Back in the late sixties an evangelist from Lenoir, North Carolina, was guest speaker at the church I grew up at in Tipp City, Ohio. I was in my teens at the time Pastor Z. B. Duncan came to speak for a whole week of “Fall Meetings” services each evening at the Brush Creek Church of God.
He was a fiery speaker who was passionate about the truth of God’s Word. I remember he always removed his glasses at the pulpit before starting his sermon. He didn’t use notes and he could quote scripture after scripture from complete memorization. He was so fast at quoting passages that by the time you looked up one passage he was on another one.
I came to admire Bro. Duncan over the years as I appreciated his dedication and love for the Lord and the teachings of the scriptures. Onetime he handed out copies of his own testimony on why he was rebaptized. Often, I’ve been asked what I think about rebaptism and I’ve referred to Bro. Duncan’s own personal experience on the subject.
The following is from the paper he wrote which, I believe, is worth serious consideration and prayer:
Why I, Z. B. Duncan, was rebaptized after having been baptized at the age of 14.
This will be brief, yet long, but it would take a book to write all I would like.
(Mark 16:15) “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”
The first condition for being saved is to believe the Gospel. Suppose one is baptized and does not believe the Gospel?
At the age of 14 I was baptized by a Methodist minister. Did I believe the Gospel? Oh, I believed that Jesus Christ was some kind of Saviour who had gone to heaven to prepare a place for me. He has somehow gone to Calvary and let his earthly tabernacle (the body) die while he, the real Jesus, slipped away for 72 hours for a visit, and to preach to spirits in prison; that he came back 72 hours later and picked up the body; and then after 40 days, in which he spent with his disciples, he went to heaven. I believed that Jesus did all this to save my never dying, immortal soul from an everlasting, never ending, ever conscious, torture pit of sulphur fumes, fire, and brimstone flames in a place called hell. This mysterious saviour, who really was as old as God, was probably 9 months in a woman’s womb, and incarnated himself into a little human body so he could save me from a devil’s hell. If this was the Gospel, I was baptized into it as the truth of the Almighty God.
The first qualification for saving baptism is found in Acts 8:35, “Then Philip opened his mouth and began at the same scripture and preached unto him Jesus.” The thoughts which above had been preached unto me were in the name of Jesus. This Jesus above redeemed me from the Devil’s hell and had given me a home beyond the starry sky.
Matthew 24:24, “There shall arise false Christs.”
Was the Christ I believed in, and was baptized into, false or was he the Bible Christ? I must examine, in the light of the Bible, who is the true Christ of the Bible. Was the Christ preached unto me the Creator of the world? Was he of a non-dying nature? Was he God-incarnate? Was he truly God and man? Was he part of a Trinity? Did he save my soul from an everlasting Devil’s hell? Has he gone to heaven to build me a mansion in the starry sky?
Acts 8:36, “What doth hinder me to be baptized?”
Was it not answered by Philip? “If thou believeth with all thine heart.” The answer: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:35-37)
Had I truly believed this confession when I was baptized at age 14? In some mysterious way I believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but not with all my heart, for I believed that he was the Father, too. Yes, that he was his own Father, his own Son, and his own Holy Ghost, while there are actually three and yet not three but only one. How confusing for a 14-year-old. Mystery of mysteries. I confessed him to the Son of God, but only in pretence, while he was God incarnate.
“The Word of Religions or the Word of God?”
Galatians 1:8, “But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you then that which we have preached let him be justified? excused? or, accursed?
By this scripture I must examine what has been preached to me. This I began to do. First Corinthians 16:22, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema (accursed).” But when I found that the Lord Jesus Christ was the being who had died and not the one who had slipped out of the body and went off to preach to spirits in prison; when I discovered that the Lord Jesus was the one who had been crucified and buried, not the one who had transmigrated to hell to preach; when I realized that what lay in the tomb was the Lord; I found I had not been loving the Lord Jesus Christ and this classified me under the accursed. If I love not the true Christ, I am accursed with even angels from heaven who preach any other Gospel that the one Paul preached in truth.
