By Michael E. Brooks
“Then Peter answered, ‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have'” (Acts 10:46-47)?
“Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized” (Acts 8:36)?
I received word this week of the baptism of seven persons in India. A man baptized his son and daughter, and also his brother, sister-in-law, two nieces, and nephew. We rejoiced greatly at this good news, as does God (Luke 15:7, 10).
As I considered these things I was struck by the great wisdom and love of God in his plan for our salvation. The man who performed these baptisms has no official position in the Church. He is not a supported preacher. He has never been ordained by anyone. He answers to no Bishop, or board, or College of Cardinals. He is simply a New Testament Christian — one who has put on Christ himself, and follows him in faith.
Had it been necessary no doubt some special person could have been called to officiate in these particular baptisms. But it was not necessary, and it is not always possible or feasible to send for someone. Often readers of the Bible come to faith far from the presence of established congregations or trained evangelists. Must they wait until some special person is found so that their obedience may be officially recognized? The answer in the Bible is clearly “No.”
Wherever the Bible is read or the message of Jesus is heard people may respond in faith. No one can deny water for baptism. No hindrance exists to prevent their obedience. So long as they believe in Jesus, confess his name, repent of their sins and resolve to put him on in baptism they may do so (Acts 8:37).
God welcomes them into his family. Since a public confession is required (Matthew 10:32) and Biblical baptism was always administered by some person, it is obvious that there must be another party involved.
But that person does not have to meet some set of requirements or conditions. One’s obedience to Christ is not dependent upon the qualifications of others.
Paul taught, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6). God alone regulates forgiveness of sin and entrance into his kingdom. Man assists, but does not control. So long as we believe and submit to God we can be found pleasing to him and we can obey him, no matter what others may say or do.
Spontaneous generation is the rise of life with no outside stimulus or help. It is not possible physically, and we must admit it is not possible spiritually either. One must hear the Word of God in order to have faith and thus be given new life (Romans 10:17).
But God’s plan comes as close to that impossible idea as one can imagine. Our salvation depends on no one, save God himself. He has revealed his will through the Bible. He has sent his son to be our Savior. We depend upon no one else. No one can deny us water that we may be born again.
By Michael E. Brooks