February 1, 1904
Republished from The St. Paul Enterprise, February 13, 1917


"The Oathbound Covenant" was the subject of Pastor Russell's address in Belaire, O., yesterday afternoon, and in the evening he took for his subject, "What Think ye of Christ?" The audiences at both places were large and attentive. For his text in the evening Pastor Russell took the words of the apostle, speaking for the truly consecrated church of Christ, found in 1 Pet. 2:7: "To you who believe He is precious."

Pastor Russell spoke as follows: Many would have us think that it makes no difference what we believe respecting our Lord Jesus Christ or other subjects; that the important question is: "How do we live?" We yield to no one in the importance to be attached to holy living, yet we fully concur with our text and the entire Scriptures when we affirm that what a man believes has much to do with his conduct in life, and still more to do with his acceptance by the heavenly Father.


The matter of faith and works, and which is more important, is thoroughly discussed in the Scriptures, and faith is given the place of primary importance and with evident propriety. The Apostle Paul sets forth most distinctly that a man is justified by faith and not by works that if judgment of the Almighty were according to works none of us could be justified because none of us could possibly do perfect works. "There is none righteous, no, not one; all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

The fall has brought imperfection to every member of Adam's race – has affected each one mentally, morally and physically; so that, as the apostle again declares, we cannot do the things that we would, and if God should mark iniquity against us – should judge us along the line of works – none could stand the judgment or test; all would be condemned again – to the second death.


The Scriptural proposition set before us is that our Lord Jesus has paid for Adam and his race the demands of justice, and that in the present time all who accept of Him, become His disciples, shall be judged not according to their works, but according to their faith, according to their hearts, according to their good intentions. Of this class the Apostle declares: "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:1)

That peace with God, that realization of forgiveness of sins and acceptance of Him, cannot come to us on the score of good works, but does come to the believer through faith in the Perfect One who died on our behalf, the 'just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God."

The Apostle James is supposed by many to contradict this declaration of the Apostle Paul; but not so. He says: "Show me thy faith without thy works, I will show thee my faith by my works." (Jas. 2:18)

He does not say I will show thee my works without my faith and that I am justified without faith. The thought he would inculcate is that faith, although it is the important thing, the basis of our justification before God, if it be not followed by fruitage of good works – resistance of sin and endeavors for righteousness – gives evidence that it is dead; just as a tree that fails to put forth leaves, buds, etc., in the springtime gives evidence that it is dead. The apostle's thought is that while faith is the important thing – that the Lord's judgment of us is according to our faith and not according to our works, nevertheless He will expect to find in us such works as we are capable of, and will assuredly judge that if there are no works of righteousness, no efforts manifested along the line of opposition to sin, then surely in such an one the new life, the spirit of the Lord, has ceased. Get the thought: We have good works, all of them that we could possibly produce; yet at their very most and very best they are imperfect and could never make us approved or justified in God's sight. But we can have faith in the Lord Jesus and in His sacrifice for the covering of sins, and our impure hearts can desire and aim for the things pleasing to the Lord, and can repudiate entirely everything displeasing to Him. And this new mind, this new will, can assuredly exercise a considerable degree of control over our mortal bodies. [NS40]


In the apostle's day the question of belief or disbelief in Christ was a very radical one – in some respects quite different from the same question today. This belief in the Lord Jesus included:

(1) That He was the Messiah, the long-promised King of Israel, who was to lift up that nation out of the dust and use it as the instrumentality and mouthpiece in making known the divine law to the world, and in uplifting the world of mankind from sin, degradation, etc., to harmony with God, and eventually to eternal life to those who would prove loyal and obedient.

(2) It meant also a belief that these blessings from Messiah had been postponed by reason of Israel's rejection of Him, and by reason of the divine intention to complete the elect Bride class, the "Royal Priesthood," with selections of holy ones from all the families of the earth.

(3) It meant the belief that when this work of selecting the church would be accomplished, Messiah would come again in power and great glory to establish amongst men the kingdom of righteousness long promised – to fulfill the blessings of the great "Oath-bound Covenant," which we discussed this afternoon.

(4) It meant an acceptance of Jesus by all who would be his footstep followers in the present age and by consecration lay down their lives as joint-sacrifices with His in the prospect of being associated as joint-heirs with Him in the kingdom.

(5) It meant still further an appreciation of why our Lord Jesus died; that it was necessary that He should die, and thus pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world before He could bless, either the church or the world. Each of these propositions had opponents.

Both Jews and Gentiles rejected the thought that Jesus was a king, and that he would ever exalt Israel and use that people as the instrument in blessing other nations. Both Jews and Gentiles also rejected the thought that faith in his blood was necessary to acceptance with God – that mankind are by nature sinners, aliens, strangers, foreigners and enemies through wicked works. They could apply such thoughts to some extent to the very degraded, but as for the philosophers and the upper classes, including the Scribes and Pharisees, the thought of their own unworthiness before God was repugnant. Were they not the teachers of the common people, and therefore better certainly than the general herd? And what grander blessing could come to the common people than to lift them up to the intelligence, dignity, etc., of these teachers? The apostle expresses this thought, saying: "Christ is to the Jew a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness." 1 Cor. 1:23


The Jews, having been under the tutelage of the Law Covenant for centuries, had clearer conceptions of sin and of divine justice than had the remainder of the world, even the Greek philosophers. They recognized sin, especially in its grosser forms, as illustrated by the publicans and sinners; but themselves affected a holiness to God, made long prayers to be heard of men, did their alms in public to be seen of men, and in general gloried in their outward appearance of generosity and righteousness and reverence. They had the form of godliness but not its power; they had the outward works but not the inward faith and obedience to principle. Our Lord explained this, saying that they made clean the outside of the cup, while within it was corrupt. He intimated most clearly that in God's sight the judgment would be reversed – that the poor publican, at heart contrite, though outwardly less reverential and holy, was nearer to the Lord than the one who outwardly was holy but inwardly was boastful and recognized not his defects. No wonder, then, that when our Lord's ministry and that of the apostles under the power of the Holy Spirit on and after Pentecost had gathered out of the Jewish nation all the Israelites indeed in whom there was no guile – no wonder that the remnant stumbled over Christ and His teachings, which reproved them, and which reproof they were not humble enough to hear and to receive. They stumbled, they fell from divine favor to disfavor, with its appropriate chastisements. They stumbled over that stumbling stone – Christ, the Saviour from sin.


We can see likewise how our Lord Jesus with his message of forgiveness was "to the Greek foolishness."

The Greeks were philosophers who, under the lead of Plato, Socrates and others, had developed certain theories respecting man-theories which very closely correspond to the "evolution" of the present time. They seem to have held to the natural development of man, and looked forward in a philosophical manner to a future, assuming that the intellect of man and his superiority to the lower animals in some manner warranted, yea, guaranteed, the thought that he could not die; and that when death apparently set in the man was really more alive than ever before – that he had passed to a spirit world where he likewise would have opportunities for progression or evolution according to his obedience to principles of righteousness. To these philosophers the story of man's fall and of God's sentence upon him as a sinner, and that on this account death reigns in the world, and the only hope for man is by resurrection from the dead, and that the [NS41] only hope of a resurrection lay in the redemption accomplished by Jesus, and it was for this purpose that he had previously left the glories and honors of a spirit condition with the Father and had become a man, that he might pay the penalty which Justice held against mankind – by dying the just for the unjust. We can readily see that this simple story, which based everything upon Jesus and which tore their philosophies to shreds, would be difficult for the world-wise Greeks to accept. The Apostle having marshalled these facts before his readers, declares in the words of our text that while it is true that our Lord was thus rejected by the religious class, the Jews, and disdained by the philosophic class, nevertheless to those who believed, who saw in Jesus the fulfillment of the divine prophecies and promises, and who have come into heart relationship with him through faith and obedience, and who, believing, are trusting in the precious promises – "to you who thus believe He is precious."

You alone know, understand and appreciate the value of this Messiah – and you have this faith because you neither trust in your own schemes, theories and philosophies, as do the Greeks and worldly-wise, neither in your own self-righteousness.


