Chapter 5

Confession And Baptism


Confession     Baptism     The Meaning Of Baptism     The Baptism Of John     Christian Baptism     Baptism And Repentance     Baptism And Faith     The Embodiment Of Faith
The Design Of Baptism


        We have just learned that repentance and faith are natural prerequisites of salvation. These are natural conditions of salvation because of the nature of salvation and of the atonement for sins. Salvation involves freedom from both the guilt and the practice of sin. Hence the necessity of repentance. The determination to quit sinning and to do right, the dying to sin and being made alive to righteousness, all stand naturally between the sinner and salvation. And inasmuch as salvation is based upon the merits of the atonement of Christ, faith becomes the natural method of accepting the Savior. These two conditions of salvation, then, are demanded naturally. Reason, aside from revelation, sees the propriety of repentance and faith as conditions of salvation.

        But what of confession and baptism? In the first place, are they conditions of salvation? If so, what are their meanings? If conditions of salvation, are they natural conditions such as faith and repentance, or do they have a place because of a special divine arrangement? What saith the Scriptures?

Confession

        In the first place, what is meant by confession? What is to be confessed? Man should stand ready to confess God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, as well as all truth. But are all these things included in the confession here contemplated? The confession that is "unto salvation" must necessarily relate to that which procures salvation. But Jesus Christ is the Savior of men. Hence, the confession here meant must relate to him. It must not only relate to Christ, but it must relate to him as Savior. Faith that stops short of accepting Christ and him crucified as man's redeemer cannot save. Confession, then, must relate to Christ crucified for man's sins. But let us note what the Scriptures say:

        Because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom. 10:9, 10.)

        In this passage confession is made, by divine arrangement, the accompaniment of faith. "If thou shalt confess, . . . and believe." Thus associated with faith it is made a condition of salvation. Man believes "unto righteousness" and confesses "unto salvation." We learn, also, that the object of confession is the object of saving faith. We must confess "Jesus as Lord."

        With these facts in hand, let us see what can be learned concerning confession. Inasmuch as confession is an accompaniment of faith and the object of confession is the object of faith, we naturally conclude that faith and confession are not mere accompaniments, but are essentially related as to meaning. This conclusion is demanded, not only by the context, but by the fact that faith, in the sense of trust, is the only proper response to the blood of Christ. Now, if confession has a meaning different from faith, if it introduces a new significance, then another cause than the blood of Christ is required in order to salvation. Faith accepts all that grace offers. If, then, confession has not the meaning of faith, it cannot relate to grace, and would consequently be ruled out as a condition of salvation. Rather let us say it would never have been given a place as a condition of salvation, for certainly God would not have joined to faith something incompatible with faith. Confession is an accompaniment meet for faith. It is, as to meaning, faith. It is a statement in words of the belief of the heart. Confession, therefore, is faith spoken.

        The significance of confession must, therefore, be derived from faith. Apart from faith it could not be. There would be nothing to confess that relates to salvation. Hence, with Paul, confession is comprehended in faith. Note that in the above passage both confession and faith are named as conditions of salvation. Then immediately each is named as a condition reaching salvation, apparently as though the other were unnecessary. Faith is said to be "unto righteousness." This is equivalent to saying that faith reaches salvation. (The idea that "unto righteousness" means only in the direction of, but not attaining, righteousness is unfounded and would make void the argument of the apostle. If "unto righteousness" means that righteousness is approached, but not reached, then "unto the remission of . . . sins" in Acts 2:38 signifies that remission of sin is only approached, but not reached. This point will have special attention later.) Confession is "unto salvation"--that is, confession saves. Moffatt translates Rom. 9:10 thus:

        For with his heart man believes and is justified, with his mouth he confesses and is saved.

        To be justified is to be saved. Hence, the two expressions are equivalent. Is man, therefore, saved twice? No, if faith and confession have the same meaning; yes, if they do not have the same meaning. If faith differs in significance from confession and yet reaches salvation, and confession differs from faith and yet reaches justification, then there are two salvations, or, what would be as unreasonable, two methods of reaching salvation. The apostle most certainly considers faith and the confession two aspects of the same thing. That this is true, note the proof offered by him that faith and confession save. Immediately after having asserted that "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation," Paul appeals to the prophet Isaiah for proof of his statement thus:

        For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. (Rom. 10:11.)

        That is, when the prophet said the believer should not be put to shame, Paul had proof that both faith and confession are conditions of salvation. But how did he have proof if confession has not the same significance as faith? What amounts to this conclusion is conceded by almost every one. While admitting that confession is a condition of salvation, almost every one sometimes omits confession in naming the conditions.

        Now, these facts involve an important principle. It is admitted on all hands that salvation is by faith; yet we have just seen that salvation by faith does not forbid confession as also a condition. Now, if confession be admitted as a condition of justification, might not something else be admitted also?

