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The True Baptism, Part 1

The True Baptism, Part 1

our-lords-consecration

WE remind you from our previous post entitled, “John’s Baptism” that the baptism of John was not the baptism that is enjoined upon us– baptism into Christ. I remind you that our Lord’s baptism could not have been the baptism unto repentance, which our “Disciple” friends claim; it could not have been the baptism for the remission of sins. That was John’s baptism, as is most unequivocally stated in the Scriptures. Of our Lord it is said, in Him was not sin; “He was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners.” When He came to John the latter at first refused upon this score, our Lord however replied nevertheless, “Suffer it to be so now.”

Why was John reluctant to baptize our Lord? Because his was a baptism for the remission of sins, and he knew well right that our Lord was without sin, that it was he who should have been baptized by our Lord not the reverse.

Our Lord however was indicating that what He was about to do was something distinctly new, but it was not appropriate at that time to explain it to John. He did not dispute John’s argument, but nevertheless insisted on being baptized anyway.

Incidentally we remark, for the benefit of our Baptist friends, that He was not baptized into the Church of Christ, either, for there was no Church of Christ as yet. The Church of Christ, “which is His body,” was not established until Pentecost. Besides this, it was eminently proper that the head should precede the body, and that they, the members, should be gathered to Him, the head.

Our Lord’s baptism, therefore, should be considered the beginning of a new institution in every sense of the word. It represented in symbol the consecration He made at that time, as He began His three and a half years of ministry. He consecrated His life — even unto death — even the death of the cross, and His baptism into water, His burial, there symbolized this laying down, immersion, burial of “the Man Christ Jesus, a ransom for all.” His raising up from the water symbolized His resurrection from death on the third day after Calvary. In the dying He represented the sacrificed bullock of the Jewish Atonement Day. In the rising from the water He represented the anti-typical High Priest, who thenceforth went into the holiest, there to appear in the presence of God for us. Heb 9:24. Hence, Paul refers to this transaction and quoted as applicable to Jesus the words of the prophet: “Lo, I come; in the volume of the Book it is written of me to do Thy will, O my God.” Psa 11:7-8. There, said the Apostle, “He takes away the first that He might establish the second.” That is to say, at the time of His baptism, at the beginning of His ministry, began the setting aside ofthe first” — the typical atonement sacrifices, and the establishment (or fulfilment) of “the second,” the antitypical (or real sacrifice for sin). He himself being represented by the bullock of the atonement day sacrifices mentioned in Lev 16.

So, then, our Lord’s baptism in water was not His real baptism, but merely a symbol or picture of it. His real baptism was into death and His real raising up was His resurrection. He was “put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit.” 1 Pet 3:18. Keep this thought in mind while we examine what the Scriptures say respecting the church’s baptism.

I call your attention to a passage of Scripture quoted by my opponent — the passage of all passages in the Bible relied upon by Baptists and Disciples as most distinctly setting forth the importance of water immersion (Rom 6:3-5). I will quote it: “Know you not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism into His death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For, if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.”

From this passage my opponent, Disciples and Baptists in general gather the thought that water immersion is all-important, really necessary, to relationship with Christ.

I wish to call your attention, dear friends, to the fact that nothing in this Scripture passage says one word about water baptism. I will proceed to show you that this text, generally supposed by our friends to refer to water baptism, has no reference to it at all, but refers instead to the same kind of a baptism that our Lord had — a baptism into death. You will understand that we are not combating water baptism, for we believe that it is enjoined in the Scriptures, as we have already stated, but we recognize it as merely a symbol — a picture of the real baptism — just as our Lord’s baptism in the waters of Jordan was not His actual death and resurrection, but a symbol of His death and resurrection. That which He symbolized in water He had already done in His heart, as the prophet declares: “Lo, I come, in the volume it is written, to do Thy will, O my God.” His full surrender had already taken place, and during the three and a half years of His earthly ministry He was laying down His life in His preaching, in His journeying and in His healing of the sick, when “virtue” or life went out from Him to heal others. And His laying down of His life He completed at Calvary; it was then that His baptism was finished. Note that this is our Lord’s own explanation of the matter. Just before His crucifixion He said “My soul is exceeding sorrowful — even unto death. I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straightened until it be accomplished.” It was accomplished the very next day, when, on the cross, our Master cried: “it is finished.” (John 19:30.) What was finished? His sacrifice was finished. His baptism into death was finished.

