Monday, May 29, 2006

Baptism: Why So Far?

How far would you be willing to walk somewhere? This might be something you are considering due to the rising gas prices. I know they've changed my attitude about the use of vehicles. You know gas is getting expensive when your legs have become an alternative energy source. OK, I might walk five miles regularly and ten on a special occasion. Unfortunately, I would be tempted mightily to tell everyone afterwards how far I walked and then how much my feet hurt. Where did Jesus begin his trip to John the Baptist in order to be baptized by him? Mark 1:9, "And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan." John was baptizing in the Jordan River in Judea in the wilderness close to Jerusalem. How far was that from Nazareth? Jerusalem is seventy miles from Nazareth.

Why would Jesus walk seventy miles to get baptized by John the Baptist? What was special about the baptism of John that necessitated Jesus to go all that way? Couldn't Jesus just have asked Joseph or some other believer to baptize Him and save that trip? A short while later, Jesus gets into a discussion with the religious leaders about the baptism of John. He answered the scribes, the priests, and the rulers who challenged His authority, saying, "The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me" (Mark 11:30). They reasoned among themselves, and came up with an answer: "We cannot tell." They knew that if they said "from heaven" he would demand to know why they did not believe John. Or, if they should say, "of men" they knew they would be in trouble with the people, for all men counted John to be a prophet. So John's baptism, we know, came from heaven.

Most often arguments about baptism center on the recipients and the mode of baptism. Is it for infants or adults or for believers? Is sprinkling or pouring acceptable or should we immerse alone? Those are worthy topics, but does the administrator of the baptism make any difference? Does it matter who we are baptized by? Well, Jesus said John's baptism was from heaven. John's baptism wasn't just some Old Testament ritual. It was a brand new ceremony ordained by the Almighty, John the Baptist the miracle child who grew to be the man the Lord designated the proper agent of this baptism. In John 1:33 we read John say: ". . . he that sent me to baptize with water." John didn't invent this thing of baptism. He got it from above.

The only baptism that God approves of and has authorized is John's baptism. All the members of the first church had the baptism of John including the Head and founder of the church, Jesus Christ, who walked seventy miles in order to be baptized by the proper authority. Jesus believed so strongly in this baptism, He declared that those who rejected it were in reality rejecting the counsel of God in Luke 7:29-30, which states: "And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." Not being baptized of proper authority was rejecting the counsel of God.

Where is this authority to baptize today? The authority passed from heaven to John to Jesus to the church. Jesus ordained the group, not just individuals, to baptize in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19, 20. That group was the church. Someone may ask, "Isn't Scriptural authority enough." This reasoning would go like this: the Bible commands us to be baptized, so that if folks read the Bible and see that they need to be baptized, they could just baptize one another based upon the authority of the Word of God. Couldn't Jesus have done the same thing? He especially had authority that He could have passed on to anyone He wished. But Jesus walked seventy miles to get baptized of John, an example about the importance of a proper administrator of baptism.

The proper administrator of baptism has become the means by which God's authority is passed from one church to the next. Someone gets baptized with church authority and then sent by that church to evangelize and baptize. Those baptized have a proper administrator of baptism if they are baptized by someone with a legitimate baptism. Not just any administrator will do. It must be someone sent by a true church, a church in the heritage of churches mothered by that original Jerusalem church that originated around John the Baptist and lead by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Roman Catholics, Protestants, Campbellites, and Charismatics have rejected the counsel of God concerning Scriptural baptism; therefore, all true Baptists must consider their administration of baptism null and void.


Jeff Voegtlin said...

How does this work out in a hypothetical situation? What if?? there was a group of believers that learned from Scripture that they should be a church. They organized themselves and then grew into a large congregation - a Baptist congregation (Baptist by conviction, from the Scriptures). Should their baptisms be considered "illegitimate" because of their history. Or are they acceptable because of their beliefs.

I love theory and philosophy, but I also like to see how it works its way out.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I purposefully didn't get practical, and now look what you've done. I chose my words carefully, and didn't use the word "line" but "heritage." To start, I have a hard time getting out from under the verses above. For that reason, I think everyone should strive not to make exceptions the reality. It was a lot simpler when John the Baptist was the only guy on the block. I would suggest to anyone, that if there are any questions, they get it done right. If Jesus walked 70 miles, and He's the King of Kings, then we should be willing to get wet again to be obedient, which is another feature of His baptism. This was exactly where He heard from the Father that the Father was well-pleased with Him. When we accept a wrong baptism, we legitimize whoever it is as an authority. We should again try no to do that.

Throwback 13 said...

* Just asking through my hat:
* "So, are you preaching Baptist succession?"

