"WINE MIXED WITH WATER"
IS WATER BAPTISM FOR US?
by Maurice M. Johnson
(Given over Radio KMTR — March, 1937)
Modern religious Babylon is built on the misreading of a preposition. The preposition "with" is explained to mean "like" when it is used in the Word of God in connection with Christ's earthly ministry, including His death, burial, resurrection, and glorious ascension. This is especially true when it comes to the subject of water baptism. I am speaking both soberly and biblically when I say that water baptism, as it is practiced today, is Babel baptism.
IS WATER BAPTISM "THE GATE OF GOD"?
What do I mean by this use of the word "Babel"? Do you remember that the first mighty rebel among men against God was Nimrod? We read of him in Gen. 10 that "the beginning of his kingdom was Babel . . ." And in the eleventh chapter, we read of the great tower that he and his followers began to erect. Read the first nine verses of this chapter and see that God called their building "Babel," or confusion. But that is not what Nimrod meant when he and his followers willfully began to build "a tower whose top may reach unto heaven." I am told that in the ancient Semitic-Babylonian language, the name "Babel" is "Babili," which means "the gate of God," and is not water baptism the entering ordinance to the Roman Catholic, the Lutheran, the Episcopalian, the Mormon, and many heathen religions? Yes, and these groups comprise the overwhelming majority of religionists who are told that water baptism is the gate of God. Let us be biblical and call their baptism "Babel" baptism, remembering all the while that though they teach that the rite is the gate of God, He calls it confusion.
The rest of the 666 different sects of Christendom may not positively teach that water baptism is positively necessary to one's entrance into heaven, but they demand it for entrance into what each of them calls "the church." For instance, I have here a tract written by one who signs himself as a Master of Theology, M. A. Stuckey, of what is called the Brethren "Church." In commenting on Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not
shall be damned," this Dunkard preacher says: "What a command! What language! Here is safety or doom eternal! And the two requirements are very explicit; namely, belief and baptism. Do you wonder why missionaries and preachers herald and teach the gospel everywhere? Do you wonder why they insist on baptism? They are obeying the command of the only perfect God and the only perfect Man who ever set foot upon the earth." But none of you Baptists or Campbellites can take encouragement from this Dunkard's statement, for you have been immersed in water only once, and he says you must be immersed three times. Thus it goes with this watery "gate of God," or Babel baptism. It lies at the bottom of more fleshly quarrels, schisms, and isms than any other mis-taught Bible doctrine. But there is the Bible doctrine of baptism with which we must honestly and diligently deal.
FUNDAMENTALISTS QUIT VICTOR'S SONG AT
"WATERS OF BABYLON."
What had many appearances of being a mighty movement of God a few years ago, the "fundamentalist" stand against "modernism," was split wide open when W. B. Riley, T. T. Shields, J. Frank Norris, and other big Baptists sought to make the movement a Baptist movement. Today, right here in Los Angeles, there are several recent "come-out" groups of fundamentalists, but they are split and immeasurably weakened over the question of water baptism and its related doctrines, and are not making any humble and God-fearing effort to settle these differences regarding the place and the purpose of the physical ordinances. I fervently sought to have some studies with several of the apparently honest and spiritual young leaders, but they were unwilling. Why is this? Why won't those who steadfastly preach that all who have by faith received the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Saviour are children of God and brethren in Christ squarely face our divisions and fervently seek to do something about them? Oh, I would to God that I could burn that question into your consciences! Why don't you demand of these preachers that they have discussion and study groups where the subject of water baptism and the "Lord's supper" will be taken up by the various leaders who loudly profess that all regenerated people are brothers and sisters in Christ? Can't you see that such discussion and study groups would serve to discover just who really desires to know and do God's will in the matter of ordinances? "But it would be useless argument," you say. Why would it? What is so dangerous about these particular subjects? Other Bible subjects are rather readily discussed by Christian brethren. Is it because these particular subjects, water baptism and the "Lord's supper," are actually the foundations of the various divisions, the sects among Christians, and the preachers are afraid their particular foundation might be destroyed—and maybe somebody's reputation as a great Bible teacher or expository preacher would suffer? The salary question, also, has its argumentative value in some of these refusals to honestly come to the Word of God to severely examine the denominational foundations.
CUSTOM OR CHRIST?
