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    CHAPTER 27. Baptism. - Its Relation to the Divine Law in the Work of True Conversion

    “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1.SYNPT 283.1

    This scripture has been applied to three things: 1. To a resurrection from dead works in being reclaimed from a backslidden state; 2. To the literal resurrection of the just at the second coming of Christ; 3. To being raised up out of the water in baptism.SYNPT 283.2

    We inquire, To which of the three do the words “risen with Christ” apply?SYNPT 283.3

    1. Not to the first; for Christ never had a resurrection from dead works. He was without sin. Mark this: Whatever this resurrection may be, Christ had one like it; for it is a resurrection with him.SYNPT 283.4

    1. Quote the text at the head of this chapter?
    2. What is the first thing to which it has been applied?
    3. The second?

    2. The text cannot refer to the physical resurrection of the just; for the seeking time is then in the past, and the saints themselves are above. The seeking of the heavenly treasure is before it is given, at the resurrection. We are then shut up to the position that -SYNPT 283.5

    3. The text does refer to water baptism. Here the follower of Christ has a resurrection with his Master. In death, Christ was laid in the grave, from which he arose by the power of God. So his followers are laid in the water in baptism, and are raised up out of the water.SYNPT 284.1

    But positive proof is found in chap. 2:12, that the disciple is raised with Christ in baptism: “Buried with him by baptism wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” Here notice:-SYNPT 284.2

    1. The text plainly states that in baptism we are buried and risen with Christ.SYNPT 284.3

    2. This is done in the faith that the Father raised his Son from the dead. In the morning of the first day of the week God operated in the resurrection of Jesus, and baptism is received in faith of it.SYNPT 284.4

    Again the apostle speaks to the point to the church at Rome: “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.” Romans 6:4.SYNPT 284.5

    The following points are worthy of notice:-SYNPT 284.6

    1. The disciple is buried in the water, and raised up out of the water in faith of the burial and resurrection of Christ, and in faith of the resurrection of the just at the coming of Christ.SYNPT 284.7

    4. The third?
    5. Why can it not refer to the first or second?
    6. To what does it refer?
    7. Where is positive proof of this found, and why?
    8. What is Paul’s testimony to the Romans on this subject?
    9. What points are worthy of notice here?
    10. What is the Bible standard of judgment on this matter?

    2. And as Christ entered upon a new life at his resurrection, so the new life of the Christian properly commences at baptism. And while many doubtless will be saved who have never been immersed, those who have the clear light upon these subject will be judged according to that light, and the manner in which they walk in that light. The Bible standard of truth and duty is the only safe one. Those who take up with an antiscriptural baptism and Sabbath because the founders of their churches, when just emerging from the darkness of Papal error, brought them into different branches of the Protestant churches, run fearful risks.SYNPT 284.8

    The apostle prescribes the form of baptism in the strongest terms. He not only uses the word “buried,” but in Romans 6:5 he uses even stronger language, if possible: “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” What should we think of the farmer who would sprinkle a few grains of sand on his seeds, and say that he had buried them? But planting seems a strange figure.SYNPT 285.1

    11. In what language does the apostle set forth the form of baptism?
    12. How is this illustrated in the work of the husbandman?
    13. What is the force of words, “likeness of Christ’s death?”
    14. Why cannot the candidate be plunged into the water face foremost?

    But let it be particularly noticed that the very manner or likeness of burial in baptism is distinctly stated. It is to be done in the likeness of Christ’s death. The reader will please go with us to Joseph’s new sepulcher, and see the dear Saviour laying there upon his back as we lay out the dead. The very position in the water is to be in imitation of Christ’s in death. Can this be done by sprinkling a few drops of water into a babe’s face? - Answer: “Planted in the likeness of his death.” Can it be accomplished by pouring a gill of water on the head of the candidate to run down the clothing? Is there the least resemblance in this dabbling in water to the position of Christ in the tomb? A complete refutation of this error is found in the words used by the apostle, “buried” - “planted.”SYNPT 285.2

    Will it not do quite as well to plunge the candidate into the water face foremost, as the Dunkards do? We inquire, Did the friends of Jesus place their dear Lord in the sepulcher upon his face? The thought is revolting. Again we reply in the words of Paul: “Planted in the likeness of his death.”SYNPT 286.1

