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. He was "sent from God" (Jn. 1:6). God called him "The Baptist" before he started to preach (Mt. 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 (Jn. 1:33). God sent him to baptize only one class of folks, namely, those who were made disciples (saved) or Christians before their baptism (Jn. 4: 1). That those, whom he discipled, were saved before their baptism is clearly proven by his demanding "fruits meet for repentance" (Mt. 3:8). The axe was laid to the root of the tree. They died to their old or past lives of sin. They confessed their sins (Mt. 3:6). John taught them to believe on Christ (Acts 19:4). They received Jesus as God's Lamb to bear away their sins. That was faith in Christ. The tree was made good or in other words they were born from above by receiving Christ (Jn. 1:11-12).
Then, having a new heart, a new life, they bore fruit. Luke tells in Luke 3: 8-14 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 unction 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 God's 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 (Mt. 23: 8). All true believers are His disciples. Discipleship comes before baptism (In. 4:1). All who have believed on the name of Jesus as their Savior and Lord are God's children (Jn. 1:12; Gal. 3:26). All the elect are called sheep. Before their salvation they are called lost sheep (Mt. 10:6; Jn. 10: 16). All the blood-washed are called saints (Heb. 10:10, 14; 13: 12). All disciples are Christians (Acts 11:26). Every one of these titles may be scripturally applied to un-baptized believers.
Not so with the name Baptist. Webster's 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 Webster's 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 God's 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.
In John 4:1 we are told that "Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John." 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: "All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach [make disciples of] 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" (Mt. 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. 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 Freewill 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 Baptists 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" (Lk. 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 (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. He said they hated Him and they would hate His people (Jn. 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 it that if Baptists are friendly and obedient to Christ, Christ's enemies are not friendly to them. "Friendship of the world is enmity with God." There is no straddle or compromise. You are wholly on Christ's side or wholly on the world's 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. Paul declared: "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your caning; 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 in the Spirit" 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. "One Lord" - the Lord Jesus. No human lords over God's heritage. The Lord Jesus head over all things to each of His churches. "One is your Master - all ye are brethren." The Lord Jesus the one and only Lord of Baptists. "One faith" - which the Word calls "the faith once-for-all delivered to the saints." No new truth. If new it isn't true: if true it isn't new. "One baptism" - i.e., one kind of baptism - meeting all the requirements of God's 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 (Eph. 1: 19-21).
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.
Separation means persecution and persecution means multiplication and growth. A compromising church is always a dying and waning church. God so wills it and He works all things after the counsel of His own will.
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. In 1 Corinthians 11:19-21 Paul said these wise words: "For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved maybe made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not (cannot) to eat the Lord's supper." 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 100 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 Jn. 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 individual ism 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.