Let us never forget that the "foundation of God standeth sure," while every plant that God hasn't planted will be rooted up. Let us also remember that "He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God," John 3:21. By far the saddest thing about the many divisions among those who profess to humbly accept the so-called fundamentals of the faith is that the trusted leaders are doing nothing to get God's people together on Christ's terms of fellowship and worship. Therefore, when it comes to the physical ordinances and local church government, custom is Christ and tradition is truth with the fundamentalists. They walk more or less according to religious conventions than biblical convictions. I am well aware that many of you have been taught to believe that the best way to remedy these sad schisms is to do nothing about them, except be sweet and loyal to your own particular schism or sect. But let me assure you on the authority of God's Word that indifference in such things is a cowardly participation in the confusion. Christ said: "He that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad." Who believes that today? Can anyone but a blind infidel say that the Lord Jesus Christ is gathering His own blood-washed, the members of His body, by memorializing fleshly quarrels over water and wine?
MONUMENT TO WATER OR CHRIST?
Every denomination under the sun is a monument to some slant on water baptism and the supper, while only Spirit-led Christians are a monument to the Lord Jesus. By man's names and man's buildings, the world knows that the Bible says something about water baptism and a physical supper, but only by a demonstrated spiritual unity of God's people can the world know that the Father sent His own Son into the world. Hear Christ's prayer on this subject: "I pray Father that they may be one as we are one, I in thee and thou in me, that they may be one in us that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples," if ye get baptized the right way in water. No! "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Jn. 13:35. In Col. 3:14, we are told that "Love is the bond of perfectness." And in Eph. 5:2, we are commanded to "walk in love . . ."
By this time, some of you are probably saying: "Yes, and Christ said: 'If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.' Now why doesn't he show his radio listeners that their love for Christ will lead them to get baptized?" Well, give me a little more time and I'll do that very thing, but the element to be used in the baptism is not water. By the grace of God, I have long ago "obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto . . ." me. And, just as we have in Acts 2, "They that gladly received the word were baptized," I was baptized when I gladly received the Word of my salvation, and so were you, if you have gladly received the Word of life, for "with (or by) one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." I Cor. 12:13. The moment I believed the gospel of Christ, believed with my heart (Rom. 10:9-10), that moment in the courts of Glory, a new name was written down for I became a new creature in Christ Jesus. Every saved soul can say with Paul: "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." But, thank God, you and I were not merely crucified with Christ, for we were not left on the cross after Christ was taken down. We are also buried WITH Christ and raised with Him to walk in newness of life. But how were we crucified, and raised WITH Christ? Through the faith of the operation of God, by "the eternal Spirit." It is this supernatural, spiritual baptism that takes the believing sinner through the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that excludes all counterfeits and hypocrites. In other words, only genuinely saved people have had the baptism spoken of in Romans 6 and Col. 2. I shall deal with these passages later.
Now let us examine the five reasons I have for believing that water baptism is not for the church dispensation.
1. Water baptism was Jewish.
2. Christ fulfilled all Judaism.
3. The baptism with the Holy Spirit superseded water baptism (took its place).
4. Water baptism is not commanded for Christians.
5. There is but "one baptism" for the Christian's walk.
BAPTISMAL WATER CHANGED TO WINE
1. Water baptism was Jewish. Have you ever noticed that the unsaved Jewish Pharisees were well acquainted with the subject of water baptism even before Christ began His public ministry? Let us read carefully John 1:19-34. Here we learn not only that water baptism was a familiar Jewish ordinance, but we also learn just why it was that Christ was baptized in water. You remember John the Baptist said: "I knew Christ not, but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water." John 1:31. Please don't forget that, you Baptists and Campbellites and all others who speak of "following Christ in water baptism." If you are going to follow Christ in water baptism, you should get all of the Jews you possibly can to witness the ordinance, because Christ was baptized "that He might be made manifest to Israel." And let us not forget that the very first miracle Christ performed was turning those six Jewish "baptistries" into wine for the wedding. Let us read the inspired account of it. John 2:1-11. There we have the Jewish water purifications, the six Jewish baptistries. You Bible students know that the number "six" is the number of man throughout the Bible. And what an impoverished condition these men were in, though they had their physical ordinances. They had no wine for their wedding feast. Their Jewish Messiah, Christ, supplied their need. But why did He provide this wine by converting the Jewish water baptistries into vessels of fine wine? In the twentieth chapter of John, we are given the answer. "And many other signs (miracles) truly did Jesus but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through His name " Jn. 20:30-31. In other words, this turning of the baptismal waters into life-giving wine was but a miraculous prophecy of what He was going to accomplish when He should by His substitutionary death, provide "the pure blood of the grape" spoken of in Deut. 32:14. Yes, when the Royal King of the Jews died for our sins, it was heaven's one Perfect, Purple Cluster of Grapes voluntarily placed in the winepress of God's holy wrath against the sins of the world, in order that from that winepress there might come the sweet wine, the antitypical "pure blood of the grape."