Now, my dear friends and brethren, you have before your minds what constituted the baptism of Christ, and see how the water symbol represented it, and I ask you to notice that this is exactly what the apostle says respecting the baptism of the Church of Christ, “which is His body,” “members in particular.” The apostle urges that you and I, and all who would be members of the body of Christ in glory, all who would share with Him in His resurrection must share with Him in His deathmust be baptized into His Death. Now let me read this passage of Scripture with comments: “Know you not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ was baptized into His death?” What is it to be baptized into Jesus Christ? Our Disciple friends and our Baptist friends view this as being a water baptism, but, my dear friends, one is baptized in the water every time he takes a bath, and many are baptized into water who are not baptized into Christ, and the text says nothing about water anyway. Surely everyone can see that it is one thing to be baptized into water, and another matter entirely to be “baptized into Jesus Christ.” The expression into Jesus Christ” signifies “membership in the body of Christ,” which is the church.

Keep before your minds the thought that our Lord Jesus is to be the appointed King of the world, who will shortly take His great power and reign, but meantime, according to the divine plan, a bride-class is to be selected for Him from among those that have been redeemed by His precious blood. This same class is elsewhere spoken of as under-priests, brethren and again as members in particular of the body of Christ. Using the figure of “members,” the apostle says, the hand can-not say to the foot, I have no need of thee.

When the whole membership of this body of Christ shall have been gathered out of the world and glorified in the first resurrection, it will never be added to; therefore no further chance of gaining membership in it will be offered. Hence the apostle says: “Now is the acceptable time(2 Cor 6:2).

Now is the time when God is willing to accept some into membership into this body of Christ and the terms or conditions upon which He will accept them is that, they shall walk in His footsteps, be baptized with His baptism into death. Those who will do so will be accepted as the very elect. Those who fear to do so will fail to be of the very elect, fail to make their calling and election sure. (2 Pet 1:10). What we have just stated is what the Apostle mentions in the very next sentence, namely: that baptism into Jesus Christ, into membership in the anointed body is baptism into His death. All such make a consecration unto death, after the same manner that our Lord consecrated His life at the beginning of His ministry. This is urged by the apostle in so many words in this same epistle, Rom 12:1 — “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God and your reasonable service.”

There Are Two Priesthoods

In a word, there are two priesthoods — the one a sacrificing priesthood, the other a glorious priesthood. Aaron and his sons, during the Jewish dispensation, typified the sacrificing priesthood, as did Christ in the flesh and all the under priesthood, the body of Christ in the flesh, and, as the apostle says, all such priests were ordained to offer sacrifices, and whoever fails to offer sacrifices is not fulfilling this function of this priestly office. By nature we have nothing to present, being sinners, but our Lord’s death being imputed to us, we are counted as justified by faith, and as such we have something to offer in sacrifice, namely, our justified selves. Therefore, says the apostle, I beseech you, brethren; present your bodies, holy and acceptable which is your reasonable service.

The priesthood of glory is not to be the Aaronic priesthood of sacrificing priests, but the Melchizedek priesthood, Melchizedek typifying the glorified priest, head and body, “a priest upon his throne.” So the Scriptures tell us that our calling as the church, the body of Christ, is to membership in the royal priesthood, and our Lord assures us those who are faithful in the priesthood of the present time (the antitypical Aaronic priesthood), that is in their work of sacrifice as members of His body, will be accorded a place in the Melchizedek priesthood of glory, the privilege of sitting with Him in His throne, they shall reign with Him a thousand years (Rev 20:6).

Note the next verse Rom 6:4 — “Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death.” What does the “therefore” refer to? Answer? To the statement of the preceding verse, that we would want to be immersed into Jesus Christ, into membership in the body of the anointed, not merely the body of humiliation (the sacrificing body), but specially the body of glory. This is our reason for desiring to be united to Christ by baptism into His death. And all such as will share with Him by and by will give evidence in the present life of this great change by the sacrifices of the justified earthly nature in the interest of membership in the spiritual body of Christ. As the apostle proceeds to say: “Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” And this newness of life, if persisted in, will ultimately mean to us the resurrection change and its perfection of life, its crown of life, which the apostle said shall be granted at our Lord’s second coming, not only to Him, but to all who are in this proper attitude, those who love His appearing.”

