Blood Before Water
CHRIST BEFORE THE CHURCH
Some one might be curious to know what claim Baptist have for their existence. This they have a right to know. Baptists go back to God himself for their origin. The first Baptist this world ever saw was commissioned in Heaven. "There was a man sent from God whose name was John" (John 1:6). He came to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17). He made them ready b preaching to them repentance and faith. (Matthew 3:2; Acts 19:4.) And "giving them the knowledge of salvation by the remission of their sins." (Luke 1:77). And the "baptizing them with water" (John 1:31,33). This one who was specially commissioned, and sent from Heaven, for the special purpose of preparing a people, out which the Lord was to constitute his church, the Bible tells us, he was a "Baptist." This Baptist had the distinction of baptizing our Lord (Mark 1:9), and he, the Lord, was the founder and builder of the church (Matthew 16:18). This Baptist did not only baptize the head and builder of the church, but he baptized the material out of which the church was constituted. The Apostles were the first set in the church (1 Cor. 12:28). This was done on a mountain in Galilee, not far from Capernaum, about 32 A. D. Our chronology is so imperfect the exact date cannot be determined. In Luke the 6th chapter you will find the organization recorded, with a list of the membership and followed by the inaugural address, commonly called "The Sermon on the Mount." Suppose a Baptist preacher of today should baptize preacher and a number of other people and that preacher baptized by a Baptist should take those people baptized by a Baptist and constitute them into a church, what kind of a church would it be? Did you say a Baptist church?
The one question: Is that church constituted by Christ out of the material "made ready" by John the Baptist in existence today? and has it existed through the ages from then until the present time? If so by what name or names? The master said: "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). The prophet said: "The kingdom (set up in the days of Caesars) shall not be left to other people, but it small break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever" (Dan. 2:44). Paul said: "Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end, Amen" (Eph. 3:21) Did Christ, Daniel and Paul tell the truth? If so, then there has not been a time since Christ first set the apostles in the church (1 Cor. 12:28), on the mountain (Luke 6:13-16) till the present, but what the church has so existed, to give God the glory. Alexander Campbell in his debate with Purcell (Catholic) in 1837 says: A variety of designations affects not the fact which we allege; we can find an unbroken series of Protestants—a regular succession of those who protested against the corruptions of the Roman church, and endeavored to hold fast the faith once delivered to the saints, from the first schism in the year 250 A. D. to the present day; and you may apply to them what description or designation you please" [Campbell-Purcell Debate, p. 77]. David Lipscomb says, "God founded a church that will stand forever; that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" [Gospel Advocate, 1867, p 770; Quoted from what and where is the church]. Where shall we find this church today? Not the Catholics; for Alexander Campbell in his debate with Purcell says they are "Babylon" of Revelation, the "man of sin." Not the Current Reformation for Alexander Campbell puts their beginning in 180l [Millennial Harbinger, Vol. 2. p. 390]. Alexander Campbell in 1832 says, "Often were the Baptists called Anabaptists, by their jealous rivals, but they successfully rebutted the calumny, by showing that they never baptized any person whom they considered as having been once baptized. Their opponents were at length put to shame; they blushed and called them Anabaptists no longer. Hence all societies call them who immerse on confession of the faith, simply Baptists" [Millennial Harbinger. Vol. 3, p. 390]. But how far back does the name Anabaptist reach? I answer, back to 250 A. D. when the first rupture came in the church, that resulted in Roman Catholicism. Neander says: "Hence towards the close of the year 253 he (Stephanus) issued a sentence of excommunication against the bishops (pastors) of Asia-minor, Cappadocia, Galatia, and Cilicia, stigmatizing them as Ana-baptists (anabaptistai) a name however, which they could justly affirm they did not deserve by their principles, for it was not their wish to administer a second baptism to those who had been already baptized, but they contended that the previous baptism, given by heretics, could not be recognized as a true one" [Neander, Vol. 1. pp. 318-19]. These churches and pastors mentioned by Neander in Asia-minor, Cappadocia, Galatia and Cilicia were doubtless the very churches established by Paul and his helpers. These Ana-baptists through the succeeding centuries were called by various names, sometimes after certain leading men, sometimes after the section of country in which they dwelt; such as Novatians, Paulicians, Donatists, Waldenses, etc. Alexander Campbell in 1837 said: "The Disciples of Christ are the same race, call them Christians, Nazarines, Galdeans, Novatians, Donatists, Paulicians, Waldenses, Albigenses, Protestants or what you please. A variety of designation affects not the fact which we allege; we can find an unbroken series of Protestants—a regular succession of those who protested against the corruptions of the Roman church, and endeavored to hold fast the faith once delivered to the saints, from the first schism in the year 250 A. D. to the present day; and you may apply to them what description or designation you please" [Campbell-Purcell Debate, p. 77]. Campbell further says: "This exactly accords with the views of some of our brethren long since expressed, that as it was with the Jews in the times of the Messiah and his apostles, so it is now with the Baptists. The nation as much continued to be a Kingdom of God, until they rejected those who plead for faith, repentance and baptism, as necessary to the admission into the kingdom of grace, until the present call upon them to reformation" [Millennial Harbinger, Vol. 7, p. 57]. Quoted from What and Where is the Church, Burnett, editor of Christian Messenger, says, "Christ founded his church upon a rock, and it has been there ever since. In the days of A. Campbell, it was wearing the name ‘Baptist Church.’ With Alexander Campbell we say, the kingdom was with the Baptists before he and his coadjutors started the reformation" [Quoted form What and Where is the Church, p. 73].
