|Volume 19 Number 3 March 2017||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
The late David Lipscomb is attributed with saying, “There is no more propriety in calling baptism the work of the man baptized than there is in calling the burial the work of the person buried.” Stop and think about that analogy for a moment. The dead neither dig the hole in which they are buried nor do they shovel the dirt into the hole upon themselves. Someone else besides the dead is responsible for the activity associated with the burial.
Yes, Christian baptism resembles a burial, and it imitates the death, burial, resurrection and walking in newness of life observed in Jesus Christ.
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. (Romans 6:3-5 NKJV)
Just as in the literal, physical burial of the dead, in Christian baptism there are also administrators responsible for bringing about the figurative, spiritual burial of souls who die to sinful lives (Romans 6:6-7). The apostle Paul penned that one such superintendent of Christian baptism is the Holy Spirit. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
A second administrator of Christian baptism is Jesus Christ Himself. Notice John 4:1-2, which reads, “Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples)” (John 4:1-2). Here, we learn that John the Baptist was the administrator of the baptism prior to the baptism of the Great Commission (Mark 16:16). Jesus Christ also participated in baptizing people—an extension of the baptism attributed to John the Baptist (Acts 19:3) while it was still valid. Yet, our Lord did not personally with His own hands do the actual immersing of persons.
Now, Jesus Christ is an administrator of the baptism of the Great Commission, the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5 that is effective presently. It is into the name of Jesus Christ one is baptized today (Acts 2:38) or by His authority. Or, it is by the name or the authority of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit a person is baptized in the Christian Age (Matthew 28:18-20). Although our Lord is the administrator of Christian baptism, even while on earth He used proxies or deputies—human hands—to do the immersing. In our day, human hands do the baptizing, but Jesus remains as co-superintendent with the other members of the Godhead regarding Christian baptism.
In truth, neither the ones doing the immersing today nor the ones being immersed or baptized are responsible for the efficiency of baptism. Divine Administrators are responsible for Christian baptism. “…Christ, buried with Him in baptism” (Colossians 2:11-12) is primarily a divine work and not merely an activity of men, or either the baptizers or the baptized.
Heeding God’s Warnings
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
“Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me” (Ezekiel 3:17). God had placed the great prophet Ezekiel as a “watchman” so that Israel would hear and heed the warnings that God had sent to it. Ezekiel was to herald God’s warnings faithfully to caution Israel about the serious situation that existed if the Israelites failed to heed. God’s warnings are serious indeed! The same is true today. God, through His Word, warns us of certain dangers that are ever present as we walk the pathway of faith. To fail to heed these warnings will result in serious eternal consequences! Consider a few of the serious warnings that we must heed in order to gain an eternity with God.
Firstly, there is the warning regarding self. Honest self-evaluation is a daily Christian discipline (2 Corinthians 13:5). Paul reminded Christians in Rome to examine carefully, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). There is always the human tendency to be self-deceived. We can think dangerously of ourselves as more righteous than others (Luke 18:11-12), while beams are protruding from our very eyes (Luke 6:42). Jesus strongly warned, “Take heed to yourselves…” (Luke 17:3a). While it is often so much easier to evaluate others, real evaluation begins with self. Paul reminded Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16).
Secondly, there is the warning regarding the Scriptures. Jesus reminded those of His day to, “Take heed therefore how ye hear…” (Luke 8:18a). Sadly, even the Scriptures are used by false teachers (i.e., Satan, Matthew 4:6; 2 Peter 3:16). Therefore, Paul lovingly reminded all Bible students to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). If the Scriptures need to be correctly divided, by implication, they can also be incorrectly divided as well. Thus, we are treading on “holy ground” when we approach the Bible. We must be careful and remember God’s warnings regarding the Scriptures!
Lastly, there is the warning regarding Satan. I fear today that we fail to give the proper credit to Satan. We possibly have the idea that he is some harmless character dressed in a red suit with horns and carrying a pitch fork. However, nothing could be further from the truth! Satan transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). As such, he is walking about this earth seeking to devour the righteous (1 Peter 5:8). In fact, Satan even has a plan to destroy. Centuries ago, the apostle Paul warned, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Our enemy has used deception, trickery and other schemes to try to destroy or at least to neutralize God’s people from doing what the Heavenly Father has called them to do. We must carefully heed the warnings God gives regarding this enemy so that we may prepare to overcome him.
Divine warnings are like kind reminders to be aware and to be alert for pending danger. Warnings are serious and must be heeded! Whoever hears God’s warnings and responds shall deliver his soul. However, whoever hears God’s warnings and takes no action will suffer eternal loss. “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).