Continued with next post.

The True Baptism, Part 2

The True Baptism, Part 2

it-is-finished

The Stronghold or Gibraltar of the Baptist and Disciple’s

“Concerning the next verse (Rom 6:5), which has seemed to so many to strongly emphasize their position respecting the matter of water baptism: “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” How many “Baptists” and “Disciples” have considered this verse a very Gibraltar for their faith! They state that their baptism into water was their “planting” in the likeness of Christ’s death, and then reason from this that surely they shall also be in His likeness in the resurrection. But, dear friends, that interpretation is all wrong. That verse has no reference whatever to water baptism, and any who have been deceiving themselves along that line should take it kindly that they be awakened from such delusive hopes.

Think for a moment what it would mean if we applied it to water baptism. It would imply that any one buried into water in the (symbolic) likeness of Christ’s death would surely be likewise in His resurrection. That would be a very cheap guarantee to a place in the kingdom and joint heirship with our Lord — simply water baptism. Surely, dear friends, you know very many who perform the symbol, the water picture of Christ’s death, who have never shown any particularly saintly qualities nor manifested as much of the development of the fruits and graces of the spirit, nor that the love of God was shed abroad in their hearts, nor that they were in any sense of the word of the elect, who are declared to be, in heart at least, “copies of God’s dear Son” (Rom 8:29.)

Alas, my dear friends, those who hope to get a place in the kingdom, to sit with the Lord in His throne, merely through an immersion in water; who believe that baptism is the door into the church, which is the body of Christ, and the guarantee of a part with Him in His millennial reign, will be sadly mistaken. We wish to assist in awakening all the wise virgins from the lethargy which misunderstandings of God’s Word have induced. As the apostle says: “It is high time to awaken out of sleep, for now is our salvation, nearer than when we first believed.” It is getting nearer every day; whether, as claimed by Brother White, there is a thousand years’ millennium in between us and that glorious event, or whether, as we believe and teach, our Lord’s manifestation in glory is nigh, even at the door.

Permit me to show you that this verse is in full harmony with the preceding verses, and does not in the remotest degree refer to water immersion, but does in its every particular refer to immersion into Christ’s death — to our fellowship with Christ in His sufferings of this present time, to the extent that we may also be glorified with Him.

A Mischievous Mistranslation

This expression, “planted together,” is a mistranslation which has caused a considerable amount of the prevalent confusion. It should read thus: “For if we have been united with Him in the likeness of His death we shall be also (united with Him) in his resurrection.” Nor is this my own unsupported translation. You will find it thus rendered in the Revised Version, the translators of which held nothing in common with our interpretation of the passage.

This increased force, or meaning, in respect to the thought of baptism, may be startling to some, and I trust that it will be sufficiently startling to lead you to a fresh examination of the whole subject, and to make sure that you have the right baptism which the Lord will be pleased to reward with a share in His kingdom and glory and in the likeness of His son.

I remind you that our Lord with His own lips gave this interpretation to baptism. Two of His most zealous disciples, James and John, were brought by their mother to Jesus, with the request, “Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand and the other on Thy left, in Thy kingdom. And Jesus answered and said, ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able (willing) to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Matt 20:20-22.) Let us note particularly that our Lord could not have referred here to water baptism, for these two disciples had been with John before our Lord’s ministry began, and, again, as Jesus’s representatives, they baptized multitudes (John 4:1-2). Oh, no, dear friends; unquestionably the word referred to their share in the baptism of death, just as we have already shown you He spoke of His own baptism into death as being not yet accomplished.

The symbol (water baptism) was in the past; the actuality (his true baptism) was nearly ended, but was not to be finished until Calvary, So too with regards to your baptism and mine into Christ’s death, by which we became identified with Him and counted as members of His body. It began at the time you made a full consecration of your life with no reservation. It will continue day by day (a “living sacrifice”), for, as the apostle says, we are to “die daily” (1 Cor 15:31.) It will finish when you have made a completion of your course with joy and the sacrifices wholly consumed upon the Lord’s altar. In a word, the road to heavenly royalty is through faithfulness to the Lord, to the truth; to the brethren, to the degree of one’s suffering and death.

