Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 15 (1900)

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Ms 56, 1900

Preparation for Baptism, Part 1

NP

August 12, 1900 [typed]

This manuscript is published in entirety in 6MR 155-165. +Note

The preparation for baptism is a matter that needs to be carefully considered. The new converts to the truth should be faithfully instructed in the plain, “Thus saith the Lord.” The Word of the Lord is to be read and explained to them point by point. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 1

All who enter upon the new life should understand, prior to their baptism, that the Lord requires the undivided affections. In the Sermon on the Mount are given most precious lessons from the lips of the great Teacher. He says, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” [Matthew 6:24.] Again he says, “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there by that find it. ... Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” [Matthew 7:13, 14, 21.] 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 2

The practicing of the truth is essential. The bearing of fruit testifies to the character of the tree. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. The line of demarkation will be plain and distinct between those who love God and keep His commandments and those who love Him not and disregard His precepts. There is need of a thorough conversion to the truth. We are not only to say, I believe, but to practice the truth. The light of the Word carefully studied, the voice of conscience, the strivings of the Spirit, produce in the heart genuine love for Christ, who gave Himself a whole sacrifice to redeem the whole person, soul, body, and spirit. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 3

The question put to Christ by a lawyer was, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” There stood the wily priests and rulers expecting to hear from the lips of Christ an answer that would give them opportunity to condemn Him. He who reads every heart as an open book understood their purpose. Turning to the lawyer, Christ said unto him, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” He gives him an opportunity to answer his own question. And the lawyer answering said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 4

“And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: This do, and thou shalt live.” [Luke 10:25-28.] Christ will not accept a divided heart. The life of the receiver of truth should witness to the change wrought by the transformation of character. “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord.” [Isaiah 43:10.] Why? Because they have an indwelling Saviour, who works the mind and heart to reveal that love for Christ which leads them to do His will, not their own. They have that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 5

There is need of a much more thorough preparation of the candidates for baptism than has been given them. Satan does not want anyone to see the necessity of an entire surrender to God. When the soul fails to make this surrender, sin is not forsaken; appetites and passions are striving for the mastery; temptations confuse the senses, so that true conversion may not take place. Whenever one renounces sin, which is the transgression of the law, his life will be brought into conformity to the law, into perfect obedience. This conformity to the mind and will of Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 6

Before baptism there should be a thorough inquiry as to the experience of the candidate. Let this inquiry be made, not in a cold and distant way, but kindly, tenderly, pointing the new converts to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. Bring the requirement of the gospel to bear upon the candidates for baptism. Christ is represented as bearing the griefs and sorrows caused by sin, and He does this, not only as our sympathizing friend, but as our substitute. Therefore our sins of selfishness, of unamiable temper, of indolence, of wrong habits and practices, are to be positively and firmly put away. The one who breaks with Satan is to give no place to his temptations. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 7

Let the souls who come to Christ consider that He is the Sin-bearer, “wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” [Isaiah 53:5.] “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” [Matthew 8:17.] All this is done for the sinner, and as the sinner comes to Christ, helpless, penitent, and humble; as he views the expensive expiation made in his behalf, let the repenting soul lay hold by faith of the provision made to save him, not in his sin, but from his sin. Christ the Sin-bearer must take away the sin and rescue the sinner from his morbid spiritual condition. As he asks for a change of heart, the answer comes, “My son, give me thine heart.” [Proverbs 23:26.] “A new heart will I give thee.” [Ezekiel 36:26.] I will restore you to a pure, holy atmosphere, that you, being dead to sin, may live unto righteousness. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 8

“Thy sins be forgiven thee.” [Matthew 9:2.] These words are spoken to the repentant, believing soul. Wonderful Saviour! All need to understand the process of conversion. The fruit is seen in the changed life. True repentance will be shown to be sincere by producing fruit in good works. None can depend upon their profession of faith as proof that they have a saving connection with Christ. It is by conformity to the will of God in our words, our deportment, our character that we prove our connection with Him. We cannot depend on the other one to do our work for us. We must perform our duties for ourselves. We must work the will of God, and delight to do His commandments. Then we shall not lean upon any one but Jesus Christ for support and efficiency. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 9

