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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

Unto Johns Baptism

Silus Durand

 

   

I wish to present more fully than heretofore my reasons for believing that the twelve disciples whom Paul found on his second visit to Ephesus had not been baptized in gospel order, and that when the apostle explained the matter to them they were, by his direction, baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts xix. 1-7.)

1. My first reason is the plain and only reading of the text. There must be a radical change in the construction of two sentences, verses five and six, in order to make them express any other meaning than that when these disciples heard what Paul told them about John's teaching those whom he baptized the necessity of a belief on the Lord Jesus, then they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

2. Paul did not ask the men who baptized them, but unto what they were baptized; that is, what pattern or authority they had in view in receiving that ordinance. If John personally had baptized them it could not be said that they were baptized unto his baptism.

3. About twenty-five years had passed away since the death of John. If it were at all likely that these men had been baptized by him, how could they have failed to hear of the baptism of Jesus and of the Holy Ghost during all those years? John's baptism was his own personal work. No one ever had the right to baptize in his name, or unto his baptism. Of the one hundred and twenty who were together after the ascension of Jesus, some may have been baptized by John. On the day of Pentecost, and from that day I do not see anything to warrant the thought that any were added to the church without being baptized. We do not read of any coming and being received in any church upon any former baptism. How strange it would seem to find, twenty-three years after the notable day of Pentecost, twelve men who had been baptized two or three years before that day, and yet in all that time had not even heard that there was any Holy Ghost, nor known the baptism of Jesus.

4. Paul had been at Ephesus some time before, bringing Aquila and Priscilla from Antioch, and leaving them there. At that probably his first visit to Ephesus, he did some preaching and reasoning in the synagogue, and soon left them. Some time after (Acts xviii. 24), Apollos came there. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, but not perfectly, knowing only the baptism of John. He spoke for some time eloquently and diligently, teaching the things of the Lord so far as he knew them. Whether he or his imperfect instructors baptized these twelve men we cannot tell. He had not been teaching long before he was heard by those who were fully instructed in the gospel, and they faithfully expounded to him the way of God more perfectly.

These twelve disciples were found at Ephesus on Paul's second visit. They seem to have been recently baptized, and likely they had not heard Apollos after he had been more perfectly instructed and had begun to preach the gospel of Jesus clearly.

5. The apprehension that the validity of John's baptism is involved in this question, has undoubtedly led some to try to re-arrange the sentence so as to make it express the idea that these men had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, but had never known it till Paul told them. Our object and effort should be to find out what the inspired Scriptures do really say, without reference to what we might think they ought to say. The validity of John's baptism, as his personal act, is not at all involved in this subject, but only his baptism as the example and authority to be had in view in administering the ordinance under the gospel. John's baptism ceased when he ceased to administer it personally.

However satisfied one may have felt when receiving baptism, if it was not administered in gospel order then it is not gospel baptism. The ordinance must be in the name of Jesus, and the faith of him who is baptized must be in that name. It must be in the fellowship of the gospel church, in accordance with the command given by Jesus to his apostles, and set in order by them in their acts and teaching.

How carefully and jealously should the order of the gospel church be observed and guarded. To the eye of faith that church is "the perfection of beauty," out of which "God hath shined." It is the order as established by the Lord, not the numbers, by which any organization is known as the church of God.

Many are around almost any gospel church who have not been baptized, yet who are loved and held in esteem by the brethren as dear children of grace. They love the church, and attend with deep interest upon the preaching of the word, and yet they do not come in. We often try to show them that it is their privilege and duty to be baptized, but without avail. We often feel that we ought to be able to say the loving and powerful word that shall remove the hindrances from their minds, but it is not given us to say it. We have to learn that it is in the day of God's power, not in the day of our power, that his people shall be willing. When any do come, and O, how easily and sweetly they come when the Lord opens the way, both they and we know that it was God's power, not ours, that brought them. If they never come, as is the case with so many dear believers in the Lord, we know that it was not God's purpose that they should be thus united with the visible church of God, as his witnesses here in the world. We still are bound up with them in the bundle of life, holding them in Christian love and fellowship, though not being able to extend to them the hand of church fellowship. When they leave this world we believe they have gone to dwell with their Savior in glory.

Baptism is an ordinance of our dear Savior for this time state, but has nothing to do with the preparation of his people for heaven and its eternal glory. To that eternal glory and blessedness "many are called," even a great company that no man can number, "but few are chosen" to be of "the 1;ttle flock," to whom the kingdom is given here in time, who shall stand as witnesses of Jesus in the world, as the church of God," the pillar and ground of the truth." For this church, and those individually who are members of it, there are appointed reproaches, and burdens, and afflictions, and a yoke, and labors, and crosses, and daily dyings, and honors unseen by the world, and joys unknown to men, and conflicts; all of which are in some measure seen by the dear children of God without, but not shared in by them except in small measure.

But these things end with time. Our eternal state is not affected by them, nor is there any difference there between those who were in the visible church here, and those of God's dear people who were not. We cannot say to one, "If you will join the church here you will be the happier hereafter." The Lord gives his servants here a higher, holier motive to labor in his service than that, even his own glory. Love is in the heart of every redeemed soul when called by grace here below, the love of God, whether in the church or out, and that love remains when we go from earth to glory. In that blessed world of light all the redeemed shall join in the endless song of praise unto God and the Lamb.