Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 20, 1966
NUMBER 24, PAGE 6c-7,10a

Gospel Baptism

Jack Meyer, Sr.

The baptism that Christ included in his gospel is seen to be highly important, when one remembers that the Spirit had Paul to describe the gospel as the potter of God unto salvation." (Rom. 1:16) We cannot afford to be indifferent to anything which is a part of that power. Hence, your thoughtful and fair consideration of gospel baptism, as outlined in the New Testament, is earnestly solicited. All scripture quotations are from the King James Version, with which most people are familiar.

In Mark 16:15-16 Jesus Christ commanded the apostles: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." This commission is quoted by Luke 24:46-49; "And he said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high." And Matthew reports: "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 always, even unto the end of the world." (Matt. 28:18-20)

After His resurrection and just before His ascension Christ gave the foregoing orders to the apostles. This is usually called the Great Commission, because it contains the law of Christ for evangelizing and saving the world. Since this gospel that Christ gave was, and is, God's power to salvation, you can see why Christ ordered that all people be taught it. Since faith, repentance, and baptism are included in that gospel, you can see why church of Christ take neither faith, repentance, nor baptism out of the plan. You also see why we study baptism under the heading, or title, "Gospel Baptism."

And let us settle another point just here. So often, when we quote and read scriptures on baptism, people insist that said scriptures refer to Holy Spirit baptism, instead of to that of water. But the baptism of the gospel is water baptism. Proof: you read, in Matt.28:19, where Christ commanded the apostles to baptize those taught; men could not baptize people with, or in, the Holy Spirit--only God could do that; the one that Christ, in the gospel, told men to perform was, therefore, necessarily water baptism, as that is the only kind they could give.

And if we have water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism now, there are two baptisms. But Paul said that there is one! (Eph. 4:5) Since Matt. 28:19-20 shows that water baptism is to continue until the end of the world, and Paul's statement in Eph. 4:5 was made after the two cases of Holy Spirit baptism recorded in Acts 2 and 10, it necessarily follows that Holy Spirit baptism has been abolished, having served its purposes, whereas that of water continues. Water baptism is, therefore, the one commanded in the gospel.

Next, let us learn the proper subject for gospel baptism: that is, who may be baptized. Turn back to the great commission in the first of this tract, and you will see the people eligible for baptism. "He that believeth and is baptized:" "Repentance and remission of sins;" (Also, Acts 2:38 says: "Repent, and be baptized--") "Teach all nations--baptizing them." "Many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized." (Acts 18:8)

"And as they went on their way they came to a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized. And Philip said, If thou believeth with all thine heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch: and he baptized him." (Acts 8:36-39) This candidate for baptism not only believed, but confessed faith in Christ, which is the confession of "Jesus as Lord," of Rom. 10:9-10, which Paul said, was "with the mouth unto salvation."

Thus, we see that the proper subject for gospel baptism is: (1) one who can be taught; (2) a believer: (3) one who repents of sins; (4) one who confesses with the mouth his faith in Christ, Since there is "one faith, one baptism," (Eph. 4:5) there is no such thing as administering gospel baptism to anyone who is too young to be taught, believe, repent, and confess. There is not a case of infant baptism in the New Testament. The argument that circumcision in the Old Testament law typified infant baptism in the New Testament falls down because that would include only one sex, whereas gospel baptism is for all. Then, infant baptism advocates quote that Jesus said: "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 19;14) But, He said nothing in that passage about baptizing them or dedicating them by sprinkling! Only when one has been taught, believed Christ, repented of sins, and confessed faith in Christ, can that one claim readiness for gospel baptism.

Now, let us look into the "mode" of baptism--how performed. The word baptize simply means to dip, immerse, plunge--and any standard Greek Lexicon will tell you that, If that is the meaning of the word, it is useless to talk about the "mode" of baptism--it is a mode, and the mode is baptism, dipping, plunging, immersing.

If you will turn back in this tract you will find where the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized: (Acts 8:3839) They "both went down into" the water, and "when they were come up out of the water." Rom. 6:4 and Col. 2:12 say; "Buried--by baptism," "Buried--in Baptism." Now, remember, that there is "one baptism." (Eph. 4:5) If, in gospel baptism they went to the water, went down into it, were buried, raised (Rom.6:4), and came up out of the water, that was the pattern in all cases, since there was only one pattern. Many denominations say that the "mode" makes no difference, but we are to "make all things according to the pattern," (Heb. 8:5) as Moses did in building the tabernacle. So, sects are going beyond the teachings of Christ when they change the pattern for baptizing, and 2 Jno. 9 says that such people do not have God! Hence, you have not received gospel baptism unless you have been buried and raised from the watery grave.

But what is the purpose, or design, of gospel baptism--why must we be baptized? Let us look to some Bible answers.

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mk. 16:16) Here Christ locates salvation after baptism. Now, watch the difference: human denominations teach this, "He that believeth and is saved, should be baptized." Jesus said: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Others put in like this: belief, salvation, baptism. Christ placed it like this: belief, baptism, salvation. When men deliberately change Christ's order and persuade good people to believe it, no wonder many thoughtful people become disgusted with religion as they see it and embrace infidelity!

"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal. 3:27) How many put on Christ? "As many of you as have been baptized."

So, no one has put on Christ who has not received gospel baptism. If all spiritual blessings, including salvation, are in Christ, (Eph. 1:3; Acts 4:12; Heb. 7:25) and you have to be baptized to put on Christ, you have not put on salvation until you have been baptized.

But, notice again: that scripture also says that you are "baptized into Christ." Hence, if that is the way you get into Christ, you are not in Christ until you are baptized into Him. If you can't be saved out of Christ, and you can't get into Him without being baptized, you can see that baptism stands between you and salvation. The Bible says that faith is unto (Rom. 10:10); repentance is unto (2 Cor. 7:10); confession is unto (Rom. 10:9-10); but that baptism is into Christ. Surely you can see the difference between unto and into. This explodes the foundation of modern denominationalism that a man is in Christ the moment he believes, and shows that the moment a man believes he has "the power to become a son of God," (John 1:12) as his faith makes him put on Christ in baptism." (Gal. 3:26-27)

"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us--." (1 Pet. 3:21) The objectors cry "that verse says that baptism is a figure, just a figure." Surely it is a figure, but the verse says that the figure saves, and this is what denominational churches deny. "Not the putting away of the flesh," someone else urges. That's right--not a washing of physical dirt. But still the figure saves. They can't take that out of the passage. How could water save anyone? Very well, read John 9:6-7. Now, how could washing in the pool of Siloam give that blind man eyesight? Answer: there was no saving power in the water; Christ healed, but only when the man obeyed the command. So, in baptism churches of Christ do not claim any merit in the water of itself, but we are saved by the blood of Christ only when we do what He says, when we are "baptized into Christ." It is on the other side of baptism that remission is. It was after washing in the pool of Siloam that sight was restored. Why? Because the Lord fixed it that way. And the Lord has fixed it that "baptism saves."

There are other, equally strong, frequently-used, scriptures bearing upon this subject. But this tract has enough evidence to give you a full picture of the matter.

If you receive gospel baptism, the Lord will add you to the New Testament church. (Acts 2:41-47) If you are in some denominations, it is evidence that, though you may have been immersed, you did not receive gospel baptism. The kind that the New Testament pictures is the one that the church of Christ of your community teaches and practices.

That body practices nothing of a denominational character, but reproduces the New Testament Church, speaking where "the oracles of God speak." (1 Pet. 4:11) This is why we kindly, yet firmly, insist upon the New Testament picture of gospel baptism.