Baptism

        The answer to the above question will be postponed until we find out what baptism is. Nor do we consider it necessary to say much on this point. "Baptism" is a word of a definite meaning which the lexicographers have not tried to hide. Thayer, and he is as good as the best, says the word baptidzo means: "To dip repeatedly, to immerse, submerge." The scholarship of the world says the word means to dip, to submerge. The word does not mean to sprinkle or pour, and no one so contended until the Catholic Church substituted sprinkling and pouring for baptism. Even the Catholics did not contend that the Greek word baptidzo means to sprinkle or to pour, but simply took the matter into their own hands, as they claim they have the right to do, and substituted these acts for immersion. At first sprinkling or pouring was admitted only to the sick. Not even infants were at first sprinkled, but immersed. Finally sprinkling or pouring for baptism was admitted to all.

        In the course of time even Protestants came to practice sprinkling and pouring for baptism. The highest authority that either Catholics or Protestants have for substituting these acts for baptism is the Pope. This fact is a matter of history, and can be verified by any one who wishes to do so.

        Not only does the word baptidzo signify to immerse, but the circumstances surrounding the ordinance as mentioned in the New Testament necessarily imply immersion. For example, John the Baptist performed the act of baptism in the river Jordan.

        Then went out unto him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about the Jordan; and they were baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. (Matt. 3:5, 6.)

        When we remember that John, a preacher sent of God, would not have done the ridiculous thing of getting into a river to sprinkle a little water on people, we have good circumstantial evidence that baptism is immersion. When Luke was recording the baptism of the eunuch (Acts 8:38, 39), he said of the baptizer and the one to be baptized that "they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." When the act of baptism was completed, Luke said "they came up out of the water." Nothing about the whole transaction remotely suggests that Philip sprinkled water on the eunuch. Some have strangely imagined that Philip could not have immersed the eunuch because of a scarcity of water, for Luke says of the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza: "The same is desert." (Acts 8:26.) Yet Luke says both Philip and the eunuch "went down into the water." But the word "desert" has nothing directly to do with water, little or much. The word primarily means desolate, solitary, uninhabited. The road from Jerusalem to Gaza led through an uninhabited region, and, hence, as Moffatt says, the road was the "desert route." The word "desert" came to be applied to rainless regions--not to signify their lack of rainfall, but to describe their solitary and uninhabited state. Since rainless regions are usually uninhabited, the idea of a lack of rainfall attached itself to the word "desert." The word translated "wilderness" in Matt. 3:1 is the word for "desert." Moffatt translates the passage thus:

        In those days John the Baptist came on the scene, preaching in the desert of Judea.

        Yet the river Jordan ran through this "desert" and John baptized in it. Philip could have had as much water for immersion as did John, so far as the word "desert" is concerned. The country where John preached and baptized was a "wilderness" or "desert" because it was in the country where people did not live, as opposed to the cities where the people made their homes. And just so with Philip. The route he took from Jerusalem to Gaza led through an uninhabited region. Hence, it was called a "desert." To confirm this meaning of the word "desert," notice Mark's use of it. (Mark 6:31-39.) After a busy day's work among the multitudes, Christ said to his disciples: "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while." Mark explains: "For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat." Yes, a desert place is a good place to rest. It is not, however, if "desert" means a dry, hot place. But note the mode of travel to this desert place. I can imagine some one thinks he sees Jesus mounted on a camel. But not so. Hear Mark: "And they went away in the boat to a desert place apart." Enough water in this "desert" to float a boat! Then why not enough water in a desert place to immerse a man? But more. Mark states that the people learned where Christ and his disciples were going: "And they ran together on foot from all the cities, and outwent them." So when Christ and his disciples landed they found a great multitude of people. But the people failed to bring food. This is the occasion of Christ's feeding the five thousand. In arranging the people for the meal, Christ ordered "that all should sit down by companies upon the green grass." Yes, green grass in the desert! The river Jordan in the desert! Only a lack of information causes one to think there is not enough water in a "desert" for immersion.

        The meaning of baptism excludes the idea of sprinkling or pouring. Baptism pictures the burial and resurrection of Christ. This, affusion cannot do.

        We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. (Rom. 6:4.)

        Having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Col. 2:12.)

        The scholarship of the world says the baptism of these verses is water baptism. If baptism is a burial and a resurrection, then only immersion is baptism.

The Meaning Of Baptism

        To a stranger to Christianity it would seem unreasonable that baptism should have a place in religion at all. What does baptism have to do with saving one from sin? Does not the blood of Christ do that? And are not the benefits of the blood accepted by faith? If baptism can neither procure salvation nor accept it, how can it have a place under Christ? In other words, what does baptism signify? What is its meaning? We propose to answer these questions in the fear of God.

        In the first place, we have seen that baptism is immersion, and that it pictures the burial and resurrection of Christ. Here is a good beginning. Baptism, then, relates to Christ. Now, since Christ is Savior and baptism relates to him, it can rightfully have a place under Christianity. Now, baptism refers not simply to Christ, but to him in his saving capacity. It concerns Christ's death, burial, and resurrection for the sins of the world. Here, then, is a still better reason why baptism can have a place in the salvation of man.

        Now, since baptism relates to Christ, even to Christ in his saving capacity, what is the meaning of this reference? Perhaps something can be ascertained concerning its significance by noting its accompaniments. If a piece of machinery is joined to the motor of a car, it is evident that it has nothing to do with the wheels of the machine. The presumption is that it has a work that relates to the motor. Its place necessarily suggests this much. Now, with what is baptism associated? From the following Scriptures we see that it is connected with repentance and faith:

        John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sin. (Mark 1:4.)

        Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38.)

        He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. (Mark 16:16.)

        But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. And Simon also himself believed: and being baptized, he continued with Philip. (Acts 8:12, 13.)

        And many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. (Acts 18:8.)

        For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. (Gal. 3:26, 27.)

        In some way, then, baptism, being associated with repentance and faith, must share in their meaning. Let us study first

The Baptism Of John

        John's work was to lead the people to repentance, thus preparing them for Christ. Hence, Matthew writes:

        And in those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt 3:1, 2.)

        Mark wrote of John:

        John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins. (Mark 1:4.)

        It was John's business, then, to preach the message of repentance. It was the duty of the people to repent and reform their lives. What the people did, therefore, in response, to John's preaching was repentance or signified repentance. But John preached not simply repentance, but the baptism of repentance. The baptism the people received was, therefore, a baptism that concerned repentance. What did baptism under the preaching of John mean?

        The meaning of John's baptism is to be determined from its accompaniment, repentance. It was a "baptism of repentance." Such a baptism is one based on repentance, not one simply preceded by it. It is a baptism signifying or embodying repentance--that is, the baptism of the people stood for their repentance. No one was to be baptized who had not repented, and every one who repented was to be baptized. Baptism and repentance were, therefore, according to a divine arrangement, inseparable. Neither was to be considered apart from the other. Baptism apart from repentance would have been meaningless, and repentance without baptism would have been without its God-ordained manifestation. Hence, John preached--not baptism, but a "baptism of repentance." He preached not simply repentance, but repentance embodied in baptism. John was sent to preach both, and God did not contemplate one apart from the other. Neither should we.

        The meaning of John's baptism was repentance. One acquainted with John's mission of leading people to repentance would know that one had repented on seeing him baptized. The response to the preaching of repentance is repentance. But the people responded, outwardly, by accepting John's baptism. Their baptism, then, meant repentance. It introduced no meaning not found in repentance. It lacked no meaning found therein.

        Now, the design of John's baptism can easily be learned. Since it meant repentance and was not to be separated from it; since repentance was outwardly embodied in baptism, the purpose of one is the purpose of the other. They can no more be separated in meaning than in practice. Something that John preached was "unto the remission of sins." What was it? Was it repentance? No, not just that. Was it baptism? And not just baptism. (The Bible nowhere contemplates immersion per se. It must have an accompaniment that gives to it a significance.) The thing that was "unto the remission of sins" was not repentance simply or baptism. Nor did John preach repentance and baptism "unto the remission of sins." But he preached "the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins."

Christian Baptism

        A part of the final message of Jesus to his disciples was:

        Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 28:19.)

        What, now, does Christian baptism signify? As to what constitutes baptism we have already seen. Baptism, as to the act, is the same under Christ as anywhere else. Its meaning, however, may not always be the same. Under John we found that baptism, by divine arrangement, meant repentance. Does it signify repentance under Christ? If so, what else?

Baptism And Repentance

        While baptism under Christ has a more extended meaning than it did under John, it will be found that it still relates to repentance. Now, it is the peculiar work of repentance to change one's attitude toward sin and righteousness. In this work it has no substitute. Neither faith nor baptism can do the work of repentance. In repentance one ceases to love sin and begins his love for righteousness. To use a Bible figure, in repentance one dies to sin and is raised to righteousness. There is no neutral ground. As soon as one hates sin he loves righteousness. Repentance not only turns one away from Satan, but turns him toward God. Hence, it is appropriately considered a death with respect to sin and a resurrection with respect to righteousness.

        Now, under Christ it is the work of baptism to represent this change of mind toward sin and righteousness. Baptism cannot effect this change, but it can and does represent or symbolize it. And thus does Paul speak of it:

        Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. (Rom. 6:3, 4.)

        Thus Paul answered in replying to the question: "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" The Christian cannot continue in sin, for the evident reason that in becoming a child of God he died unto sin. One cannot live in that unto which he has died. Hence, Paul reminded those who asked the question that at the time of their conversion they died unto sin, and that their baptism represented this death to sin as well as their resurrection to righteousness. Every one, he said, who is "baptized into Christ Jesus" was thereby "baptized into his death." The burial in baptism implies a previous death, as the resurrection in baptism signifies a new life. Keep in mind that Paul is here speaking of man's attitude toward sin and righteousness, not of God's attitude toward the sinner. The "likeness of his death"' (Rom. 6:5) is our death to sin, and the "likeness of his resurrection" is our resurrection to righteousness in repentance, represented by the burial and the resurrection in baptism, respectively. In repentance the "old man was crucified with him" and signified by the burial in baptism. The death of Christ related to sin, while his life relates to God.

        For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God. (Rom. 6:10.)

        Just so in our repentance two changes take place. First, like Christ and with him, we die unto sin. Second, like Christ and with him, we are raised to live unto God. But these changes are represented by Paul as taking place in baptism. "We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death," and we were raised from baptism to "walk in newness of life." Now, Paul cannot mean that, baptism effects repentance; that one dies to sin and is raised to righteousness in the act of baptism. This would be to ascribe to baptism a miraculous power. Repentance would then be a gift of baptism, not an act of man. Paul certainly means that baptism signifies repentance--the burial standing for death to sin, the emersion representing a resurrection to righteousness.