Is it not something awful that the Baptists should refuse to turn tine kingdom affairs over to Alexander Campbell and his coadjutors, when they demand it? It is true that the Lord had committed it to the Baptists, and according to Campbell it had remained with them through the centuries and they had given their property and lives by the millions in support of these principles, but Campbell and his coadjutors have come on the scene and adding some of Rome’s trumpery to their program they demand that the Baptists abandon the faith that they have suffered so much through the centuries to maintain, and swallow their heresies and turn the whole matter over to them. Is it not awful that these stubborn Baptists would not do it? and because they would not they say the Lord took the Kingdom away from the Baptists and gave it to them, and they are "The Church of Christ" the only "Church of Christ". Am I over drawing this? Hear Alexander Campbell speak: "There is nothing more congenial to civil liberty than to enjoy an unrestrained, unembargoed liberty of exercising the conscience freely upon all subjects respecting religion. Hence it is that the Baptist denomination, in all ages and in all countries has been, as a body, the constant asserters of the rights of man and the liberty of conscience. They have often been persecuted by Pedo-baptists but they never politically persecuted, though they have had it in their power" [Christian Baptism, p. 409]. This work was published by Campbell in 1851 A. D. when he had been an ordained minister 40 years and 15 years before his death, and he speaks of the "Baptist denomination as a body."
The King or Holland, in 1819, appointed Prof. Ypeij of Gronigen University, and J. J. Dermott, his chaplain to prepare a history of the Dutch Reformed Church. In the prosecution of this work the Baptists kept getting in their way and they gave them a close study and after a number of complimentary statements they closed with the following "We have now seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called Anabaptists, and in latter times Mennonites, were the original Waldenses and who have long in the history of the church received the honor of that origin. On this account the Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the apostles and as a Christian society which preserved pure the doctrines of the gospel through all ages."
I could pile testimony of like character sufficient to make a considerable volume from standard authors but this must suffice.
No man has been able to put his finger on the man, the time, and the place and maintain it, where the Baptists had their origin this side of Christ and apostles. I have not quoted a single Baptist author, apart from the New Testament. I have let the Current Reformation speak for themselves, and also for Baptists.
When you distinguish us:
By our work—we are, Baptists.
By our mental proclivities—we are, Disciples.
By our heart proclivities—we are, Believers.
In our relation to each other—we are, Brethren.
In our relation to God—we are, Children.
In our relation to the Holy Spirit—we are Sanctified.
In our relation to the covenant—we are, Elect.
In our relation to Christ, passively—we are, Redeemed.
In our relation to Christ. actively—we are, Christians
In our relation to the church—we are, Household of Faith.
We rejoice in all these titles. We rejoice also that we have a God worth serving, a gospel worth preaching, a religion worth enjoying, a Jesus worth praising, a Christ worth trusting, a Lord worth obeying, a church worth sustaining.
Salvation by Grace
If the Bible makes any one thing clear, it is that grace and works wont mix. Salvation must be wholly by grace, or wholly by works. Paul says: "And if by grace then is it no more works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if of works, then is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work" (Rom. 11:6). God is going to be all or none in our salvation. The least particle of work will destroy the grace. But faith sustains grace. "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace" (Rom. 4:16). For by grace are ye saved through faith; that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:8,10). In this quotation the "ye" that are "saved by grace" are the dead ones that are quickened into life in the first verse. They are quickened by being "created in Christ Jesus" (v. 10). They were created by means of the spirit (v. 18). Take a pencil and mark a ring around all the pronouns in this chapter and a new light will shine on it.