SPIRITUAL DRINK SATISFIES
Christ's becoming the soul-satisfying drink for the starving, dying sinner is also typified in the account of Moses' putting that golden calf into the fire and then making a drink out of it for those idolatrous Israelites to drink (Ex. 32:20). And in John 6, Christ makes it unmistakably plain what is meant by these drink ordinances given to the Jews. He says: "Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye have no life in you." "He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst . . . The words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life." Thus we see that our drink is wholly spiritual. It is the heart-satisfying drink that is termed "believing on Christ with the heart." Both John 6:35 and Rom. 10:10 clearly teach this. Your lips will never become wet or red by drinking the "cup which we bless," for it is the "communion of the blood of Christ," the supernatural partaking of the very life of our Glorious Substitute. His blood is "drink, indeed," for we read: "He that believeth on me shall never thirst." Yes, thank God, when your mind and heart drink in the gospel of Christ, the inspired story of His death, burial, and resurrection for you, your soul-thirst is forever satisfied. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Isa. 55:1.
PAUL FIRST EXPLAINED THE "RENT VEIL."
That this physical ordinance of water baptism was Jewish and only typical of the spiritual baptism that identifies us with Christ is further proven by an honest, prayerful reading of Heb. 6:2, where believing Jews are told to leave the "doctrine of baptisms"; and in Heb. 9:10 where we are told that there were different washings (baptismos), different baptisms, that were imposed on the Jewish nation to continue as long as the temple was left standing. Perhaps, I should say just here that the failure to see that all of Judaism continued until nearly 70 A.D. has caused more confusion than any other one misconception. The more ignorant preachers and teachers say that the believing Jews were told to cease their circumcision, divers baptisms, head-shaving, and temple worship at the cross, while the biggest fundamentalists teach that the conference at Jerusalem (recorded in Acts 15) was the conference called for the purpose of telling the Christian Jews to turn from all of their Jewish ordinances. Both of these teachings are hurtfully incorrect.
The undeniable fact is that all of the converted Jews, including the Apostle Paul, continued to practice the entire Jewish ceremonial religion until the Hebrew epistle was written to them, explaining how it was that Christ's death was typified by, and was in perfect fulfillment of, the "meats and drinks and different baptisms and fleshly ordinances." It is quite true that the whole ritualistic system was typically destroyed by God when Christ cried, "It is finished," for we read that at that moment "the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake and the rocks rent." Matt. 27:50-51. But do you think those Christ-rejecting Jews understood the divine significance of that miraculous event, that tearing of the temple veil? How could they until God explained it? And when did God choose to explain it? Not till long after Paul was saved and caught up into the third heaven where he received the revelations concerning Christ's glorious work.
JEWISH PRIESTS MUST BE BAPTIZED
Other passages proving that water baptism was Jewish are John 3:22-26; 4:1-2; Acts 21:21-25; Num. 5:1722; Lev. 1:9,13; 8:21. In this present study, I do no more than mention the fact that Israel was God's chosen nation that is yet sure to become the "kingdom of priests and an holy nation." Ex. 19:5-6; Isa. 61:6; 66:21; Rev. 1:6; 5:10. We are repeatedly told that the Jewish priests were to be baptized with water, or washed from head to foot as an introductory rite into the priesthood. Thus it is that when the kingdom was being offered to the Jews, water baptism was the introductory rite. Hence, Christ, the great Priest-King, was baptized in water.
"BORN OF WATER"
In a very definite sense, Israel was a nation "born of water." Remember that when a babe, Moses, the great leader, was hidden in an ark of bulrushes in the river in Egypt and that Pharaoh's daughter found him She drew him out of the water and called his name "Moses," as she said, "because I drew him out of the water." Ex. 2:10. Later, when Moses was used of God to deliver the nation from Egyptian bondage by the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, that nation is said to have been "baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea." I Cor. 10:2. Further, we read in Isa. 48:1, "Hear ye this, 0 house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah . . ." With these significant passages in mind, we will not be misled when we come to another one dealing with the Jewish Messiah's message to a ruler in Israel. I speak of Christ's statement to Nicodemus in John 3:1-12. How plain it is that Israel's physical deliverance (or birth) is a water deliverance, and her spiritual deliverance is to be a spiritual birth. That is exactly what Christ is saying to this Jew. If you will quietly read the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th verses of this 3rd chapter of John, you will note at once that two distinct births are mentioned in the first two and the last two of the five verses. Upon careful reading, you will doubtless see that in the 5th verse, likewise, the Lord is speaking of two distinct births, the physical and the spiritual, or the water birth and the spiritual birth. Note well that Christ begins this discourse with Nicodemus by saying to the grown Jewish ruler that he must have another birth besides his first one. May God help you to empty your mind of preconceived ideas about this much misused text and see the simplicity of it. You fundamentalists will note that I have had to reject the "spiritual water" theory. That the spiritual water is in the 4th and 7th chapters, there can be no dispute.
