baptized and a member of a local church in order to administer baptism, and that the local church seems to have accepted these baptisms by receiving those baptized into their membership (Acts 2:41-47;9:17-20). 

What Does The Scripture Show Us Regarding The Person Administering Baptism?

            To summarize what we have seen to this point, we find that the Scripture shows us the following regarding the person who administers baptism:

  1. He is a disciple (John 4:1-3).
  2. He baptizes with Divine authority (Matthew 3:1-10;John 1:6-9,15,19-28;Matthew 28:18-20).
  3. He seems to be a baptized member of the local church (Acts 1:21-26;1 Corinthians 1:13-18).

Beyond these three things we can speak with no certainty regarding the administrator of baptism. 

Some Recommendations For Church Policy Regarding The Administration Of Baptism

            The first consideration for any church is to be sure that baptism has been administered to a candidate for the proper reasons. Baptism signifies the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, the baptism of the believer in the Holy Spirit, and the believer’s dying to sin and becoming alive to God in Christ. This makes it necessary that we seek to ascertain that the one we are considering receiving into the church has a credible profession of faith. We should also seek to determine that they were baptized for the purpose of professing their faith. No baptism that is performed with the belief that it saves the one being baptized is acceptable baptism. We must be as sure as we possibly can that we are accepting a baptism that has been performed upon a believer as their profession of faith.

            While the administrator of baptism is not integral to the validity of the act, we should seek to ascertain whether there was a valid administrator. After all, it is highly irregular, though not unheard of, for there to be an administrator of baptism who has not been baptized (John the Baptist demonstrates that there has been at least one unbaptized baptizer.), though this does not necessarily invalidate a baptism. (Note: we must recognize the difference between that which is irregular and that which is invalid.) We should in every way seek regular baptisms. That which is irregular, though valid in the sight of God, should also be a rare occurrence. When that which is irregular becomes common, it becomes accepted as regular, which is not a good practice. In the USA there are many faithful, Bible believing Baptist churches with which a person can connect and receive baptism at the hands of a baptized administrator. It seems to be a wise course for a church to consider the baptism of each person who applies to them for admission into the body and, should the applicant have irregular baptism, we should certainly seek to ascertain why. Should a person not have been baptized by a valid administrator although one was available, this writer counts it wise for that person to receive baptism at the hands of one whom the church can recognize as a biblically valid administrator; so that we can uphold that which is regular above that which is irregular. 

            Ultimately the local church chooses whom to accept as a member, and what baptism they will receive (Acts 2:41-47;9:17-19,26-31;Romans 14:1;15:7). The local church should not go beyond the bounds of Scripture in their requirements, nor should they accept less than Scripture requires. The local church has no authority beyond faithfully obeying the commands of Christ as given in Scripture.

The Significance Of Baptism pt 1

The Significance Of Baptism

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:1–12) 

John’s Baptism

            As John came and preached, his preaching was that of repentance. He was making ready a people for God. His message was that men should believe on Jesus, who was coming after him (Acts 19:4). He told them that they should repent, because their King was coming. As John baptized unto repentance, we must note that baptizing unto repentance did not bring about repentance. The above text shows us that John expected repentance to have occurred before baptism. Only when one repented was he baptized. This is why it is called the baptism of repentance (Mark 1:1-5;Acts 19:1-4). 

            What was the focus of John’s baptism, if not the relationship of the people to their King, Jesus? John, when asked why he baptized, stated that it was because the King was coming (John 1:19-28). He further stated, when many disciples left him to follow Jesus, that was how it should be (John 3:23-26). John’s full focus was on Jesus. People were to repent of their sins and be baptized unto that repentance because the Christ was coming. The emphasis was not so much on the act of baptism as it was on the need to be right with Christ.