Kent Brandenburg said...

You are always welcome to ask through your hat or otherwise. This is at least a succession of baptism. No chain link, I believe, can be shown historically, but Scripture promises unbroken succession from Christ. Churches should start from churches, not unilaterally. I'm advocating authoritative baptism based on these passages. There is no example in the NT of anyone baptizing without authority.

Ruth said...

Philip Henry, father of Matthew Henry wrote for his children their baptismal statement.
"I take God to be my chief end an highest good.
I take God the Son to be my prince and Savior.
I take God the Holy Spirit to be my sanctifier, teacher, guide, and comforter.
I take the word of God to be my rule in all my actions and the people of God to be my people under all conditions.
I do hereby dedicate and devote to the Lord all that I am,
All that I have,
and all I can do.
And this I do deliberately, freely, and forever."

Sounds very similar to marriage vows of today. But, then isnt that what it should be? The body of believers togeather in God's Church are the Bride of Christ. They faithfully await His return to claim His bride. What better thing may we await? Only those baptized with authority can hold that claim. If you question you future better check on that authority.
"As for me and my house we will serve the Lord".

Excellent post Pastor B. I loved it all. Wish I could find something to "prod" you on but just could'nt do it!

Blessings from the Hill

Throwback 13 said...

* Hypertheoretical question (just to make up a word).
* What if a person gets saved, I mean truly born again, but ends up getting baptized by and joined to a protestant church?
* Roman Catholic -> protestant. No authority. What does God do to him at the judgement seat of Christ?

Jeff Voegtlin said...

I appreciate your answers to these questions.

I was thinking today about a post I would like to make some time in the future. Then I was thinking about the types of responses I anticipate. And I determined that my answer to some responses would have to be: "Exceptions do not prove truths to be untrue." In other words, "Just be cause a generalization is not unilateral, doesn't mean it is not true, generally."

Thanks for this post.

Lynn Green said...

I think that most Christians know more about and certainly worry more about who Jesus was than they do what Jesus taught about what we should become.

I don't believe we should worry about who's in and who's out. I believe that we should worry about doing to the work of our Lord here on earth.

I think God looks at our doctrinal differences and says, "You are majoring on the minors. You just don't get it."

Michael McNeilly said...

Doctrine is very important and it is not majoring on the minors. We are to give heed to doctrine and to defend it. It is not going too far to say that we need to follow everything God commands and not partially obey Him. Great article. Right on.

Unknown said...

Great post. I think a lot of professing Christians minimize the significance of this church ordinance, and that does not speak well of their Christianity.

Jerry Bouey said...

I don't believe we should worry about who's in and who's out.

How can we separate from false teachers, false churches, and false brethren if we don't know who they are? There are some pretty clear commands on separation in the NT. If we love the Lord, we need to obey them.

I think God looks at our doctrinal differences and says, "You are majoring on the minors. You just don't get it."

Having a LOVE for the Truth means a HATRED for error and falsehood.

Doctrine a "minor"? There are some doctrines that are foundational to the Christian faith - I certainly wouldn't say those are of minor importance. If someone does not believe the fundamentals of the Christian faith, they are neither saved nor Christian. For example, if someone rejects the deity of Christ, or rejects His finished work on the cross of Calvary, or believes he can add his own works to what Jesus has done - in all three instances that person is NOT saved.

Kent Brandenburg said...

One thing I'm loving about my blog is when people give my answer befoer i can give it. I mean that! Yes! Good job!

Bro. Josh said...

Didn't Paul imply that "John's baptism" wasn't sufficient in Acts 19:3-5 ?

Also, if Jesus gave "baptismal authority" to the church, not just certain individuals, then who in the "church" has that authority? Just a pastor?

Also, what makes a "church"? according to scripture? Aren't all born again believers the "church?"
Where does the Bible teach that a church must be formed by another church?

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but if we're truly "Bile Believers", then let then let's see clearly what the Bible says, not just what our seminary or traditions told us.

Kent Brandenburg said...


In order of your questions: Most likely they were not saved, making their baptism a moot point. They hadn't received the Holy Spirit, and surely John would have taught that, having seen the Holy Spirit descend upon Christ at His baptism Paul asked about their Spirit indwelling to guage their spiritual status, and that revealed their not having been saved. It's also possible, seeing their ignorance on the Holy Spirit, that they weren't baptized of John, but that they were given a baptism "Unto John's baptism," not actually his baptism. This was probably some John the Baptist group that had started, made up of unsaved people.

Anyone the church gives authority can baptize, like Philip with the eunuch in Acts 8.