First John 5:5, “Who is he that overcometh the world but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, not by water only, but by water and blood.”
The Jesus I knew at age 14 did not come by water and blood but as an immortal, never dying entity incarnated into a little babe made in a human body. Without this little body he had, millions of years before, he created the entire universe. Now, to save me, he inhabits a body of clay long enough to save me from hell.
When Solomon built the temple, he said, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven of heavens cannot contain him how much less this house I have builded,” (1 Kings 8:27). If God could not get into the house Solomon built; if the heaven of heavens could not contain him; then how could he get into an infant? 1 John 4:1, “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know we the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.” (Note: “Is come,” not “is came”: a state of being in the present tense.)
How do we come in the flesh? By blood and water. Even what is come in the flesh comes to life by blood and water and is flesh and bones. This is the Son of God. This is mortal and can die for my sins. [He is the] one God can raise from the dead because he [the Son] can die. This one [ful]fills the scripture. The other cannot.
Verse 3, “Every spirit which confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come (not “came”) in the flesh is not of God and this is that spirit of anti-Christ whereof ye have heard that it should come and even now already is in the world.”
2 John 7, “For many deceivers are entered into the world who confess not that Jesus Christ is come (not “came” ) in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an anti-Christ.”
Let me ask: Can a deceiver or an anti-Christ baptize one into Christ? Verse 10, “If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, but you may let him baptize you into Christ if you believe in Christ“? Thank God, this is not what it says, rather, “Neither bid him godspeed for he that biddeth him godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds.” How much more are we partakers of his evil deeds if we are baptized by one who denies the true Lord? The only way for forgiveness is to repent, be converted, believe the true Gospel, and be baptized into Christ by a believer in Christ.
2 Peter 2:1, “But there were false prophets among the people as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction; and many shall follow their pernicious ways by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”
I found that if the Word of the Bible is true, then there will be some false prophets among the people and so I must examine [them].
I found that, true to the Word of God, there are damnable heresies which deny the Lord that bought us. I found in the examination that many believed the Lord that bought them was an immaterial entity, a pre-existent one, or God himself incarnated into a body of flesh. But in Acts 20:28 I found that the Lord who had bought us purchased us with his own blood. Neither the pre-existent or the incarnated Christ ever had any blood, with which to purchase me. I found that the One who was made of the seed of David, made of woman, made under the Law, came by blood and water, could buy me with his own blood.
“The Only True God”
Jude 4, “For there are certain men crept in unawares who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness and denying the only Lord God.”
Let me point out that in my childhood I was taught that there was no such thing as an only Lord God but there were actually three which together make one. I found that I denied the only Lord God as long as I believed in three. I found that the devil had preached a sermon in the Garden quoting from what God said adding one word: “Ye shall NOT surely die.” Since Satan is a liar and the father of it, would it be legitimate for him to baptize anyone into Christ? How many would let Satan baptize them? If we wouldn’t let him then, how about his ministers?
Fact: 2 Cor. 11:13, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ and no marvel, Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light; Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness whose end shall be according to their works.” Note, “whose end”: but the righteous shall have no end and part of their work is baptizing.
1 Timothy 6:3, “If any man teach otherwise and consent not to wholesome words even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and to the doctrine which is according to Godliness he is proud knowing nothing.”
Isaiah 8:20, “To the Law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
2 Cor. 6:14, “What communion hath light with darkness? What concord hath Christ with Belial or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”
Let me answer: The infidel baptized me. I do not believe that an infidel can baptize anyone into Christ. Neither do I believe that anyone who is in darkness can do the work of light.
Let’s go back to my baptism. After a revival meeting, about 30 people were to be baptized. The Sunday for the baptism, all were sprinkled but me. I refused. I had read the Bible as a child and had come to believe immersion was the true mode of baptism. Of course, I had been informed that joining this particular group I could be baptized either way. But it seemed that my refusal to be sprinkled sparked a bit of trouble. It seems that the pastor would have to go to the river to baptize just one; he would get wet and have to change clothes. With this undesirable situation before him, he reminded me that sprinkling was good enough for the rest of them and did I not believe that this made them good enough for heaven?
