BAPTIST IMMERSION vs. ALIEN IMMERSION
How wonderful it would be if we could always say and write the things people like to be told.
We hear the people in Isaiah’s day (Isaiah 30:10), “speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.” People admire, love and praise those who just speak “smooth things.” It is so nice to be popular with the multitude; therefore there is a great temptation to avoid saying anything that will offend. II Timothy 4:3, tells us of a time when the people will refuse sound doctrine and will be looking for teachers who will preach things their ears delight to hear. It is also true there are many teachers and preachers who want to teach and preach the things that will make them popular in order to receive the praise of men and profit materially for their preachments. (Jude 1:16 and Galatians 6:12).
One of the popular preaching methods of today is to never strongly condemn sin, never preach negatively, just positively; do not contend strongly for all doctrines the Bible teaches but be tolerant, be broad minded, be generous and do not be a bigot.
In this day of ecumenicalism, many say, why not just lay aside all of our differences and emphasize only those things upon which we all can agree. I do not believe we have any right to compromise on any of the teachings of God’s Word or minimize their importance.
I fully realize the subject of Alien Immersion is very unpopular to many, especially the viewpoint I present. I am sure many will disagree. That is their privilege. I do not like to be disagreeable, but I am presenting what I believe is a much misunderstood truth and I do ask all to honestly and prayerfully consider the things I have written and measure them by God’s Word before rejecting or accepting them.
If they are not true to the Word, reject them, but if they are true, accept them, whether they are popular or unpopular.
“BAPTIST IMMERSION VERSUS ALIEN IMMERSION”
First, let us define these terms. By Baptist immersion, I mean immersion authorized by a Baptist Church. By immersion I mean complete submersion of the person in water. I believe the word “baptism” means immerse and nothing else should ever be called Baptism.
By alien immersion I mean those who have been immersed by the authority of any other Church or authority of any individual, other than a Baptist Church.
The question arises, should Baptist Churches receive into their membership those who have alien immersion or only those who have Baptist immersion? I believe most all of the Baptists who accept the “universal church” theory, also favor receiving alien immersion, putting it on a par with Baptist immersion. Most of them are also open communionist and very inter-denominationally minded in their fellowship and co-operation.
Inasmuch as the belief in the “universal church” theory and advocating that Baptist Churches receive alien immersed individuals into their membership seem to have a close relationship, I would like to briefly examine the “universal church” theory. What do I mean by the term “universal church”? This theory teaches that all the saved people from the day of Pentecost until Christ comes again constitute the Church. They term this mystical, imaginary group the “universal church” or “the Church” and teach that when we are saved the Holy Spirit baptizes us into this mystical, imaginary group. They usually term it “The Body of Christ”. I strongly disagree with this theory, though I was taught it, believed it and preached it, in my early ministry. I regret that I was once misled by this theory and even taught it, but I thank God that many years ago I was delivered from this dangerous, false theory. Having once believed it, I think I understand its dangers more clearly. This also makes me fear it more and makes me more anxious to see others delivered from it.
The “universal church” group usually speak of individual Churches as “a Church”. I agree that an individual Church is a “Church”, but I also insist that is the only kind we find in the Bible and the only kind that could function.
The “universal church” theory, using the term “body of Christ” conceives of a body, part of it already dead (those from Pentecost to the present age), part of it now living, (those living at the present time), part of it not yet in existence, (those who will be saved between now and the time Christ returns).
They therefore believe in a dismembered body, parts of it in past ages, parts of it in the present age, (scattered all over the world), and parts of it in ages to come. I believe a body is an assemblage of organized and functioning part s. God’s Word says in I Corinthians 12:27, “Now are ye the body of Christ.” He did not say, ye will be, but said NOW. He did not say you are a part of the body. He said YOU ARE the body.
This body, in which this chapter talks about, is an assemblage of co-operating and functioning parts. This can only describe a local Church.
Those who hold this universal church theory can easily accept the big denominational headquarters theory, for these theories are closely related. They are likely to use such terms as “The Baptist Church”, rather than “The Baptist Churches”, for to them Church is just a small unit in a big union. “The Church”, always takes precedent over “A Church”, in their way of thinking.