It is noteworthy here that many Greeks were attracted to the early Christian church by reason of their recognition of the wisdom of some of our Lord's teachings. His Sermon on the Mount, for instance, his interpretation of the law, etc., appealed strongly to the philosophical minds of the Greeks. They said: "Here is a great teacher, and here is an intelligent class of people following his teachings, and by them being separated from the lower tendencies of their own natures. We can accept some of these teachings ourselves; we can benefit by them; we can fraternize in many respects with these Christians. Only they carry the matter too far in claiming that their great Teacher, Jesus, redeemed them by His death and made them acceptable to God. If we could only get them to renounce this feature of their teachings, they would be a very valuable acquisition to our numbers, for there is a great deal of philosophy in the teachings of their great Leader – barring this peculiarity that He taught that He gave his life to save them from the penalty of sin. Get this out of His teachings, and get out also His declaration that He would come again and establish a kingdom under the whole heavens, and we Greeks could well unite with these Christians, and might well be proud of them."

And so it was that the movement which began five days before our Lord's death, when certain Greeks made a visit to Jesus (John 12:20), continued; and for several centuries there was quite a commingling of the Greeks and of the Christians – to such an extent that Grecian philosophy engrafted many of its tenets upon Christian doctrines, so that as early as the third century we find these Grecian philosophies prevalent, and today they may be said to predominate in the Christian church. The Christians of today who are not more or less tinctured with these Grecian philosophies are few and rare. The number who still hold with the early church to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles as we have already referred to them – accepting Him as the coming king, and accepting His death as the atonement price for our sins – these are still as they were in our Lord's day, in comparison to the world at large, and in comparison to Churchianity at large, but a "little flock."


The apostle as well as the prophets frequently referred to the Lord Jesus as "a stone of stumbling," and all the indications are that the vast majority of those who come into contact with our Lord and His teachings stumble over them. Thus Peter states the matter in the context: "Unto you which believe, He is precious, but for such as disbelieve, the stone of stumbling and a rock of offense; for they stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye should show forth the excellency of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." – Verses 7-9 The statement that those who stumbled were "appointed" or predestinated to stumble must seem a hard saying to those who have misunderstood the divine plan, and who suppose that all these who stumble over Christ fall into eternal torment. To consider that God had so arranged his plan that they would thus stumble, and had appointed them to such a stumbling, would be inconsistent with divine justice as well as love. But when we get a right view of the matter, all is clear. We see that this call appertains to the call of the elect church to be the royal priesthood; that those who are called and who are of the right condition of heart to compose the elect – bride of Christ, and to be His joint-heirs in the kingdom, and as a royal priesthood to be the associates of the great high priest in His work of the millennial age in blessing all the families of the earth – then all is plain. We see that those who stumble are in no sense threatened with an eternity of torture, nor will many of them even stumble into the second death. Their loss, however [NS42] will be a serious one, for they will lose all the exceeding great and precious things which God hath in reservation for the church.


It was entirely proper that God should predestinate that none should be members of the glorious bride and joint-heirs unless they in the present life attain a character-likeness of His dear son. The apostle thus expresses the matter clearly in Rom. 8:29, saying, "Those whom He foreknew He also predestinated to be copies of the likeness of His son – for Him to be a firstborn among many brethren."

In thus predestinating or predetermining that none could be associated with Christ in the kingdom except they manifested a likeness to Him while on trial in the present life, the Lord was equally predestinating that those who would not copy the Lord's character in the present life should be rejected, and that their rejection would be indicated by their stumbling into error, by which they would be separated and marked as different from the faithful "little flock" who shall inherit the kingdom. Those who are faithful in heart will be guided in respect to their knowledge of the Lord, that they may not walk in darkness, but, as the apostle declares, may be able to show forth the excellencies of Him who hath called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. The very clear intimation is that only these will be thus guided of the Lord in their understanding of the truth, and that others will, on the contrary, be in darkness on every subject, and will stumble about in uncertainty accordingly. We call attention to another scripture which speaks of this rock of offense, and of those who are stumbling over it. The Prophet Isaiah says (Isa. 8:12-16), "He shall be for a sanctuary (a place of safety – to a class already described); but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel."

The context shows that the Lord through the prophet is speaking particularly of spiritual Israel, living in the close of this gospel age. He describes the present tendency to denominational union, saying that the Lord's faithful people should not join in such confederacies which ignore the truth for an outward apparent union; and that His people should not share in the fears that are harassing churchianity – fear lest their denominational lines and numbers be broken; but should fear the Lord and should sanctify Him in their hearts – not giving His place to sectarianism and reverencing it.


It is to this class that in this harvest time the Lord will be a "sanctuary" as the Prophet David expresses it, describing again our day and the trials that are coming upon all who have named the name of Christ. He says, "He that is in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" – under divine protection and care. No evil can befall him there, but on the contrary he shall be blessed. For the others who do not sanctify the Lord in their hearts, but instead are reverencing men and human institutions and creeds of the dark ages, and who for the fear of disrupting these will be calling for and striving for organization, union, confederacy – of these the Lord declares that they will stumble, and that Christ will be the stumbling stone over which they will fall and wreck their faith. The Lord then called the attention of the prophet to the fact that this stumbling at the present time of spiritual Israel, at the end of this gospel age, is the parallel or antitype of the stumbling of fleshly Israel in the end of the Jewish age. "He shall be for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel."

Some will perhaps say, we see readily enough how fleshly Israel stumbled in their harvest time, because they rejected Jesus as their Savior and "Knew not the time of their visitation" (recognized not the opportunities and privileges that were theirs). But how shall we understand Christendom of today, nominal spiritual Israel, to be stumbling over Christ as a stone of stumbling and rock of offense? Does it not, on the contrary, appear that with Bibles in the hands of Christian people everywhere – and practically the whole civilized world, church attendants – does it not seem that it would be impossible for us to even think of Christendom stumbling today? – over Christ as a stumbling-stone and rock of offense?


We answer, that this is the tenor of the scriptural records throughout; for instance note again Psalm 91. Note the fact that it was from this psalm that Satan quoted to our Lord the words, "He shall give His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways. That they may bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone."

Our Lord rejected Satan's literal application of this to His literal feet; but how clear is the application to the symbolical feet of Christ? This figure of the body of Christ is a prominent one throughout the Scriptures – Christ the head, and the church His body. The Church as such as the bride or body of Christ has been in process of development for over eighteen centuries. The apostles and primitive church may be recognized as the shoulders, arms and hands, through which the whole body has been blessed and cared for; and the other members of the body represent the truly consecrated of the Lord from the [NS43] time of the apostles down to the present time; while, if we are correct in understanding that we are living in the end or close of the Gospel Age, and dawning of the millennium, we ourselves would naturally and properly represent the "feet" members of the body of Christ. We are to recognize that from the days of the apostles to the present time there has been a nominal body of Christ as well as a true body of Christ; and so today there are nominal feet members and true feet members. The verse under consideration points us to the feet class of the end of this age and assures us that the true feet will not stumble over the stone of stumbling. The intimation is that all except the true feet members will stumble here. The preceding verse shows us the proportions of those who will stumble to those who will not stumble, saying, "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Because thou hast made the Lord, even the Most High, thy habitation." (Psa. 91:7, 9.) Those who stumble will evidently not have the Lord for a sanctuary. As a matter of fact we note that a great many today who name the name of Christ and are prominent in Christian work are more interested in their sect and its prosperity than they are interested in the Lord and the great plan which He is outworking – more interested in the members of their sect and their prosperity (even though these do not give evidence of sanctification of spirit) than they are interested in the Lord's faithful ones outside their own sectarian fences.


This scripture not only intimates the enormous numbers of churchianity that will fall in comparison with the few true members of the Lord's body who will not fall, and intimates over what they will stumble – namely, the stone of stumbling, the rock of offence, Christ – but additionally it shows that the special power of God will be manifested on behalf of His faithful ones to prevent them from stumbling – otherwise they would fall with the others. This power of God in this symbolical language of the psalm is called "His angels" – His ministers, to who He is said to give a "charge," a message concerning the "Feet," by which they shall hold them up, protect them from stumbling, etc. These ministers are even now at work in the world. Since 1875 they have been bearing up the feet class – bringing assistance to all those who are truly the Lord's people. They have a message from the Lord – not a new revelation, but an unfolding of the original message given through our Lord and the apostles. Our Lord Himself is the chief servant or minister in connection with this helping of the feet, and the apostles also lend a hand; for are not all the truths which are now assisting the Lord's people to stand the "good tidings" through the Lord and the apostles? Our Lord indeed prophesied that in the end of this age He would gird Himself as a servant and come forth and serve the household of faith the "feet" members of His own "body." (Luke 12:37)

He tells how He will bring forth from the storehouse of truth things new and old, sending them to the feet members at the hand of fellow servants, colaborers with Him. Indeed, each one receives this privilege to break again and distribute the nourishment that will give strength and ability to stand in what the apostle calls "this evil day." Eph. 6:13


We might multiply citations from the New Testament which point down to our day as a time of special trial and testing, in which (amongst professed believers), "every man's work shall be tried so as by fire," and when it will be necessary to "put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand in that evil day."