If we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him; if we be dead with Him we shall also live with Him.” Let us not forget the conditions. It is because the Lord is seeking this little elect company, as the bride of Christ and joint heir of His son, that He has invited us, and the necessities of the case make the way a narrow one — so narrow that those who love the world, or father or mother or houses or lands or wife or children more than they love the Lord, will not be counted worthy of Him, and those who are ashamed of Him and His word of such would He be ashamed.

Hence, as our Lord’s faithfulness was tested by His being misunderstood, misrepresented, so it will be with His disciples, for the disciple is not above His Lord. And, again, as the apostle declares, “The world knows us not (understands us not, appreciates us not), even as it knew Him not”.

I remind you again, however, dear friends that both by our Lord’s example and the teachings of the apostles, it is both our privilege and duty to symbolize our consecration to death by a water baptism, in which the administrator represents the Lord. As the candidate gives himself into the hands of the administrator to be buried, and then to be raised, so in our consecration we realize our own insufficiency to either sacrifice our-selves or to bury ourselves in any sense of the word, and we give ourselves and our cause into the hands of our Redeemer, who promises us that He will see to our having the experiences necessary, so long as our hearts are in full consecration to Him, and if we are thus faithful unto death He will raise us up at the last day, the millennial day. (John 6:40)

It was thus with the two disciples to whom the Lord spoke. He said: “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Evidently meaning: “Are you willing to take of the cup and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said: “Yea, Lord, we are willing.” And Jesus said: “Ye shall in-deed drink of my cup, and be baptized with my baptism, but whether you shall sit on the right hand and left hand is not for me to give. That shall be given to the one who is faithful, by my Father.” But let us see the point the Lord was guaranteeing: He promised these disciples their seat in the Kingdom if they should prove faithful. They wanted to be near their Lord in the Kingdom. He told them the conditions on which they could be in the Kingdom. They could only be in the Kingdom by being baptized with His baptism — the baptism He was baptized with. Not a baptism for a remission of sins (water baptism as practiced by John), for, as we have already seen, Jesus had no sins to wash away. No one, I think, would claim that He had sins to wash away. Therefore we know he was not referring to water baptism.

I think it will give encouragement, dear friends, too, when we feel the great importance of this matter; when we see that the Lord says that anyone who will be His disciple must be prepared to take up His cross and follow Him, or he cannot be His disciple.

This would be impossible were it not that the Lord hells as His grace is sufficient for us. He tells us when we present ourselves for baptism we are thus putting ourselves in His hands. We are laying the matter in His hands. He undertakes to do for us as represented by the administrator in the symbolical water baptism; being buried with Him. He will raise us up by His power in the resurrection. What a glorious thing that we can indeed put our little all into the hands of glorious Master and realize it is sufficient where we are insufficient. But He requires that we shall have the right spirit in the matter; that we shall be full of desire to be baptized in His death, and that those who will not so desire cannot have a share with Him in His kingdom.

With this view of the Scriptural teaching on the subject of baptism, that membership in the body of Christ is gained through a full consecration unto death, you will perceive, dear friends, that there have been, and may be now, many Christian people in or out of the various denominations who have had this, the real baptism into Christ’s death, and, therefore, been acceptable to Him as members of the church in glory — the Melchizedek priesthood.

There might be many Methodists or Lutherans who had never been immersed in water because of ignorance, through some misunderstanding, perhaps, as we have heard this evening enough to turn people away from the Bible altogether and all thought of God and all thought of immersion. That is the difficulty with our friends, the Presbyterians and the Methodist de-nomination. They cannot stand preaching of this kind — that if they are not immersed in water they cannot get a place in the resurrection. We can see how they may have the real baptism of consecration. Such we advise that their ignorance of the symbol has not worked a vitiation of their true baptism, but that so soon as their eyes open to see the proper symbol of death which the Lord has appointed in an immersion in water, the duty and responsibility of obedience will be upon them; and thereafter they shall not expect to make further progress in growth, in grace and knowledge and character-likeness of the Lord, or preparation for the Kingdom, except as they shall yield obedience also to the outward form of water baptism. For, if their consecration unto death be genuine, nothing stands in the way of performing the symbol of this after they have realized the symbol to be the will of the Lord and the teaching of His word.

On the other hand, I suggest to all who find them-selves deficient in the fruits of the spirit of love, joy, peace, Christ-likeness of character, that they make diligent inquiry within as to whether there is a possibility that theirs was merely the baptism of John and not the baptism into Christ’s death. And if they shall so find, my advice would be that they lose no time, but present their bodies living sacrifices to God, holy and acceptable through Christ, and their reasonable service; and that subsequently they symbolize this great transaction and consider that any baptism previously was merely a misunderstood form, of no value whatever.”