        Under Christ, then, baptism is connected with repentance as a symbol of it. In this case it must share with repentance its meaning. Hence, Paul could find in baptism a reason for the Roman Christians' not continuing in sin. If baptism does not have the significance of repentance, why did Paul represent it as the dividing line between a life of sin and a life of righteousness?

Baptism And Faith

        Just as baptism is associated with repentance, it is found accompanying faith.

        He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. (Mark 16:16.)

        But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. And Simon also himself believed: and being baptized, he continued with Philip. (Acts 8:12, 13.)

        And many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. (Acts 18:8.)

        For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. (Gal. 3:26, 27.)

        Now, what relation does baptism sustain to faith? Is their association accidental or incidental? Is baptism simply something added to faith, but having no special reference to it? One can scarcely read thoughtfully the above passages without concluding that baptism is essentially related to faith in meaning. And remember that the meaning of things under Christ is of the very greatest importance. Baptism or anything else would not have been commanded without a purpose. Mere obedience under Christ has no place, but obedience with a meaning does have. It is, perhaps, impossible to imagine a more meaningless act than baptism in water unless it is associated with something that gives it significance. Certainly the Lord would not have imposed this obligation upon man simply to have him doing something. And a failure to see the true significance of baptism has led some to consider it of no special importance, while others exalt it to a place of first importance, making even repentance and faith do service for it.

        Let it be remembered here what has been said about repentance and faith. These two things comprehend in principle everything required of the sinner in coming to God through Christ. God will not save the impenitent or him who will not accept by faith the atonement made for his sins. Repentance and faith are naturally required in view of the nature of salvation and the atonement. Salvation from both the guilt and practice is a matter of impossibility apart from repentance. And grace is accepted by faith--that is, Christ and him crucified, the all-sufficient sacrifice for sins, must be relied upon to do what God intended--namely, save man from his sins. This reliance upon the blood of Christ is faith or trust in him. "Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" represent in principle all that is necessary in order to salvation; for what is required but to repent of the sins committed and then to accept the remedy for sin, Jesus Christ?

        So, then, if baptism, or anything else, is given a place as a condition of salvation, it must have the significance of either repentance or faith, or both. But we have already seen that baptism is related to repentance by way of picturing it. In repentance one dies to sin. This death is symbolized in baptism. Baptism, then, has, by virtue of its connection with repentance, the significance of repentance. And just so it is given the meaning of faith. This principle of seeing in acts of obedience repentance or faith, or both, is nothing unusual in the Bible. Indeed, why does God require obedience? He needs not our service. But man needs God. Since God must save, man needs to exercise reliance upon God. Let us see about the principle just mentioned.

The Embodiment Of Faith

        Matthew (8:5-13) records the healing by Christ of a centurion's servant. Through others this centurion besought Christ to heal a sick servant. When Christ offered to go to the centurion's house, the centurion objected because he felt unworthy to receive the Lord. "Only say the word, and my servant shall be healed," insisted the centurion. Here was unusual faith, and the Lord marveled, saying: "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." Finally the Lord said to this unusual Gentile: "Go thy way; as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee." Now, that which, in this Gentile, appealed to Christ was his faith. The distance covered to get to Christ, the appeal in behalf of a sick servant, Christ interpreted to mean faith in himself. And when Christ finally bestowed the favor asked for, he did it on the condition of the man's faith. "As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee." All the acts of the centurion that related to Christ had the meaning of faith.

        Once a woman who had a wasting disease of twelve years' standing, and who had spent all her living upon physicians without being cured, heard of Christ and decided he could heal her. In her weakened condition she traveled some distance and made her way through a thronging crowd of curious people to reach the Savior. "If I touch but his garments," she thought, "I shall be made whole." And having touched him, "straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her plague." Though thronged by the curious multitude, Christ knew that he felt an unusual touch. Power from him had gone forth to some trusting person. He asked who had touched him. The people wondered at such a question under the circumstances, but the poor healed woman understood. Fearing that possibly she had not done the right thing, she "came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth." Jesus said to her: "Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague." (Read Mark 5:25-34.)

        As usual, Jesus saw in all the woman did faith in himself. Her weary journey along the road, pushing her way through the crowd to reach Christ, and touching his garments had but one significance--faith; and when Jesus spoke words of commendation to the woman, he gave her faith the credit.

        Wherever the Savior went, he was thronged with the sick, the blind, and the maimed seeking his mercy. Once he was teaching in Capernaum. The house where he was was filled to overflowing. All room about the door was taken. Four men bearing on a couch a man sick of the palsy appeared at the door. They had brought the man to Christ to be healed. But they could not enter. Not defeated, they uncovered the roof of the flat-topped house and let the sick man down immediately in front of the Lord as he was teaching. The historian is brief in his account of this scene. He merely says: "And Jesus seeing their faith, saith unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins are forgiven." As in the other examples cited, so in this, Jesus interpreted the acts of those who sought his mercy as faith. Faith is of the heart and cannot be known except as it is expressed through action or word; but the word or act has an appeal to Christ only because it expresses faith in him. Here, then, are acts done by men at their own impulse denominated by the Savior as "faith."