WHAT CEREMONIES PICTURED, CHRIST PERFORMED
2. Christ fulfilled all Judaism. This is my second reason for rejecting water baptism in this church dispensation. In the light of such passages as Heb. 9:1-26, we understand that the "divers baptisms," the washing of pots and pans, the laver of cleansing with its water, the six Jewish purification water pots, and John's water baptism were all under the first, or Old Covenant. We read in Heb. 9:13 that "the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh," but they were merely "dead works" which could not "make him perfect, as pertaining to the conscience." These physical ordinances, which "stood only in meats and drinks and divers washings (baptisms) and fleshly ordinances," were imposed on the Jews "until the time of reformation" (setting things straight). Heb. 9:9-13. We are expressly told that these different water baptisms merely purified "the patterns of things in heaven." Heb. 9:23. Could our wise Heavenly Father have made it any plainer than He did in this passage? Listen to it: "It was . . . necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things with better sacrifices than these." What a spectacle it must be to our risen Lord and Saviour and, indeed, to all the angelic hosts who know that Christ lived under the law and the physical ordinances in order to fulfill them all for weak and lawless sinners—I say what a spectacle it must be to see professing Christians running around down here quarreling over patterns and building big temples and sects as monuments to some physical pattern of things in the heavens. It all now reminds me of a big Roman "Catholic" cathedral somewhere across the waters that is called "A Shrine to the Shroud." Well, you denominationalists can have the shroud, the grave clothes and even the seamless garment that they gambled for at the foot of the cross, for I have Christ. I have ceased to go about trying to establish my own righteousness. I heard the sweet story years ago that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth." Rom. 10:1-4. We are "complete in Him." Col. 2:10-12.
CHRIST'S RIGHTEOUS CONDUCT IS MINE
This is true because "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried, and the third day He rose from the dead according to the scriptures." 1 Cor. 15:3-5. What is meant by the phrase, "according to the scriptures"? In the light of the passages we have seen in Hebrews, we learn that it means that in His death Christ carried out what was pictured in the various sacrifices and the various baptisms. In His resurrection, He was the wave loaf, the bird that was loosed to fly away with blood on its wings, and He was the glorious conquering life patterned by other Jewish things. Thus it is that when a broken-hearted sinner receives the Lord Jesus Christ, he is instantly counted a perfect law-keeper in the courts of heaven. Do you know that I, Maurice Johnson, have perfectly kept all of the ten commandments, have offered exactly the kinds of offerings in the temple at Jerusalem that the Law of Moses called for, have been baptized in the River Jordan, crucified, buried, and risen and gone to Heaven where I am a citizen? This is the unforced and positive teaching of the Word of God, that every saved soul has had not only the righteous character, but also all of the righteous conduct of Jesus of Nazareth put to his credit. I was amazed when I read in one of C. H. Spurgeon's sermons this very precious truth of our identity with Christ, not only in His death, burial, and resurrection, but also with His righteous life while He was walking around the streets of Jerusalem. Hear Spurgeon: "Consider Christ as man, too. All that He was as perfect man is yours. As a perfect man, he stood before His Father, 'full of grace and truth,' full of favour and accepted by God as a perfect being. 0 believer, God's acceptance of Christ is thine acceptance; for knowest thou not that that love which the Father set on a perfect Christ He sets on thee now? For all that Christ did is thine. That perfect righteousness which Jesus wrought out, when through His stainless life He kept the Law and made it honourable, is thine. There is not a virtue which Christ ever had that is not thine; there is not a holy deed which He ever did which is not thine; there
is not a prayer He ever sent to heaven that is not thine; there is not one solitary thought toward God which it was His duty to think, and which He thought as a man serving His God, which is not thine. All His righteousness, in its vast extent, and in all the perfection of His character, is imputed to thee. 0! canst thou think what thou hast gotten in the word, 'Christ'?" Doesn't that remind you of Romans 4:1-8? Read those liberating verses.