Man is dead (Eph 2:1 and 4:18), and incapacitated to understand spiritual things. "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory. But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God bath prepared for them that love him" (1 Cor. 2:7, 9). If man with the natural senses can not comprehend spiritual things how is he to know them? The next verse tells us; "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Cor. 2:10). If one should say the word reveals it, all we can know? Paul settles it in these words; But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). But you ask why preach the gospel to men if they can not understand it? It will be useless if unattended by the Spirit. The Bible is "the sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:17), and the Spirit must wield it to make it effectual. Hence Paul says: "For our gospel came not to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance" (1 Thess. 1:5). Such a gospel only, will overcome the carnal mind that is enmity (not at enmity but enmity itself) against God, and not subject to his law, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). This is brought about by the new creation. "Except a man (any one) be born again, (from above) he can not see (understand) the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3). This one born (from above) is styled in the Bible as the "new man" the "inner man" the "new creature" etc. Alexander Campbell says: "The incontrovertible fact is, men must be born from above" [Memoirs, Vol. 2 p. 155]. This new man is an entity not a renovation, a new creation, not a reformation. When this new man enters, a warfare begins between him and the old man.
Does the seal come in direct contact? "Who hath also sealed us. and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (2 Cor. 1:22). Paul also tells us that it is "a seal of the righteousness of the faith" (Rom. 4:11). Again; "in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise (Eph. 1:13). This fixes the sealing at faith. "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30). When God stamps the seal of the Holy Spirit upon the heart by faith, is that immediate, personal contact? When Saul of Tarsus, prayed before he was baptized (Acts 9:11), was there immediate contact between him and God? When Cornelius prayed before he was baptized, and God heard him and answered his prayer (Acts 10:4,31), was there immediate personal contact between him and God? Who did Paul and Cornelius talk to when, they prayed? One of two things is true; Sinners prayed direct to God and God heard and answered their prayers, or Paul and Cornelius were saved before they were baptized. Which horn will they take? If God saved one sinner without respect to baptism, He will save all who come to him in hike manner. If He heard one penitents prayer, He will hear all penitents prayers.
Before bidding the reader good-bye your attention is invited to some scripture quotations on this question.
Provided By God
A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgements and do them" (Ezek. 36:26,27). "I will put my laws my their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people" (Heb. 8:10).
"Now when they heard this, (Peter’s preaching) they were pierced in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, men and brethern, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira, which worshiped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul" (Acts 16:14).
"That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us" (Acts 17:27). "Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping and with mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments" (Joel 2:12,13).
"And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9). "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in out hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us" (Rom. 5:5). "The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession in made unto salvation" (Rom. 10:8,10).
"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls" (1 Pet. 1:8,9). "Speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Eph. 5:19).
"If God be for us, who can be against us? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, non angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:31,33,35,38,39).
"Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Pet. 1:5). "And this is the Father’s will which bath sent me, that of all which he bath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise It up again at the last day" (John 6:39). "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." (Jer. 32:40).
"He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself" (1 John 5:10). "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14). "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye, have love one to another" (John 13:35).
Is salvation conditional? If so, who meets these conditions? A condition is that without which another thing cannot exist. If baptism is a condition of salvation, salvation cannot exist without it and all who are not baptized are doomed to hell. If a condition then it is an essential. If it is an essential it is indispensable. Where an exception is admitted, it ceases to be essential and is no longer a condition. The difficulty lies between a sovereign God and dependent man. Diplomatic relations are broken, and God has issued his ultimatum, "The soul that sins shall die." All have sinned, therefore all must die. The matter is final. Communication has ceased. If reconciliation is brought about it must come through another; God alone had a right to state the conditions and there was one alone in this universe that could accept them, and that one was Christ.—"the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David" (Rev. 5:15). He met the conditions on the cross and in the resurrection, as our substitute. "If one died for all, then were all dead" (2 Cor. 5:14). God accepted this sacrifice and is reconciled. "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (2 Cor. 5:19). Now God can "be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26). And now "ambassadors for Christ" are going forth with the "gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24; 2 Cor. 5:19). They go telling the sinner that the conditions have been met, the debt has been paid. "For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (Rom 5:19). And now "according to the riches of his grace" (Eph 1:7), we "are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26). How this lifts us above the doctrine that requires poor, puny man to pay the debt and meet the conditions. If God lays down certain conditions of salvation, and requires us to meet them, and we meet these conditions and God saves us because we have met them; in that case Christ is left out, and obedience, and not grace, is the basis of our salvation, and Paul truly said: "If righteousness come by law (any law, for there is no article before law), then Christ is dead in vain" (Gal. 2:21).
There are three beautiful lessons in baptism. Looking backward, it symbolizes the burial and resurrection of our Lord, "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (l Cor. 5:17). In the present it symbolizes our death to sin, and our resurrection to a new life. "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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection" (Rom. 6:4-5). In the future it symbolizes the resurrection of those long buried in their graves. "If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?" (1 Cor. 15:29).
How beautiful! How comforting! Who is it that would desire to drag this beautiful, soul cheering, and profound teaching ordinance, down into the mire of legalism? May the Lord help us all to appreciate his abounding grace, and enjoy his symbolic ordinances more and more.
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