        After Israel's deliverance from Egypt, they were kept in the wilderness for forty years. During this time they grew weary and repeatedly rebelled against God. This people and their conduct become to us examples. We are warned not to do as they did, for because of their sins they failed to enter Canaan. Our own sins may prevent our entering the heavenly Canaan. The writer of the book of Hebrews has this to say of the Israelites:

        And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that were disobedient? And we see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief. (Heb. 3:18, 19.)

        God saw in the disobedience of the Jews unbelief in himself. This is the real significance of all disobedience, as obedience really signifies faith in God. All sins of the Jews were simply unbelief.

        Now, if conduct in general, especially when not commanded of God, may appropriately be called "faith," why not some act commanded of God also have the meaning of faith? Now, that baptism may, upon the above principle, have the significance of faith is an easy possibility; and this possibility becomes a probability when it is remembered that baptism is associated with faith in many passages. Then when we remember also that baptism is a burial and a resurrection, symbolizing the burial and resurrection of Christ, the probability becomes a reasonable certainty. Baptism, then, has the significance of faith. Faith is inward; baptism, outward. And both mean trust in Christ.

        But baptism is not simply an act of faith. It is a special act ordained of God to represent or embody faith. Feeding the hungry might be, in a general way, an act of faith; but feeding the hungry does not, and cannot, picture one's faith in Christ buried and raised for his justification. Many benevolent persons who are unbelievers feed the poor, but no unbeliever in Christ will sincerely be baptized. And while having mercy upon the hungry does not necessarily imply faith in Christ at all, being baptized "in the name of Christ" not only implies faith, but in a special way pictures it. In other words, God's design in giving baptism was to represent one's faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. No other act is ordained of God thus to picture faith.

        We are, therefore, more than justified in giving to baptism the meaning of faith or trust in Christ. And apart from the office of representing repentance and faith, baptism would be as incongruous an element in Christianity as one could easily imagine. Let us, with this conception of baptism "in the name of Christ" study again the passages in which are found both faith and baptism.

        Our risen Lord said to his disciples:

        Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned (Mark 16:15, 16.)

        Now, the gospel is the glad tidings of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection for our sins. (1 Cor. 15:1-4.) The death of Christ is God's remedy for our sins to be received by faith. It is the grace of God by which we are saved through faith. (Eph. 2:8.) The proper response to the gospel is faith, the improper response is disbelief. Man's faith receives God's grace. Then why is some other act than faith made a condition of salvation? Where is the place for it? What can it do? Has chaos joined hands with order? Have the compatible and the incompatible found fellowship? Why not something be added to grace as the procuring cause of man's salvation if faith is to have an accompaniment? The apostle wrote:

        For by grace have ye been saved through faith.

        "Grace" and "faith" are correlative terms. They are, so to speak, equations. If something is added to faith, does not the equation cease? Four equals four, but four does not equal four plus one. Grace calls for faith, but grace does not call for faith plus. If a "quantity" is added to faith, an equal "quantity" must be added to grace, or the equation ceases to be an equation. But Jesus has said (and can a mistake be ascribed to him?): "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Something apparently has been added to faith; but has something possessing an extra meaning been added? Most certainly not! To think so is extremely unreasonable. Might as well claim that four equals four plus one. It cannot be made to do it. Neither are grace and faith plus possible. Grace would then cease to be grace, for faith had ceased to be just faith. Baptism, then, must possess the meaning of faith. Faith simply means the rejection of self and human righteousness and the acceptance of Christ and divine righteousness. And so does baptism "in the name of Jesus Christ." It cannot possibly be made to mean something different. A different meaning would be meaningless here. Just as being baptized under John meant the reception of John's preaching of repentance, so baptism under Christ means the reception of God's grace. But the reception of grace means faith. So, then, baptism means faith.

        The very form of Christ's statement, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned," confirms this meaning of baptism. Faith and baptism in the first sentence are made to balance, so to speak, disbelief in the second sentence--that is, disbelief is the exact opposite of belief. But disbelief is, in this passage, made the opposite of both belief and baptism. Hence, belief and baptism are simply belief--that is, both have the same significance, that of trust in Christ. Baptism is faith embodied in an outward act.

        And not only does the form of the statements signify that faith and baptism mean simply faith, but the consequences of obedience on the one hand and disobedience on the other signify as much. Salvation follows belief and baptism, while condemnation follows disbelief. Now, salvation and condemnation are exact opposites; but condemnation is the consequent of disbelief. Hence, disbelief signifies the exact opposite of the conditions of salvation; but the conditions of salvation are belief and baptism. It follows that disbelief is the exact opposite of belief and baptism; but disbelief is the exact opposite of belief. Hence, belief and baptism equal belief.

        Now, some one who looks merely at the surface of things may insist that I have made four equal four plus one. Only apparently, not in reality, have I done so. I have simply shown that so far as baptism having a meaning extra to faith, it is zero, or nothing. Baptism has a meaning that signifies faith, or it has a meaning different from faith, or it has no meaning at all. It is folly to ascribe to it no meaning at all. It is to associate things incompatible to assign baptism a meaning different to faith. It is both sensible and necessary to give to it the significance of faith.

