Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 8, 1953
NUMBER 22, PAGE 1-2b

Two Baptisms Contrasted

Roy E. Cogdill

As we compare the baptism of John the Baptist with that which was authorized by Christ, we cannot fail to see the significant differences that exist. For one thing, John's baptism did not require faith in Jesus Christ; the baptism of the Great Commission, however, is founded on that very thing. That is why it is impossible to baptize a baby with the baptism of the Great Commission. The baby can exercise no faith, no choice, no will of its own. The babies are not subject to baptism anyway; they are innocent, not lost. Their inability to exercise faith makes them not subject to this baptism.

Another distinction is that John did not baptize in the name of Jesus. But Jesus declared that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47) On the day of Pentecost, for the first time, Peter said to the people, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins." (Acts 2:38) This is where repentance and remission of sins began to be preached in the name of Jesus; this is where baptism began to be practiced in the name of Jesus. When Paul, some years later, came to the city of Ephesus, he found certain disciples there who had been baptized by Apollos. Paul asked them, "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given. And he said, Into what then were ye baptized? And they said, Into John's baptism. And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 19:1-5) Under John's baptism they had not recognized the name, position, and authority of Christ; hence, it was necessary that they be baptized again.

There is still a third contrast. John's baptism did not put people into the kingdom of God. It did not do that in any sense of the word. Sometimes people say that on the Day of Pentecost all those who had received John's baptism entered the kingdom of God without submitting to the baptism of Christ. There is not an ounce of evidence in God's word that such was the case. It is simply a conclusion that people have reached without a bit of evidence.

Why, on that very occasion tacitly denied even the probability of it when he said, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you." He did not except and exempt from baptism all those who had been baptized of John; but, on the contrary, required that "every one" should be baptized in the name of the Lord.

The baptism of John could not put people into the kingdom of God unless it constituted the new birth, Jesus declared that there was no entering the kingdom of God without the new birth, "Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5) Who will contend that John's baptism constituted that new birth? Were people born again before the gospel of Christ? Were they born again before Christianity began? Were they born again even before the kingdom had its start? Even John himself was not in the kingdom. Jesus said, "Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matt. 11:11) If there had been even one man in the kingdom of heaven at the time Jesus spoke, his statement would have been self-contradictory. The kingdom had not yet come; it did not come until Pentecost; men were not in the kingdom because there was no kingdom of heaven for them to be in. John's baptism did not bring anyone into that kingdom.

But what about the apostles? The apostles were miraculously set into the church of God, just like Adam was miraculously created. They were set into the kingdom by a miracle, when the kingdom began; and from that day on, the law of induction put all others into the kingdom. All others, save the apostles, were added to the kingdom by the law of divine induction, being baptized "into the name of Jesus Christ."

Thus we have the two baptisms contrasted: John's baptism did not include faith in Christ, but the baptism of the Great Commission was based on that very foundation; John's baptism was not in the name of Christ, but the baptism of the Great Commission could not be fulfilled except in the name of Christ; the baptism of John did not put one into the kingdom of God, and the baptism of Jesus DOES bring one into the kingdom. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41) This is the beginning of the kingdom of heaven upon the earth; this is the first day of its existence. And from this hour on, not one man can be added to the kingdom save by baptism in the name of the Lord.

It is as impossible today as it was when Paul came to Ephesus for a man to receive John's baptism and be pleasing to God. If there is any man today who has been baptized into John, or who wears the name of John the Baptist, or who in any degree follows John rather than Christ, then he is not serving God. John's baptism has forever ceased; the baptism of Christ will continue to be operative until the end of time. That's the divine testimony.