One of the points upon which those newly come to the faith will need faithful instruction is the subject of dress. In the examination of candidates for baptism this subject should not be lost sight of. Let the new converts be faithfully dealt with. Are they vain in dress? Do they cherish pride of heart? The idolatry of dress is a moral disease. It must not be taken over into the new life. In most cases submission to the gospel requirements will demand a decided change in the dress. True conversion of the heart will work wonderful changes in the outward appearance. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 10

There should be no carelessness in dress. Teach the young converts that dress is a talent. For Christ’s sake, whose property we are, we should seek to make the best of our appearance. In the tabernacle service, God specified every detail concerning the garments of those who ministered before Him. Thus we are taught that the Lord has a preference in regard to the dress of those who serve Him. Very particular were the directions given in regard to Aaron’s robes, for his dress was symbolical. So the dress of Christ’s followers should be symbolical. In all things we are to be representatives of Him. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 11

Good taste should be exercised in the selection of appropriate colors should ever be a matter of consideration. Our dress should be tidy and well-fitting. The hair should be carefully arranged. Our appearance in every respect should be characterized by neatness, modesty, and purity. But the Word of God gives us no sanction in making changes in our apparel merely for the sake of fashion, that we may appear like the world. When the desire for display in dress absorbs the mind, vanity is manifested. All this must be put away. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 12

The words of Scripture in regard to dress should be carefully considered. The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul says, “In like manner also, let women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” [1 Timothy 2:9, 10.] And through the apostle Peter the instruction is given, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” [1 Peter 3:3, 4.] 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 13

Christians are not to decorate the person with costly array or expensive ornaments. All this display imparts no value to the character. The Lord desires every converted person to put away the idea that dressing as worldlings dress will give value to our influence. The ornamentation of the person with jewels and luxurious things is a species of idolatry. This needless display reveals a love for those things which are supposed to place a value upon the person. It gives evidence to the world of a heart destitute of the inward adornment. Expensive dress and adornments of jewelry give an incorrect representation of the truth that should always be represented as of the highest value. An overdressed, outwardly adorned person bears the sign of inward poverty. A lack of spirituality is revealed. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 14

Extravagance in dress requires the expenditure of means that is needed to advance the work of the Lord. Extra ribbons and bows mean pennies and shillings spent needlessly. The trimming of ladies’ hats with high-standing bows is a needless expense, and it is unbecoming to a Christian. In the house of God the overtrimmed hats are a positive annoyance. The congregation desire to see the face of the speaker, as well as to hear his voice; but the ladies’ hats with their high-standing ribbons and bows obscure the view. Many in the congregation may be seen peering this way and that to get a glimpse of the speaker; but often their efforts are in vain. Their enjoyment of the service is marred, and the minister, who observes all this, is disturbed. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 15

Satan has a snare laid to captivate unwary souls by leading them to give more attention to the outward adorning than to the inward graces which love of truth and righteousness display as the fruit borne upon the Christian tree. If the enemy can keep the minds of believers centered upon their dress and outward appearance, he is well pleased. They injure their influence, and the cause of truth which they profess to love. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 16

Many indulge a passion for dress. They spend their money for that which is not bread, and are as foolish as was Esau, who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Many bar their own souls from entering the strait gate because they cannot indulge their love for display and yet believe in Christ and walk in His footsteps. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 17

“If any man will come after me,” said Christ, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” [Matthew 16:24.] Self-denial and self-sacrifice will mark the Christian’s life. Evidence that the taste is really converted will be seen in the dress of all who walk the narrow path of holiness, the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 18

Christians should not neglect to search the Scriptures on these points. They need to understand that which the Lord of heaven appreciates in even the dressing of the body. Those who are earnest in seeking for the grace of Christ will heed the precious words of instruction inspired of God. Even the style of the apparel will express the truth of the gospel. Their dress bears its testimony to their own family, to the church and the world, that they are being purified from vanity and selfishness. They demonstrate that they are not idolaters. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 19

Wherever the grace of humility, a meek and quiet spirit, is cherished, the whole person will express the same. The grace of Christ in the heart finds expression in a dignified, decorous deportment. The truth is manifest in the flesh. And truth lived always has an influence in favor of the truth, testifying of practical godliness. All such experiences are of the highest value. The usefulness of the Christian testifies to the genuineness of his conversion. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 20

As those who claim to believe the truth give expression to the truth in appropriate dress and in their words and conduct, they are living epistles for God, known and read by all who behold them. Their chaste conversation is a sign of the inward adorning. They have enlarged influence; a field of usefulness is ever open before them. They are as signs in the world, perpetuation a saving knowledge of divine truth, as salt that has not lost its savor. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 21

