According To The Scriptures



The next step after salvation is to follow the Saviour in the declarative figure of baptism. That baptism is commanded, most will agree. As for the elements--the candidate, the mode, the purpose or design, the administrator, and authority--there is much disagreement among the various denominations. That there are such differences demonstrates that everyone is not administering the same declarative figure. We cannot truthfully say that things which are different are the same. The Bible teaches only one kind of baptism (Ephesians 4:5). We must conclude that the only baptism that can be acceptable to God is that which is defined in His Word, not those that have been altered or designed by men. That is also the only kind of baptism that should be acceptable to Christ's followers.

That the candidate must be already saved by God's grace through faith in Christ must be admitted, because 1 Peter 3:21 says that baptism is ". . . (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ," not the obtaining of a good conscience. How could one have "a good conscience" knowing he was not yet saved? From this verse we also see that baptism is a ". . . figure . . . not the putting away of the filth of the flesh . . . ."

Baptism typifies the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It also typifies the death and burial of the old self of the candidate and resurrection to "walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). If baptism, being a declarative figure, is administered for the wrong purpose, then aren't all who are involved in that declaration involved in declaring a lie about the gospel of Jesus Christ? Would God accept that?

Baptism being a figure, or the declaring of something in typology, shouldn't the figure be declared truthfully? If death, burial, and resurrection, is being typified with water, should there not be a burial in the water? Even if the Bible said nothing more about it, there should be no question about the acceptable mode of baptism. It is universally admitted by all who have investigated that the common and accepted meaning of baptizo or baptizein in the Greek language, was never anything other than to immerge, submerge, dip, whelm, or cover completely in Christian, pagan, or classical writings until hundreds of years after the New Testament was written.

In John 1:33, John informs us that God sent him "to baptize [immerge] with water." John 3:23 tells us that the reason John was immersing "at Aenon near to Salim" was "because there was much water there." Matthew 3:16 says that when Jesus was baptized, He "went up straightway out of the water." In Acts 8:38, when Philip baptized the eunuch, the Bible informs us that, "they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. The next verse says, "And when they were come up out of the water. . . ." Nowhere in the Bible has God instructed us, or given permission, to change or to immerse in any other way than by immersion.

In Alien Baptism and the Baptists, William Manlius Nevins wrote:

When King James would translate the Bible, he called together the scholars of his day to make the translation. They did a magnificent piece of work. But when they came to the Greek word, baptize, knowing that it meant to immerse, they dared not so translate it without conferring with the king, for well they knew that the Church of England baptized by sprinkling. The outcome was, by the King's request, not to translate the word at all, but to Anglicize it. And so we have the Greek word, baptizo, or baptize in our English Bibles, when, if it had been translated, it would have been immerse.

It is a serious thing to pervert or alter the mode, or any other feature, of baptism. It is as serious as Cain's alternative sacrifice to God (Genesis 4:1-8). It is as serious as Moses' striking the rock twice (Exodus 17:1-7, Numbers 20:7-12, I Corinthians 10:1-6). When an act is to be performed as a figure, for the purpose of teaching something with typology, and the figure is changed, then the thing being pictured or taught is changed. Since the figure of baptism is teaching and picturing Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, the gospel (I Corinthians 15:1-4), to change the figure is to teach another gospel, which is no gospel. It is absurd for anyone to suppose that God would approve of telling a lie about the gospel, which is "the power of God unto salvation," whether in word or in figure.

Let us now briefly consider the authority to baptize. In John 1:6 we read:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John."

In verse 33, John says that God:

". . .sent me to baptize with water. . . ."

In Matthew 3:13, we see that Jesus traveled from Galilee to Jordan (sixty miles) to be baptized by the only one who had been sent with the authority to baptize. In His baptism, Jesus typified his death, burial, and resurrection, which would "fulfill all righteousness" (v.15). In the next two verses, we can see that God was pleased with it. In Matthew 28:16-20, we find Jesus as He was about to depart, giving some instructions to His congregation, which He had built upon Himself (Matthew 16:18), "the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20). I Corinthians 3:11 says:

"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

That this commission was not given to all who were saved is seen in that only the eleven disciples were present at a certain place where Jesus had appointed them for the purpose of giving this commission and authorization (Matthew 28:16). In verses 18 and 19 Jesus said, ". . . All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore . . . ."

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.      (Matthew 28:18-20)

The authority to teach, baptize, and do mission work was given by Jesus to that congregation and to that congregation only and was to be passed by line of succession only to congregations like it. Reason should tell us that authority can only be given by one who has authority.

We must not mistakenly think that Jesus received His authority from John. Jesus received His baptism from John, the only one authorized to baptize at the time, but Jesus' authority was from God the Father. The authority to teach, baptize, and do mission work was granted to daughter congregations born and organized as results of teaching, baptizing, and doing mission work.

