By Ron Halbrook
Preaching on Bible baptism is as vital today as it has ever been. This is true, first because it is a part of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16). In every case of conversion beginning in Acts 2, sinners who put their trust in Christ were baptized as a part of their initial response to the gospel. When sinners wanted to be saved from their sins, they by faith in Christ were baptized in water immediately – “the same hour of the night” (Acts 16:33) – without delay. The same clear instruction is needed today if sinners are to be saved by the blood of Christ.
Second, the need of such teaching is urgent because denominationalism fills people’s minds with prejudice, resentment, and resistance on this subject. Brethren have taught much on Bible baptism and must teach much on it still. This is not because we believe in the ritualistic idea of baptismal regeneration or that baptism alone saves – as, in fact, several denominations believe which baptize infants or baptize the living on behalf of the dead. But the ground for our teaching so often on this subject is the same basis upon which the farmer and rancher decide where to repair the fence. He repairs it where it is down! In the religious world today, the fence is down at the point where the Bible speaks on baptism. Denominationalism works very hard to keep the fence down at this point, and seeks to tear it down as fast as true children of God can repair it in the hearts and minds of people. We must work very hard to keep it up!
A third reason we need to teach much and often on Bible baptism is that some among us “depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:1-2). These men make “shipwreck concerning the faith,” contradicting the great truths they once preached and defended (1 Tim. 1:19). As the cancer of apostasy progresses, such men “overthrow the faith of some” others who are not well grounded (2 Tim. 2:17-18).
Where these apostates once preached with emphasis and exclamation marks, they now speak with speculation and question marks. Their sermons used to be girded with the bands of Book, Chapter, and Verse quotations, but now with the spaghetti strings of what modern theologians and pop psychologists have to say. Frequent, pious reminders are given of how much we have to learn from denominational leaders by men who now are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7).
Men who used to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” now earnestly defend denominational doubts, dodges, and dogmas on baptism (Jude 3). As these sweet-spirited souls granulate into sugar, they have temper tantrums and go into tirades crying out against “legalism.” A “legalist” in their eyes is someone who insists, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). “Legalists” emphasize that only the baptized are saved from their past sins by the blood of Christ in the gospel age, only those immersed are truly baptized, and only those who know its purpose is remission of sins receive Bible baptism. There is much talk by these apostates about searching for “common ground” they are always finding more and more of it with their denominational neighbors, less and less of it with their brethren who insist upon a “thus saith the Lord” for all things .
Let us not be intimidated by the vast numbers of the lost, by the vast power of denominationalism, or by the rash railings of false brethren. Let us diligently equip ourselves by immersing ourselves in Scripture so that we may be workmen who need not to be ashamed, “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (4:2). You will know it is “out of season” when men falsely accuse you of put ting the Bible or the church or baptism above faith in Christ. Preach the word, anyway. “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doc trine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16).
(See elsewhere in this issue of the paper an article on “Bible Baptism” by Foy E. Wallace, Jr. [1896-1979], taken from the Bible Banner, May 1948, page 14. Brethren who are liberal on institutionalism, centralized cooperation, and church sponsored recreation are engaged in battle with one of their own princes who now believes that people in denominations are in Christ if they were baptized to “obey God” even without understanding the scriptural purpose of remission of sins. In response, “Bible Baptism” has been widely reprinted. Wallace’s book The Present Truth  is a collection of his journal articles and incorrectly gives the date of that article as August 1938. Current reprints from that source bear the same error.)
Guardian of Truth XXX: 4, p. 104
February 20, 1986