    Three events in the history of the first advent of Christ represent three steps in leaving a life of sin, and reaching that of obedience. These are (1.) his crucifixion, (2.) his burial, and (3.) his resurrection. The sinner is first crucified with Christ. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed.” Romans 6:6. This crucifixion represents true conviction of sin. It is spoken of in the same epistle under the figure of death. “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law. For I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law, sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Chap. 7:7-9. Please notice: -SYNPT 286.2

    15. What three events in the history of the first advent represent three steps in the sinner’s conversion?
    16. What is the instrument by which the sinner is slain?
    17. What does Paul mean by the word “law?”

    1. The instrument by which the sinner is crucified, is slain, truly convicted, is the moral code.SYNPT 286.3

    2. That Paul means the ten commandments in the use of the word law is evident from the fact that he refers to the tenth precept of that code as especially instrumental in his case.SYNPT 287.1

    3. The word alive does not refer to natural life, but to a careless state of the mind, when without a true sense of the holiness of God’s law. Neither does death refer to the cessation of natural life, but to true conviction of sins by the light of the sacred law.SYNPT 287.2

    The second step in conversion is burial with Christ by baptism. “Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death.” Romans 6:4. Here the burial of Christ, or his position in the sepulcher, represents the true mode of baptism.SYNPT 287.3

    The third step in conversion is a resurrection with Christ from a watery grave. “If ye then be risen with Christ.” Colossians 3:1.SYNPT 287.4

    18. What does he mean by the words. “alive,” and “death?”
    19. What is the second step in conversion? Reference.
    20. What is the third step? Reference.
    21. What is shown by these scriptures?
    22. What does the apostle give in this connection?

    We now see the relation which baptism sustains to the law of God in Scriptural conversion. With correct views of the mode of baptism, and what is meant by law, all is plain. The apostle is giving in this connection his own experience, hence those who seek apostolic religion should mark well the means employed in his case. The moral code is the great mirror into which he looked and saw the imperfections of his moral character. This prepared the way for him to come to Christ for pardon and justification through his precious blood. This epistle to the Romans was written in the year 60, about thirty years after the handwriting of ordinances was nailed to the cross. Paul’s conversion occurred several years after the abolition of the Jewish system of worship.SYNPT 287.5

    The apostle James illustrates the use of the royal law by a looking-glass: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.: Chap. 1:22-25.SYNPT 288.1

    24. What is the first work of the gospel minister in laboring for the conversion of sinners?
    25. Why is it that so many who profess religion are not converted?
    26. What results from intelligent conviction produced by the law?

    The first great work, then, of the gospel minister, as he labors for the conversion of sinners, is to hold before them the law, that looking therein as into a mirror, they may see what sin is, and know its exceeding sinfulness. The reason why many who profess religion were never converted is because they were not convicted, and the reason why they did not have genuine conviction is because they have never seen the corruptions of the heart in God’s mirror, the ten commandments. A popular gospel keeps that from the people, and moves upon the sinner’s sympathies and fears, producing a conviction more nervous than intelligent. Such conviction does not result in a change of life, as required by the sacred Scriptures. Intelligent conviction produced by the claims of the law of God changes the mind, the heart, and the life. This change is illustrated in the text by the change from life to death. A man walks to-day in the strength of manhood, tomorrow he is a corpse. What a change! Yet inspiration has chosen it to illustrate the first great work in true conversion.SYNPT 288.2

    Thus far we have followed the apostle in his experience, and have learned from him the character and use of the law of God in the present dispensation. He saw its excellence, its holiness, its justice and goodness, and felt its searching, slaying power, and says, “I died.” But he does not leave us here. Burial follows death.SYNPT 289.1

    But what is the pre-requisite, or scriptural preparation for the ordinance of baptism? When viewed in the light of a burial, or funeral, the answer is at hand. Before burying our dead, we must feel assured that they are really dead. So, before burial with Christ by baptism, we should know that the candidate has experienced that conviction that may be represented by death, that he has been crucified with Christ. The thought of being buried alive is terrible. And it should be no less so to the thorough Christian to think of being buried in baptism while using tobacco, or wearing jewelry and other outward ornaments forbidden in the world of God. But to lay these aside for the occasion effects no real change in the candidate. When the sinner really dies to sin, these drop off never to return.SYNPT 289.2

    27. By what is this change illustrated?
    28. What is the pre-requisite of baptism?
    29. What will give evidence of this scriptural death?
    30. Should the candidate wait for joyful emotions before baptism?