The apostle describes our day to Timothy, saying: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, through the hypocrisy of men who speak lies."

He again writes: "This know, also, that in the last days perilous times shall come, for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud revelers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderous, without self-control, fierce, not lovers of good, perverse, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof."

When addressing the church at Thessalonica (2 Thess. 2:10,12), the apostle again describes the serious times that shall prevail in the end of the age, refering particularly to Satan's power now to be manifested, "with all deceit of unrighteousness in them that perish (fall away from the truth), because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie that they all might be condemned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in injustice and untruth."

This falling away in the close of this age is referred to by our Lord in His message to the seven churches. Addressing the last phase of the church, Laodicea, representing the living nominal system, the Lord declares that while it feels rich and wise and great, it knows not that it is miserable and poor and naked and blind. It lives in the day of His knock, but the knock must be heard individually and responded to if the [NS44] Lord would come in and sup with the individual, in the sense of feeding him with the heavenly food and giving him strength for the trials and burnings of the day in which we are living. The great majority of Laodiceans, as is there intimated, will not hear the knock, will not know the time of their visitation, and will be "spewed out" of the Lord's mouth – rejected from being any longer His medium in communicating His message to the world. Rev. 3:14,18


Under another figure the Lord calls this Laodicean church Babylon – mother and daughters – a family name. He pictures her (Rev. 18:1-4) as a great city or religious system of many wards, and declares of the present time," Babylon is fallen, is fallen, come out of her my people, that ye may not be partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For in one day shall her plagues come – death and mourning, and famine, and she shall be utterly burned with fire – destroyed as a system. We are already in the day in which Babylon is falling (from divine favor), though the day of her severe plagues and punishments is still future. A little space remains in which the Lord's true people are to hear His voice, the "charge" or message which He gives to His "angels," His ministers, concerning the feet class – to bear them up, to sustain them, to hinder them from stumbling, falling, as the masses shall fall. Our Lord in His great prophecy of the end of the age again told of this falling, saying: "There shall arise false Christs (false systems claiming to be the body of Christ, the church) and false teachers, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray (from the Truth, from the faith), if possible, the very elect." Matt. 24:24 Our Lord's words just quoted show clearly where much of this trouble will arise. Sectarianism, which has grown in wonderful proportions, has become fortified and is Babylon. The vast majority of those who compose these systems are merely nominal – Christians of the kind mentioned by the apostle in the quotation already given. They have a form of godliness, but lack the power, the spirit of it; they love sectarianism though they love not the Truth; so that now, when in due time the Lord sends forth the Truth as meat in due season, it becomes a test, and distinguishes between the true and the imitation – between those who love the Truth and those who love popularity and churchianity. The Truth lovers will be drawn and attracted to the Truth as to a magnet, the others will proportionately not be attracted, and will feel an opposition to the Truth and more and more a sympathy for the error, the philosophies of men, etc. Thus the breach will grow wider and wider, and eventually we may expect only the very elect to be held by the Truth, which to them will be the power of God to uphold them, to keep them from stumbling.


In addition to these false systems, and apparently to some extent outside of them, will be false teachers. The Apostle Peter pays his compliments to these and locates them in the present time in no uncertain terms. He says: "As there were false prophets amongst the people (of Israel), so there shall be (future – in the end of the Gospel Age) false teachers amongst you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying that the Lord bought them, and shall bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the Truth shall be evil spoken of." (2 Pet. 2:1,2)

Here again we have the false teachers, the Truth unpopular, and the majority falling into error. "Many shall follow their pernicious ways," few, therefore, will be able to stand – a little flock, not many great, not many wise, not many learned, chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith, heirs of the Kingdom. "A thousand shall fall at thy side, ten thousand at thy right hand."

We see these false teachers as distinctly as we see the false Christs (false systems), claiming to be bodies of Christ, claiming to be the church – while really there is but one church (the one body of Christ – all truly consecrated believers under the one head.) Theosophy is such a false teacher, outside the Church of Christ entirely; Christian Science is such a false teacher, outside the Church of Christ entirely; the so-called New Thought movements are false teachers, outside the Church of Christ entirely. These are all outside the Church of Christ, because in no sense do they profess the essence of Christian doctrines. True they all acknowledge Christ as a great Teacher – they could not do otherwise – even devils and the devilish must acknowledge His teachings to be grand. But a belief that Jesus lived and died, and the belief that He was a good man and a great Teacher, are not the essence of Christian faith; it goes far beyond all this, and specifically acknowledges Him as the Redeemer "by whose stripes we are healed," "who died for our sins according to the Scripture, and rose for our justification."


False teachers have also arisen in all the various sects of Christendom – teachers who like Dr. Briggs and other of the "Higher Critic" school, have for 25 years in particular been poisoning all the various systems of churchianity – introducing the snares which will stumble all except the true feet members of the body [NS45] of Christ. These so-called higher critics, plainly named, are infidels who have no belief in the Bible as an inspired revelation of the divine purpose. Neither do they recognize Christ as a Redeemer. Placing Him on a level with Shakespeare, Moses, Confucius and Plato, they are pleased to recognize Him because His name is popular in the civilized world. The poisonous doctrines these men have been sending forth through all the students of all these seminaries and colleges for the past 25 years have been affecting Christianity in every quarter, in every denomination; so that today it is a rare thing to find a minister in any pulpit who fully and frankly will avow his faith in Jesus Christ as the Redeemer, and that His death was a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, a sacrifice which justice demanded, provided and accepted as the offset to Adam's original transgression, and as the purchase price of the world, securing to it in due time a release from the tomb. The occasional one, who will frankly and without equivocation declare that he heartily accepts the death of Jesus as the ransom price for the world's sin is usually a country minister, not college bred, one who has not a seminary course, or one who has read and to the extent has profited by the presentations of millennial dawn on this subject.


To some it may seem strange that the doctrine of the ransom – that Christ was man's substitute and paid the penalty of the race by His death – which has been held firmly by even nominal Christians and in all the creeds, should so quickly become a "stumbling stone."

The secret lies in the great increase of knowledge and stimulation of thought in our day. The creeds of Christendom which says that Christ died to release us from the Adamic penalty are thus far in harmony with the scriptures, but when they proceed to say that the penalty of original sin was eternal torment, and that Christ redeemed us from eternal torment, they are in violent opposition to the scriptures, which declare that the penalty for original sin was death, and that Christ's death secured for Adam and his race a release from that death sentence. Churchianity having in mind the teachings of its various creeds and not having in mind the scripture teaching, has concluded correctly that if the penalty upon the race was eternal torment, and if Christ paid that penalty for the race, it would have necessitated His going to eternal torment; and since He did not go to eternal torment, but to glory, they argue that He could not have been the substitute or Redeemer. The reasoning is sound enough, but the premises are false. The scriptures do not declare that eternal torment is the penalty; that theory was invented during the dark ages. The scriptures do declare that the penalty is death, and that Christ paid that penalty, and that the payment of it was the redemption price for the life of the world. Here is the secret of the power of the error upon those who have been error-taught and creed-instructed. The effect is not only the repudiation of the ransom, but in due time, as their eyes open, the repudiation also of the eternal torment theory as being inconsistent with reason. But still believing that the teachings of their creeds is the teaching of the Scriptures, and still having in mind certain twists given to certain parables, many are losing faith, not only in the ransom but also in the entire Bible. They are making shipwreck of their faith, and proportionately everything that was formerly established in their minds in the nature of a religious hope becomes dim and uncertain. They are grasping after the theories of the philosophers and occultists; they are becoming more and more blind to the truth. As the apostle declares, Christ is to some a stumbling block and to others foolishness, but to us who believe, He is precious. To us who believe, the light of this twentieth century, by the grace of God is bringing a larger understanding of the Word of God and a fuller appreciation of the divine promises, and broader and deeper hopes, which are the anchorage to our souls, sure and steadfast, entering into that which is within the veil. Seeing, dear brethren and sisters, the great test which is upon Christendom – seeing that the vast majority are about to stumble over Jesus as a rock of offense, rejecting Him as a Redeemer, let us see to it that, as the apostle forewarns us, "we put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand in this evil day."

