Why I Was Rebaptized in the Name of Jesus Christ
By Frank Bartleman
Bartleman is perhaps most well known for his history of Azusa Street and the early Pentecostal revival. Here’s his own account of how he made the decision to be rebaptized.
I have been requested to give a condensed statement of my reason for being baptized again, this time in the name of Jesus Christ. It would be a satisfaction to go into detail in the matter, but unfortunately space forbids. I must condense. I may say I never had much sympathy with this sort of matter. Like many others obedience to outward ceremony did not seem very important to me. I was ignorant as to the real object of baptism. But I have found that obedience, even in the smallest detail, means something. There is a deep purpose in all of God’s commands. “To obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim.”
In experience and teaching everything has been so abnormal in the history of the backslidden, fallen church, since the calamity of the third century. It is hard to pull out of it, back again to restoration.
Before I went to Europe, in 1912, God began to give me light on many things new that are being preached today. Old things restored to light again, lost by the early church’s backsliding. Among other things He tried to show me the importance of water baptism in connection with Scriptural New Testament salvation. I got a glimpse of its true connection in the spirit, but failed to recognize the issue on baptism “in the name of Jesus.” It had been suggested to me by another, but I rejected it as of no importance.
Before I returned from Europe last year I received a copy of “Meat in Due Season,” and I noted that it contained the very truth God had shown me before I left America, with some more that I had not seen. I had a feeling that when I reached Los Angeles again I would have fellowship with these people. But when I arrived I found such opposition to the Meat in Due Season people that I began to take counsel with their opponents. Some things they preached I was not prepared to receive, and unfortunately for me I met some parties (now out of that camp) who gave me a discouraging impression of their position. They met me with far more zeal than wisdom. I was turned aside, missed my way, and finally began to oppose them.
After working in the other Pentecostal missions in the city during the year, trying to revive them, for I realized clearly that they had all lost their “first love,” the Lord finally led me aside to talk with me. He called me aside from all of them. I had not been willing to admit that the Meat in Due Season people had the message from God.
Although I had felt all summer that a definite message was due and lacking. In fact I had felt it would require a definite message again, as always at such times, to restore the Pentecostal people again, and to cause them to again take higher ground. Before I came aside to seek God in prayer I tried to preach in the other missions the forward message God had given me.
A time or two the Lord tried to get me quiet, stop my writing and preaching, and give me the revelation I was opposing. I did not understand this at the time. But I see it now very clearly. I have certain knowledge that the Lord has dealt with others with whom I previously labored in the same way. But they put it aside as a temptation from the devil.
Having come aside from the missions I now began to look to God for a way out. I thought perhaps He might raise up a new people among whom I could preach the message that was troubling me. But it was not His purpose for it to come that way. He already had a people, but I was not willing to recognize them. I had to come to them.
I could see no way through for the message and for my ministry. My health broke down very seriously. Financially the Lord also closed up on me. I went to Sister Etter at her Convention and had her pray for me. The Lord encouraged me, but still no relief came in my body, though I tried to stand in faith for it. A few days later I went to Bro. Ewart’s Convention. I think I had only been to his mission twice before this since I returned from Europe. I did not attend his camp meeting at all.
The Lord showed me that I must confess that I had spoken of them contrary to the spirit of love sometimes. (Multitudes in the light of God are guilty of the same sin. “He that hateth his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15). Also I must ask them to pray for my healing. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (Jas. 5:16). They prayed for me. I felt better, but yet I was not delivered form my afflictions. By this time God was getting hold of me.
In the middle of the last week of their Convention one day at home I found myself in the Spirit going through the experience of water baptism in the name of Jesus. And yet up to that time I had not really had any serious thought of doing such a thing. The experience was an exact parallel of my speaking in “tongues” nine years ago. At that time I heard in my soul the very language spoken by the Spirit, before my own vocal organs had uttered it, that later flowed from my own lips. At the same time that I experienced this baptism in the name of Jesus in my spirit I seemed to get a conception of what water baptism meant that I had never had before. When I was baptized over twenty years ago my whole thought was to confess Christ. I was fully converted. But now I seemed to see a real death with Jesus, separation from the world, and from Pentecostal gainsayers even, such as I had never dreamed of before. It was real death. Romans 6:3 was made very plain to me. I can truly say that I have never known such content and willingness and glory in being dead to praise and blame, to the opinions of the people, and everything but the will of God, as I do today. I praise Him! Separated unto God.
