THE PROPER ADMINISTRATOR OF BAPTISM
By Jonathan Gaines Bow (1847 - 1922)
In chapter X, the statement is made: "Baptists believe that baptism is the dipping, immersion in water, in the name of the Trinity, of a believer upon profession of faith, by one duly authorized by a church of Jesus Christ to perform such service."
Bear in mind they believe that scriptural baptism is only properly, scripturally administered by one duly authorized by a church of Jesus Christ.
The Scriptures require a certain act---immersion; a proper subject--a penitent, believing person professing faith in Christ; and the ordinance administered by one duly authorized by a church of Christ.
An improper act, an improper candidate, an improper administrator, or an improper design renders the baptism improper, unscriptural, invalid.
Christ is the head of the church, the one law-giver in Zion. The churches are the executors of His will and law. Christ gave the law and obeyed it, established the ordinances and kept them; setting us an example, saying, "Follow me."
Baptists are charged with being sticklers for forms. Yes, but the form for which we contend is a divine form, ordained by God, observed by Christ, and enjoined upon his followers. To His churches He has committed the ordinances. These ordinances (baptism and the Lord's Supper) are holy symbols of God's own appointment, setting forth in object lessons the fundamental principles and doctrine of the gospel of salvation through Christ Jesus. Now if God punished His people, blotted out Israel, scattering them among the nations, because they kept not His ordinances and refused to walk in His statutes, who shall dare to change and trifle with these simple, sublime ordinances, which reflect the glory of Christ's work, life, death, burial, and resurrection? The condition of God's blessings upon ancient Israel was: "That ye keep mine ordinances." And under His dire punishment He stoops to explain, saying: "Ye have gone away from mine ordinances and have not kept them," and even compassionately to invite them, saying, "Return unto me and I will return unto you." Surely God in His holiness, justice, and consistency is not less concerned about these ordinances, which set before men the finished work of Christ, than the temporary ordinances which shadowed forth His coming.
But who shall administer them? If they are church ordinances, then they are necessarily under the control of the churches, and only such as the churches appoint (ordain) are qualified for this service.
Baptists believe that since in its introduction baptism was administered by divine authority, and since there is no declaration of a change in the method of administering the ordinance, there should be a commission from God to administer the ordinance now. John said He was sent to baptize with water (John 1:33). True, there has been no direct personal command to the preachers of this day from God, but Jesus commands His church, in Matthew 28:19, to teach (make disciples) all nations, baptizing them, etc. It is, of course, not expected that a church as an organization does the baptizing, but that it is done by the order of and under the direction of the church; and hence one is thus authorized to baptize by the church and for the church, which has a commission from Jesus to go, to teach, to baptize. As Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus himself baptized not, but His disciples---John 4:1-2), so a church in obedience to the Commission (Matt. 28:19) makes and baptizes disciples, though the church baptizes not, but her selected and duly appointed ministry. If the Commission to evangelize the world is to the church, then the command to baptize is to the church, and hence baptism administered by the authority of a scriptural church is by divine commandment as truly as was that of John the Baptist. If the command is to the church, then one not under the direction of and authorized by a scriptural church is not a scriptural administrator of baptism.
Surely Jesus knew it was necessary to have a divinely appointed, proper administrator, hence He "came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan."
(What Baptists Believe and Why They Believe It, pp. 38-40).