            Furthermore, God had promised that He would pour out His Spirit upon His people (Isa 32:13-18;44:1-8;Eze 36:25-26;Joel 2:28-32), and John reminded the people that this would be fulfilled in the kingdom of God by the King who was coming (Matt 3:11-12;John 1:25-28). This promised baptism of the Spirit was one of the reasons why John was baptizing: water baptism is a symbol of Baptism in the Spirit, and those being baptized in water were showing their faith in the King who would pour out His Spirit on them.

            In all of these things we can see that John was pointing people to Christ, the King, who would come and change them. John was not preaching that baptism would wash away the sins of the people.

Apostolic Baptism

            When the apostles baptized, they simply continued the practice of John, who had baptized them (Acts 1:15-22), and they did so under the direction of Jesus (John 3:26;4:1-3). Paul spoke to that effect when he baptized the believers at Ephesus in Acts chapter nineteen. He did not declare that John’s baptism was invalid: he declared that the Ephesians to whom he spoke had not received John’s baptism, although they thought that they had received it. These folks had heard something about John and his baptism and were baptized unto John’s baptism. Paul told them that John preached that Jesus was coming to pour out His Spirit, but they had heard nothing of that promise. They had not heard the message of John, who had preached that people should believe on Jesus. Having heard this, they believed on Jesus Christ and were baptized. It is interesting to note that neither John nor the apostles preached that baptism brought about salvation: they always emphasized that Jesus was the one who would give the Holy Spirit to those who believe Him. 

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

            Acts 2:38 has often been used to declare that the apostles preached baptismal regeneration, however this is not so. Remember that the preaching of John and the apostles was built upon the promises of God in the Old Testament. God had promised that He would pour out His Spirit and make things and people new. In addition to that promise, God stated that those who received the Spirit would call themselves by the name of the God who had saved them. One thing is certain, Acts 2:38 does not contradict the plain statement “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  When Peter said that they were to be baptized in the name of Jesus,he was simply stating that men must receive Jesus as the Christ and embrace Him as the true King of Israel. Not only so, but one of the things that is characteristic of those upon whom the Spirit is come is the fact that they identify themselves with the Lord who poured out His Spirit  (See Isa 44:5).  If this is characteristic of those who have received the promise, is it any wonder that Peter would tell the Jews who rejected Christ that they must repent, accept Jesus as their Messiah, and identify their selves with Christ to be saved?  Salvation is not through the identifying, but those who deny the Lord are denied of Him (See Matt 10:32,33).  No one need think himself to be forgiven of sin if he will not confess Jesus as the Christ and as his savior. This is simply another part of Scripture being fulfilled which says “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:   And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.  One shall say, I am the LORD’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.”  (Isa 44:3-5)              

Order In The Church

Order In The Church

Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40)

God Loves And Ordains Order

God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

            Order in the church is a very important thing. God both creates order and loves order. Our text above shows us that God does not cause chaos and uproar, but rather desires order and peace in the churches.

            Note that the Genesis Creation Account shows us the earth as being a watery chaos into which God quickly brought order by dividing the water from dry land, creating light, establishing seasons, etc. Order in our lives has its roots in the nature of God and in His creative design.

            God, having created order, commands us to submit to it. God is the ultimate authority, and all other authority comes from Him. We cannot live as though we are free from restraint. God is the King, and we are His subjects. Anarchy, disorder, self-will, and chaos are rebellion against God. When we submit to godly order we are submitting to God and honoring God.

The Natural Order

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3) 

            From the very beginning there was order established in society by God’s establishing marriage, giving man a family, and then ordaining civil government.

            From the beginning the husband was the head of his wife and family (1 Corinthians 11:1-10;1 Timothy 2:11-15; Malachi 2:13-16;Ephesians 5:21-6:4). We find many ways in which God placed much responsibility upon the man to care for his family as he leads them. Headship not only involves authority, but also places great responsibility upon the one who is in authority.