That authority has been passed on in this same manner (and will continue to be) down through the centuries ("alway, even unto the the end of the world" Matthew 28:20) and throughout the world ("all nations" Matthew 28:19).

I have been told that since such a line of succession cannot be proven unbroken, step by step, that such a belief should not be held, but I find that there is much more proof for it than there is for any opposing theory.

After quite a bit of geneological research, I have been unable to trace any line of my "family tree" farther back than about five hundred years, and have little hope of tracing much farther. Does that mean that I should abandon the belief that I am a descendant of Adam and Eve? I believe there has never been a moment in time since Jesus organized His first congregation that there has not been one or more true congregations (bodies of Christ) alive and with an unbroken line of succession, just as surely as I believe that there has always been people since Adam and Eve and that all true persons are descendants of them. That is the only explanation (succession of authority) I know of that totally agrees with the Bible, and it is the most reasonable.

Much error and false doctrine has been perpetrated by the assumption that the terms "church," "kingdom of heaven," "body of Christ," "kingdom of God," and "bride of Christ" are all synonymous, but they are not. Such assumption is the invention of those trying to give legitimacy to the various organizations, denominations, programs, and counterfeit congregations of professing Christianity. They may fool themselves and many others, but they will not fool God. Different words were used because they had different meanings. Jesus was not so reckless or incompetent with His speech and use of language as to author such confusion, and neither was the Holy Spirit so reckless or incompetent in His inspiration of the Bible.

Notice that the promise, ". . . lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world," is conditioned upon ". . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:" (Matthew 28:20). Baptism being a declarative and figurative act, "picture preaching" as Buel H. Kazee described it in The Church and the Ordinances, it is an extremely important and indicative part of the preaching and teaching of the congregation administering it.

In his book titled Old Landmarkism, J.R. Graves said:

We can not, for one moment, conceive that Christ or His apostles committed the gospel to, and commissioned it to be preserved and preached by, those who neither experimentally understood, nor had themselves obeyed it, and whose teaching and practice tended directly to pervert and subvert it.

To disobey in regard to the following of Christ in proper baptism and membership in one of His congregations is to rebel against God. We should not expect to be able to worship, serve, or make request to God when we are unwilling to follow Christ that far.

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination. Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.           (Proverbs 28:9-10)

Having become engaged in a right relationship with our Lord, we can begin to worship and walk with Him. To know that worship must be proper and according to God's instructions to be acceptable to Him, we would have to read no farther than the example of Cain and Able in the fourth chapter of Genesis. There we read of two brothers and their attempt to worship God. They both were intending to worship the same God. Probably, both offerings were made about the same place and time, and most likely in the same manner. One of these men changed the rules a little to suit himself; he wanted to do it his own way.

Abel was preaching in a figure that the only way of access to God is by the shed blood of the Lamb. Cain was teaching, as so many still do today, salvation by works. Verses 4 and 5 say:

. . . the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. . . .

There, also, we see the first man to be martyred for preaching with a figurative act that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone.

Some have said that that is reading too much into it, but a study of the Bible shows differently. In Matthew 23:24-39 and Luke 11:43-54, we find Jesus accusing the people of killing the prophets that God had sent them, and He includes Abel as one of those prophets. We also have the comments of Hebrews 11:4 and Hebrews 12:24, which the Holy Spirit inspired to be written.

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.      (Hebrews 11:4)

And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: (Hebrews 12:24-25)

In Genesis 4:7, God said to Cain:

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. . . .

Moses learned of the consequences of perverting or changing God's instructions in regard to teaching with a figurative act, when he struck the rock twice (Numbers 20:7-12). 1 Corinthians 10:4 says, ". . . that Rock was Christ."

Read in Leviticus 10:1-2 about Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, whom God killed for adding to His instructions for worship.

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. (Leviticus 10:1-2)

It is important that our teaching, our worship, and our "picture preaching" be kept pure. Our "picture preaching" is not finished when we come up out of the water of baptism. Galatians 3:27 says:

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Romans 6:4-6 says:

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 be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

It should be very clear, from the above examples, the error and seriousness of perverting, changing, or altering the teachings of God's word to suit ourselves or others or to conform it to changing times or customs. God does not change. We must not change the message and gospel of God's word verbally, in print, or in figure.

I realize this does not agree with the popular teaching and movement of today that we should lay aside our doctrines and all come together for the sake of love and unity, but we should love "the praise of God" more than "the praise of men" (John 12:43). Can you love Jesus as Lord and Saviour and not love truth? In John 14:6 Jesus said, ". . . I am . . . the truth . . . ."

Also, Jesus IS Lord AND Saviour. To claim Jesus as Saviour but not accept Him as Lord is to reject Him.

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