Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 15 (1900)

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Ms 57, 1900

Preparation for Baptism, Part 2

NP

August 12, 1900 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in 6T 93-95; FLB 143; 6BC 1074, 1114-1115. +Note

The Parents’ Work

Parents whose children desire to become candidates for baptism have a work to do, both in self-examination and in giving faithful instruction to their children. Baptism is a most sacred and important ordinance, and there should be a thorough understanding as to its significance. It means repentance of transgression and sin, and the entrance upon a new life in Christ Jesus. There should be no undue haste to receive the ordinance. Let both parents and children count the cost. Parents, in consenting to the baptism of their children, have sacredly pledged themselves to be faithful stewards over these children, to guide them in their character building. They have pledged themselves to guard with special interest these lambs of the flock, that they may not dishonor the truth they have professed to accept. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 1

Religious instruction should be given to children from their earliest years. It should be given, not in a condemnatory spirit, but in a cheerful, happy spirit. Mothers need to be on the watch constantly, lest temptation shall come to the children in such a form as not to be recognized by them. The parents are to guard the fort with wise, pleasant instruction. As the very best friends of their inexperienced children, they should help them in the work of overcoming, for it means everything to them to be victorious. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 2

The parents should consider that their own dear children, who are seeking to do right and to be followers of Christ, are the younger members of the Lord’s family, and they should feel not merely a casual but an intense interest in helping these inexperienced children to make straight paths in the King’s highway of obedience. With loving interest they should teach them day by day what it means to be a child of God and to yield the will in obedience to the will of God. Teach them that obedience to God involves obedience to their parents. This must be a daily and hourly work. Watch, watch and pray, and make your children your companions. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 3

When the happiest period of their life is come and they in their hearts love Jesus and want to be baptized, then deal faithfully with them. Before they receive the ordinance, ask them if they feel that it is their first purpose in life to work for God. Then, fathers and mothers, if you are Christians, tell them how to begin. It is the first lessons that mean so much. Teach them how to do their first service for God. Come right down in simplicity and make the work as easy to be understood as possible. Explain what it means to give up self to the Lord, to do His way, submit to do just as His Word directs, under the counsel of Christian fathers and mothers. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 4

After faithful labor, if you as parents are satisfied that your children understand the meaning of conversion and baptism, and are indeed converted to God, then let them be baptized. But you are not to give consent to this unless you yourselves are prepared to act your part as faithful shepherds over the lambs of the flock, guiding their inexperienced feet in the strait and narrow way of obedience. God must work in the parents that they may give to their children a right example, an example in words, in unity, in acts of love, courtesy and Christian humility, and in an entire giving up of self to Christ. If you consent to the baptism of your children and then leave them to do as they choose, feeling no special burden to keep their feet in the straight path, then you are responsible if they lose faith and courage and interest in the truth. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 5

The Pastor’s Work

Candidates who have grown to manhood and womanhood understand their duty better than do the younger ones; but the pastor of the church has a duty to do for these souls. Have they wrong habits and practices that they have not reformed? It is the duty of the pastor to have special meetings with them. Give them Bible readings, converse and pray with them, and plainly show the claims of the Lord upon them. If they give evidence that a change of heart has taken place, let them be baptized. Let the teaching of the Bible in regard to conversion be solemnly read to them. Show what is the fruit of conversion, the evidence that they love God. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 6

True conversion is a change of heart and thoughts and purposes. Evil habits, tobacco-using, liquor-drinking will be given up. Coffee is a stimulant, and its use is a warring lust, destructive to soul and body. This also is to be put aside. As the candidate enters upon the work of serving the Lord, the sins of evil-speaking, of jealousy, of disobedience are seen in their true character. The warfare is begun, to be continued against every evil trait of character. Then the believing one can understandingly take to himself the promise, “Ask and ye shall receive.” [John 16:24.] 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 7

All who come to Christ sincerely receive a full, precious, gracious welcome. All who will believe the words of Christ unwaveringly will surely receive. All who accept Christ as their personal Saviour are received as children of God. The sinner who takes God at His Word and trusts His promises has the assurance that he is accepted. And if he will rely implicitly upon God he will have a most precious experience in giving up self to God, to do Him service. Our first business is to work for God. We are to bring God into every business transaction. Ever should we bear in mind the words of the Holy Spirit, “Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price.” [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.] 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 8