DON'T POUR WATER INTO ROMANS 6:3-5 AND COL. 2:12
How Spurgeon could have seen that glorious truth that all of Christ's righteous conduct was imputed to the believer as well as His righteous character and then failed to remember it when he came to the subject of water baptism is utterly beyond me. Let us read Col. 2:6-12. Can any honest Christian read this without seeing that Christ's circumcision and baptism were both made ours "by the faith of the operation of God"? The same is true of Romans 6:3-5. Please note in both these passages that the preposition "with" is used and not "like." In other words, Col. 2:12 and Roman 6:3-5 tell us that as believers in the crucified, buried, and risen Christ we can say with Paul, not only that we have been crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20), but also that we have been buried with Him and raised with Him. It is, therefore, an insult to God and a denial of the substitutionary atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ for sectarian preachers and teachers to pour water into Col. 2:12 and Rom. 6:3-5.
In the light of his later epistles, we can see the glories of grace as we hear Paul say in Acts 13:38-39: "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." Truly all Christians have been "baptized for the dead," or into the death of Christ "by which we are crucified to the world and the world is crucified to us." Thus it becomes plainer and more glorious to us that we are no longer to know men after the flesh. We have no biblical authority to classify men as to whether their flesh has been sprinkled, or poured, or immersed once or thrice in water, or whether or not they have eaten a certain kind of wafer and taken some grape juice. "For if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things have passed away; behold all things are become new." 2 Cor. 5:16-17. In other
words, Christianity is not imitation but identification with Christ. Christians readily admit that Christ's circumcision was substitutionary. There seems to be no argument about Col. 2:10-11 meaning that all Christians have had Christ's circumcision supernaturally put to their credit as a part of their "completeness in Him." But when the very next clause is read, "buried with Him in baptism . . . ," the denominational champions turn on their water "sprinklers," or "pourers," or "immersers" and "humbly" shout their willingness to "follow Christ in baptism." Why not follow Him in circumcision and crucifixion, also? The most far-reaching question that can be asked saint or sinner is, "Is Christianity our imitation of Christ's earthly life with our flesh, or is it our appropriating Christ's risen life by faith?"
I WAS BAPTIZED 1900 YEARS AGO
This fact of Christ's baptism being a part of His righteous life that is imputed to every believer is undoubtedly given us in Christ's statement to John the Baptist at the River Jordan. Of course, the deep spiritual meaning of the statement was not understood until Paul was given the revelation concerning the fulfillment and consequent uselessness of all types and patterns. Hear Christ speak to John who was hesitating to baptize Him: "Suffer (or permit) it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." And then John baptized Christ in water. John fulfilled the prophecy concerning his announcing the Jewish Messiah, and Christ fulfilled "all righteousness," all of the acts called for by the Law. That is why His Heavenly Father had waited to publicly own Jesus of Nazareth as being His well-pleasing Son. Christ was born under the Law and came "not to destroy the law and the prophets but to fulfill." Matt. 5:17-18. Thus it was that after this last act of righteous law-keeping, His submitting to Jewish water baptism, Christ was anointed by the Holy Spirit and publicly owned by the Father as being His "well-pleasing" or law-keeping Son. Yes, hallelujah! "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth." So you see, I not only believe in water baptism, but I have been baptized in. the River Jordan 1900 years ago, not like Christ but WITH Christ.
CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST
Christianity is Christ — not Christ and religious ordinances, but Christ instead of religious "doings." How thrillingly clear it is becoming to me that Christ lived His earthly life in the midst of ordinances and law-keeping in His own supernaturally conceived body of sinless flesh; and that while living in that body "born of a woman, made under the law," He was fulfilling "all righteousness" as He said concerning His being baptized with water (Matt. 3:14-15; 5:17-18). Thus it was that when he had gone through this last act of ordinance law-keeping (water baptism), "Lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." May we not reverently say that "the son of man, born of a woman, made under the law" had graduated from the severe school of Judaism — God-given religion — and that the Heavenly Schoolmaster conferred upon Him there at the River Jordan the title of "Jehovah-Tsidkenu," (the Lord our Righteousness)? No, He didn't get the "sheepskin," but He was acknowledged to be "The Lamb without spot or blemish" — "The Lamb of God" who was soon to be slain that we might get His righteous garments to cover our sin and spiritual nakedness. Should we not read with weeping eyes that God "hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him"? In other words, Christ lived a righteous life for us and then gave it to us after God had given our sins to Him.
"Upon a life I did not live, Upon a death I did not die; Another's life, another's death, I stake my whole eternity."
"For me to live is Christ."
