“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth…” (2 Tim. 2:24-25.) Do you struggle when you come across someone, a stranger, or even a friend who starts questioning the Bible or your faith? Do they annoy you when they bring up a point taken entirely out of context to prove something invalid from the start? In their minds, they are making the point so clearly that you will have no other choice but to agree with them and shun this whole “Jesus thing.”
It is hard to suffer fools, especially when they refuse to listen to anything but the incoherent babble bouncing around in their empty heads. Sometimes the only thing that will get through to their thick skulls is to meet their level of volume and aggression, showing them that you are not a coward who will back down the tiniest bit. I know that sounds harsh, but the point I want to make is that many Christians act that way when confronted with someone who is questioning them with a measure of hostility. Of course, that is not the best course of action and will never produce anything but hurt feelings and anger. Some time ago, I came across a gentleman who was trying my patience, questioning my intelligence for believing in the “man upstairs” and saying that I believe in a book that contradicts itself.
I remained calm, reciting 2 Tim. 2:24-25 to myself, but my peaceable attitude seemed only to fuel his anger. It was at this point that he threw his figurative punch – the one that would provide him the winning blow and knock me out of the verbal dispute. I knew he was gearing up for that because he suddenly lowered the volume of his voice which had become louder and louder – and smirked as someone who had an uncontestable surprise of epic proportions. He was already celebrating his magnificent victory as he asked me to explain the difference between John’s baptism and that of Jesus. Of course, he could not leave it there, so he added, “If John’s baptism was all that was needed, Christ’s baptism was not needed.” He paused for effect before smugly continuing with, “And if Christ’s baptism is the correct one, then everyone who John baptized was baptized for no reason since they are lost.”
The smirk had changed to a smile, knowing in his mind that he had caught me. I was going to have to agree with him, and then I would be on my way to freedom from the constraints of the Bible and all the nonsense it contains. Of course, this man’s attitude is prevalent today, and dare I say, always has been, by “clever-in-their-own-mind” ignorant debaters. Most have never read more than one or two Bible verses or drawn their conclusions from other people who have done maybe a smidgen more reading than them. By this time, I was thoroughly annoyed but realized that when aggression meets aggression, nothing good comes from it. I took a breath, smiled politely, and said, “Both are saved.” He looked at me angrily and shot back, “Explain!“
I continued, “The only differences between the two baptisms are Christ and the Holy Spirit. John baptized for the repentance of sin and the recognition of the coming Savior, whereas Christ’s baptism is done in His name and allows one to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. John’s baptism is pre-resurrection, while Christ’s is post-resurrection.” I then read two verses to prove my point. Mark 1:4, “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” and Acts 2:38, “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” He was none too happy at that point, but after some more discussion, we became friends, and later I was fortunate enough to study the Bible with him.
And for the record, Christ’s baptism is ultimately superior to that of John specifically because the latter did not provide the Holy Spirit. Acts 19:2-5, “And he said to them <disciples at Ephesus>, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.