To illustrate, I once knew a party to give this answer when asked to join a Baptist Church: “I belong to the “Church”. This answer showed this party minimized local Churches, the only kind we find in God’s Word and emphasized the importance of this so-called “universal church”. Many would not go this far but their “universal church” idea makes it more important in their way of thinking than local Churches.
Let me try to illustrate the view of the “universal church” believers. They think of it somewhat like a big tree and the branches on that tree forming the different denominations. They possibly think of the denomination they are a part of as the most important branch. Some think of it as much more important and others of little more importance. There are different degrees of thought in regard to its importance in relation to the other branches.
I believe all who have accepted Christ as their Savior area children of God, but I believe a Church has to meet the Bible qualifications to be a Scriptural Church. I further believe that true Baptist Churches are the only ones that have these qualifications.
What qualities do Baptists believe a rue Church should have? “The New Hampshire Confession of Faith”, has been widely used by Baptists many years, therefore we give you that statement regarding the Church.
Quote – Article XIII of a Gospel Church
“We believe that a visible Church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the ordinances of Christ; governed by His law; exercising the gifts, rights and privileges invested in them by His Word; that its only Scriptural officers are bishops or pastors and deacons, whose qualifications, claims and duties are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus.”
The reader will note the first qualifications mentioned here is “Congregation of Baptized Believers.” That Baptism here means immersion, no one will deny. True Baptists do not consider any congregation lacking these qualities as a Scriptural Church. I give the following quotation from “Pendleton Revised Church Manual”, a manual used by many Baptist Churches for more than one hundred years. Quote – “But in the absence of penitent, regenerate, baptized believers in Christ, there cannot be a New Testament Church” (Page 15).
“The ceremonial qualifications for Church membership.” “This qualification is baptism. There can, according to the Scripture be no visible Church without Baptism.” (Page 12). Again on (Page 19), “Hence no Baptist Church can receive and recognize, as a passport to membership, a letter from any Pedobaptist organization. There is such a lack of similar faith and order as to render this utterly inadmissible.”
Dr. J. M. Pendleton was certainly a real Bible student and true Baptist and is so recognized by many, even to the present time. Pedobaptists means, those who christen babies and sprinkle and call it baptism. I think the “New Hampshire Confession of Faith”, from which I quoted article VIII is an excellent doctrinal statement but owning to many false teachings, some of them very subtle and dangerous, I believe it was wise on the part of the late Dr. W. Lee Rector, with the sanction from a large number of outstanding orthodox Baptist ministers to prepare a more detailed and thoroughly Confession of faith, following much the same lines of thought. I consider this the best Confession of Faith I know of; therefore, I would like to quote two articles from this Confession of Faith. Article 18 – “We believe that a New Testament Church, according to divine purpose and plan, is a visible local organized body; that it is composed of baptized believers associated together by a covenant of faith and fellowship in the Gospel; that essential principles of New Testament Law; that it is a sovereign, independent, democratic and militant body; that its ministry is gloriously blessed with the presence and leadership of the Holy Spirit and the light and revelation of the written Word; that its work would ever be from within t o without and never from without to within; that it is a self-governing body and is the sole judge, under the limitations of the Scriptures, of the measure and the method of co-operation; that it is the only ecclesiastical tribunal the Lord has on earth; that its judgment concerning membership, missions, benevolence, co-operative alignment and support is final; that it was personally founded by Christ Jesus during His ministry on earth; that it is subject to His laws and is the custodian of doctrines and practices, ordinances and ordinations, have been effected through the Holy Spirit personally planting and preserving local Baptist Churches of faith and order down through the centuries even until now.”
ARTICLE 19 – “ORDINANCES”
“We believe that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances personally set in the Church of the living God by the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that Baptism is the burial of a believer in water by the authority and instruction of the local Baptist Church; that it symbolizes the death and the burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; that it also typifies the believer’s death to sin, the burial of his old nature, and his resurrection unto a new life; and that it is administered in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We believe the Lord’s Supper is a memorial spread and administered by the authority and instruction of the local Baptist Church; that it symbolizes the broken body and the shed blood of the Son of God; that its observance points backward to the crucified Lord on Calvary and forward to the returning Lord in glory. We believe that these ordinance are not sacraments, but are sacred symbols, pointing to the world’s only Savior, and bidding the sons of men look unto an everlasting fellowship with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords when He shall return to take over the reins of all government.”