CHRISTIANITY IS THE "RE-INCARNATION OF CHRIST"
Christ lived for thirty-odd years in a specially prepared body (Heb. 10:5) and fulfilled all religious ordinances and legal tests for us; so that when He ascended to the Father's throne to sit there "until His enemies be made his footstool," He sent the Holy Spirit back down here to incarnate His Risen life in the bodies of all saved people, who should say with Paul, "I live... yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Gal. 2:20. This glorious "re-incarnation" of Christ is still a "mystery" to most professing Christians, in spite of the fact that Paul wrote in 64 A.D. that "God would make known what is the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory whom we preach (show forth)." Col. 1:24-28. In other words, I believe that Christ lived a little over thirty years on earth in His body of perfect flesh and perfectly kept and fulfilled all fleshly tests and ordinances, and that as far as earth is concerned, He is now living His risen life in and through the members of His body, the church. Note well that it is the Risen Christ that is living in and through us today. We are not to take Him back to the manger bed, or to the Jewish temple for circumcision again, or to the River Jordan to be baptized again, or to Calvary to die again. All of that, He perfectly accomplished for us—once for all, thank God! It is because of this fact that the Christians' citizenship is in heaven, and we are to worship God in the Spirit, having no confidence in the flesh. Phil. 3:3. While on earth, we are strangers with no earthly temple or fleshly forms in our worship.
Incidentally, let me give you three verses that will lead you "three days journey," as it were, from the Egyptian doctrine of water regeneration. Here they are: Matt. 3:15; Rom. 10:4; Tit. 3:5.
JOHN PRACTICED ONE BAPTISM BUT PREACHED ANOTHER
3. The baptism with (or in, or by) the Holy Spirit superseded all water baptisms. How any honest Christian can fail to see this when he reads the seven contrasts given in the Bible is more than I can understand. These seven passages that contrast water baptism with Spirit are Matt. 3:11; Mk. 1:8; Luke 3:16; Jn. 1:31-33; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 19:3-6. Suffice it now for me to quote Acts 1:5 where we hear the Risen Christ say to His apostles: "John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence." Much hurtful confusion has resulted from the failure to distinguish between the baptism that John practiced and the baptism he preached. Let us read Mark 1:4: "John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." THUS HE PRACTICED A WATER BAPTISM BUT PROCLAIMED ANOTHER BAPTISM FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS. Now please don't stop your ears simply because you never heard this before. I shall prove my statements. Christ's baptismal death on the accursed tree is the "baptism for the remission of sins." And that is what John the Baptist preached as he said: "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."
In Romans 3:24-31, the Spirit of God makes it very plain that it is Christ's righteousness that God has set forth for a propitiation or sacrifice for our sins, and that this perfectly righteous work of Christ is what God has "set forth for the remission of sins." For "without the shedding of blood, there is no remission." Heb. 9:22. If we had only given more attention to Christ's Calvary baptism, we would have been spared so much Babylonish teaching about Christ's and His disciples' water baptism. In Luke 12:50, Matt. 20:22, and 1 Pet. 3:18-21, we have Christ's substitutionary death referred to as a baptism. Nineteen hundred years ago outside the walls of Jerusalem, the "billows of God's wrath went over His sinless soul." And, thank God, through the faith of the operation of God, I was crucified with Him, buried with Him, and raised with Him.
"THE OPERATION OF GOD" OR SPIRIT BAPTISM
Let all the "Bullingerites" listen carefully as I make the next statement: When I heard the gospel of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 15:11), I repented, not of having rejected the Jewish Messiah, but I repented toward God, believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and was baptized for the remission of my sins, and instantly received the gift of the Holy Spirit. "For with one Spirit are (or have) we all been baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." 1 Cor. 12:13. This is undoubtedly the baptism or the operation of God by which the believing sinner is crucified with Christ, buried, and raised with Christ, because it was through the Eternal Spirit that Christ offered Himself without spot to God, and it was through the Spirit that Christ was quickened, we are told in 1 Pet. 3:19. Those who say that the Holy Spirit baptism was once for all at Pentecost ignore both Acts 15:11 and 1 Cor. 12:12-13 with these clear statements I have just made concerning the operation of. God that identifies us with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection.
THE ASCENDED LORD'S COMMISSIONS FOR THE CHURCH
4. The fourth reason why I know water baptism is not for the church dispensation is that there is no command for a Christian or for a sinner to be baptized with or in water. The Apostle Paul tells us repeatedly that he is "the apostle to the Gentiles." Rom. 11:13; Gal. 2:2,8; Eph. 3:8; Col. 1:25-28; 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11. Until we see that God gave Paul this distinct ministry, different from that of Peter, James, and John who were ministers of the circumcision (Gal. 2:1-9), we cannot understand Paul's statement: "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." 1 Cor. 1 : 17. In other words, water baptism was not included in "the revelations" Paul received when he was "caught up into the third heavens." 2 Cor. 12:1-7. Nor did Paul commission Timothy and Titus to baptize with water. If Timothy and Titus had a "Great Commission," it was not the commission Christ gave to His eleven Jewish apostles while He was yet on earth "speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God . . . the kingdom (to be) restored to Israel . . ." Acts 1:3-7; Matt. 28:16-20; Mk. 16:15-18; Rom. 15:8.