Let us not think either that we can put on this armor by merely an intellectual knowledge of the divine plan; let us remember that it is only those who receive the truth "in the love of it" that will be able to stand, that will have the necessary assistance rendered them, that will be borne up by the good tidings of great joy – the message explanatory of the Heavenly Father's plans, so necessary to our sustenance, strength and standing in this present evil day. Let us hold fast the confidence of our rejoicing, the foundation of our faith – the fact that Christ died for our sins, that His sacrifice was a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. Every doctrine which does not square with this doctrine of the ransom may be at once set down as spurious, unscriptural and calculated to entangle and snare and stumble. All of the new theories – evolution, higher criticism, Christian Science, theosophy, spiritism, Mormonism, all can be tested and settled by this invaluable measure – the [NS46] ransom. "If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."

The Pittsburgh Gazette, February 8, 1904

Criticising Views Generally Held Asserts That It Has Been Buried Under Forms and Ceremonies INCONSISTENCIES ARE SHOWN

Pastor Charles T. Russell spoke to a large audience in Bible House chapels Allegheny, yesterday. His subject was "Baptism," and in his address Mr. Russell said true baptism had been lost sight of during the dark ages and buried under forms and ceremonies. The discourse was followed by a baptismal service. Mr. Russell's address follows: Christian people are a unit in understanding that the New Testament teaches baptism, although there is a great diversity and confusion of thought respecting its mode and significance. The great falling away from the faith, alluded to by the apostles in the New Testament, had gained such headway by the second century that very superstitious views respecting baptism had gained control in the nominal church by that time. Water baptism was supposed not only to bring the subject into relationship with God by canceling past sins, but also to bring him certain graces or favors from God as a member of the Church of Christ, which could not otherwise be secured. Hence, at that early day, not only did believers seek baptism for themselves, but also for their children; and because infants could neither believe nor enter into covenant promises for themselves, an arrangement was made by which other than the parents might become sponsors for such children – "spiritual parents."

They solemnly promised that the children should believe in the Lord and would in His ways, and obligated themselves to see to their religious training. These were called god-fathers and godmothers. Both the teachers and those taught of that period progressed rapidly to formalism and elaborations of the symbols and of their meaning. Special fonts for baptismal purposes were built outside the churches in the third century. They consisted of a private room which connected with an outside porch, the latter being open to the public, in whose presence the baptismal vows were taken, after which the subject was baptized in the font privately. The officiating minister exorcized the candidate, to cast out devils, blowing in his face three puffs of breath, as representing the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


The water in which the baptism took place was consecrated by an elaborate formula, constituting it sacred water, a part of the formula being exorcism or casting out of evil spirits from the water. The candidate was stripped of clothing, as representing the complete putting off of the old man, and was baptized three times, once in the name of the Fathers once in the name of the Son, and once in the name of the Holy Spirit. All this was done outside the church, to intimate that the candidate was not yet a member of the church and could not be a member until, by this procedure, he was inducted. After the baptism service, the candidate for membership wore white clothing until the following Sunday. Later on the separation of the baptistry from the church ceased, and the baptismal pools were built in the churches. The Roman and Greek Catholics still maintain to a considerable degree the elaborate ceremonial of the third century, with slight modifications suitable to our day. It is not surprising that Protestants of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, having inherited these traditions and participated in them, would be considerably under their influence, and that while divesting themselves of much of the extreme ceremony, they maintained the same general views and customs. Even today otherwise intelligent people have a superstitious fear respecting what might be the everlasting future of their children dying in infancy without having been baptized – hence, without having received remission of sins, and without having been inducted into membership in the church. In harmony with these superstitions, we find that [NS47] although every effort is made in all denominations to keep all power, privilege and authority in the hands of the clergy and out of the hands of the laity, nevertheless it is very generally the custom that in extreme cases, where an infant is not expected to live, and where the services of a clergyman cannot be secured in time, any person may perform a baptism service – the thought being that no risk is to be taken in respect to the child's eternal welfare. The privilege of the laity under such circumstances is clearly recognized even in the Roman and Greek Catholic churches; and in the rubric of the Church of England in the time of Edward VI, the matter was ordered thus: "Pastors and curates shall often admonish the people that without great cause and necessity they baptize not children at home in their houses; and when great need shall compel them so to do that then they minister it."


We quote the following explanation of baptism from the authorized Roman Catholic catechism (page 248): "The first and most necessary sacrament is baptism," "because before baptism no other sacrament can be received," and "because without baptism no one can be saved."

"In baptism original sin and all sins committed before baptism are forgiven; the temporal as well as the eternal punishment is remitted by baptism."

"In baptism we are not only cleansed from all sin, but are also transformed, in a spiritual manner, made holy, children of God, and heirs of heaven."

The Lutheran church holds to a very similar statement on the subject. The Church of England, though with a slight varied ceremony, attaches the same significance to infant baptism. The following extracts from the Book of Common Prayer shows this: "Sanctify this water to the mystical washing away of sin; and grant that this child, now to be baptized therein may receive the fulness of thy grace, and ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children."

"We receive this child into the congregation of Christ's flock; and do sign him with the sign of the cross."

"Seeing now, dearly beloved brethren, that this child is regenerate and grafted into the body of Christ's church, let us give thanks unto Almighty God for these benefits."

"We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this infant with thy Holy Spirit."

The Westminster Confession, Art. 28, says: "Baptism is a sacrament.. .a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins," etc. It declares it to be applicable to infant children one or both of whose parents are Christians, but not to other infants. It adds, "Although it be a great sin to condemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated."

Attaching less importance to baptism, Presbyterian rules permit none but ministers to perform the service, and by its ministers laying stress upon the importance of baptism, and comparatively few knowing of the last quoted clause, it follows that Presbyterians as well as others fear the consequences of their infants dying unbaptized. As illustrating this matter, an anecdote is told of a certain doctor who was called late at night to attend a dying infant. He arrived just a moment in advance of a clergyman, sent for at the same time. It being evident that the physician could do nothing further for the child, he at once stepped aside, while the minister hastily took a bowl of water, sprinkled a few drops in the face of the child, saying, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."

The child a moment or two after expired, and as the doctor and the minister left the house together the former remarked to the latter, "You arrived just in the nick of time; two minutes more and you would have been too late. May I ask what kind of shoes you wear?" "Congress gaiters," responded the clergyman. "Ah how fortunate!" said the doctor, "Had you worn laced boots you would not have been in time, and think what disaster that would have meant for the child!" True, many of the more enlightened Christian people would deny any such false, superstitious thought as that God would hand over an unbaptized infant to devils, to eternally torment it, or do anything else to its detriment. Nevertheless, many of these same people manifest great concern if by any means one of their children should die without this ceremony; and some of the more illiterate certainly have a most positive belief in the necessity of the rite and a most torturing fear of the consequences if it is omitted; so strong is the influence coming down to us from the centuries of false beliefs – "the dark ages.


Amongst those who recognized that baptism is enjoined upon believers, and that one person cannot believe for another, infant baptism is repudiated as being unscriptural. Moreover, the same people [NS48] generally hold that nothing constitutes the baptism commanded by our Lord and the apostles except an immersion in water. These call attention to the fact that the Greek word signifying baptism, baptize, has the significance of immerse or cover or plunge or completely make wet, and that wholly different words are used in the Greek when sprinkling or pouring or raining are referred to. These believers in immersion in water generally practice one immersion, backward, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, though a few practice it face forward three times, once in the name of the Father, once in the name of the Son, once in the name of the Holy Spirit. The explanation of the latter form is that Christ bowed His head forward when He died, and that, hence, His followers should be immersed in the likeness of His death, face – forward. It does not seem to occur to these Christian friends that Christ was not buried face downward, and that the Father and the Holy Spirit neither died nor were buried at all, and that, therefore, such symbolizations are wholly inconsistent, and that the significance of the words "in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit would properly be – by the authority of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit concur in enjoining the baptism of believers. Of those who practice one immersion backward, there are two large denominations, viz., "Baptists" and "Disciples," who, nevertheless, perform the service with very different sentiments respecting its significance and the results. The views of the "Disciples," otherwise calling themselves "Christians" (and frequently, without their consent, designated as "Campbellites"), is that baptism (immersion in water) is for the remission of sins, and that such as have not been immersed in water are yet in their sins, "children of wrath."

