Why Be a Baptist?
Chapter 5: The Baptist Name
The Baptist name is as divine as a Baptist church. Both came from heaven. Both came from God. John was the name given the forerunner of Jesus at his birth. He was called "The Baptist" because of his mission. These facts are very clearly stated in the Scriptures about his official name, "The Baptist." That name came from heaven. God gave it to him. It was given to him because of the work God gave him to do. "There was a man sent from God whose name was John" (John 1:6). God called him "The Baptist" before he started to preach: "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea" (Matthew 3:1). He was not called "The Baptist" because he baptized: for God called him "The Baptist" before he came to Jordan or preached or baptized. God gave him the name. God sent him. God sent him to preach. God sent him to baptize: "And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost" (John 1:33). God sent him to baptize only one class of folks, namely, those who were made disciples (saved) or Christians before their baptism: "When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John.. (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)" (John 4:1,2). That those, whom he discipled, were saved before their baptism is clearly proven by his demanding "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" (Matthew 3:8). The axe was laid to the root of the tree. They died to their old or past lives of sin. "And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins" (Matthew 3:6). John taught them to believe on Christ: "Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus" (Acts 19:4). They received Jesus as Godís Lamb to bear away their sins, that was faith in Christ. The tree was good or in other words they were born from above by receiving Christ: "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" (John 1:11-12).
Then having a new heart, a new life, they bore fruit. "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin 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: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages" (Luke 3:8-14); This is the character of fruit John demanded before he would baptize them. In His opening sermon, called the sermon on the mount, in Matthew 6-8. Jesus Himself, made it very clear and plain, that only those, who had been born anew and were fruit-bearers could get His sanction and approval as subjects of baptism. Having had some understanding of why God chose this name and gave it to the forerunner of His Son, who was to prepare the material, out of which Jesus was to organize His own church, let us now see if the Bible gives us any reasons as to why that name was chosen. You will find that there are a good many scriptural reasons, laid down in Godís infallible and inerrant word, as to why God called John "The Baptist."
1. The Name Baptist is the Only Name In the New Testament That Stands for a Baptized Disciple.
All who have received Jesus as their Lord and Savior are brethren: "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren" (Matthew 23:8). All true believers are His disciples. Discipleship comes before baptism: "When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John" (John 4:1). All who have believed on the name of Jesus as their Savior and Lord are Godís children: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" (John 1:12), "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26). All the elect are called sheep. Before their salvation they are called lost sheep: "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:6), "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (John 10:16). All the blood washed are called saints: "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all...For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Heb. 10:10,14); "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate" (Heb. 13:12). All disciples are Christians: "And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" (Acts 11:26). Every one of these titles may be scripturally applied, to unbaptized believers. Not so with the name Baptist. Websterís latest unabridged dictionary defines a Baptist as "one of a denomination of Christians, who maintain that baptism should be administered by immersion and be administered to believers only." The name Baptist is scriptural and is the only name that is scriptural, that is used as a denominational name or can be so used. The name Baptist came from God: the name Christian came from the heathen. The name Baptist is a denominational name. The name Christian, according to Websterís latest and best, includes all believers in Christ. Note what he says. "One who believes or professes or is assumed to believe in Jesus Christ." According to the lexicons as well as according to the Scriptures, all of Godís children are Christians. The only name in the New Testament that stands for baptized disciples or believers is the name Baptist.
2. The Only New Testament Name, that Conforms to the Great Commission Is the Name Baptist.
"When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John. (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)" (John 4:1-2). John made disciples and then baptized them. Jesus made disciples and had the twelve baptize them. When He went to leave His last and final orders to the church He had established, He said: "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:18-20).
What John began and Jesus continued, His churches were ordered to carry on and carry out without the changing of one jot or tittle until the end. The first Baptist made and baptized disciples. Jesus and the twelve and the seventy made and baptized disciples. When Jesus was going away He commanded His churches to make and baptize disciples until He comes again. The name Baptist is the only name that is a constant reminder of the commission given by the Lord Jesus to His churches until the end of time. It is a church name because it stands for a church program, the very program, that Jesus gave to His churches to do and to keep until He gets back. According to Mr. Webster the name Baptist stands for the how and the whom of baptism, namely, the baptism of saved people by immersion. All others baptize babies or baptize sinners to save them or baptize in some other way besides immersion.