If "the traditions of men" have made "the word of God of none effect" in your mind and heart, you probably will pay no attention to the clear and important differences in the commissions Christ gave while He was on earth offering Himself as "the King of the Jews" and the commissions He gave after He ascended to the glory and sat down on the right hand of His `Father's throne to await a future return to earth to prove that He was the "King of the Jews." His earthly commissions had to do with the Jewish Apostles discipling "all nations" by preaching the gospel" of the kingdom—which gospel preaching is accompanied by physical signs and miracles, while the commissions given .from heaven are concerning the taking out of the kingdoms of this world "a people for His name " Acts 15:14-18; 2 Cor. 5:16-17; Col. 2:6-17.
Under the so-called "Great Commission" of Matt. 28:19-20, the kingdom gospel preachers are to go out with all authority and power, and disciple "all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you," but in this unforeseen age that was dropped down from heaven into the midst of the age ("world") referred to in Matt. 28:20, instead of the nations being discipled (converted), merely a few saved ones are "taken out from the nations" and are expressly told not to observe all things whatsoever the Jewish Messiah had already commanded to be observed by the nations when they should become discipled.
How can anyone but a prejudiced soul fail to see the radical difference between the commands of "the Great Commission," Matt. 28:20, and the command for saved Gentiles in this church dispensation? Acts 15:2829. I plead with you to quietly read these two passages, side by side, again and again: Matt. 28:20; Acts 15:2829. Is it not plain that if those Gentiles were converted under the commission in Matt. 28:18-20, there would never have been a need for such a conference as that one held in Jerusalem? Acts 15:13-30. Indeed, there would have been no need for giving Peter that new vision concerning the fact that God no longer considered the Gentiles "unclean" as nations.
Now the question comes as to why Peter "commanded them to be baptized with water." Acts 10:47-48. The simple, biblical answer is that the apostles had not yet heard from heaven on the matter. And they did not hear till the conference at Jerusalem, recorded five chapters later. (Acts 15) And what physical ordinances did the Holy Spirit give at this conference for Gentile converts to practice? Exactly four things, but they were all "don'ts," and not one was "do." How any honest Christian can squeeze water baptism and a physical communion supper into Acts 15:28-29 is a mystery. (Is it a part of "the mystery of iniquity"? 2 Thes. 2:7. I know it is "a little leaven"—that Judaizing influence that has about "leavened the whole lump" of our present-day Christendom.")
"But," you say, "did not Paul, the Gentile apostle, praise the Corinthians for keeping the ordinances that he, himself, had delivered to them?" 1 Cor. 11:2. Yes, thank God, he did. But what were those ordinances? They could have been nothing but those ordinances, or "decrees" that the Spirit of God gave to the apostles assembled at Jerusalem. Acts 15. And that is exactly what Paul says in Acts 16:4-5. Paul went to all the Gentile assemblies delivering the decrees, or ordinances, which commanded them to observe none of "the meats or drinks or divers washings (baptisms) and fleshly ordinances" that were all Jewish, as was circumcision. Heb. 9:8-16; Acts 15:23-29.
How amazing it is, therefore, for Bible teachers, who profess to have honestly studied the subject, to say that Paul was praising the Gentile converts at Corinth for keeping physical ordinances, water baptism and a physical communion, when he had delivered them the Spirit-indicted command to "observe only these necessary things" all four of which things were "don'ts's." Acts 15:29.
The Jewish converts throughout the book of Acts period not only observed water baptism, but circumcision and the whole temple and law program of religion. As many able Bible teachers have observed, the book of Acts is not a book of church doctrine, but rather the history of the change from Judaism to pure Christianity. The late J. N. Darby and Sir Robert Anderson who are spoken of as "Plymouth Brethren" saw clearly that God held out the kingdom offer to the Jews all through the Acts period and, therefore, never explained to even the Christian Jews that their entire temple program of religion was to give way to unmixed grace and spiritual worship. Not until the writing of the letter to the Hebrews, therefore, did Jewish Christians know that Christ had fulfilled all of "the meats and drinks and different baptisms and fleshly ordinances." Acts 21:18-26 and 1 Cor. 9:19-21 clearly show us that converted Jews continued their physical religious ordinances, while Christian Gentiles "observed no such thing." But after Paul was led to explain the believer's position "in Christ," he commands us to no longer "know (any) man after the flesh . . ." for ". . . if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away and behold all things are become new." 2 Cor. 5:16-17; Rom. 8:1-4; Col. 2:6-17.
