Dear Brethren Editors: – Brother Gilbert Bird, of Burdette, W. Va., asks me, “What does it take to constitute valid baptism?” and to answer through the SIGNS. In the light of the New Testament and the love of its Testator, I will try to faithfully do so, seeking only the honor of Christ. The church is subject unto him, and he gave to her his doctrine and ordinances, which are two, namely, Baptism and the Supper. These our Lord set in the church. He also set the members, every one of them, in the church. Yea, Christ himself is in the church. To God he says, “In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” So all the ministerial gifts, from the first to the last, are in the church. These include the apostles and prophets, elders and deacons. Paul and Barnabas were ordained at Antioch, in and by the church, for the work whereunto the Lord had called them. This is the pattern. Only thus is any man qualified and authorized to minister in the gospel of Christ. To the church Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” The apostles are next to Christ in the church, the gospel kingdom, and to them he delivered his doctrine and ordinances, and they delivered these to the church, to be faithfully kept in the church. So Paul himself, and all in the church, are to follow Christ. None may go before him nor depart from him. Christ alone is King in Zion. He is the Maker and Builder of the church. He said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” He adds no others to it, and the saved he adds to the church only, not to any other body of men. No others than the saved of the Lord are truly in the church, but all others are as wood, hay and stubble. Men may in a fleshly zeal gather in mere nominal members and immerse them, but this does not make them members of the church of Christ, neither is this the baptism of Christ.
“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.” “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” The Savior and crowned Head of the church thus gives the authority and command to his own servants, but to no others. And as the gospel is “of the kingdom,” so also are the ordinances and members and servants all “of the kingdom.” Christ said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” So he hath redeemed the subjects of his kingdom out of the world, and be calls them into his kingdom. The world, therefore, hath neither part nor lot in his kingdom, nor do its ordinances belong to the world. All this is clearly set forth in the New Testament.
Our brother Bird understands all this truth, which makes it fully evident that the immersion of a believer in Christ outside of the fellowship of the one church of Christ, is not the baptism of Christ; for he gave his ordinances to his church, and all his authority is in the church, over which he is the Head.
Another truth is here very clear: the saved in the Lord were first baptized and added to the church, before they ate the Lord’s supper, and before any of the members, thus added, were ordained to minister in the gospel kingdom. If a true believer even should be immersed outside of the fellowship of the true church, and should afterward be received nominally into the church, without receiving gospel baptism, and should then be ordained as a minister of the gospel, he would still be unbaptized, therefore both his ordination and his work in the ministry, though sanctioned by such an erring church, would be without the authority of Christ, and a clear violation of it. He did not enter the church by the door, or rather the Lord had not added him to the church at all, and he is not truly a member in it, but both he and the church transgressed against Christ by thus taking him in, and then ordaining him. Both should repent of this sin, therefore, for the church cannot make valid and good that which Christ has not authorized and commanded. If it claims that it can, then the spurious decrees and acts of the church of Rome might also be claimed as valid, because that church gave her sanction to such gross perversions of the gospel of Christ. Here let us with reverence say. “Let God be true, but every man a liar.” For this is consecrated ground, and these are sacred things, and we do a great wrong if we at all abuse, pervert and misuse them.
It is well known to all concerned that the New School Baptists are widely apart from the Old School Baptists, and long have been, and that there is a wide gulf between the two, and no fellowship or communion between them whatever, for the New School body has greatly perverted the gospel of Christ, not only in its doctrine and ordinances, but as well in its membership and ministry, insomuch that in all these respects it has become largely a worldly religious body. Now then, for a man who was immersed in the Missionary Baptist body to be allowed to creep into an Old School Baptist church unbaptized, and then to be imposed upon the church of Christ, and believers in Christ, as a divinely qualified servant of Christ, to thus officiate in administering the solemn and holy ordinances of the Lord’s house to penitent believers in Christ, when he has never himself obeyed Christ in his sacred ordinances, is a grievous perversion and sin. Can we wonder that confusion, trouble and division follows such a deplorable departure from the teachings of Christ as this! Departures from the doctrine of Christ, in whatever way they may be, are dishonoring to him, and dangerous to the spiritual health and growth and peace of the church of Christ, therefore in all cases they should be turned away from. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” This is infallibly true. “He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” This is the inspired test and the only true measure. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, [the church] neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” Therefore, should the church do this, it thereby becomes a partaker with him of his evil deeds, and so far from the church thus making his evil deeds valid and good, she makes herself a transgressor with him. The doctrine or the teachings of Christ are positive and faithful and true, and admits of no sort of departure or compromise. All should remember this, and touch not, taste not, handle not any unclean thing. Here Christ is all in all. The Lord has said, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words. * * * He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings.” “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.” Every other yoke must be given up, and Christ alone must be heard and followed by all who love him. The church has no more authority to depart from him in anything pertaining to his kingdom, and substitute something else, than any single member of his. To all who are Christ’s the Father says, “Hear ye him.”
To our faithful editors this is submitted first, then, if approved, to our dear brother Bird and all who are interested in “the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ.” In love these things are commended to you all, dear brethren, with the earnest desire that you may have them in remembrance after my departure from the flesh, to be with Christ, which is far better, and for which I wait in hope. May you all keep in memory and heed the words of the beloved apostle of the precious Christ: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” To thus walk is to walk in Christ, and to glorify him. He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
I am your brother, I hope, and your companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ,
Signs Of The Times
Volume 69, No. 17
SEPTEMBER 1, 1901.