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Articles

Baptism by a Non-Christian

Baptism by a Non-Christian

By Paul R. Blake

            (I received the following question by email from a dear brother in Ohio) “What qualification (if any) must one possess before he can baptize others? In a worst case scenario, what if a person wanted to be baptized, but was in a place with only non-Christians?”

            Good question, Brother! In the case of the person being baptized, we know that he or she must do so from the heart; that is, they must believe and repent from the heart, and make the confession by mouth. When he is being baptized, he must do so with the intent that he is being baptized for the remission of sins and that he will arise a new creature in Christ. Similarly, the person doing the baptism must do so with the intent that he is baptizing this one into Christ for the remission of sins. Please note that he is doing so in the name of or by the authority of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I do not believe one who is outside of Christ can pretend to be acting by the authority of Christ.

            In Acts 19, Jewish exorcists attempted to do something in the name of Jesus, and they not only failed, they were punished. “Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.’ Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” (Acts 19:13-17). I would certainly fear for both the one outside of Christ trying to baptize by the authority of the Lord, and for the one who is placing his hope of salvation on such a practice.

            I have heard the argument that states that since at least one of the apostles had to be unbaptized when he baptized the others, it is possible for non-Christians to baptize others in the name of Christ. That is based on limited and uninformed human reasoning; God’s word is silent on the matter. We cannot generate a doctrine based on what God did not say about the matter.

            However, I have faith that if one truly wants to be baptized, Providentially, God will see to it that it gets done right. This is a matter of faith. When the Ethiopian eunuch wanted to be baptized, God supplied the baptizer (Philip) and the water in the middle of a desert region. Based on the promises of God and His examples of Providential care, I believe that when one wants to become a Christian, a baptizer and sufficient water will be available, and if not in the immediate area, then in the near future. I cannot imagine that one who hears the gospel for the first time and wants to be saved will be killed before having the opportunity. However, I would not suggest that one who has on multiple occasions rejected the gospel would have the same level of mercy and protection.

            Finally and more to the point, it has been my experience that over the years men can make up a lot of hypothetical situations that appear to void or create conflict with commands of the Lord. In truth, I believe such situations exist only in the minds of brethren or as some sort of religious urban myth. I do not believe they actually exist or have happened. And, if they have happened, so what? God is all wise and all knowing. He will figure out how to handle that matter according to His infinite wisdom. Regardless of what exceptions that we can think up in our own minds for others, they have NO bearing on us or the people we teach, and most importantly, they do not void the direct command of the Lord. We still need to believe, repent, confess and be baptized for the remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ.

            Have you noticed how such questions seem to convey a false air of importance and serve no purpose when it comes to edification? These questions clog up Bible classes using time better spent on what God has revealed in His word. If brethren persist in dwelling on such questions, offer them a question of your own. “How does answering hypothetical questions edify us?” “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless” (Titus 3:9).

 

Understanding the Keys of the Kingdom

By Paul R. Blake

            (I received this question from a young evangelist in West Virginia) “Can you help me understand the keys of the kingdom and the binding and loosing more fully (Matt. 16:18-19)? Jesus told Peter that He would give him the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, and He seems to be speaking specifically to Peter in giving him the keys, so was Peter the one to unlock the kingdom of Heaven? What does the binding and loosing mean?”

            Answer: Peter was not singled out to receive the keys of the kingdom alone. While Peter was the leading speaker in Acts 2, he was not the only speaker on Pentecost. And though Peter was the first one to teach and convert Gentiles, it was less about Peter being honored and more about Peter's bigotry. What better testimony of the power of God over man’s weakness than to open the way for Gentiles with the apostle who had the hardest time with prejudice against them? In point of fact, all of the apostles were present at Peter's confession, and all of them were under the auspices of Jesus' declaration. Matt. 16:20 defines the context as inclusive of all of the apostles. To believe that Peter was singled out is a common error, an error that forms the Petrine doctrine of Catholicism. In Matt. 18:18, Jesus says the same thing to all of the apostles.

            With regard to binding and loosing, Jesus told them they would be guided into all truth (John 16:7-14). In other words, they don't get to decide what to bind and loose. They only get to reveal to others what has been bound and loosed in heaven. They get to open up the way for others to enter the kingdom by means of preaching the gospel of Christ. In fact, the verb form for eisomai in that passage is not "will be bound or loosed" but rather "will have been bound or loosed." In short, the apostles didn’t bind and loose on earth and God responds in heaven by accepting their decisions; in truth, the apostles simply revealed on earth what had already been bound and loosed in heaven. The Christians followed the apostles' doctrine (all of the apostles, not just Peter), but it was theirs by right of proclamation, not by right of origination. (See Acts 2:42; 1Cor. 11:2; 1Thes. 2:13; 1Cor. 14:37; 2Thes. 2:15).

Test Your Bible Knowledge

1. List the five main offerings under the Law of Moses. _____, _____, _____, _____, & _____

2. What vow under the Law of Moses forbade one to cut his hair? __________

3. List some of the rules for judges under the Law. _________________________________

4. List some of the rules for witnesses under the Law. _______________________________

5. How were these Laws broken during the trial of Jesus? ____________________________

Upcoming Sermons

2/28/21 AM & PM - The Power of the Gospel Over the Power of Sin, Parts One & Two

3/7/21 AM - “Be of Good Cheer”; PM - Singing Service: Congregational Choice

3/14/21 AM - “I am the Bread of Life” Part One; PM - Plant Anger; Grow a Fool

3/21/21 AM - “I am the Bread of Life” Conclusion; PM - Jeremiah’s Song

3/28/21 AM - “God is Faithful”; PM - When Satan Tells the Truth

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