“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 of “the 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 death — must 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.