This view of the subject cuts off the great mass of humanity except infants (whose original sin they seem to ignore), and even professed Christians of nearly all denominations – Congregationalists, Methodists, Presbyterians, United Presbyterians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, etc. – would thus be marked as sinners, unjustified before God, and, therefore, exposed to the wrath of God, in whatever way that expression shall be understood; and by nearly all, including the "Disciples," it is understood to mean an eternity of torture.


This is a hard position to take, not in respect to the world only, but in respect to the mass of Christian professors, and we do not wonder that our "Disciple" friends generally avoid pressing the question to so extreme a statement, although the logic of the proposition is evident to them, as to all others who will give it consideration. We cannot accept this to be a correct view of baptism – to us it is neither scriptural nor reasonable. We cannot believe that the Lord has made the eternal welfare of our race dependent on their knowledge of, and their obedience to, any such institution. Nevertheless, our "Disciple" friends fortify themselves with certain texts of scripture which are not to be overlooked; viz., John's preaching to the Jews for repentance and remission of sins; the preaching of the apostles at Pentecost, to the Jews, to believe and be baptized for repentance and remission of their sins, and to call upon the name of the Lord, washing away their sins. (Matt. 3:6; John 4:1-2; Acts 2:38-41.)

We will consider these scriptures in due time, and see how and why they are applicable to the Jews only, and never applicable to Gentiles, and that when certain Gentiles of the church at Ephesus confessed that they had been baptized with the baptism of John – unto repentance and remission of sins – the Apostle Paul commanded them to be baptized again in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 19:3-5

Our Baptist friends, while no less strenuous in their advocacy of immersion in water as the only baptism, set up a totally different claim respecting its efficacy. They deny that it is for the remission of sins, which they claim can only be experienced through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. They hold, however, that baptism is the door into the church, and that only those who are immersed have really entered the church, and that others should not expect nor be granted the privileges and blessings belonging to the church, either in the present life or in the life to come. In harmony with this Baptists in general decline to welcome to the communion table any not immersed in water, saying that the communion table is not for the world, but only for the church, and that none are in the church except those who have passed through the door of water baptism. The few Baptist churches which in recent years have relaxed this rule have done so in contravention of their theory. In illustration of this subject we quote from a recent article by the Rev. J. T. Lloyd in the Religious Herald. He says: "Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost – nothing else is baptism. Baptist churches are the only Christian churches in existence. Pedobaptists (child-baptizers) have no right to the Lord's Supper. Whenever they partake of the Lord's Supper they partake unworthily, and eat and drink damnation to themselves." [NS49]


If the Baptist theory be the correct one, it follows that all members of other denominations of professed Christians who have not been immersed in water have deceived themselves in thinking that in any sense of the word they belong to the church of Christ. Because, say our Baptist friends, immersion is the door into the church; whoever has not been immersed is not in and not of the church of Christ, which is the body of Christ. We do not wonder that our Baptist friends, and especially those of the highest standard of heart and intellect, hesitate to press upon the public these, the only, logical conclusions of their belief. To do so would be to bring down upon them the indignation and contumely of many whom they are bound to respect as Christians, notwithstanding their theory to the contrary. But what would it mean if this Baptist theory were true? We answer that, according to all the different creeds of Christendom, it would mean only immersed persons would be saved, and that all the remainder, of all denominations, would be lost; for is it not the theory of all the creeds that only the church is to be saved, and that all others are hastening to destruction or eternal torment or some other awful future the destiny to which is fixed at death? We are bound to dissent from all the foregoing as imperfect human theories, whose inconsistencies are dearly manifest. The mere statement of them carries instant conviction of their erroneousness to every intelligent and unprejudiced mind. We cannot admit that either the Disciple denomination or the Baptist denomination, or both of these, constitute "the church of the living God, whose names are written in heaven," to the exclusion of all the unimmersed of other denominations. We cannot admit that, when the Son of Man sowed the good seed of the Gospel in the field, the wheat was all brought under Baptist fencing, and that the tares were all outside. Nor can we even admit that all the wheat is to be found amongst those immersed in water, and all the tares as well, so that all Christians would be excluded from the Lord's parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13$.) We claim that all these conflicting theories are wrong – disapproved of God. We claim that all sects and denominations are contrary to the Divine institution – one head, one body, one faith, one baptism. We are not claiming that the Lord's church, the new creation, has many members, but admit that it is in all a "little flock."

This being true, it is very evident that the Baptists and Disciples, as well as others, have made very serious mistakes in respect to what baptism is, and in respect to the blessings and privileges it confers. We have briefly reviewed the situation up to the present time, to the intent that it may be manifested to all that there is something radically wrong in respect to all the various theories now prevalent on the subject of baptism, and that we may all, therefore, be the better prepared to go reverently and prayerfully back of all human traditions and theories to the Word of the Lord, which confessedly is an important one – a divine institution. It is only after we see clearly the confusion involved in all the various theories of Christendom that we are thoroughly prepared to appreciate the simplicity of the divine message on this subject.


The Jewish ritual contains various formulas respecting the cleansing of vessels and washing and sprinkling of unclean persons, etc., but nothing respecting baptism (baptizo, immersion) such as John preached in the end of the Jewish age. John's baptism was for Jews only, who were already recognized as typically cleansed by the atonement day sin offerings. To these John's baptism signified repentance from recognized sin, violations of the Law Covenant, and a typical cleansing from them – a return to a condition of righteousness of heart or desire. Jews thus repenting of sin and symbolically cleansed, or washed, were counted as restored to a condition of harmony with God, previously enjoyed under their Law Covenant. The motive back of John's preaching and baptizing was a preparation of the people for the kingdom of God and for a revelation of Messiah, which John's preaching declared to be imminent, and for which the people would need to be in a condition of heart-readiness if they would receive and appropriate blessing. Hence, John did not baptize his believers into Christ, but merely unto "repentance," bringing them back to a condition of harmony with Moses, etc., in which condition, as "natural branches" in the olive tree (Rom. 11:16-21), they would not need ingrafting into Christ for Christ would to them take the place of Moses, who for the time merely typified Christ. Let it be remembered, too, that this, called "John's baptism" and said to be "unto repentance and remission of sins" and "washing away of sin," was not applicable to any except Jews; because Gentiles, not being baptized into Moses, and not being of the typical house of servants at any time, could not by repentance of sin come back to a condition which they never occupied. Gentiles who believed in Christ must, therefore, be inducted into his house of sons in a different manner. They, as the apostle explains, were the wild olive branches, "by nature children of wrath," strangers, aliens, foreigners from the commonwealth [NS50] of Israel. No amount of repentance and reformation would make these strangers and aliens members of the typical house of servants, to whom alone would come the privilege of passing by faith in Christ from the house of servants into the antitypical house of sons. If others would become branches in the olive tree (Christ), whose root was the Abrahamic promise (Gal. 3:16-29), they must be ingrafted into the places left vacant by the breaking off of the "natural branches" of the original olive tree – the house of servants, whose hearts were not in a proper condition to accept the Messiah, and who, therefore, could not be accepted of Him as members of His house of sons (John 1:12).

To every "Israelite indeed," already thus consecrated and bound to Moses even unto death, and with all their hopes of life anchored in him, it was but a small remove to accept Christ in his stead, and as his antitype; and to understand that their pledges under the law to Moses were now transferred by divine arrangement to Christ, "the Mediator of the New Covenant."

With the Gentiles the matter was altogether different, and their acceptance of Christ would properly signify all that was covenanted by the Jew to Moses and subsequently transferred to Christ. It should not surprise us, therefore, to find the Scriptures teaching a very much wider and deeper meaning to baptism as applied to those believers who were not Jews, not under the law, not in Moses, and not, therefore, transferred from Moses to Christ. To these baptism meant all the radical change that is pictured by the Apostle Paul (Rom. 11) by the ingrafting of the wild olive branches into the good olive tree. It meant a complete transformation.


"Know ye 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 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. 6:3-5. We, who are by nature Gentiles, cannot do better than accept this very complete explanation of the true baptism addressed by the Apostle Paul to the believers at Rome – many, if not all, of whom had been Gentiles, "children of wrath."

