BAPTISM: ITS ACTION, SUBJECT AND DESIGN BY J. S. SWEENEY.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."--MATT. 28:19. The following excerpts explain Sweeney's views on baptism.
Jesus said that without being born AGAIN of Water and Spirit or Water and the Word you CANNOT, SHALL NOT enter into His kingdom or rule which is the Ekklesia or Christian synagogue or school of the Bible. The seven "spirits" of Isaiah 11:1-4 which would rest on the BRANCH are all related to forms of spiritual knowledge. Jesus said "My Words are Spirit and Life." Therefore, you might join a venue for Rock and Roll peddled as "worship" but Jesus Christ WILL NOT be your free-of-charge Teacher until He washes your spirit or mind. Only then do you have access to the seven spirits represented by the Menorah or Candlestick which gave LIGHT to the Holy Place along with the table of bread and the incense altar. Each Christian "priest" must look into the Most Holy Place with their own prayers. Then, you can enter into the Most Holy Place to meet God. Jesus said that the ONLY new PLACE is the human spirit as it gives heed to the Spirit of Truth through the Word. Don't believe the lie that "musical teams" lead you into the presence of God: that makes them claim to be God standing in the Holy Place. Not in the vilest pagan temple could singers and musicians enter into the holy precincts on the penalty of death. Don't follow people making "Christianity" viler than paganism. If you are part of the 5 out of 13,000 congregations then you have become a laughing stock just like the musical idolatrs at Mount Sinai which forfeited and continues to forfeit the Covenant of Grace.
People who refute this have a "spirit" which intends to hurt you real bad.
PROPOSE, in this discourse, to examine briefly three questions relating to baptism: 1. What is it? 2. Who may Scripturally be baptized? and, 3. What is it for?
III. WHAT IS BAPTISM FOR?
The Disciples teach that it is for the remission of sins. They are the only religious people among Protestants who, at the present day, hold this position. True, the same is taught in almost all the creeds and standard books of the popular parties, though disavowed by their press and living pulpits. A few definitive remarks, therefore, are deemed necessary in entering upon the discussion of this question.
1. We interpret the Scripture phrase, "for the remission of sins," to mean in order to the remission of sins; and, hence, make baptism antecedent to remission. We do not believe, as has often been said of us, that baptism, in any sense, procures remission. It is simply a condition--a condition precedent to remission; a condition because the Lord has made it so, by positive law. This is the extent and fullness of our affirmation on this question.
2. We make a distinction between conversion, or what is very generally called regeneration, and remission of sins. Conversion, as it is popularly understood, is internal, and pertains to the mind and heart; and, so far as this is true, it precedes baptism.
And conversion certainly does pertain to the mind and heart of the converted, though not wholly. But what is popularly called conversion and regeneration is an internal work to the converted, and precedes baptism.
One is not properly a subject of baptism till, in the popular sense, he is converted, or regenerated.
Hence, the charge of "baptismal regeneration" sometimes preferred against us, is entirely without foundation in truth,
growing out of a popular confounding of conversion and remission of sins,
which, with us, are two very distinct things. And that this distinction is scriptural, is made obvious by these passages:
"Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." (Acts iii: 19.)
"Lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and
- should be converted, and
- I should heal them." (Matt. xii: 15.)
The blotting out of sins is remission, and comes after conversion. So, in the other passage, healing is remission, and comes after conversion. The popular error of confounding conversion and remission of sins together as one thing, has caused much injustice to be done us as a people.
We simply teach that baptism is in order to, and, hence, a condition precedent to, the remission of sins, remission being something the Lord does for the converted person.
We teach that this is so now, in the Gospel dispensation. We hold that the law of pardon, under the Gospel, went forth from Jerusalem after the ascension of the Savior and the descent of the Holy Spirit; that it was promulgated for the first time by the Holy Spirit, through Peter, at Jerusalem, on the first Pentecost after our Lord's ascension, as is recorded in the second chapter of the Acts of Apostles. This is in accordance with prophecy, and the teaching of our Lord and his apostles:
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (Isaiah ii: 2, 3.)
That this prophecy relates to the founding of the kingdom or Church of Christ, few, if any, will for a moment question. It teaches that the Church was to be established "in the last days;" that "all nations" were to flow unto it, and that the "law was to go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."
And our Savior says (Luke xxiv: 46, 47): "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
Hence, he said to his apostles, whom he had commissioned to preach remission of sins to all nations: "But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high." Therefore, when the apostles were endued with power from on high at Jerusalem, they began first to preach "repentance and remission of sins," which was for "all nations."
Then and thence went forth the law of the Lord--the law of the New Institution--from Jerusalem. Then and there, "at Jerusalem," the place of "the beginning," in the "last days," Peter, directed by power from on high, propounded the law of the New Institution.
To heart-pierced believers he said: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins." This was the first promulgation of this law, which, be it remembered, was for all nations.
Now, the question to be determined is: Does this language of Peter make baptism a condition precedent to remission of sins? We say it does, and here we will stand or fall. The controversy hinges on the meaning of the word "for." We say it here means in order to, while it is contended by our opponents that its sense is because of. It will be granted that it sometimes has the meaning we give it in this case; and we are ready to admit that it sometimes means because of. And what is here said of "for" may be truly said of the Greek word it represents.
Then, can we ascertain what the word means in this passage? Happily for the truth, there is a circumstance in the case which enables us to determine this question. It is this:
The relation which "for" expresses here
between baptism and remission,
is the same that repentance sustains to remission,
the relation of both to remission being expressed at once by the same word; therefore, that relation is one. The law to the believer is, "Repent, and be baptized for the remission of sins."
Will any one say that we may read, "Repent, and be baptized because of the remission of sins?"
Does any one believe in repentance because of the remission of sins? No one so believes.
No one so preaches.
The relation of repentance to remission is that of a precedent to a subsequent. But the relation of baptism must be the same, for it is expressed by the same word, and at the same time; therefore, the relation of baptism to remission of sins is that of a precedent to a subsequent. This argument has never been met. We feel perfectly confident it never can be.
Thus far, our opponents have only attempted to evade it, by claiming that, if we allow that for remission means in order to remission, it makes Peter's teaching on this occasion conflict with his teaching at other times and places, as well as with the teaching of Scripture generally, on this subject. But this has never been shown to be true.
Time will only allow reference to be made to some other Scriptures which teach the same as the one just examined.
In the commission, our Savior makes baptism for the remission of sins in the same sense, in these words: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." By "saved" here, it is very generally agreed that remission of sins is meant, to which the Savior's language evidently makes baptism a condition precedent.
"Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts xxii: 16.)
If baptism be not a condition going before remission of sins, this passage becomes a puzzle, and who can tell what it means?
"Baptism doth also now save us." (1 Pet. ill: 2 1.) If baptism is not for the remission of sins, in what sense does it "now save us?"
Many other passages of Scripture might be cited that teach the same thing; but these will suffice the candid, and others can not be reached.
[Today we acknowledge that life begins at conception. When the Word or "seed" is planted in the heart it begins to enliven the believer to give them the "power to become children of God." That is, conception causes the believer to "turn around" or change directions. However, the power of salvation is to give a clean conscience which was not possible under the law of animal sacrifices. This forgiveness or remission of sins or salvation happens only after the birth of water to rise and walk in a new life. No Restoration Movement leader ever taught that the water has the power to regenerate the spirit.]