Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 9, 1954

Why I Was Re-Baptized (Re-Immersed)

W.S. Willis. Gustine. Texas

For many years after I was thrown out of the Baptist Church for preaching the truth, and became affiliated with the Christian Church, I was satisfied with my "Baptist baptism." I considered it to be valid because I felt I had been obedient to the commands of Christ, and as I had been immersed I felt secure in my salvation. For thirty years as a minister in the Christian Church I was honest in my teaching that baptism was the final step in obedience, and without it no one could claim the promise made by Jesus when he said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mark 16:16.) Also I have taught that baptism is the induction into the church by the "new birth" through "water and the spirit." I realized there was something about my "Baptist baptism" with which I was not satisfied; but could never quite understand what it was.

I was reading Paul's second letter to Timothy one day and found these words, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." (2 Tim. 3:5.) I read these words over and over, again and again. And as I read them there came to my memory the words spoken by the Baptist minister who had baptized me, when he said, "My brother, you are not being baptized because it is necessary to your salvation, for you are already saved, but that you may become a member of the Baptist Church." The longer I read what Paul told young Timothy to do, when he said, "from them turn away," the more I realized I was not right in my relationship with the church. The more I understood Paul was speaking to ME as well as to Timothy. I had been baptized in the "form of godliness," but had "denied the power thereof." I had not been baptized into Christ, but into the Baptist Church. As I continued reading the word of the Lord, every word and line of it taught me the way of God "more perfectly." And at last there was nothing left for me to do but to "come out from among them." I was baptized into Christ.

For many years I had felt that because I had been immersed, and had understood that baptism was in obedience, I was justifiable in preaching to others the one and only way of salvation. I did not realize that "I myself might be a castaway." But as the years went by, and as I studied the word of truth, every word, every line impressed upon me that I had not been "baptized into Christ" but into the Baptist Church. I read Galatians 3:27, "for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Also in Romans 6:3-5, I read, "know you not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into his death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also shall walk in newness of life, for if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." As I read Paul's reasons for being baptized, I remembered the Baptist minister had told me I was NOT being baptized for these reasons set forth by Paul; it was not necessary to do what Paul said do to be saved, for, he told me, that I had already been saved before being baptized. It became increasingly clear to me that in my Baptist baptism I had had "a form of godliness" but had "denied the power thereof."

I read in Hebrews 10:36 that "if we sin wilfully after that we have come to the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin." Jesus told Nicodemus, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5.) Here we find the Holy Spirit definitely required in the operation of the new birth. And we find in every instance recorded in the New Testament where men and women were baptized, that the Holy Spirit was associated in the conversion. Any one who accepts baptism without recognizing the power of the Holy Spirit, and his relationship to the act, is only practicing "a form of godliness, but denies the power thereof." And they who deny the Holy Spirit are speaking against the Holy Spirit, and stand in danger of the awful sin of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 12:31-32.

When I realized my condition, my heart sank within me. While in my preaching and teaching I had not denied the Spirit, and while I had baptized others by the authority of the Spirit, I had not recognized the Spirit in my own baptism. I do not believe God would have condemned my preaching, and certainly he would not refuse to bless those who had obeyed the gospel under that teaching; but "after I had preached to others I myself might have become a castaway." I could not afford to trifle with my soul; neither could I afford to sin willfully after that I had come to the knowledge of truth. Hence, it became imperative that I be baptized in the answer of a "good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 3:21.)

I would not have you think for a moment that my leaving the Christian Church had anything to do with my being re-baptized; for I would have been just as unhappy and insecure in my soul's condition as I was in the Baptist Church and the Christian Church, had I failed to be baptized into Christ. It was my sincere and understanding obedience to Christ that has made me happy, and has removed the blight from my heart and life. My membership in the local church of Christ in my city is simply a normal and natural consequence of my obedience to the primary commands of the gospel. I only pray that I may be given many more years to serve Him as an honest, humble, obedient follower of Christ. I have now been "baptized into Christ." And the Lord has added me to His church.