I said “no” and was accused of judging. After a week of discussion, he finally took me to a riverside where he dipped me in a manner in which I was terribly disappointed, the only ones being present were his father and my mother.
With this background, I began my long search for real truth. By the time I was 17, I had begun to see the truth of conditional immortality or life only through Christ. I began to talk this in the church. Suddenly, like an angry bear robbed of her young, the pastor charged into me with fury. Lifelong friends looked at me sadly and turned away. I had become an infidel, a heretic for believing the truth because I had looked for the Kingdom of God instead of going to heaven.
In seeking a place of refuge, I found the Advent Christians, a people who are able to preach much of the truth but also have men who advocate the gods of this world, namely the Trinity. When I joined this Advent Christian Church I was asked if I had ever been immersed. I was, [I] admitted. Then the war (WW II) came in which I had many opportunities to witness for Christ.
After the war [WW II] I came home to teach Sunday School and fill in occasionally for the pastor. Then I was called to pastor a church. As I pastored, in my mind and heart, I wondered about my baptism but could not find the answer. I often wondered why I felt this way.
By much prayer and fasting, I sat one night in my living room at two in the morning with an humble man who had come to talk about the Kingdom of God. This man told me that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, that there was only one true and living God. He said that man was mortal and God’s Son died for us, that life hereafter depends on his coming again seeing that God did raise him from the dead and caused him to ascend to heaven, that heaven and hell are not rewards at death. In short, this man preached what I knew to be the same Gospel that Paul preached.
Yet, as he spoke of baptism, I had for twelve years counted my baptism valid which consecrated me to another Christ and another gospel which I had long renounced as error and which had been administered to me by a minister who got his feet wet against his will. It had hit me like a thunderbolt from above.
Brother C. F. Pryor looked at me and said, “Brother Duncan, how about your baptism?” I now had believed the true Gospel. I now had believed in the true God and his Son. I now believed and had been preaching for 10 years just the opposite of what I had been originally baptized into. Had I not been preaching for 10 years? What would my congregation say? Brethren, it is not what the congregation has to say and feel about me that is my salvation. It is not what my wife, children, or friends think but what my Lord would have me to do. If there is anyone on the earth who wants to be saved and delivered into the Kingdom of God at the appearing of Christ and who desires to go all the way with the Lord, it is this humble servant.
After a pause, I answered, “This will not be a problem, for I will pray and God will lead me as to what to do.” As I prayed, the matter became firmly fixed that I now believed the truth with all my heart and that I needed to be baptized into the Lord whom I had learned to love so much.
“My Life From That Day”
My life from that day has been much richer by far. In Acts 19, I find a people who were baptized a second time in the name of our wonderful Lord. All of this I have done in sincerity and in truth and in the Spirit of the Lord. Romans 6:23, “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” Had I never been baptized a second time would I have been baptized into his death? At my first baptism I did not believe he could die, neither could I. Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Today, I know that I have put on the blessing of Christ and his death, burial, and resurrection for my justification. I live daily rejoicing in the Lord and witnessing to both small and great where ever I go that this Jesus of Nazareth is both Lord and Christ. I have suffered many things and many friends lost for this Lord and truth. I count them but dung. May God help each of you to realize that the way of truth and of truth alone leads to the eternal age of our God, and life eternal in Christ.
May his grace and mercy and peace be multiplied to you all. Amen.
PLEASE NOTE: Brother Z.B. Duncan (born May 29, 1921) fell asleep in death on March 10, 1984, and was joined in death by his beloved wife, Verlie Estelle Brown Duncan (born November 11, 1921) on July 30, 2014. They are now awaiting the glorious return of Christ who will awaken all believers from their graves to receive immortality on that resurrection day (1 Thess. 4:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-58). Praise God for that blessed hope (Titus 2:13)!
Good News to you!