A church is an assembly of immersed believers (Acts 2:41). Believers are water baptized into the church (1 Cor. 12:13). All born again believers are not the "church" because all born again believers do not ever assemble. The church is an assembly. The "body of Christ" is also local only (1 Cor. 12:27, the only place that defines the body of Christ). In no place does the Bible say the church is all believers or non-baptized believers. It says only they were baptized believers.

Churches starting churches is the model---see Acts 13, 15. Even the apostle Paul himself did not go to start without church authority. Since the church alone can baptize, as that is where the authority comes from (see Mt. 28:18-20, 16:18,19---all authority given to Christ, passed on to the church, Rom. 10:14-17---unless they be sent, sent by what or whom?). If we regulate our practice by a sufficient Scripture, then we follow a Scriptural model, and follow Christ's example to receive Scriptural authority.

Caleb said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Great article! It is a blessing to uderstand that not all Pastors have given up on studying the word of God, and standing for the truths! Because of Not standing for the ordinances during the days of the Children of Israel many priests although present during the 1000 year reign, will suffer great loss! Ref. Ezk. 44: 5-16. Let all not be fooled every ordinance of the Lord is important and worth defending!!! Pastor Gray Anchor Baptist Lincoln, Ca

Anonymous said...

Right, Pastor B.

The men in Acts 19 confessed that they had not even "heard" of the Holy Ghost. Judging by John's messages recorded in the Gospels, it would have been impossible to have heard John preach and not hear of the Holy Ghost. Those men were not baptized by John the Baptist.

The Bible does not say that they were re-baptized, but baptized. The first dipping didn't count. They just got wet.

Anonymous said...

The authority to baptize must be passed on directly from John, or be restored to earth if the chain from John is broken.

Anonymous said...

The bible has changed over many years so how do you know if any of it is actually true?

Please explain your proof 100℅ so that I understand


KJB1611 said...

Dear Anonymous,

While individual manuscripts of the Bible have been changed at times, the Bible itself has not been corrupted. We have every word in the original languages that were given by God to the original writers, and we also have those words faithfully translated into English in the King James Version. Please see the section on Biblical preservation in Bible Study #1 here:

and the section on the Bible's preservation in the study here:

and, after examining these, if you have further questions, I will, Lord willing, answer them.


Anonymous said...

John the baptized farther was zechariah. he held the aaronic priesthood. was this the purpose that Jesus walked to be baptized JOHN.??

Unknown said...

I dont kniw how old this is... but I believe that the proper baptism is immersion because the bible says that we Romans 6:4
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. So with that being said Baptize in "Jesus name" why because there is no other way that we can be saved. Jesus is the one who died and has All power in his hands and put all things under his feet. Thirdly there's Power in the name of Jesus! Demons tremble at that name. So Baptize in Jesus name because it is right!

Unknown said...

Baptosm in Jesus name is right! Baptise in Jesus name(full immersion) not Father Son or Holy Spirit). The bible says that there is no other name whereby men shall he saved but at the name if Jesus! Acts 4;12. Do it the right way.

Unknown said...

Its always good to have a Baptismal statement. But it holds no Power or Authority. When using the name of Jesus that outs a stamp on it! When demons come ones way...the first name yoy hear is Jesus! When almost hit by a speeding hear that person call on Jesus! So when in baptism you need some power because we are buried with Christ Romans 6:4.

Unknown said...

In hopes of this peraon having a relationship with Christ alone. But also this person has to think about the leadership of that church. He/she doesn't want to be under "authority" that isnt preaching Jesus and Him crucified. If yoy want to truly be saved, you woukd make an attempt to get under Bible believing, Holygost fire, teaching and preaching. So that on judgement day you will know the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth so help you God. Salvation is only through Jesus Christ-get in a church where they baptize with the Holygost Acts 2:38. Get in Gods word for yourself so that No one will be held accountable for you but you.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I've included your comments, even though we don't believe your doctrine.

Here are two articles to deal with the false doctrine you are espousing on baptism. Acts 2:38 isn't Spirit baptism. Spirit baptism is also not for today. It is a historical event.

They are long, but very scriptural, helpful articles that are dealing with your comments. I included your comments so that you could see there was an answer.

Vic Dietz said...

There is one Christian church that asserts Heavenly authority to validate their baptisms and other priesthood ordinances. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints testifies to the world that John the Baptist himself came as a resurrected being and laid his hands on the heads of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and gave them the same authority he had to baptize, and then commanded them to baptize one another according to his instructions.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Are you Mormon, or are you just saying that our argument is like Mormons? This is an exegesis of scripture that shows that authority for baptism is required. There is no basis for believing that John the Baptist rose up and laid hands on Joseph Smith. There is biblical and evidential teaching against that occurring.