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”—the same Word that was in the beginning with God, and was God. [John 1:14, 1.] Through His own life in human nature, Christ has revealed to us His methods of usefulness in saving souls. His character is to be revealed in His followers. The reception of the great testing truths for these last days never makes the receiver coarse and rough and uncourteous, harsh in conversation and spirit. The truth genuinely believed is a reality to the receiver. It never degrades, but always refines, elevates, and ennobles the receiver. Through sanctification of the Spirit it makes him an agency through whom the unseen angels of God work out His holy principles. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 22

The principles of the Christian life should be made plain to those who have newly come to the truth. Faithful Christian men and women should have an intense interest to bring the convicted soul to a correct knowledge of righteousness in Christ Jesus. If any have allowed the desire for pleasure or the love of dress to become supreme, so that any portion of their mind, soul, and strength is devoted to selfish indulgences, the faithful believers should watch for these souls as they that must give an account. They must not neglect the faithful, tender, loving instruction so essential to the young converts, that there may be no halfhearted work. The very first experiences should be right. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 23

If those who have been long in the way will try to help the one who is just beginning the Christian course, they will often be as the Lord’s living agencies. All who will be true and faithful in the performance of their duty are representatives of Christ, the true Shepherd. If all realized the conflict which each soul must wage with satanic agencies that are seeking to ensnare and entice and deceive, there would be much more diligent labor done for those who are young in the faith. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 24

The atmosphere of the world is charged with spiritual malaria. All who accept of Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour must count themselves dead to all things in their life conduct that Christ would not approve. These newborn souls seldom have sufficient instruction. They are left too much to themselves, and are often tempted, and do not discern the evil of the temptation. Let these souls newly come to the faith feel that it is their privilege to solicit counsel. If they seek the society of those who can help them, they will soon possess the refined taste that will ever choose the company of those who love and fear God. Our conversation with these souls should be of a spiritual, encouraging character. The Lord marks the conflict of every weak, doubting, struggling soul, and He will help all who call upon Him. They will see heaven open before them, and angels of God ascending and descending the ladder of shining brightness which they are trying to climb. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 25

After the believing soul has received the ordinance of baptism, he is to bear in mind that he is dedicated to God, to Christ, and to the Holy Spirit. These three all co-operate in the great work of the covenant made by baptism in the sight of the heavenly universe. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit receive the believing soul into covenant relation with God. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 26

All who study the life of Christ and practice His teaching will become like Christ. Their influence will be like His. They will reveal soundness of character. They are established in the faith, and will not be overcome by the devil because of vanity and pride. They seek to walk the humble path of obedience, doing the will of God. Their character exerts an influence that tells for the advancement of the cause of God and the healthful purity of His work. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 27

By the reception of the doctrines revealed and the performance of the duties required in the Word of God, the professed followers of Christ are to witness to the world of their unity with Christ. They are to show that they have been given to Christ by His Father, and are overcomers through the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. They love Him who hath redeemed them. They increase in knowledge of Christ through exemplifying His character. And they cherish expectations that will not be disappointed: they expect to see His face and to rejoice in the sunshine of His countenance. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 28

In these thoroughly converted souls the world has a witness to the sanctifying power of truth upon the human character. Through them Christ makes known to the world His character and will. In the lives of God’s children is revealed the blessedness of serving the Lord, and the opposite is seen in those who do not keep His commandments. The line of demarkation is distinct. All who obey God’s commandments are kept by His mighty power amid the corrupting influence of the transgressors of His law. From the lowliest subject to the highest in positions of trust, they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 29

In His prayer to the Father, Christ says of His followers, “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” [John 17:22, 23.] O, what possibilities and probabilities are for God’s people if they will humble themselves and exalt the Lord Jesus. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 30

In His prayer the Saviour says further, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hast not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” [Verses 24-26.] 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 31

The knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ expressed in character is an exaltation above everything that is esteemed in earth or in heaven. It is the very highest education. It is the very key that opens to us the portals of heaven, that we may obtain eternal life, an immortal inheritance, and eternal substance. All who have this knowledge are constantly advancing heavenward. They have a good report in their own family, in the church, and in the world. 15LtMs, Ms 56, 1900, par. 32