He who studies and obeys the Word of God is like a man following a light which goes before him amid the moral darkness of this world. Christ’s righteousness goeth before him. Therefore the Lord says to every soul, “My son, give me thine heart.” [Proverbs 23:26.] “You have a work presented to you. Go labor in My vineyard. Occupy till I come.” [Matthew 21:28; Luke 19:13.] Here is presented our stewardship. We are to work for the Master. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 9

In baptism we are given to the Lord as a vessel to be used. Baptism is a most solemn renunciation of the world. Self is by profession dead to a life of sin. The waters cover the candidate, and in the presence of the whole heavenly universe the mutual pledge is made. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, man is laid in his watery grave, buried with Christ in baptism, and raised from the water to live the new life of loyalty to God. The three great powers in heaven are witnesses; they are invisible but present. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 10

Election

In the first chapter of Second Peter is presented the progressive work in the Christian life. The whole chapter is a lesson of deep importance. If man, in acquiring the Christian graces, works on the plan of addition, God has pledged Himself to work in his behalf upon the plan of multiplication. “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” [Verse 2.] The work is laid out before every soul that has acknowledged his faith in Jesus Christ by baptism, and has become a receiver of the pledge from the three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 11

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 12

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure, for if ye do these things ye shall never fall.” [Verses 2-10.] 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 13

Here is the condition of the only saving election in the Word of God. We are to become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. We are to add grace to grace, and the promise is, “If ye do these things, ye shall never fall; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” [Verses 10, 11.] 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 14

There is no such thing in the Word of God as unconditional election—once in grace, always in grace. In the second chapter of Second Peter the subject is made plain and distinct. After a history of some who followed an evil course, the explanation is given: “which have forsaken the right way, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; ... These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with the tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 15

“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.” Here is a class of whom the apostle warns, “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” [Verses 15, 17-21.] 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 16

The condition of salvation is plainly stated: “Behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God; but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” [Matthew 19:16, 17.] 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 17

Just before His ascension, Jesus gave the message to His disciples, “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.” [Matthew 28:18-20.] 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 18

There is truth to be received if souls are saved. The keeping of the commandments of God is life eternal to the receiver. But the Scriptures make it plain that those who once knew the way of life and rejoiced in the truth are in danger of falling through apostasy and being lost. Therefore there is need of a decided, daily conversion to God. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 19

All who seek to sustain the doctrine of election do this against a plain, “Thus saith the Lord.” In Ezekiel we read, “If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.” “When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.” [Ezekiel 18:21; 33:13.] This is plain, decided Bible truth. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 20

Let every soul be careful how he shall conduct himself after he has made his profession before many witnesses. Who are these witnesses? The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and all the heavenly universe are witnesses of that burial in the water in the likeness of Christ’s death. Those who have been truly converted have been buried with Christ in the likeness of His death, and raised from the watery grave in the likeness of His resurrection, to walk in newness of life. By faithful obedience to the truth these are to make their calling and election sure. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 21

Christ’s Example in Baptism

John, the forerunner of Christ, administered baptism to large numbers who repented under his administration and his prophetical warnings and appeals. Christ received baptism at the hand of John. When John drew back from performing this ordinance, saying, “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” Christ answered him, “Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” [Matthew 3:14, 15.] The steps to be taken in conversion are repentance, faith, baptism. Christ as the Head of humanity was to take the same steps that we are required to take. Although sinless, He was our example in fulfilling all the requirements for the redemption of the sinful race. He bore the sins of the whole world. His baptism was to embrace the whole sinful world who by repentance and faith would be pardoned. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 22

“After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.” [Titus 3:4-8.] 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 23

Man was brought again into favor with God by the washing of regeneration. The washing was the burial with Christ in the water in the likeness of His death, representing that all who repent of the transgression of the law of God receive purification, cleansing, through the work of the Holy Spirit. Baptism represents true conversion by the renewing of the Holy Spirit. 15LtMs, Ms 57, 1900, par. 24