In three verses here the apostle deals most thoroughly with the subject of baptism as it applies to us. These verses are very generally used to prove all the various doctrines of baptism, but quoted especially by our brethren, who recognize baptism as signifying immersion in water. Let it be clearly noticed, however, that the apostle makes not one word of reference to water baptism. Water baptism is merely a symbol, or picture of the real baptism; and the apostle, in these verses explains, from various standpoints, the true, the essential baptism without which no one can be considered a member of the body, or Church of Christ, while all who receive this baptism, of whatever name or place, color or sex, are to be counted as members of the ecclesia, members of the new creation. The apostle is addressing those who are already members of Christ. He says: "Know ye not that so many of you as were baptized into Jesus Christ" – we pause here to notice that he does not say, so many of us as were sprinkled with water, nor, so many of us as were immersed in water, but, "So many of us as were baptized (immersed) into Jesus Christ" – as members of His body, the church. What is it to be immersed into Jesus Christ? How do we get into the body of Christ? The apostle answers that we were baptized into it, and, hence, are now counted as members of our Lord, members under Him as our head, members of "the church which is His body."

But let us inquire particularly what was the process by which we came into membership in Christ Jesus. The apostle answers the question in his next statement, "So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death."

Not a word about our being baptized into Him by being baptized into water. No. no! How evident it is that if we were baptized a thousand times in water it would not bring us into membership in the body of Christ! But, accepting the apostle's statement, we realize that our union with Christ, our membership in His church, or ecclesia, whose names are written in heaven, dated from the time that we were baptized into His death. But, when and how were we baptized into the Lord's death? We answer that this baptism into death with the Lord, this overwhelming, or burial of ourselves, our flesh, which resulted in our incorporation by Him as members of His body, as new creatures, took place at the moment when we made the full surrender of our wills to Him – consecrating our all, to follow and obey Him, even unto death. The will represents the entire person and all that he possesses. The will has the control of the body, hands, feet, eyes, mouth and brain. It has the control too, of the pocket, the bank account, the real estate. It controls our time, our talent, our influence. There is not a thing of value that we possess which does not properly come under the control of the will; and, hence, when we surrender our wills to the Lord, or, as [NS51] the Scriptures sometimes represent it, our "hearts," we give Him our all; and this burial of our human wills into the will of Christ is our death as human beings. "Ye are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col 3:3.) This death, this burial, is our baptism into His death. Henceforth, from the divine standpoint, we are not to count ourselves as human beings, of human nature, of the earth, earthy, and as having earthly aims, objects and hopes, but as new creatures in Christ Jesus.


The instant of this burial or immersion of our wills into the will of Christ is followed by our begetting to newness of life – to a new nature. As our Lord consecrated His human nature unto death, in the doing of the Father's will, and yet did not remain in death, but was raised from the dead to a newness of nature, so we who thus are consecrated become "dead with Him," sharing in His consecration, are not left in a death state, but may instantly rise through faith to a realization of our kinship to the Lord as new creatures. Thus the apostle declares: "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the spirit of Christ dwell in you." (Rom. 8:9).

To the world all this is a "hidden mystery."

They do not appreciate our faith – justification in the Father's sight, but regard us as other men, who are yet in their sins. Likewise, they see no reason why we should sacrifice or consecrate our wills to the Lord – to be dead as human beings, that we may have a share with Him as new creatures. Neither do they see our consecration and its acceptance, nor appreciate our figurative resurrection to newness of life, newness of hopes, newness of ambitions, newness of relationship to God through Christ. We trust, indeed, that they may see some fruitage in our lives, but we cannot hope that it will be such fruitage as will to them appear to be good or wise or profitable under present conditions. "The world knoweth us not (as new creatures) because it knew Him not." 1 John 3:1

In all this believers are but following the footsteps of Jesus – taking up their cross to follow Him. Being holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from the sinner race, he needed not to wait for any sacrifice for sins, for he "knew no sin," – but immediately upon reaching the age of manhood under the law (30 years) He hastened to make a complete consecration of Himself, a full sacrifice of all His earthly interests, hopes, ambitions and desires – that He might do the Father's will only. The language of His heart as He came to John at Jordan, was prophetically foretold, "Lo, I come – in the volume of the book it is written of me – to do thy will, O God. I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy law is written in my heart." Psa. 40:7, 8; Heb. 10:7

Our Lord, thus consecrating Himself to the Father's will, realized that his outward baptism symbolized the surrender of His earthly life and nature, already immersed, or buried, into the Father's will, even unto death. His water immersion was merely a symbolical representation of the baptism, or burial of his will, which had preceded it. From this standpoint His baptism was full of meaning to Him, though not to John, who greatly marveled that He who "knew no sin should be baptized, whereas the baptism of John was a baptism only for transgressors against the Law Covenant – for the remission of sins. None but our Lord Jesus Himself understood fully why it thus "behooved" him to fulfill all righteousness. None but He realized that while such an immersion (figurative cleansing from sin) was not necessary for Him, as though He were a sinner, yet it behooved Him who was the prospective head of the prospective body to set an example in Himself that would be appropriate as a lesson full of meaning to all of his followers, not only to those "body" members which were of the house of Israel after the flesh, but to those members also who were still aliens, strangers and foreigners. It behooved him to symbolize the full consecration of his will and all that He had, even unto death, that we coming after, might follow in His steps.


That our Lord did not receive the water immersion at the hands of John as the real immersion, but merely as its figure, or illustration, can be readily demonstrated. In evidence mark His words about the time of the Last Supper: "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished" (Luke 12:50).

Here our Lord shows that His baptism was not the water baptism, but the death baptism – baptism into death, in harmony with the divine arrangement, as man's redemption price, or sin offering. Having consecrated Himself to this death-baptism at the earliest possible moment, when He attained 30 years of age, and having during the three and one-half years of His ministry carefully carried out the provisions of that consecration – "dying daily," pouring out His soul unto death, using up His life, His energy, His strength, in the service of the Father, in the service of His followers, and in a large sense, in the service of His enemies. Finally, realizing Himself near the close of this death-baptism, when it would be fully accomplished, and feeling the weights, the trials, the difficulties, growing heavier and heavier each moment, and having not a sympathizer – "Of the people there were none with Him" – not one who [NS52] understood the circumstances and conditions, and who could share His grief by offer of sympathy, encouragement or consolation, then longing for the end of the trial, He exclaimed, "How am I straitened (in difficulty) till it (my death-baptism) be accomplished." (Luke 12:50.) His baptism was fulfilled shortly after, when He died, crying, "It is finished."

The whole world is dying, and not merely the Lord and the church, His body; but the world does not participate in Christ's death, as does the church, His body. There is a great difference. The whole world is dead with father Adam under his sentence or curse; but our Lord Jesus is not of the world, not one of those who died in Adam. We have already seen that His life was holy and separate from all sinners, notwithstanding his earthly mother – that he was not under condemnation. Why, then, did He die? The Scriptures answer that He "died for our sins," that His death was a sacrificial one. And so it is with the church, His body, baptized into Him by baptism into His death – participators with Him in His sacrificial death. By nature children of Adam, "children of wrath, even as others," they are first justified out of Adamic death unto life, through faith in our Lord Jesus and His redemptive work; and the very object of that justification to life out of Adamic condemnation to death is that they may have this privilege of being baptized into Jesus Christ (made members of His body, His ecclesia) by being baptized into His death – by sharing death with Him as joint-sacrificers. Ah! what a wide difference there is between being dead in Adam and being dead in Christ!


This mystery of our relationship to Christ is sacrifice, in death-baptism now, and the resulting relationship and union with Him in the glory that is to follow, is incomprehensible to the world. It should, however, be appreciated by the Lord's faithful, and is asseverated repeatedly in the Scriptures. "If we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him;" "if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him."

We are "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him (if we experience death-baptism with Him as His body members) that we may be also glorified together." (2 Tim. 2:12; Rom. 6:8, 8:17)

In the fourth verse of the text we are examining the apostle repeats the same thought from another standpoint, saying, "Therefore are we buried with Him by baptism into death."

Again no suggestion of water baptism, but a most positive statement of death-baptism, our consecration unto death. Proceeding, the apostle carries forward the picture, stating the wherefore or reason of our baptism into Christ's death, saying, "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."

Only indirectly does the apostle here refer to our share in the First Resurrection, when we shall share the glory of the Lord in his kingdom; he refers chiefly to the present life. All who make full consecration of their lives to the Lord, to be dead with Him, to be joint-sacrificers with Him in the service of the Truth, are to reckon themselves while living in the world as being separate and distinct from others around them. They covenant to die to earthly things which so engross others, and may, therefore, use them only as servants to the New Creation. New creatures become alive through the Redeemer to heavenly things and prospects which the world around us see not, understand not. In harmony with this our lives in the world should be new, distinct, separate from those of others about us; because we are animated with the new spirit, new hopes, new aims – the heavenly. Coming to the fifth verse, the apostle still makes not the slightest reference to water baptism, although some, at first, might think otherwise of his words: "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection."