            As the families upon Earth grew, there was the need for order among the people. Thus God established a bit of order when He gave command regarding Cain after his murdering of Abel, his brother (Genesis 4:11-16). After the flood we see that God instituted the death penalty as the punishment for murder (Genesis 9:6), which shows us that God does indeed command order in society. We later see this principle reinforced in the New Testament (Romans 13:1-7;1 Peter 2:13-17).

Church Order

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18) 

            The church belongs to Jesus, as He has died for her (Acts 20:28;1 Corinthians 6:18-20;Ephesians 5:25-28). Christ is the head of the church. God has designed that our marriages serve to portray that (Ephesians 5:21-33). Having risen from the dead, and having been exalted to the right hand of God, Jesus’ name is exalted above all others, and He is given to the church as her head (Ephesians 1:19-23;Colossians 1:15-19) God has done this so that we would value Christ above all, and that God would get His glory in Christ.  If we truly long to honor God we must submit to godly order and follow Christ.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17) 

            Note that God has placed rulers within the church. There is an order that is to be observed among God’s people. Christ is God’s gift to the church as our head, and then He has gifted the church with leaders (Ephesians 4:11-16). These leaders are under the authority of Christ and bear the authority of Christ as they preach and teach His Word, and tend to the flock (1 Peter 5:1-4). We are taught to show great honor to those who rule well, to provide for their material needs (1 Timothy 5:17-18), to love them (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13), and to follow them and obey them (Hebrews 13:7-8,17).

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” (1 Timothy 2:11–15) 

            The natural order, established by God, is also to be followed in the church. God’s Word teaches us that the men should take the leadership in the church, as this is God’s order from the beginning. The law also established this (1 Corinthians 14:34-45). While there is definitely room for godly ladies to teach and be a blessing (1 Timothy 2:11-15;Titus 2:1-5), it is godly order that the responsibility of leading the church rests upon the men, just as it does in the home. Please note that this is something to which we are all called to submit. Godly order requires submission to the order, both by those who must submit to the burden of leadership as well as those who must submit to the leaders. The ultimate authority in the church is Christ, who has established this order, and we must submit to Him by following His order.

 

See also: Conducting Church Business Meetings

Baptist Distinctives

Baptist Distinctives

There are biblically based doctrines that make Baptists unique among professing Christians. Not all Baptists hold to all of these doctrines and practices. Since the beginning of Christendom there have been those who have not held to everything that is mentioned here. The failure to do so has often led to Baptists losing their unique identity as Baptists, though the name may remain on the church and on the sign. The totality of the doctrines believed is what makes Baptists unique. In addition to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity listed above, these are as follows:

  1. Salvation by grace through faith, apart from any good works or religious deeds.
  2. The eternal security of the believer in Christ. (John 10:27-30;Romans 8:28-39;Ephesians 1:12-14;1 Peter 1:1-9).
  3. The baptism of believers by complete immersion in water as an ordinance that is requisite to church membership. (Matthew 3:1-18;28:18-20;Acts 2:38-47;Romans 6:1-4)
  4. The beginning of the New Testament church during Christ’s earthly ministry. John came immersing those who repented, and Jesus led His followers to do likewise. (See Matthew 3:1-18;John 4:1-3;Matthew 28:18-20)
  5. The identity of this church as Baptist in doctrine and practice.
  6. The independence and autonomy of the local church under the headship of Christ and the leadership of His Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 1:1-3;Galatians 1:1-5 Note that here the churches are recognized as local and distinct bodies with no connection to one another beyond that of Christian fellowship. None had authority over the other. See also Revelation chapters 2-3, 2 Corinthians 8:18-24 and Colossians 1:1-2;4:15-18.)
  7. The Lord’s Supper, or Communion Service, as an ordinancein the church by which the members of the church remember the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, as well as the promise of His return. (Matthew 26:17-30;Luke 22:1-20;1 Corinthians 11:17-34)
  8. That Baptists have existed in all ages since Christ established His church and are not Protestant, having begun before the Roman Catholic Church.