(Extracts taken from Pastor Russell’s remarks concerning Baptism during the Russell / White debate as found in the 1908 Cincinnati Ohio Bible Students Convention Report)

 

 

 

John’s Baptism

John’s Baptism

johns-baptism

Many Christians while seeking to hold fast to the Scripture and to be guided by their expression have unconsciously fallen into serious error through not discerning the dispensational changes that came about when the favor to the Jewish nation ended at the death of Christ, and when a new dispensation, a new age under new conditions, was then ushered in.

The baptism of John, the baptism to which our dear friends so frequently refer, was never meant for the Christian age. John, as our Lord declares, was the last of the prophets, and was sent to the Jewish people and preached to them alone, and his message would not have been appropriate to any others.

Let us review the situation. The Jews did not practice baptism. The whole nation was recognized as baptized into Moses in the sea and in the cloud. John’s mission in the end of their age was to prepare for Messiah, to arouse the people to thought on the subject, to lead them to a renouncement of their sins against the law, and to a reformation of life. He did not go to sinners, in the ordinary sense of that term, those outside the pale of divine influence, but he appealed to the sinner class, the renegade class, of the Jews, “publicans and sinners,” who, although baptized unto Moses in the sea and in the cloud, and children of the promises, and related to God through that law covenant, had been living carelessly.

John’s announcement was, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand; believe the good news and repent,” and get ready for it, for if you do not get ready you can have no share as a member of that kingdom for which our whole nation has been waiting for centuries. Those of you who acknowledge that you have been living in neglect of the Law of Moses should now repent of the same and come back into harmony with that law, and should show your repentance and reformation by a washing away of your sins — a cleansing of yourselves.

Numbers of the Jews were influenced by John’s preaching, and were baptized — not the “Israelites in-deed,” but those who conceded that they had been living in open sin. Thus we have no record that John himself was ever baptized, nor that his disciples were baptized. When Jesus went to him for baptism John at first declined, declaring that he had no sins and that if either of the two needed to confess sin and to profess a washing away of sin it would be John himself rather than the Master. It was only after Jesus had assured him that His baptism meant something different and that he could not at the time explain the difference that John performed the service for Him.

The baptism of John was not appropriate to any but Jews. Gentiles could not repent or come back again into harmony with Moses’s law, because Gentiles were never under the law of Moses, but were counted as aliens, strangers and foreigners, without hope and without God in the world, (Eph 2:12.) We remember that the first Gentile convert was Cornelius, and that his baptism was three years after our Lord’s death, and his baptism was not John’s baptism, but of a different kind, as we shall show presently.

As illustrating what I have just said, namely, that the baptism practiced by the Christian denomination is John’s baptism and not Christ’s baptism, and that there is quite a distinction between the two, which our dear friends have not recognized, I call your attention to the record of Acts 19:1-7 where we are informed that a certain Jew, named Apollos, had made converts amongst the Ephesians, 12 in number, and that when St. Paul was passing through Ephesus he became acquainted with these, but noted that they were deficient as respects the evidences of their discipleship. The evidence of discipleship at that time consisted in miraculous “gifts” of the spirit, as, later and since, the evidence of discipleship has been the possession and manifestation of the “fruits of the spirit” — love, joy, peace, etc.

The Apostle inquired respecting their deficiency and said, “Into what, then, were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then said Paul, “John verily baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe upon Him which should come after him; that is, Christ Jesus. When they heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” I quote this as evidencing the fact that there is a decided difference between John’s baptism of repentance and Christ’s baptism.

The various Scriptures which my opponent has quoted as proving the necessity for repentance and, washing away of sins, etc., we agree with fully, but we call to his attention the fact that all these persons who thus “washed away their sins” and practiced baptism for the “remission of sins” were Jews who were already baptized into Moses in the sea and in the cloud,” who were already children of God and heirs of the covenants and promises, and their washing away of their sins means their coming near again to God and into closer touch with all the promises and the blessings thereof.

