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Why They Believe It

by J. G. Bow, D. D.


Baptists believe that only penitent believers are scriptural subjects for baptism. Only such as have repented of sin, believed to the saving of the soul, been saved by divine power, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, created anew in Christ Jesus. converted to God, are prepared to receive the ordinance. We think the design of baptism, the act, the symbolic representation, all require the subject to be a child of God, dead to sin and alive unto God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

To administer baptism to anyone. whether infant or adult, that has not repented, believed, and been converted, I misplace the ordinance and make a misrepresentation to the world. Pedobaptists say, "It is an outward sign of an in ward grace." Then if the inward grace does not exist, they make a misrepresentation. If, as some of them say, it is a symbol of the regeneration or purification (as they are so fond of calling baptism), they publish a falsehood to the world whenever they baptize anyone who does not profess to have a heart purified by faith.

The duty to be baptized rests solely upon the authoritative command of Christ. As no act can be scriptural baptism except that which Christ authorized, so no one can be a scriptural subject except such as the command embraces. The Commission given by the divine Master is, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them" (Matt. 23:19).

Now all scholars and commentators agree that the word "teach" in this verse means to disciple, or make disciples.

Paul, in Romans 6:4, and Colossians 2:12, calls baptism a burial, and clearly teaches that it is also a resurrection. We bury only the dead, and none but the dead are to be raised from the dead. Only those dead to sin are to be buried with Christ in baptism, and those alive unto God arise to walk in newness of life.

The Scriptures are addressed to responsible, intelligent beings.

The gospel makes no requirements of the irresponsible infants and idiots. We gladly believe that God has graciously provided for these, but he has laid no commands upon them.

The command to baptize believers precludes the right of baptism to all who are not believers. The specified qualifications for baptism exclude all from the ordinance who have not met these qualifications.

If a man should instruct his agent to buy for him any number of trained horses, that would not authorize the agent to purchase colts or other stock. The instruction to buy trained horses would preclude the right to buy any but trained horses. So the Masters command to baptize believers forbids the baptizing of any who are not believers.

So much for the Commission. Now let us see how the apostles and inspired writers understood and carried out this Commission. The first account of baptism, after the Great Commission given by the risen Lord, is found in Acts 2:41-44: "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 steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common." That was certainly believers baptism. They "gladly received his word." "And all that believed were together."

Acts 5 :14 : "And believers were the more added unto the Lord, multitudes both of men and women."

The text does not say they were baptized, yet no one doubts it. They were believers, men and women.

Acts 8:12: "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women."

Notice those baptized were men and women-no infants, and they were believing men and women. Whatever may be said of the spuriousness of Acts 8 :37, yet there is undoubted evidence of the eunuch believing before Philip baptized him.

Saul was praying and God heard him before Ananias went to him. He certainly was a believer prior to his baptism. "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we" (Acts 10:47)? They heard the Word, while Peter was preaching the Holy Spirit was given. They spake with tongues and magnified the Lord.

Of Lydia it is said, "Whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household" (Acts 16:14-15). Now, in verse 40, we read of this household, "And when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed."

Of the jailer at Philippi, we read in Acts 16:32, "And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house." Then they were all subjects of gospel address, capable of receiving the message of life from Paul and Silas. Verses 33 and 34 read: "And he took them the is to same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house." Now, they heard the Word, they believed, they rejoiced, they were baptized. So Baptists believe and practice.

"And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized" (Acts 18:8).

So Crispus and the Corinthians were model Baptists. There is not a single instance of infant baptism in the New Testament, not even an inference that has any scriptural support. There is not the slightest evidence that anyone received the ordinance of baptism who did not profess faith in Christ; hence Baptists have ever held to believers baptism.

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