    But would you not have the candidate wait until he has experienced the love of God, and comes out shouting happy before receiving baptism? - Not unless there is some precept or example of the kind in the New Testament. There is nothing joyful in the burial of our dead friends. Joyful feelings are no Scriptural evidence of preparation for baptism. Brokenness of spirit, with tears, confessions, and mourning on account of sins, and feelings of unworthiness, would be better evidence of preparation of mind and heart for that ordinance. The New Testament furnishes evidence that the truly convicted person should not wait a single hour. In fact, every instance of baptism furnishes evidence that the truly convicted soul should not wait.SYNPT 289.3

    31. What would rather be suggested by the illustration of burial?
    32. What evidence does the New Testament furnish?
    33. What were the great features of Saul’s conversion?
    34. How long did he wait before baptism?

    We first cite the case of Saul. No one questions his conversion. The work was accomplished in him by the word and Spirit of God. We have see what the moral code did for him. And if it be thought necessary that the Holy Spirit act a part in conviction and conversion, then we cite Saul’s experience as he was on his way to Damascus to persecute the saints. Most certainly the Spirit of God will work in harmony with the law of God. The Lord, who appeared to Saul in the way, sent him to Ananias to be instructed more fully. Jesus might have shown Saul his whole duty, and thus set aside all human instrumentality, but he chose to honor the instrumentalities he had placed in the church. This great man must sit at the feet of Ananias, and there learn his first duty. By the hand of Ananias, Saul first received his sight. “And now,” say Ananias, “why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized.” Acts 22:16. Thus baptism came next, and there was no occasion for waiting. In this remarkable conversion of a great man, baptism followed immediately after conviction of sin.SYNPT 290.1

    The case of the jailer in another instance showing that baptism closely followed conviction. Acts 16:25-33. The case of the eunuch is also to the point. Acts 8:26-40.SYNPT 291.1

    The question especially under consideration is that baptism immediately follows true conviction of sin. Did Philip tell the eunuch that he would better wait three or six months, and that at some more convenient season they could have a large gathering, at which time the ordinance could be administered before the crowds? The record does not mention any such delays. No; the coachman is commanded to halt right there, and then and there “they went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more, and he went on his way rejoicing.” Acts 8:26-40. Here, again, rejoicing does not go before, but follows baptism.SYNPT 291.2

    Still the comforts of the Holy Spirit are in many instances experienced before being baptized; but when the subject is presented in the true light, and the several steps in leaving a life of sin for one of obedience and holiness are taken in rapid succession, according to the examples given in the the New Testament, the rejoicing in hope will be after baptism. The descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove upon Christ after his baptism greatly strengthens this position.SYNPT 291.3

    35. What is shown by the case of the jailer?
    36. What is the next case in point?
    37. What is the point to be especially noticed here?
    38. What bearing has the baptism of Christ upon this part of the subject?
    39. What relation then, has baptism to conversion?
    40. What use is sometimes made of 1 Peter 1:23?

    Baptism is thus closely related to conversion. InSYNPT 291.4

    41. What may be said about the conscience in these cases?
    42. What is the standard given to which we are to bring our consciences?
    43. What is taught by some classes?

    fact, it seems to be a part of conversion. It is the outward act by which believers show their faith in Christ. But while some have removed baptism from this close relation to conversion, and regard the ordinance of little importance, others regard it as the act by which sins are remitted. Those who regard baptism as of little importance, sometimes cite 1 Peter 3:21, as sustaining their lax position: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” “I was sprinkled,” says one, “and that answered my conscience.” “And my conscience was answered by being poured,” says another. This may all be true; but are our friends, who differ with us on baptism, sure that they have a good conscience on this subject? Peter says: “But the answer of a good conscience.” Pagans and papists may be very conscientious, and their blinded consciences not be good. Protestants may be in a like condition on some points. But it is a fact of much interest that the apostle, in the last clause of the passage, raises a standard to which we may bring our consciences, and know that they are right. It is this - “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” On the other hand, some evidently overlook the necessary work to be wrought upon the mind and heart before baptism. They do not see the use of the divine law, that it must slay the sinner, that he be dead before he is buried, hence it is to be feared that some, at least, are buried alive! Some teach that Christ is put on in the simple act of baptism, which teaching has a strong tendency to set aside not only the work of the law of God in conversion, but that also of the Holy Spirit.SYNPT 292.1