If this being planted together in the likeness of His death be understood to mean water baptism, it would be laying more stress upon water baptism than any teacher in the world would be willing to admit. What is it that as Christians we most earnestly hope for? Is it not that we may share in the Lord's resurrection, the "First Resurrection?" The apostle expressed this as the grand ideal and hope before his mind, saying: "That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection (as a member of His body, His church), and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death, if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." (Philip. 2:10,11.)

Now to understand Rom. 6:5 to mean that a share in Christ's resurrection would be the sure result of an immersion in water would be to make this passage contradict every other passage, and to outrage reason. Why should a planting or burial in water result in a share in the first resurrection? We are safe in assuming that thousands have been planted, or buried, or immersed in water who will never share in the first resurrection – the Christ resurrection. But when we understand this verse, in harmony with the two preceding it, to refer to baptism into death, to planting in death, in the likeness of Christ's death, then all is plain, all is reasonable. Having been called of the Lord to be joint-heirs with His son, and to suffer with Him, and to be dead with Him, to live with Him [NS53] and to reign with Him, how sure he may feel that if we are faithful to this call, if we are planted or buried into His death, like as He was buried into death – as faithful soldiers of God and servants of the truth – we shall eventually get the full reward which God promises to such, viz., a share in the first resurrection – to glory, honor and immortality.


Baptism into death is the real baptism for the church, as it was the real baptism for our Lord; water baptism is only the symbol, or picture of it to us, as it was to Him. This is conclusively shown by our Lord's words to two of His disciples, James and John, who requested that they might have His promise that eventually they should sit with Him, the one on His right hand and the other on His left hand in His kingdom. Our Lord's answer to them was, "Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to be baptized with the baptism that I am (being) baptized with?" Their avowal of their willingness to share, not only His ignominy, but also His baptism into death, our Lord approvingly answers, "Ye shall, indeed drink of the cup that I drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with." (Mark 10:35-39)

Whoever of His called ones are willing at heart for these experiences, the Lord will grant them the privilege – and also His assistance. Such shall indeed be immersed into Christ's death, and, as a consequence, have a share with Him in the first resurrection and in the kingdom glories appertaining thereto. That our Lord here made no reference to water baptism is evident; for these two disciples had been with Him from the beginning of His ministry, and as His representatives had been baptizing multitudes in water, "unto repentance and remission of sins" – John's baptism. (John 3:22, 23; 4:1, 2; Mark 1:4)

Our Lord's inquiry respecting their willingness for a share in His baptism was not misunderstood by the apostles. They had no thought that He wished them to be baptized again in water; they understood well that it meant the baptism of their wills into His will and the Father's will, and, accordingly, their participation with Him in His sacrifice – dying daily, laying down their lives for the brethren, to the finish, unto death actual. We have already called attention to the various water baptisms in vogue amongst Christian people, and almost universally misunderstood by them to be the real baptism; we have shown how false and inconsistent are the tests which are based upon these water baptisms, which cannot affect the heart, and which at very most are symbols, but not seen to be symbols by their advocates, because they do not clearly discern the real baptism into death with Christ. How simple and yet how accurate becomes this test of real baptism, as respects the church of Christ – the "body," the ecclesia, whose names are written in heaven – not depending upon earthly enrollment! This true baptism is, indeed, the door into the true church, for no one can be admitted and accepted as a member of the church, the body of Christ, and have their names written in heaven as such, except first he has experienced this baptism of His will, of His heart, into death with Christ, and has thus been inducted into membership in His church, which is "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." (Col 1:24)

Ah, yes! Such believers, making such consecration, such baptism into death with the Lord, must all be true"wheat" – not one of these is a"tare."

The water door may let in "tares" as well as "wheat" into the Baptist church; but the baptism into death as a door will admit only the wheat class into the true church, because none others will care to come under the conditions, though some may imitate them in a measure, as the "tares" are imitations of the "wheat."


From this standpoint it will be observed that there may be members of the true church – baptized into Jesus Christ, by being baptized into His church – amongst Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Roman Catholics, etc., as well as amongst Disciples and Baptists. On the other hand, undoubtedly the great majority in all denominations (including Disciples and Baptists immersed in water) have neither part nor lot in "the body of Christ," the true ecclesia, because of not having come through the real door into the real church, by the real baptism into "His death."

This proposition is incontrovertible. Having thus laid all the stress, as the apostles does, upon the true baptism, we turn to the symbol of it, the water baptism, and inquire, first, Is the symbol proper or necessary to those who have the real baptism? Second, If so, which is the proper symbol? The testimony of the Lord and the apostles clearly indicates the propriety of the symbolical or water baptism, because not only they themselves were baptized with water, but taught water baptism in respect to others – not Jews only, but also Gentile converts. We have already shown that our Lord Jesus' baptism was separate and distinct from that of John's baptism to the Jews in general – that it was not unto repentance for remission of sins – that John did not understand the matter; and that our Lord in thus instituting a symbol of His own death, did not attempt to explain what John and others of that time could not [NS54] have understood, because the Holy Spirit was not given, for Jesus had not yet accomplished His sacrifice for our sins, nor been glorified so as to present the sacrifice on our behalf. We note the commission given by our Lord to the apostles, and to us through them, as recorded in Matt. 28:19-20: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name (by the authority) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

This commission has applied to this entire gospel age, and under it all the ministers of the truth today labor. The Lord did not here refer to the Pentecostal baptism of the Spirit, because it was not in the power of the apostle thus to baptize any one. The Lord himself, and He alone, had this authority and retained it. It was, however, granted to the apostles, and to all the faithful teachers of the Lord's word, to instruct people respecting the grace of God in Christ – respecting their justification, and respecting their sanctification, or consecration, or baptism into death with Christ, if they would be partakers of His new nature and coming glory. And the baptizing included also the symbolical, or water baptism, which was to be the outward sign by which the inward or heart-consecration of the believer would be made known to his fellows, even as our Lord himself first made the heart-consecration to the Father, and then symbolized it in water.


That the inspired apostles so understood their commission and ours is evident from all their teachings. They first taught the people respecting the grace of God in the work of redemption, encouraging them to believe unto justification of life. They next urged upon them a full consecration of heart, saying, "I beseech you, brethren (no longer sinners and aliens, but justified through faith in Christ, and, hence, designated members of the "household of faith," or "brethren"), by the mercies of God (a share of which you have already received in your justification), that ye present your bodies living sacrifices, holy (justified), acceptable to God, your reasonable service."

This was the invitation to consecrate, or sacrifice, or to be "baptized into His death."

So many as heard the word gladly, in the proper condition of heart, appreciatively, were baptized – not only really baptized in their consecration vow, but also symbolically baptized in water, as an outward testimony of this. Notice the following testimonies that baptism was the custom of all of the apostles – not merely with the Jews, but also with the Gentiles. We read of the people of Samaria, "When they believed Philip – . . they were baptized, both men and women (not children)." (Acts 8:12)

The Ethiopian eunuch converted by the preaching of Philip was also baptized in water. (Acts 10:44-48)

Again we read, "Many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized." (Acts 18:8)

Again we read, "Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one that worshiped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened to give heed unto the things spoken by Paul. – She was baptized and her household." (Acts 16:14-15)

The Philippian jailer, when he had believed, was baptized by Paul and Silas in the prison. (Acts 16:33)

Again we read, "I baptized also the house of Stephanus." 1 Cor. 1:16 True, the apostle in this last case mentions how few he had baptized, but this, undoubtedly, was because of his thorn in the flesh, his imperfect eyesight; and the few whom he baptized probably received this service at his hands because no one else suitable to perform it was conveniently at hand. He thanked God that he baptized so few; but this does not imply that he had changed his mind in respect to the propriety either of the real baptism or of its symbol; but in view of the fact that a dispute had arisen in the church – a sectarian or faction spirit leading some to say, "I am of Paul," others, "I am of Apollos," others, "I am of Peter," etc. – the apostle was glad that he could say he had baptized very few of them himself, lest any of them might be led to claim that he had been making personal disciples, baptizing them in his own name instead of making disciples for Christ, and baptizing them into the name of Christ.