Something said to me at the time of this occurrence, you will be baptized next Sunday. Still I was not fully persuaded in my mind regarding the outward action, though I seemed to go through it in my spirit. I feel we are only really coming to Pentecostal separation, (thorough baptism “in the name of Jesus,”) which is real normal New Testament salvation.
Sunday came. I went to the Convention. The Spirit of God got hold of me and broke me all to pieces in my seat. I was melted with liquid love of God. I knew He was striving with me. But a little bit of fear of making a mistake still remained. Some of the fear I had been heaping on others. God wanted me to take my stand. I asked Him for the Word on it. It came like a flash, “In Him dwelleth al the fullness of the God-head bodily.” Still I hesitated. The meeting closed. I felt I ought to stay for the afternoon. But I went out on the street.
A pain had struck me in the side. I said, Lord, if you want me to be baptized, take this pain away. Two blocks farther on, I met two of the brethren coming to the meeting. After a short conversation, I decided to return with them. The Lord spoke to me in the meeting. Where is your pain? Then I remembered it left me when I started back for the meeting. I knew now God was in earnest with me. He showed me I could go too far. I saw what an awful thing it would be to fall to finish my ministry in this Pentecostal revelation and battle of the “last days.” A brother gave a warning from the platform against standing in the way of others and the Lord said, that is for you. Now the fear changed to the other side and I began to fear God if I resisted longer. I got up and declared myself. A few minutes later, with others, I went into the water “in the name of Jesus.” As I came out the Lord met me. The old anointing came upon me and the heavenly song flowed from my lips. In the dressing room I could hardly change my clothing. I was drunk on the Spirit. I had obeyed God.
Right there the Lord began to touch my body. What He has done for me physically since that hour has been marvelous. The old vision of Pentecost has been restored to me. I am moving forward, in the “forward vision” again. The broken threads are picked up where I had dropped them. And financially the Lord did not fail me either. He has supplied our needs in His mercy. Best of all, deliverance came not from the new found friends, but from outsiders, and mostly from a distance, from people who had no interest whatever in this issue. God gave us sufficient for our then present necessity. We are still feeding out of His hand today. All the devil’s lies about our being paid for taking this step are direct form the pit. They are too shameful to receive credit among true Christians. There is not a word of truth in them. It is the devil’s rage at not being able to starve us out. And he has requisitioned many professors to help him. But God is faithful.
Without going into the doctrinal phase of the situation, for my space is already more than taken, I want to say that my baptism has not made me any less kind a father, husband, friend, or brother in Christ. Many shun us as though we were inclined to want to hurt them. And if we had made a mistake, which, thank God, we have not, still our old friends who have known and respected us so long should at least be filled with pity for us and treat us unusually kindly.
Have we not a right of individual conscience to act in the matter after all? If this baptism were such a little thing, as many would have it proven to be, why the tremendous opposition and storm against it? What bitter opposition it is encountering! Friends, I plead with you for the love of Jesus, beware. God is raising this standard to meet the oncoming, terrible stream of the Anti-Christ’s opposition to the “name” and person, divinity of Christ. Which side are we on? There must be a final, complete separation. The “name” of Christ, or the mark of the Anti-Christ.
Our opponents cry out against division. No one dreads division more than we do. But God makes the separation. “And God divided the light from the darkness” (Gen. 1:4). This is the separation. It is the same today. It has been the same all the way back to God. Those who choose to remain in darkness rather than walk in the light as He is the light force us to separation. They separate from us. The child of truth must come forth from the womb of darkness and ignorance. And there is suffering in the separation.
Yours, in Jesus’ Name,
This article Why I Was Rebaptized in the Name of Jesus Christ by Frank Bartleman is excerpted from Meat in Due Season, Vol. 1. No. 9, December 1915.