I give these articles because they express the views of real Baptist quite clearly and I am sure, quite Scripturally.
Now let us consider this question from a Church standpoint. I want to say as clearly and positively as I can, I believe he words of my Lord Jesus fully and unreservedly s we find them recorded in Matthew 16:18 – “And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
For this study we are only considering the last part of the verse, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Certainly this declares Christ Jesus is the founder of the Church and He certainly founded it during His earthly ministry. This also declares, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it;” therefore it must live continuously until He comes for it. If there has ever been a time, since Christ uttered these words that there has not been a true Church in existence, then the gates of hell have prevailed against it. I believe from the time of Christ to the present day there have been true churches in the world; and that Baptist Churches are the only ones that are of like faith and order with these Churches. I cannot discuss this a length in this brief article but if the reader really wants to investigate this let him read such books as, “A History of the Baptist”, by John T. Christian; “The Church that Jesus Built”, by Rosy Mason; “Baptist Succession”, by D. B. Ray; and “A Concise History of Baptists”, by G. H. Orchard. There are many others on this subject but anyone of these will prove the age of Baptist Churches. If the evidence presented in the aforementioned books does not convince the reader that Baptist Churches can trace their origin back to the time of Christ’s earthly ministry; what Church can he find that does?
The Roman Catholic Church makes such a claim but history positively disproves this claim. It is also easily proven that the Roman Catholic Church never was and is not now like the original Church or the apostolic Churches in faith and practice; therefore it is disqualified both by history and its faith and practice.
Another so-called answer is that this “universal,” “invisible” Church has been in existence since the time of Christ. I ask this question; did Christ found an invisible, mystical and imaginary Church or did He found a visible Church, composed of visible people? Is it not true that every Church named or referred to in the New Testament is a visible congregation of baptized believers? That being true, why try to palm this so-called “universal, invisible” Church off on God’s people as the Church Christ was talking about in Matthew 16:18? We are forced to the following conclusion – if Baptist Churches do not meet the qualifications, there are no Churches that do and if there are no Churches that do, then the words of our Lord have failed for if there has ever been a time that there were no true Churches, then the gates of hell have prevailed against the one Christ established and all those we have today are of human origin. In other words, some man started them.
Since both history and the faith and practice of Baptists give abundant proof they are Scriptural Churches, it is easy to see why the proper classification of Churches is Baptist, Roman Catholic and Protestant.
Baptists are Protestant in the sense that they protest against the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church; but as far as being a part of, or later growing out of the Protestant movement in which Martin Luther was a leader; this is not true.
I quote the Pedobaptist historian, Dr. Dermot: “The Baptists may be considered the only Christian community which has stood since the apostles and a Christian society which has preserved pure the doctrines of the gospel through all ages.” Many similar quotes could be given but again I urge you to read one of the afore-mentioned Baptist Histories. Since Baptist Churches were all in existence before any of the Protestant Churches were organized, is not the very fact of their organization evidence they did not want fellowship with Baptists.” Would they have organized other Churches if they had believed the then existing Baptist Churches were Scriptural? Did not their own action confirm the fact they did want to want to be affiliated with Baptist Churches?
I raise this question: If anyone believes they are Scriptural, why start others? There are now more than two hundred denominations. Why all these denominations? Has not this multiplying of denominations created a great deal of confusion in the world and hasn’t Satan used it as a very effective weapon against Christianity? Who must be charged with the responsibility of creating all this confusion? Is it the Baptists who go back to the time of Christ, or the many who have organized later?
Some of these denominations are several hundred years old; some of very recent origin. No doubt some are in the process of forming and others are likely to form if our Lord delays His return a few more years.
Some practicing immersing as the only for of baptism, others christen, others pour or dip for Baptism, etc., and they all claim the Holy Spirit is their leader and the Bible is their authority. We know the Holy Spirit and the Bible are not the authors of confusion, so let us not blame the Holy Spirit or the Bible for this sad condition.