        But another insists that repentance and faith are associated, and this does not prove that they are identical as to meaning. No, and for a good reason that does not obtain with reference to faith and baptism. As we have shown before, repentance is a natural requirement of salvation. Repentance has naturally a meaning. It is the determination to quit sinning and to do right. Repentance, then, by an inherent right has a place as a condition of salvation. But immersion in water per se is wholly without meaning under Christ. Its meaning must be assigned it by divine decree. The meaning of baptism, unlike repentance, is dependent on something else. Repentance has a fundamental and spiritual idea inhering in the word, while baptism must depend upon circumstances for its signification. Here is a vital difference. But let us study another Scripture

        But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (Acts 8:12.)

        Now, here is something done following faith and done because of faith. Why be baptized simply because one has believed on Christ? There can be no reason for it except baptism is designed to express faith. That faith is a mere prerequisite of baptism, which has a different meaning and a separate design to faith, is a notion that betrays a lack of understanding of Christianity. These Samaritans, who believed simply, embodied their faith in an act specially ordained of God for this purpose; and just so did the baptism of the jailer at Philippi follow his faith. (Acts 16:31-33.)

        Paul's reference to baptism in his letter to the Galatians (Gal. 3:26, 27) is significant:

        For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

        Sonship is reached through faith--that is, faith appropriates the atonement made by Christ Jesus. Now, sonship means salvation. Hence, faith saves. But the apostle represents baptism as the means whereby Christ is reached. Is man saved twice--once by baptism and once by faith? Certainly not. Or does faith merely take care of the preliminary matters and baptism really do the work? That is, does the sinner merely approach Christ by faith and enter him by baptism? Is faith only a means to an end, and that end baptism? Paul asserts that we are sons of God" by faith. To be sons is to be saved. Yet our writer speaks as though baptism did again what had been accomplished by faith. What is the explanation?

        Reread the Scripture carefully. We are "sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus." Now note the first word: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ Jesus did put on Christ." The "for" looks back to being made sons by faith. If baptism does not relate to previous faith as to its results, why mention it at all? Baptism relates to Christ; it is "in the name of Jesus Christ." But we are sons through faith in him. Baptism, then, expresses faith. Or how can baptism into Christ confirm sonship by faith? In this passage, as in others already studied, baptism has the meaning of faith. Verse 27 states in other words what was asserted in verse 26.

        Luke, recording the work of Paul at Corinth, wrote:

        And Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. (Acts 18:8.)

        Now, this language necessarily implies that what was done by Crispus was also done by "many of the Corinthians." Crispus "believed in the Lord." The Corinthians "believed and were baptized." Hence, to believe and be baptized is simply to "believe in the Lord." Thus baptism is again seen to have the meaning of faith in Christ.

        But not only does this Scripture imply that what was true of Crispus was also true of the Corinthians, but it just as certainly implies that what was true of the Corinthians was also true of Crispus. But the Corinthians were baptized. Hence, it is implied that Crispus also was baptized. Read again carefully: "And Crispus believed . . ." Well, did Crispus alone believe? Paul continues: "And many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized." Just as other Corinthians believed, so was Crispus baptized. But we are not left to inference, even necessary inference, concerning whether Crispus received baptism. When Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, he found a spirit of division in the church occasioned by its teachers. He found some holding to him seemingly because he had baptized them. Hence, he wrote them:

        I thank God that I baptized none of you, save Crispus and Gaius. (1 Cor. 1:14.)

        Now, Luke said that Crispus "believed in the Lord." His baptism is not mentioned specifically. The baptism of other Corinthians is mentioned, however, and it is implied that what was true of them was also true of Crispus, as we have seen. Thus Luke used the word "believe" to comprehend its manifestation--baptism. And this use of belief signifies that the meaning of baptism is faith.

The Design Of Baptism

        Having shown that baptism is intended to picture repentance and faith, it is hardly necessary to inquire as to its purpose. If baptism means repentance and faith, then it is for the same purpose or purposes as repentance and faith. Of course, baptism has no purpose apart from faith or repentance, just like it has no meaning apart from these things. The so-called baptism of infants is without meaning, and so without purpose. In this case there is no repentance or faith to picture. Hence, baptism would have to be considered apart from these and alone. It, therefore, is not only meaningless, but purposeless. The truth is, the Bible nowhere contemplates the baptism of infants. Hence, the purpose of baptism is determined by its meaning; and meaning repentance and faith, it must look to them for its design. But remission of sins is promised to those who repent and believe upon Christ.

        And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations. (Luke 24:47.)

        Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out. (Acts 3:19.)

        To him bear all the prophets witness, that through his name every one that believeth on him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:43.)

        And by him every one that believeth is justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:39.)

        We conclude, therefore, that baptism, meaning repentance and faith, must be a condition of the remission of sins.

        And just so do the Scriptures plainly represent it. Peter, when asked, "What shall we do?" by those convicted of their sins, replied:

        Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38.)

        Repentance and baptism here precede the promise of the remission of sins. This passage seems to be parallel with Acts 20:21, where it is reported that Paul said to the elders at Ephesus that he preached to both Jews and Gentiles "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Baptism "in the name of Jesus Christ" signifies faith in Christ. To repent toward God, against whom all sins are committed, and to receive by faith the sacrifice for sins, comprehends all that is naturally required of the sinner. Hence, when Peter said, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ," he preached just as Paul did.

