Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 8, 1959
NUMBER 22, PAGE 1,10b-11b

The Progress Of The Gospel

Robert H. Farish, San Bernardino, California

In the commission our Lord gave the geographical progress of the preaching of the gospel by the apostles. The beginning was to be in Jerusalem, then in Judea, then Samaria and then into the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8) The first seven chapters of Acts deal with the activities of the apostles within the confines of Jerusalem. But all the items of the commission were for Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. Baptism, as a condition of remission, is in the commission, hence, the baptism of the commission is to be preached and obeyed in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. Baptism is just as universal in application as is the commission. This is the way it was under the direction of the apostles for when we come to the 8th chapter of Acts and read of the church being scattered by the persecution, we learn that they preached baptism.

"Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed unto them the Christ". (Acts 8:5). The response of the Samaritans to this preaching is seen in Acts 8:12. "But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women". Thus far in all the preaching done under the commission we see that the people who received the word spoken were baptized.

Next in the divine record we read of Philip preaching to the Ethiopian eunuch. The record says that Philip preached unto him Jesus. "And as they went on the way, they came to a certain water; and the eunuch saith, behold here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?" (Acts 8:36.) From the preaching of Philip, the eunuch had learned the necessity of baptism. Of what baptism is he here concerned? Would Philip have preached any baptism other than the "one baptism"? From the preaching of Philip the eunuch had learned all he knew about baptism. But from his question we see that he knew the need of water for the baptism which had been required in the preaching done by Philip. He says, "Here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Philip baptized him in water. This could be none other than the baptism of the commission which was administered by man. This being "desert" does not mean that there was a lack of water lout that there was a lack of people. Jesus went to a "desert place" in a boat. (Matt. 14:13) "He commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass" v. 19 "and the disciples left the place in a boat" v. 22: There was an abundance of water in this desert place for the Lord to arrive by boat and for the disciples to depart by boat and enough to grow grass upon which the multitude sat down.

The 9th chapter of Acts is the account of the conversion of Saul. When the Lord appeared to Saul on the Damascus road, he told him to "enter into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." The 18th verse tells us what Saul did. "And he arose and was baptized:" This meets the requirements of the baptism of the commission. The baptism of the commission was something for man to do — being baptized was what Saul did. He was to be told what to do. Ananias told him and he arose and was baptized. This is very different from the Holy Spirit baptism which the apostles received. To receive Holy Spirit baptism the apostles were charged "not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father — but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence." The apostles were to "Wait" for the promise of Holy Spirit baptism. Saul was to be told what to do. We can "wait" for promises but we must "do" commands. Holy Spirit baptism was a promise... Baptism in water unto remission of sins is a command of the commission. This baptism of Saul's was the baptism connected with removal of sins. "And why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name." (Acts 22:16)

Paul was buried in baptism. Rom: 6:4 "We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life." It is apparent from several considerations that this is not Holy Spirit baptism. First, note that the apostle, who at this writing had not seen the brethren at Rome, spoke of their having been baptized as an accepted and understood thing. This is understandable if we remember that where the gospel was preached according to the Lord's commission, the baptism of the commission was preached. Hence, the baptism that Paul refers to as being common to Paul and the Roman brethren must be the baptism of the commission — the "one baptism" of Eph. 4:5. He writes, "we were buried therefore with him through baptism". Paul, the writer, and the Roman brethren make up the "we". This baptism which was common to both parties here must be the baptism common to all. If Holy Spirit baptism were common to all, then Paul would have had to write to the Ephesians that there are two baptisms for the baptism of the commission was common to all; it was for all nations. (Matt: 28:19) But Paul did not write that there were two baptisms. He wrote, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." (Eph. 4:5)

But another thought on this. Paul longed to see these people who "were baptized into Christ Jesus", that he might impart unto them some spiritual gift. (Rom: 1:11) If the baptism that they had been baptized with had been Holy Spirit baptism, would not all the spiritual gifts have been present in the church at Rome? These people had been baptized with the baptism of the commission and had received remission of sins; they were saved just as Christ had promised, but they could still have a spiritual gift imparted to them by Paul.

But back to the trail of the preaching done under the commission. We have followed the apostles and inspired evangelist as they carried out the commission in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. Now in the 10th chapter of Acts we have the record of the gospel going to the Gentiles. This is the place where the last circle is penetrated. Here they enter that zone of operation called "unto the uttermost part of the earth".

Baptism still retains its place in the preaching of the apostles, as they enter this, "the uttermost parts of the earth" phase in carrying out the commission. At the house of Cornelius the first Gentile convert, Peter raises this question. "Can any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he, commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." (Acts 10:47, 48) Note that this was baptism that required water and that it was a command. No one can question that this was the baptism of the commission.

Follow the apostles and inspired evangelist as they, "Go and teach all nations baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" and see that they performed all of the commission. Read of Lydia and her household. (Acts 16:15) "And when she was baptized and her household — ". Of the jailor, (Acts 16:33). "And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his immediately." Of the Corinthians, (Acts 18:8) — "and many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized." Of the Ephesians (Acts 19:4,5) "And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is on Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus." Having traced the course of the apostles and inspired evangelists as they carried out the commission, one is impressed with the fact that the apostles understood that Jesus meant exactly what he said when he commissioned them to preach the gospel and to baptize those who believed and repented.

"Teaching Them To Observe All Things"

The commission required that those who responded to the preaching of the gospel by believing, repenting and being baptized, were to be taught "all things whatsoever" the Lord had commanded. No one is measuring up to the requirements of the commission who fails to continue "steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers". (Acts 2:42)

"Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life". (Rev. 2:10).