They will and do accuse true Baptists of bigotry because we do not recognize them as Scriptural Churches and accept their baptism as Scriptural Baptism; forgetting that if they had considered Baptist Churches Scriptural there could have been no excuse for other denominations coming into existence. We would like to ask those who are members of Baptist Churches and who were immersed by the authority of a Baptist Church a few questions:
First, why were you immersed by Baptist Church authorization? Was it just accidental or because your parents were Baptists or because you companion was a Baptist or because you happened to live near a Baptist Church, etc.?
Second, would you have been just as well satisfied to have your immersion authorized by any other Church?
Third, did you have a conviction regarding this matter that led you to seek immersion by the authority of a Baptist Church?
Fourth, would you want immersion authorized by a Church that authorizes sprinkling, pouring or christening, etc., for Baptism and often has some one administer it who has never been immersed and prefers to sprinkle for Baptism?
Fifth, if someone asked your advice regarding Baptism, would you tell them it did not make any difference, just so it is immersion or would you recommend a Baptist Church?
Sixth, if all are equally Scriptural, why would it make any difference who authorized or who administered it?
Seventh, if all immersion is equally valid, is it not bigotry on the part of any Baptist to have any preference as to who authorized it?
Eighth, if you do not believe all immersion is equally valid, would you rather compromise than stand for your spiritual convictions?
I would also like to ask a few questions of the alien immersionist who seeks membership in a Baptist Church and believes the immersion he has is sufficient, regardless of who has authorized or administered it? I realize the fact that numerous denominations do form a confusing situation to many who have truly been born again and sincerely want to obey the Lord in all things. This is very confusing to new converts who frequently know little of God’s Word and little about the doctrinal teachings of the various denominations; therefore it is easy for them to make an honest mistake. There are so many teaching that it makes little difference what Church you join. They say, “We are all going to the same place”; just join the Church of your choice, etc. Such advice is dangerous.
However, as we grow in knowledge of the truth we want to correct any mistakes we might have made along this line as well as all other lines of Christian endeavor; therefore I formulate the following questions to help stimulate and guide the thinking of those who are seeking to know the truth on this subject and obey it.
Was it by incident or design on your part that you were baptized by other than Baptist Church Authorization?
Did you prefer it rather than Baptist Baptism or did you think it made no difference who immersed you?
Did you or do you think that a Church that teaches christening, sprinkling and pouring has equally valid baptism or a Church that teaches immersion is necessary to salvation, is a proper source to go to for immersion?
Did you, or do you now think these other Churches are as Scriptural as Baptist Churches?
Do you now desire membership in a Baptist Church because you have changed your convictions and are now a Baptist by conviction; or is it because you have moved to a different locality or because of a change in family, business or social relationship?
Do you now believe Baptist Churches are the only Scriptural Churches and therefore those who teach different doctrines cannot be Scriptural?
If you should move back near the Church where you were immersed and first joined, would you return to it or seek membership in the nearest sound Baptist Church?
If convictions are leading you to a Baptist Church, do you think you could ever, conscientiously, join a Church of some other denomination?
Do you think you can be perfectly satisfied to be a part of and work in a Baptist Church with the immersion you now have?
If a Baptist Church received you, would it always be a touchy matter with you every time the subject of Baptism was discussed?
Have you considered and weighed the fact that in many Baptist Churches there are those who will never believe your alien immersion is Scriptural, even though the majority might receive you?
Have you considered this might disturb the fellowship?
Many more questions could be asked but these should help to you re-think and re-study the subject.
I have had in mind as I discussed his subject, mostly the Baptismal question as it relates us to church life, but any one seeking membership in a Baptist Church should acquaint themselves with all of its beliefs and practices and if they find themselves in agreement with them, then, and then only, should they seek membership in such a church.
It is also the duty of Baptist Churches to properly instruct candidates for baptism and church membership and be sure they know what the church believes and practices, thus avoiding confusion in their lives as Christians and church members. The great commission lays great emphasis on teaching, not only before baptism, but the “all things” Christ commanded are to be taught after baptism. The great weakness in the average Baptist Church is complete lack of teaching before baptism and a very weak teaching program after baptism.
I would now like to give a little consideration to a number of views being taught, attempting to prove the commission in Matthew 28: 19-20, was not given to the churches.
