Christ clearly demands His followers to be baptized in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). The question who is authorized to perform baptism is not specifically answered in the New Testament. This does not mean, however, that this question cannot be answered.
Baptism – what it means to the believer and to the local church
There are some principles that must be followed in order to perform baptism biblically. I’ll list a few:
- Without a doubt, the person who performs baptism, must himself be a genuine believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. He himself must be saved by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8). He himself must have “died and risen with Christ” (Romans 6:3-11; Colossians 3:1). As a believer in Christ, he is obligated to live in accordance with his profession of faith in Jesus. His life, although not perfect, must be in accordance with the revealed will of God in Scripture.
- As is custom, baptisms will be performed during worship services on Sunday. This means that the baptism takes place when the person who is to be baptized will be surrounded by his brothers and sisters from the local church. Baptism is not only a holy, symbolic act for one individual believer, but for the entire congregation. We should expect, then, that at least a leader in the local church will be involved in the performance of baptism. He is a representative for the whole church family.
- The performance of baptism should not be treated lightly. Remember that the apostle Paul gave certain qualifications for overseers:
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV)
Live a holy life
Even if there is no mention of baptism in this portion of Scripture, let us consider these qualifications, because they can be applied to all people who are involved in all kinds of holy ordinances. If you are not a leader in the church and you want to be authorized to perform baptism, you must recognize the Bible urges you to live a holy life through a lively faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ builds His Church by using broken saints
You may be encouraged by this truth: God does not call super saints to perform holy ordinances, nor does He call Christians who are more holy than other Christians. No, He is calling Christians. God calls saints. He calls broken saints. He calls them to serve in the local church. You don’t need to be a super Christian, you just need to be born again. You need to be dead to sin and alive to righteousness (Romans 6:13, 19). If you ever want to serve in the body of Christ, then “pursue the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).