In the light of these plain declarations of scripture respecting the precept and practice of the Lord and the apostles, it would be a bold man indeed who would declare that symbolical or water baptism is not taught in the scriptures; or that it was taught as applicable only to the Jews; or that it was intended only as an introductory work. It is surely with good reason that all Christian people respect water baptism as of divine institution. If any are inclined to still controvert this question, we have no quarrel with them, but believe that if such an one is honest and has performed in his heart the true baptism of his will into the will of the Lord – if he has become dead to self, and to the world, and alive toward God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, God will reveal this matter also unto him in due season. Philip. 3:15.

Meantime, we shall rejoice with such that they have found the real baptism, and become participators in it, and we congratulate them upon the truth that it is far better to see and enjoy the real baptism while blind to the symbol, than it would be to see the symbol and be blind to the reality. In view of this, however strongly we favor the symbolical baptism, we could not [NS55] base Christian fellowship upon it, but only upon the real baptism into death with Christ. All, therefore, who confess the Lord as their Redeemer, and confess a full consecration of heart and life to Him, we accept as brethren in Christ Jesus, members of the Ecclesia, whose names are written in heaven – new creatures in Christ, whether by birth Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, male or female, baptized with water or not baptized with water. On the other hand, let it not be forgotten that every item of knowledge brings not only an increase of privilege and joy, but also an increase of responsibility. Whoever, therefore, comes to see the beauty and authority of the water symbol, comes at the same time to another test as respects the deadness of his will – respecting his real baptism into death with his Lord. A failure to obey as to the symbol under these circumstances, it will readily be seen, would mean a withdrawal of the sacrifice and thus a failure to make his calling and election sure. We will not attempt a discussion of the multitudinous pros and cons as between sprinkling, pouring and immersion, as to which was the original apostolic mode of performing symbolical baptism. We will suggest, however, that no infant could possibly be in the condition of mind and heart which would permit it to make a consecration or baptism of its will into the will of Christ, so as to become dead with Him to self and to the world. We will insist, further that the symbolical baptism could not be performed prior to the real baptism, with any validity; because symbolical baptism is intended to be merely the outward expression or confession of what has already transpired between our hearts, our wills and the Lord in secret.


These things being true, it follows that the great majority of Christian people have never had symbolical or water baptism, since they could receive it only after intelligently making their consecration vow. The immersion of adults prior to consecration would be no more efficacious than an ordinary bath, no more of a symbolic baptism than the sprinkling of an unconsecrated infant. It behooves all, therefore, to inquire earnestly which is the true water baptism, the true symbol designed by our Lord, and to obey it promptly. And every consecrated heart, "dead indeed" to self-will and worldly opinion, will be on the alert to know and to do the will of the Lord in this and every other matter. Such alertness is implied in the expression, "Alive toward God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 6:11.)

Suppose that the confusion on the subject of the mode of baptism were so complete, and the testimony concerning the procedure of the early church so confused, that we had nothing whatever to guide us in determining whether the apostolic mode of water baptism was by sprinkling or pouring or immersing, we are now in a place where, seeing clearly what constitutes the real baptism, it is possible for us to see clearly what would and what would not constitute symbols or pictures of it. Scrutinizing every form practiced, one only seems at all to picture death and burial with Christ. We fail to see any symbol of death to the world and self, and with Christ, in many or few drops of water upon the forehead, or in a pail full of water poured over the person. If there is any symbolical likeness of death in either of these we are unable to perceive it. But when we come to consider immersion, we see at a glance a wonderful, a striking, a remarkable, a fitting illustration of all that is implied in the real baptism to death. Not only does the Greek word baptizo signify submergence, covering, burying, overwhelming, but the whole procedure connected with one immersion backward into the water in the name of Christ is a most striking picture of a burial, fitting in every particular. The administrator in the symbol represents our Lord. As the candidate goes to him, so we in our hearts go to the Lord for baptism. Confessing that we cannot of ourselves become dead to self and to the world, we give ourselves into the hand of the Lord asking Him to accept the will for the deed, and requesting that, our wills being given up, He will bury us into His death – that He will cause such experiences, such disciplines, assistances and chastisements as will best enable us to carry out our covenant of consecration. When the candidate has surrendered his will the administrator gently lets him down into the water, and while he is thus on his back, helpless in the water, he furnishes a complete illustration of our powerlessness to assist ourselves while in death; and as the administrator raises him to his feet again we see in the picture just what our Lord has promised to us – to raise us up from the dead in due time by His own power. We make no attempt to constrain the consciences of others who differ with us; but it seems to us evident from the fitness of this symbol that its author was the Lord. Who else could have arranged so complete a picture or symbol of the entire matter? Whoever has already performed the real baptism – whoever has already given himself into the hands of Christ, to become dead with Him, buried in the likeness of His death, and then sees the beauty of this symbolic picture, must, we believe, feel an intense desire to fulfill it in his own case. The language of his heart must surely be: "I delight to do Thy will, O my [NS56] God!" What advantages will accrue from obedience to this symbol? We answer that the advantage does not accrue on the fulfillment of any one part of our consecration vow, but will only be ours if we seek to fulfill all the requirements, first and last – everything included in the full surrender of our wills to the Lord's will, and a full endeavor to walk in His steps. But while the full advantage will accrue at the end of the journey, in the first resurrection, and its glory, honor and immortality, there is a measure of advantage to be enjoyed even now. The satisfaction of mind, the peace of heart, the fact that, like our Lord, we have endeavored to "fulfill all righteousness" – these contribute to that peace of God which flows like a river, regularly and steadily and forcefully, through the lives of those who are His – the peace of God that passeth all understanding in our hearts.


The apostle's testimony is that there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all." (Eph. 4:4-6)

It follows that, as there is only one proper baptism, so there can be but one proper symbol of it; and Christian people in general are agreed that immersion in water corresponds most closely to the meaning of the scriptural language. As illustrations of this agreement, note the following comments from persons who, though probably really baptized into Christ's death, had become confused, so that they did not know how to identify its water symbol, and concluded that it is immaterial. John Calvin, Presbyterian, says: "The very word 'baptizo' signifies to immerse. It is certain that immersion was the practice of the primitive church."

Institutes, Book IV, chap. 15, & 19. Dr. Macknight, Presbyterian: "In baptism the baptized person is buried under the water."

"Christ submitted to be baptized; that is, to be buried under water."

Dr. Philip Schaff, Presbyterian: "Immersion, and not sprinkling, was unquestionably the original, normal form. This is shown by the very meaning of the Greek words 'baptizo,' 'baptismsa,' 'baptismos.' (History of Apostolic Church, p. 568)

In a later publication (1885) he writes further on these "comparisons" that they "are all in favor of immersion, rather than sprinkling, as is fully admitted by the best exegetes, Catholic and Protestant, English and German."

Martin Luther, Lutheran: "' Baptism' is a Greek word, and may be translated 'immersion.'" "I would have those who are to be baptized to be altogether dipped into the water." (Luther's Works, vol. 1, p. 336)

John Wesly, Methodist: "' Buried with him by baptism' – alluding to the ancient method of immersion. Wall, Episcopalian: "Immersion was in all probability the way in which our blessed Saviour, and for certain was the most usual and ordinary way by which the ancient Christians did receive their baptism." (History Infant Baptism, vol. 1, p. 571, Oxford, 1862)

Dean Stanley, Episcopalian: "For the first 13 centuries the almost universal practice of baptism was that of which we read in the New Testament, and which is the very meaning of the word 'baptize' – that those who were baptized were plunged, submerged, immersed into the water." (Christian Institutions, p. 17)

Brenner, Roman Catholic: 'Thirteen hundred years was baptism generally and regularly an immersion of the person under water." (Historical Exhibition of the Administration of Baptism, p. 306)

"The whole person was immersed in water." – Kitto's Encyclopedia.

"Baptism, that is, to dip, or immersion." – Encyclopedia Americana.

"Baptism was originally administered by immersion." – Brande's Encyclopedia.

"Baptism means immersion." – Smith's Bible Dictionary

"Baptize, to dip in or under water." – Liddell & Scott's Greek Lexicon

"To immerse, to sink." – Robinson's Greek Lexicon

"To immerse, submerge, sink." – Greenfield's Lexicon.

A symbolic baptism in water concluded the service.

There is never a sin nor a sorrow, There is never a care nor a loss, But that we may carry to Jesus, And leave at the foot of the cross.

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