There are now and have been those among Baptists in recent years who contend that the commission in Matthew 28:19-20, was not given to the Church, at least the part which relates to Baptism. This is an effort to remove church authority for Baptism. They ask where does the Bible say a church, by vote, should have a voice in baptism?
Why not ask; where does it say a church should inquire into the facts surrounding each baptism, after it has taken place and then approve or disapprove of it; before receiving each member?
Prominent Baptist, living and dead, could be quoted on both sides of this issue, but it is much better to carefully study the issue from a Scriptural and logical view point and reach our conclusion on that basis.
Some can be found among Baptists who contend that a proper candidate, a proper mode and a proper motive are the only requirements; therefore it makes no difference about church authority. Some go so far as to contend any individual can administer Baptism or anyone who leads a soul to the Lord is a proper authority to administer baptism.
Answering all these positions, one by one, would take a much longer article than I want this pamphlet to be; therefore I will address myself to the proposition that a Scriptural church is the custodian of the great commission given to the assembled apostles. Matthew 28:19-20.
Reason forces us to admit that this entire commission was given to the church or no part of it was given to the church; therefore if it is not given to the church how can the church be responsible for evangelizing, baptizing, teaching or going into all the world with the gospel if this is just an individual matter?
Certainly the Scripture teaches that every saved individual is to serve and bear fruit. Reason also tells us the only way an organization can work is through individuals. We go as individuals, we pray as individuals, we speak as individuals, we teach as individuals and we vote as individuals, etc.
The Scripture also teaches very clearly and positively that saved individuals should be baptized promptly and added to the church and go to work, doing their part in carrying out the great evangelistic and teaching program of carrying the gospel to the entire world, which program God committed to the churches.
Why not use the same logic and say when Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper, only the apostles were there, therefore it is just an individual matter and has no church relationship. We might also say Acts 1:1-9, are just commands and promises given to the apostles as individuals, inasmuch as they were the only ones present. Such reasoning is absolute folly but it is the same logic that is used to try to prove that the great commission or any part of it was not given to the churches.
We have heard of five views concerning this commission; there may be more.
First, it was given to assembled apostles to be perpetuated through the church.
Second, it was given to them as apostles and ended when the last one of them died.
Third, it was given to them as individuals and each of them was to baptize whomever he led to the Lord and those whom they baptized should lead others to the Lord and baptize them and continue on following that pattern, thus perpetuating it in that fashion. That would mean the mother, father, the brother, the sister, the friend or whoever leads us to the Lord should have baptized us. In my case a wonderful sister led me to the Lord; should she baptize me?
Fourth, the apostles were in the highest official position in the church, therefore the commission is given to whoever might be the pastor of the church or any ordained man. In other words, when a church ordains of calls a man to be a pastor, by so doing they invest in him the authority to baptize. This would be re-delegated authority, meaning the church delegated to the pastor or some ordained minister the authority to baptize any one he believes to be a fit candidate, without any further church action on the matter.
Fifth, baptism is Scriptural, regardless of what church authorizes it, if the candidate is saved, the mode of baptism is immersion and the motive and act of obedience to Christ’s command.
There are several things we must admit whatever view we hold.
First, the commission to teach and baptize, and then to teach “all things” Christ commanded, was given only to saved men.
Second, the commission to teach and baptize was given only to those who would continue to teach and practice the “all things” Christ commanded.
Third, the commission to teach and baptize was given only to those who had been baptized by immersion.
Fourth, that these apostles are designated the foundation of the church, Christ being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20); and they are listed first, as God’s gift to the church (Ephesians 4:11). We must also admit that these men worked together in the church, not free lancing outside of the church. They were together in the upper room, in one accord, where they were baptized by the Holy Spirit simultaneously with the 120, which certainly indicates they are part of the same body; the church. They worked together at Pentecost. They worked together in the Church at Jerusalem. They prayed together (Acts 4:23-31). They gave counsel together about selecting the first deacons in the church (Acts 6:1-6). They were together in the first church council (Acts 15:2). Where is there any evidence that each one started a personal following by taking the attitude: I will baptize those I win to Christ and become their individual teacher of the “all things” Christ commanded, and instruct each one I lead to Christ to proceed in that same fashion.
The Scripture teaches us very clearly that all the saved were added to the Jerusalem Church promptly and were taught to function together (Acts 2:42-47).