The Abrahamic Olive Tree

Never is it said of any Gentile that he was baptized unto repentance and remission of sins that he got back into Moses and in accord with the law. On the contrary, the Apostle shows that we, and all spiritual Israelites coming from among the Gentiles, come into Christ in a different way from that in which the Jews became related to him. I call your attention to the Apostle’s argument in Rom 11:17-24 where he uses an olive tree as a symbol or picture. He tells us that that olive tree was primarily the Jewish nation; that its root was the Abrahamic promise; its branches were the individual Jews. It was to those branches that John preached the baptism of repentance. Many of them were deified, living in sin, and he urged them to repent and be washed, cleansed; that otherwise they would be broken off. And so it was when Messiah was manifest, the prepared ones, Israelites indeed, in who was no guile, were ready for Him, received Him, and He received them and they continued to be branches of that olive tree.

But the great mass of the branches, as the Apostle goes on to explain, were broken off because they did not receive our Lord, because they were not in the right condition of heart, not “Israelites indeed, without guile.”

In the harvest time of the Jewish age that tree, that nation, was transferred from Moses to Christ, and those branches which were permitted to remain were thenceforth branches or members of Christ, and did not need to be baptized into Christ. Or, according to the figure, they did not need to be en-grafted into the tree, for they were in it already, and merely the new name came to them, the name of Christ as instead of Moses — Christ the antitypical Moses. And the other branches were all broken off from relationship with this antitypical Moses, Christ, whom the tree now represented.

It is into that tree that you and I and all Christians of this Gospel age are invited to be baptized, or, in this figure, en-grafted. The Apostle explains this, and says that by nature we were wild olives, and had no part or lot in this tree, but that God in great mercy has permitted us to be en-grafted, to be united to our Lord, and with him, and with those faithful Israelites of the Jewish nation, we are permitted now to have the blessing that comes from the root of this tree, the Abrahamic promise, In other words, we are the children of Abraham, or, as in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, we belong to the Lazarus class, the little flock, who have come to be inheritors of the blessing of God provided through Him as the father of the faithful.

I trust, dear friends that this, the Apostle’s illustration, helps us to grasp the fact that a great change of dispensation occurred at the time of our Lord’s first advent. But all of the Jews were not broken off at once, and hence, wherever the apostles went preaching the Gospel throughout Galatia, etc., they went to the Jews first, saying: “That it was necessary that the Gospel should be first preached to you, but seeing ye cast it from you, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”

(Extracts taken from the Pastor Russell’s remarks concerning Baptism during the Russell / White debate as found in the 1908 Cincinnati Ohio Bible Students Convention Report)

TWO BAPTISMS

TWO BAPTISMS

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Despite what is commonly believed and taught by orthodoxy, immersion or baptism (Greek–dipping) in water, as practiced by John the Baptist and afterward by our Lord and his disciples, had a different significance at first among the disciples from what it came to have after the Spirit dispensation was fully opened and its teachings received.

John came and his disciples, preaching repentance of sins, and used immersion as a token or sign of the putting away of sin by the repentant one. Not that the immersion put away the filth of the flesh–sin—but that it illustrated it. Jesus’ disciples did a similar work among the people (John 4:2). And after Pentecost, even, the Apostles, for a time at least, used the emblem in this same way. For instance, Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12, 13, 38. In each of these instances open sinners were to exemplify the putting away of their sins, and this, indeed, is the usual significance of the ordinance among Christians today.

But baptism came to have a new and very different significance to the Apostles, under the guidance of the Spirit, as they came to discern its deeper meaning as illustrated both by the words and act of Jesus. In Jesus’ case, surely, it did not typify a putting away of the filth of sin, for the question he put, but which his opponents never answered, was, “Which of you convicts me of sin?” and the record is that “in him was no sin.”

Jesus’ baptism or immersion into water typically expressed his death, into which he voluntarily went for our sins. It represented the full consecration of his will to the Father’s purposes and plans for our redemption. It was when “Jesus began to be about thirty years of age”–manhood according to the law –and therefore, the proper time for him to sacrifice his fully developed manhood, that he typified this surrendering or consecration by water immersion. The act of baptism represented in the one act of going down into the water and rising from it, his going down into death, and his trust in the Father’s promise that he should not be left in death, but should have a resurrection. (Psa 16:10; Acts 2:31)

When Jesus presented himself to John–regarding it, and properly, as the symbol of repentance and reformation –John was surprised and said, “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” He recognized Jesus’ sinlessness and knew that he needed no repentance. Jesus answered, “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becomes us (the church of which he was the head) to fulfill all righteousness.” And his death, which his immersion symbolized, was indeed the fulfillment of all the righteous demands of justice against the condemned race of Adam.