        It might be well to say here that the phrase, "in the name of Jesus Christ," in Acts 2:38, has been too much overlooked in determining the meaning and purpose of baptism. Peter did not mean to say that people merely had the permission of Christ to receive baptism. Baptism "in the name of Christ" means much more than to be baptized by his authority. John (14:26) says that God sent the Holy Spirit in the name of Christ. This cannot mean that the Father sent the Spirit by the authority of Christ. The context shows the Spirit was to take the place of the departed Christ. He was to represent Christ--to stand for him. So much was the Spirit a representative of Christ that the Savior spoke of the descent of the Spirit as his own coming to the disciples. (John 14:28.) The Spirit, after his descent, would operate "in the name of Christ." In this way he would become a Comforter to the disciples, who were sorrowing over the departure of their Savior.

        Let me try to illustrate the meaning of the phrase, "in the name of Jesus Christ." Two men, A and B, are strangers. B desires some favor of A. He knows he cannot, with hope, appeal directly to A, being a stranger to him. But B has a friend, C, who is also a special friend of A. He then goes to C with the request that C send word by him to A, recommending B as worthy of the favor and suggesting that the request be granted. B appears before A and makes his request, stating that C recommends that the request be granted. And so A grants B the favor, not for B's sake, but for the sake of his friend, C. This favor can be said to be granted "in the name of C"--that is, it was granted out of regard for C. So when the sinner appears, as it were, before God begging for mercy, God sees nothing in the sinner himself to cause him to extend mercy. But the sinner says: "Father, I make my plea, not in my own name. I know I am a sinner worthy of nothing but death. But I make my plea in the name of your beloved Son and my best friend. For me he offered himself to you. Indeed, you set him forth as my sin offering. I now accept him just as you set him forth. It is, then, upon the merits of his blood that I make my plea." And thus the sinner goes to God "in the name of Jesus Christ." He places Christ between himself and God and begs God on behalf of Christ for mercy. So Peter told his hearers to repent of their sins and to be baptized "in the name of Jesus Christ" unto the remission of their sins. Hence, baptism here means faith or reliance upon Christ for pardon.

        The relation of baptism to salvation is seen also from the Savior's own language:

        He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. (Mark 16:16.)

        As has been explained, baptism here is faith outwardly expressed. And since baptism means trust in Christ, it can appropriately be given a place along with faith. It is faith objectified.

        Since the design of baptism has already been discovered in our study of its meaning, I think it unnecessary to repeat what has been said. Suffice it to say that its place as a condition of salvation is made possible only because it has, by divine arrangement, been made an accompaniment of repentance and faith in order to express them outwardly.

        Keeping this in mind, it would seem wholly out of place to assign baptism a purpose separate from faith or repentance. Certainly baptism per se has no place under Christ. Nor is baptism merely preceded by faith and repentance. If I say that baptism to a penitent believer is unto the remission of his sins, I have not only given it a meaning separate from repentance and faith, but I have disassociated these from remission of sins. Faith in Christ certainly does more than to prepare one for baptism. Faith and repentance are as much for the remission of sins as baptism. (See Luke 24:47; Acts 10:43; 13:39.) Yea, more, because baptism looks to them for any meaning and purpose at all. It is only because it expresses faith or repentance, or both, that baptism is for anything. Faith is more than a mere principle of action that leads one to the waters of baptism. If faith is no more than a principle of action, then man is saved upon the principle of works, and grace is made void. Along with the notion that faith is a mere principle of action that leads one to be baptized is the idea that the efficacy of the blood of Christ has been transferred to water. This is sheer nonsense, and savors more of popery than of Christianity. The power of the blood to save has not been transferred to anything. It will never be transferred to something else. This is only a courteous way of robbing the cross of its meaning and rendering it of no effect. Paul gloried only in the cross; but he had not heard of this transfer of saving power from blood to water! Such positions will do more to turn people from baptism than to cause them to think well of it. There is no necessity of robbing both grace and faith of their power and giving it to baptism. Baptism is a most sacred institution, and the Lord has assigned to it a very significant place; but he has said nothing nor authorized any man to say something that would give baptism the significance of everything, including the blood of Christ.

        Still others imagine the power of the blood has been transferred to a plan. This is to degenerate Christianity into a crude legalism. Absolutely nothing is to be gained with thinking people by such absurd positions. The Bible offers no excuse for them. Leave the power with the blood, where God placed it and left it. Let faith mean trust in the blood to cleanse from all sin, not a mere principle of action that leads one to an ordinance to which has been transferred the power of the cross. Let baptism mean faith in the blood, and not blood. Let it be faith embodied, not the embodiment of blood.