Persecution started the first great missionary movement. “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Perhaps they started churches in many communities, but let us note they were all members of the Jerusalem Church; therefore they had all been immersed and they all “ preached the Word” wherever they were driven.
We should bear in mind the church at Jerusalem had as their leaders and teachers the apostles; therefore they must have had a well-taught and well-trained membership. It is logical to believe these members knew what they were to do and how to do it before they were dispersed. We are not given many details about the work they did but if they preached the Word, no doubt they used the Word as their guide, thus establishing churches like the Jerusalem Church, where they were saved, baptized and received their training.
There are several Scriptures that show there was relationship and fellowship between these workers and the church at Jerusalem. Acts 8:14-25 tells of this relationship to the work done by Philip. Acts 11:22-26, tells of Barnabas being sent by the Jerusalem Church to contact, encourage and promote the work done by those who were scattered by the great persecution. We see ties of real fellowship bound all of this work. I see no comfort for Alien immersionists in this enlargement of church work.
When spiritual leaders in the church at Antioch were ministering and fasting (Acts 13:1-4), “The Holy Spirit said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Surely the Holy Spirit did not have to call Barnabas and Saul by speaking to these leaders. It is hardly likely that this meeting terminated by Barnabas and Saul starting that very day and hour on their journey with no time for any preparation. Acts 13:5 tells us they also had John Mark with them. He is not mentioned as being present when the Holy Spirit called them. The Holy Spirit often spoke to churches through those in places of spiritual leadership. This is true in all the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelations 2:1 through 3:21. It is very likely that verse 3 refers to another meeting from which they actually departed to start their missionary journey and when the leaders in the church laid their hands upon them they certainly identified the Antioch Church with this missionary work these men were going forth to do. Truly they were sent out by the Holy Spirit, which shows the Holy Spirit is very definite in also giving this work church endorsement. Acts 20:28, states that the Holy Spirit made the elders overseers over the church. Does this mean that the church had no voice in choosing, or that the Holy Spirit guided the church in choosing them? True churches look to the Bible and Holy Spirit for guidance in all things. The other alternative is to say in laying their hands upon Barnabas and Saul that these men acted as a Holy Spirit selected board to place their approval on missionaries. This I do not believe. The action of these missionaries proves they considered themselves church missionaries, not freelance or board missionaries. They established churches, taught church co-operation, turned to the church to settle doctrinal and co-operative problems when troubles occurred on the mission field, (Acts 15) and on completing their missionary journey, reported to the church at Antioch. Nothing is said of them ever contacting or reporting to the other three men who were with them when the Holy Spirit spoke to them. Christ is indeed the head of every church; therefore He is their Divine director. He describes a church as His body. Surely this figure of speech teaches at least two things; the directions comes from the head, who has the body do the work and He requires all parts of the body to work together as He directs. He also calls the church “His bride” and surely a bride is a working partner with the husband.
To say a church, as an organization cannot carry out the commission is certainly a strange way to try to prove the commission was not given to the churches. I call attention to just one chapter (I Thessalonians, Chapter 1). Please note verse 8. In addressing this church Paul says, “For from you sounded out the Word of the Lord”; therefore we see as a church they carried out the commission. Te Scripture plainly teaches that Christ is the head of all Scriptural churches and He gave them the Holy Spirit as their overseer and guide, the Bible being their written instruction to practice and abide by.
Every saved individual is a child of God and has a personal relationship and responsibility to Him. One of the first acts God requires of His child is Baptism and church affiliation; then go to work for Him, harmoniously, in and through a church. Both the Scripture and reason make a church the custodian of Baptism. Matthew 23:19-20, clearly and positively makes it a church ordinance. Is it reasonable to say when one is saved; he must find some one to baptize him? He may have been saved as a result of hearing a radio message, reading a tract, reading the Bible, hearing a song, by personal contact or some other way. Now he must find someone to baptize him; a loved one, a friend, a preacher or any professed Christian. It must be by immersion but it makes no difference what the individual who immerses him believes or teaches about baptism; such baptism is not Scriptural. The church has had no voice in this baptism in any way and really no right or authority up to this point, according to this view. Now since the candidate has been saved and immersed, because he believed the Bible teaches immersion as an act of obedience, Baptist Churches are Scripturally obliged to welcome such into their membership. Again I affirm such Baptism is neither Scriptural nor reasonable.