That which was expressed in that brief, symbolic act, was fully carried out in the three-and-a-half years of his ministry—for during that time he died daily, or was continually giving his life strength–sacrificing himself–for the sake of the Lord’s truth, the Lord’s children, and humanity in general. The act of immersion meant in symbol all that sacrifice which, commencing at Jordan, was completed at Calvary, and also his triumph as a new creature in the resurrection. Baptism into death meant sacrifice and suffering unto the end, both to Jesus and his followers—all who would share the present sufferings and the final glory.

To all who would share the heavenly glory, the question comes as it did to James and John, “Are ye able to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Matt 20:22). And if we have indicated our willingness, we have the promise that the ability shall be supplied; for our leader is our surety. And again, Jesus says: “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straightened until it be accomplished” (Matt 20:22; Luke 12:50). All must see that not the watery-symbolic death, but the reality, is here referred to.

After Pentecost, under the leading of the Spirit, the Apostles came gradually to apprehend this deeper and more forcible significance of baptism when applied to Christians–to those who sought to follow the Master’s footsteps of self-denial and crucifixion of the flesh to heavenly glory–the first resurrection. If by any means they might know him and the power of his resurrection (to spiritual conditions) and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death (Phil 3:10). They came to see that to be baptized with his baptism meant much more than John’s, much more than putting away the filth of sin; that it now meant consecration–to sacrifice–of that which already was justified in God’s sight. Hence it is that we find Paul so ably teaching and exhorting believers, who were already justified from sin by faith in the Redeemer, to put on Christ by baptism; to become members of the “little flock”–” members of his body”– by being immersed into Christ. We quote his words:

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized (immersed) into his death? Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”–walk as those having heavenly, not earthly, hopes and aims.

How different is this meaning to the saints from that conveyed by John’s baptism? So different, indeed, that the Apostles soon came to see that John’s baptism, though the same in outward form, did not at all represent a baptism into Christ, and some who had been once baptized with the idea of putting away sin-filthiness were commanded to be baptized again, and thus express the new and deeper meaning to baptism (Acts 19:1-5 and 10:48).

From these few brief testimonies we hope that all will be able to recognize the two baptisms (two in import; one in outward form). And let all clearly distinguish between the heart-work which is the real, and the watery-type, which is the shadow. All should see, too, that the outward form has even greater weight and is the more proper to be observed by those who see the reality. We must not only believe with the heart, but also confess with the mouth—an outward demonstration of our faith, thus the proper necessity of water immersion, the symbolic act.

Water immersion, which typifies the death of the human nature, we regard as being the proper course, for those only who in heart, have made a full consecration or surrendering of themselves to the Lord–presenting themselves living sacrifices, in accordance with the Apostles injunction in Rom 12:1

 “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service”

 The Apostle here was not addressing non-believers, this was not a call to sinners to repentance, nor was he addressing his fellow countrymen, Jews in particular, but rather the “brethren” for whom he was addressing were fellow believers in Jesus Christ as their Savior, brethren of the “Household of Faith”, those already reckoned restored or justified through their faith, but of whom had yet to had offered themselves in sacrifice to God. These he admonished to enter into covenant relationship with God, a “covenant of sacrificePsa 50:5, that they might progress from justification by faith unto full consecration and sanctification, that they might be joined to the body of Christ, “The Church of the First Born”.

Does Paul dissent from this statement concerning two baptisms when he says, we have “one baptism?” No, he addressed the Church, those following in Jesus’ footsteps, being baptized, not unto John’s baptism, but into Christ– into the anointed company of which the anointed Jesus is the head.

It is proper that each one should decide for himself positively, whether or not he has ever accepted the divine invitation as expressed here by the Apostle, for “now (during this Gospel Age, and only during this age) is the acceptable time” (2 Cor 6:2) for the acceptance of these sacrifices. Until this step of full consecration has taken place, one has yet to have been begotten of the Lord’s spirit, begotten to a new nature and joined to the body of Christ. Despite what orthodoxy teaches, although it is true that all professing Christians are considered members of the household of faith, only those fully consecrated, compose the body of Christ, “members in particular” (1 Cor 12:27). R444