    But Galatians 3:27 may be urged: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” It should here be noticed that the text does not say that the Galatian brethren had put on Christ in the sole act of baptism. They had put on Christ by faith, baptism being the corresponding work, an act by which they manifested their faith in Christ.SYNPT 293.1

    It is also asserted that baptism is for the remission of sins. Very true; but there are also other means for the remissions of sins. Christ’s blood was shed for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:28. Christ was to give knowledge of salvation unto the people for the remission of their sins. Luke 1:77. It became Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, that repentance and remission of sins might be preached in his name. Chap. 24:46, 47. Repentance and baptism are for the remission of sins. Acts 2:38. Faith is for the remission of sins. “Whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Chap. 10:43; also Romans 3:25. In the arrangement for the remission of sins, baptism holds its place in the divine whole.SYNPT 293.2

    44. What is shown by Galatians 3:27?
    45. What may be said on the declaration that baptism is for the remission of sin?
    46. How does the sinner obtain a knowledge of his sins?

    In the investigation of the subject of scriptural conversion thus far, we see that it is by the divine law that the sinner obtains a knowledge of his sins. He cannot understandingly repent of his sins until he sees them; therefore the gospel minister, who labors to convert the sinner, is under the most solemn obligation to hold before him God’s great mirror. His first work is to show the character, perpetuity, and claims of the moral code.SYNPT 293.3

    The sinner sees the holiness and justness of the divine law, that he is exposed to the wrath of God, and feels its slaying power. He yields to the requirements of all its precepts, and is dead. The gospel then points him to Jesus. He hears the story of the cross, the burial in Joseph’s sepulcher, the glory of the resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus to the Father’s right hand, where he ever lives to intercede for poor sinners. He raises his head, and ventures to believe that Jesus will pity and save him. And as he believes, let him immediately show his faith in the burial and resurrection of Christ by being baptized.SYNPT 294.1

    He has now put off the “old man,” and has put on the “new man.” The Christian warfare and race is begun. He has now the faith of the gospel, and the exhortation of Peter is especially applicable: “Giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8.SYNPT 294.2

    47. What view does this give him of the law?
    48. To what does the gospel then point him?
    49. What does the sinner then do?
    50. Who then is our lawgiver?
    51. What office does Jesus Christ perform?

    In the present dispensation, God the Father is our lawgiver, and Christ is our advocate. And before sinners can be benefited by the mediation of Christ, they must manifest repentance toward the Lawgiver for the transgression of his holy law. With this the words of the beloved disciple agree: “Sins is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Chap. 2:1.SYNPT 294.3

    But if Christ is our lawgiver, as some teach, who is our advocate? We have none. But as Jesus Christ is the sinner’s advocate with the Father in this dispensation, it follows that the Father’s law of ten commandments is in full force.SYNPT 295.1

    “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31. Faith in Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for sin, and now an advocate with the Father for our sins - “transgression of the law” - is the strongest proof of the perpetuity of the law of ten commandments.SYNPT 295.2

    Hence the closing testimony of the third angel: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. Also, the dragon is to make war with the remnant, the Christians in the closing generations of time, “which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Chap. 12:17.SYNPT 295.3

    These are Christian commandment-keepers. Their observance of the Sabbath of the fourth commandments stirs the ire of the dragon host.SYNPT 295.4

    But those who endure his wrath, and stand faithful in the closing conflict, will soon receive the great reward promised by Him who says (Revelation 22), “Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me.”SYNPT 295.5

    52. If Christ is our lawgiver, who is our advocate?
    53. What do these facts show respecting the perpetuity of the law?
    54. What is the closing testimony of the third message?
    55. What are the characteristics of the remnant, of Revelation 12:17?
    56. What is the promise of the Christ in Revelation 22:14?

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