If we see the high position every Scriptural church holds in the love and program of God, we will be very slow to say it is not the proper authority to administer baptism. Christ calls it “My Church”. Matthew 18:16,He puts perpetuity in the same verse. In Matthew 18:15-18, He puts authority to discipline completely in the hands of a church. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to baptize, direct and empower the church for world wide evangelization, Acts 1:4-8. This promise was verified on the day of Pentecost. All the saved were added to the church. Acts 2:41. Acts 20:28, tells us He purchased the church with His own blood. I Corinthians 3:11, Ephesians 2:20 and I Peter 2:6-8, points to Christ as the foundation on which the church is built.
A Church is called his body, I Corinthians 12:27.
A church is called the pillar and ground of the truth, I Timothy 3:15.
A church was held responsible for the proper observance of the Lord’s Supper, I Corinthians 11:1-34.
A church was held responsible for proper discipline, I Corinthians 5.
In Revelation 1:12-30, the seven churches are described as seven golden candlesticks, indicating they are the light in this sinful world.
In Revelation 1:13-14, Christ is pictured as walking in the midst of these seven golden candlesticks; all of them being centered round Him and casting harmonious light.
He holds the “seven stars” in His right hand, no doubt referring to those in place of leadership in each of the churches.
Seven times; Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:29, 3:6, 3:13 and 3:22, the writer urges “He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.”
Revelation 22:16 reads: “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto these things in the churches.” Surely these Scriptures and many others clearly show our Lord’s work being carried on through the churches; Christ in their midst and the Holy Spirit giving them the messages, certainly is clear proof that the churches are the custodians of God’s program in this age.
With these clear facts before us doesn’t it seem strange any one could claim the great commission of Matthew 28:19-20, was not given to the churches? Do we want to take the position God made the church custodian of all His program, except baptism? If we put the commission given in Matthew 28:19-20, in part or in whole outside the church, we have started the distorting process right after one is saved and right at the door of entrance into the church.
I have heard the “great man” argument, listing great evangelists, great missionaries, great Bible teachers, etc., who approved of alien immersion. How God blessed their ministry, therefore their teaching on this subject must be right.
I might go even farther and list many great men who have not been immersed and some, who even oppose it, who have been used to win many souls. Does this prove they are right about baptism or that the mode of baptism is of little importance? Let us remember God uses men to win souls or the message they preach if they present the plan of salvation, even though they may be wrong on many of the teachings of God’s Word. God has used men who christen babies, sprinkle for baptism, who teach a saved man can be lost, post millennists, a –millennists, conventionists and some whose life and conduct is bad, to win some souls they presented the plan of salvation, therefore people were saved. God does not approve of error in our life or teaching but if He required perfection in either or both of these realms before we could win a soul, who then could win a soul? God uses men in spite of their imperfections in teaching and practice and not because of them.
It is true there is a great deal of misunderstanding on the subject of baptism. This is a clever trick of Satan. The Bible is very clear on this subject. Let us follow its teaching and all will be well.
Having read what a great many of the defenders of alien immersion have written on this subject, I have observed this; a large percent of these writers use words that indicate they prefer baptism administered by the authority of a Baptist Church. This indicates they accept alien immersion on the grounds of expedience, rather than with complete, whole- hearted approval.
It seems they have two grades of baptism; one that is completely Scriptural and wholly satisfactory and another they will accept, though they recognize is irregular.
Nehemiah sets a good example to follow (Nehemiah 8:14-18), Verse 17 tells us the feast of the tabernacle had not been properly observed from the time of Joshua, a period of more than 900 years. Many great leaders are found in Israel during this 900 years, some of the greatest. Many blessing had come to the nation from the hand of God during this period. Why should Nehemiah try to rectify that condition now?
There is one answer; it had not been done the way God’s Word taught it should be done, no matter how long it had been neglected or wrongly practiced or how many great men had made this mistake or how much God had blessed them in spite of this mistake, yet the right thing to do was to correct this error which he did and “there was very much gladness.” When we have made a mistake, even though it be an honest mistake, when we see that mistake we should correct it and then we will also experience great gladness.