3. The Name Baptist is a Differentiating Name.
It differentiates and distinguishes all who hold it from all other sects and denominations. It marks out the people who wear it. God said His people are a peculiar people. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;" (1 Pet. 2:9). The name Baptist marks out the peculiarities of those who wear it. It distinguishes those who practice immersion only from all those who do not. It distinguishes those who baptize saved people from those who do not. It distinguishes those who are baptized Christians from those who are not. It distinguishes those who have Baptist baptism from those who have not. It distinguishes those who reject infant baptism from those who follow Rome and receive it. It even goes further than that. The name Baptist is so distinguishing a name, that heretical Baptist sects, such as Hardshell Baptists or Free Will Baptists or Seventh Day Baptists have to use a prefix of some kind in front of their names to mark them as "sick" Baptists who are following a stranger. The only sheep that will follow a stranger is a sick sheep. So with Baptists. The prefixed Baptist is a sick Baptist or his prefix is a nickname. Like the Israelites in Old Testament days, Baptists have had many names; but they have always been the same people. The prefixes are soon dropped; but the name Baptist abides. God gave that name to the first one because of the work He sent him to do and it has been here ever since.
4. The Name Baptist a Divisive Name.
The Lord Jesus said: "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division" (Luke 12:51). The Lord Jesus intended that His people should be a separate people. In New Testament days they were the sect everywhere spoken against: "But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against" (Acts 28:22). The Lord Jesus foretold the night of His betrayal and crucifixion, that His people would be a despised and a rejected people. The name Baptist is divisive in any community or crowd. "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my nameís sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause" (John 15:18-25). Everything that makes for unity among Baptists makes for division between Baptists and all other people.
Baptist churches are never united unless they are separated from everybody else. There are no exceptions to that rule. The Lord Jesus sees to that. If Baptists are friendly and obedient to Christ, Christís enemies are not friendly to them. "Friendship of the world is enmity with God" (Jam. 4:4). There is no straddle or compromise. You are wholly on Christís side or wholly on the worldís side. The Baptist name meant separation from the world in the first man who wore it. John the Baptist lost his head because he would not compromise on the divorce question. "For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodiasí sake, his brother Philipís wife: for he had married her" (Mark 6:17). Paul declared: "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph. 4:4-6). Seven ones to make one. No unity unless agreed upon those seven ones. What are they?
"One body" A local church. Each local church the body of Christ in that community and He has no other.
"One Spirit" The Holy Spirit. Each Baptist Church built for a "habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22), in the community where located.
"One hope" The finished work of Jesus Christ. Not a dozen or an hundred ways to heaven. Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).
"One Lord" The Lord Jesus. No human lords over Godís heritage. The Lord Jesus head over all things to each of His churches. "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren" (Matthew 23:8). The Lord Jesus the one and only Lord of Baptists.
"One faith" Which the Word calls " the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3). No new truth. If new, it isnít true: if true it isnít new.
"One Baptism" One kind of baptism, meeting all the requirements of Godís Word. "One God and Father." The Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and our Father through Him. No universal fatherhood of God. He has no Ishmaels, no "bastard" children, no "woods colts." Every child of God like Isaac, a child of promise and supernaturally born: "For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise...Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise" (Gal. 4:22,23,28).
The name Baptist has always been a divisive name because it stands for the whole truth without compromise. All Baptists have not so stood, but the name stands for division and separation. And God blesses and prospers them when true to their name. That is why "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." Separation means persecution and persecution means multiplication and growth. A compromising church is always a dying and waning church. God so wills it: "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Eph. 1:11).
5. The Name Baptist an Exclusive Name.
The Lord, who founded the first Baptist church, never aimed for them to take in everybody and his dog. "Without are dogs." Baptists have no fellowship for lots of folks and lots of things. They are not inclusive, but exclusive. "For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lordís supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken" (1 Cor. 11:19-21). God never intended for Baptists to be a "mixed multitude." Through all their history, when the "mixed multitude" have corrupted our churches, they have sloughed off the heretical and the worldly. The name Baptist stands for cleanness and separation. The Lord Jesus sees to it that they are true to their name. About one hundred years ago Baptists sloughed off the Hardshells and Campbellites. We are now in the process of sloughing off the Modernists and Unionists and Highbrows. Heresies are permitted to crop out among Baptists that the approved may be made manifest. Paul said, that is the only way for Baptist churches to rid themselves of the worldly and the heretical. If the churches do not put out the heretics and the worldly, the indwelling Spirit, who abides in each local body of Christ, causes that crowd to get out, because He has no fellowship with them. "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (1 John 2:19).
The very name Baptist stands for separation. By instinct and tradition and teaching and creation and history and love they are a separate people. The Lord Jesus their head, the Holy Spirit their life, the New Testament their rule of faith, their individualism one of their fundamentals, all combine to make and keep them an exclusive rather than an inclusive people. Nineteen hundred years of teaching and of persecution by all other sects has served to accentuate their exclusiveness. It will always be so. The Lord Jesus started them that way. And they get more so, rather than less so if possible. You cannot make Baptists like anybody else. They are a free people and you cannot bind them. And their freedom and their oneness in Christ and doctrine, because they all believe the same Book, make them throw off all ritualism and formalism and tradition of men and seek the heights of freedom and fellowship in the heavenlies.