“And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John” (Luke 7:29).
I have found this to be a most intriguing and helpful phrase. How exactly does one “justify God?” Just a couple of scholarly explanations and I’ll get to the main point of this article…
“They considered God righteous in making these demands of them” – A.T. Robertson. “Declaring… that God’s will concerning John’s baptism was right” – Vincent’s Word Studies. “Declared God to be just” – Adam Clarke.
Calling the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins a work of man is an uneducated and foolish statement. John’s baptism was for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4). Those who accepted John’s message of repentance and baptism as being authorized by God submitted to God in obedience to that message. This is what the text says. They justified God by being baptized with the baptism of John.
Moreover, in Luke 7:30 we find the following, “But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.” Note the contrast between justifying God and rejecting the will of God. It all boils down to obedience.
As His forerunner before Him, Jesus spoke with the authority of God (John 12:48-49). And as His forerunner before Him, Jesus commanded baptism as a condition of salvation (Mark 16:16). This is ungetaroundable. Any attempt to deny it is to deny the clear teaching of Scripture.
When a person hears the message of the gospel, they are obligated to obey it (Rom 10:16). Those who submit to baptism in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins justify God. Those who refuse to teach and practice immersion for the remission of sins are rejecting the will of God against themselves.
If baptism for the remission of sins was not a work of man when John preached it by God’s authority (Matt 21:25), and it was not a work of man when Jesus preached it by the same authority (cf John 12:48-49), then how can it be a work of man when I preach EXACTLY what both John and Jesus preached by the same authority (1 Peter 4:11)? Consistency, thou art a jewel!