Those who think the baptism spoken of in Acts 2:38 is water are very seriously wresting the Scriptures. "Repent and be baptized . . . in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Here we have the two aspects of the Lord's Spirit baptism just as we have in 1 or. 12:13. It is with or in the Holy Spirit that the repentant believer is baptized into Christ (the name of Jesus Christ). That baptism (no water) unites all Christians into the "one body." But this corporate action of the Spirit is not all, for each believer in the Lord Jesus Christ receives the Holy Spirit, or drinks into one Spirit.
Remember well that it is Christ's perfect righteousness sacrificed for us on Calvary as the propitiation for us that God has set forth for the remission of sins. Rom. 3:25, 25. And "without the shedding of blood there is no remission." Heb. 9:22. As we saw in the fore part of this study, John the Baptist practiced water baptism but preached another baptism, the baptism for the remission of sins. Mk. 1:4. If John's water baptism had been for the remission of sins, Christ would not have needed to shed His blood for the remission of sins, for "where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin." Heb. 10:17,18. The Ultra-dispensationalists agree with the Mormons, Romanists, Campbellites, and other sects that water is necessary for salvation according to Acts 2:38; but later, 2 Tim. 2:15 enables them to do away with such a mixture of law and grace. My friends, there never was any such mixture for salvation from sin. (Acts 15:11) Christ in His pure grace on the basis of His precious shed blood is the only Saviour. Obeying this blessed gospel of grace does not mean that we do anything in our flesh. It was Christ's perfect law-obedience and then His "obedience unto death" that saves believing sinners. By One Man's obedience are many made righteous. Rom. 5:19. Thus it is that the gospel of Christ is the good news as to what Christ did for me and not what I'm to do for Him in order to be saved. The word "obey" simply means "hear submissively." Therefore, to "obey the gospel" means to submissively hear the good news that Christ took your place and perfectly finished the work of salvation so that "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. 6:23.
ONE BAPTISM—NOT TWO
5. There is one baptism for the church dispensation. "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism." Eph. 4:1-5. "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27-28. In the seven things making the "unity of the Spirit," given us in Eph. 4, we are told by some people that six are spiritual, but the "one baptism" is physical. The "Plymouth Brethren," Presbyterians, Baptists, and Fundamentalists readily admit that the "one body" is the one true church of which all saved people are living members. They will admit that there is no "local church" mentioned in this "unity of the Spirit," but they contend that the way you get into the local church is "the one baptism." The one baptism of this sevenfold unity must be spiritual baptism, the baptism by which we are admitted into "the one body." The baptism of Col. 2:12 is the miraculous putting of the believer into Christ's death and the raising of him "through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Christ from the dead," not from the water.
We have already seen that this "operation of God" is the supernatural operation with or in the Spirit. It was through the eternal Spirit that Christ offered Himself without spot to God. Heb. 9:14. In the same Spirit, I am baptized with Christ into death. It was by the Spirit that Christ was quickened from the dead. 1 Pet. 3:18. And I am raised "with Him through the faith of the operation of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead." Thus it is that each believer in this age has been baptized by "the one baptism" that miraculously identifies him with Christ's death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. "For with one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." Just as Noah and his family were saved by water—the judgment water that the ark received for Noah, so was I saved by the baptismal judgment that my "Ark" received on Calvary for me and rose from the judgment death to justify me. Noah and his family did not get a drop of the judgment water, and I did not get a bit of the "billows of water" that went over the soul of my Ark, Christ, when He took my judgment baptism. 1 Pet. 3:18-21; Lk. 12:50.
My blessed Lord has turned all the ordinance water into spiritual wine, and by His grace, I shall never again be guilty of mixing this wine with water as those apostate Jews did. Isa. 1:22.
During the Acts period, as now, "all that believed were baptized." This is Spirit baptism. The three unmistakable instances of water baptism are mentioned in Acts 8:5-13; Acts 8:36-39; Acts 10:47,48. They all occurred before the conference at Jerusalem where it was spiritually decided that "the Gentiles observe no such thing." Acts 21:25. The disciples of John (Acts 19) were not re-baptized, I'm sure. They were baptized with the Spirit and received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Surely, no humble lover of our Blessed Lord can think this study detracts from His perfection and beauty. It does detract immeasurably from the authority and the importance of clergymen and elders who "bear rules by their means." See Jer. 5:30, 31.
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