Comfort When Doubts Arise

[38] John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” [39] But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. [40] For the one who is not against us is for us.”

When I taught adult instruction classes the following question would arise about once a year: If I join your church should I be baptized again? Depending on the motivation for the question, Mark 9:38-40 was part to the answer.  

There were different root causes for the question:  

  • Some class members were baptized in a different Christian denomination, so wondering if our church required rebaptism simply to change denominations. 
  • Some were baptized in a non-Christian sect, so concerned that God required re-baptism. 
  • Others were baptized by a pastor who left pastoral ministry, so were unsure whether their baptisms were valid. 

I addressed all three motivations with the same follow up question: Were you baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)? If so, the baptism was valid. If not, you have not received Christian baptism and need to do so.  

Such a brief answer didn’t always provide comfort or confidence for those concerned about the person who baptized them. In such moments we would look at Mark 9:39. I would point on that the “mighty works” done in Jesus’ name were done by the power of God the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t the person casting out demons that mattered. What mattered was that God was working through that person.

Likewise, the power of baptism isn’t in the pastor doing the baptizing. Instead, God is working through the water and Word to forgive our sins, create saving faith and give the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). Our confidence is in Christ, not in the one doing the baptizing. Thus, their baptisms done in the the name of the Triune God were valid. 

The same is true of your baptism: God forgave your sins, created saving faith and gave the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. 

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