        The custom of separating repentance, faith, confession, and baptism, and assigning each a separate and distinct office, is begotten of a misunderstanding of Christianity. For example, faith is sometimes stood alone and said to cleanse the heart; and this is asserted of faith even before repentance. When Peter, at the Jerusalem conference, said God had cleansed the hearts of the Gentiles by faith (Acts 15:9), he was not considering the work of faith separated from repentance. This was simply Peter's way of saying God had saved the Gentiles by faith. The idea that the heart of the impenitent sinner is cleansed is unworthy of serious notice. The "plan" is further reduced to red tape by such notions as that faith starts one on his way to Christ, gets him so far and stops, then turns him over to repentance. In turn, repentance takes him up and gets him still nearer Christ, but stops short of him. And when he confesses his faith before men, he is still seen approaching, but not reaching, salvation. And now that faith, repentance, and confession could not reach Christ, they all turn the sinner over to baptism, which finishes the work and gets him to Christ. This position is based upon a misconception of the prepositions "unto" and "into," the first being associated with faith, repentance, and confession; the last, with baptism. Then the office of faith is to put one on the way to salvation. It is "unto righteousness"--that is, in the direction of righteousness! Repentance is "unto life"--that is, in the direction of life. And so confession is "unto salvation"--still going toward salvation, but not attaining it. Finally baptism is reached, which puts one "into Christ."

        Now, the Scriptures do say that faith is "unto righteousness"; repentance, "unto life"; confession, "unto salvation"; and baptism, "into Christ." But the question is: What do "believeth unto righteousness," "repentance unto life," "confession unto salvation," and "baptized into Christ" mean? Does "unto" in the first three places signify simply motion in the direction of? The fundamental principles of Christianity are involved in this matter. Let us, then, try to discover the meaning given "unto" by the writers of the Bible.

        Let us first note what Paul has said relative to faith and confession:

        Because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. (Rom. 10:9-11.)

        Here are the phrases, "believeth unto righteousness" and "confession unto salvation." Now, did Paul mean to say that faith and confession do not save, but only put man in the direction of salvation? Notice both verses 9 and 11. Verse 9 says whoever believes and confesses shall be "saved." Verse 11 asserts that the believer shall "not be put to shame." Verse 10 gives the reason for the statements in verses 9 and 11: "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Faith saves, then, because it is "unto righteousness." Likewise confession saves because it is "unto salvation." The only conclusion possible is that "unto righteousness" and "unto salvation" signify salvation or justification. Moffatt translates verse 10 thus:

        For with his heart man believes and is justified, with his mouth he confesses and is saved.

        The Twentieth Century New Testament renders verse 10 as follows:

        For with their hearts men believe and so attain to righteousness, while with their lips they make their profession of faith and so find salvation.

        In none of these translations is the idea found that faith and confession merely start one in the direction of salvation. Each necessarily mean that salvation is reached by them.

        Likewise when the Jews were convinced that the Gentiles were admitted as gospel subjects they said: "Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life." (Acts 11:18.) This was their way of saying that God through their repentance had saved the Gentiles, repentance, of course, being used in its comprehensive sense to include faith in Christ. Moffatt reads: "So God has actually allowed the Gentiles to repent and live." Repentance merely in the direction of life would have been wholly foreign to the purpose of the Jews when they made the above statement relative to the acceptance of the Gentiles. Both repentance and baptism are "unto the remission of your sins." (Acts 2:38, R. V.)

        Study the force of the word "unto" in the following passages. The blood of Christ is "unto remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28); the gospel is "unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16); God gave the Gentiles up "unto vile passions" and "unto a reprobate mind"; grace reigns "unto eternal life" (Rom. 5:21); sin is "unto death" and obedience is "unto righteousness" (Rom. 6:16); (compare with "the wages of sin is death"--Rom. 6:23); sinful passions bring forth fruit "unto death" (Rom. 7:5); vessels of wrath are fitted "unto destruction" (Rom. 9:22); "Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness" (Rom. 10:4); man believes "unto righteousness" (Rom. 10:10); he confesses "unto salvation" (Rom. 10:10); faith is "unto the saving of the soul" (Heb. 10:39); Peter said he and others had been begotten "unto a living hope" (1 Pet. 1:3); "the law is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ" (Gal. 3:24); and, finally, Jesus said, "Come unto me" (Matt. 11:28). If "unto" signifies merely in the direction of, then, according to the examples just given, how is it possible to attain or completely reach an end?

        The truth is, man is considered as either saved or lost. An intermediate position is not contemplated in the Bible. The conditions of salvation are considered, not separately, but as a whole. Hence, either condition is said to reach salvation. Repentance is thus "unto life"; confession, "unto salvation"; and baptism saves. (1 Pet. 3:21.)

        Before leaving this part of our study, let us note the relation of the conditions of salvation to the Savior. Of course the cause of man's salvation is the blood of Christ. Certainly, then, must the conditions of salvation relate to the blood that it be not made void.

        The faith, then, that saves is faith in Christ. Any truth, or even all truth, accepted apart from Christ cannot save. Not only must saving faith relate to Christ, but to him crucified for our sins. Hence, man's faith must be in his blood. (Rom. 3:25.)

        Repentance is produced by means of preaching the gospel. Man apart from a Savior is a sinner doomed to death. Sin necessitates a sacrifice that man cannot make. God in his goodness set forth Christ as a propitiation for our sins. Hence, for me Christ died, and sin is that which demanded his death. A consideration of these facts on the part of the sinner leads him to repentance. Repentance was to be preached in his name.

        The confession that is "unto salvation" is our confession of faith in Christ. (Rom. 10:9.)

        And baptism is to be received "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38)--that is, trusting in him for pardon.

        Thus the divine formula, "by grace through faith," remains.


Contents
Chapter 6