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The purification theory about baptism

August 16, 2013 2 comments

broadusChapter 7-2: Baptizo – Classical and Biblical.

But another class of persons endeavor to go deeper, not relying upon the opinions of others. They say, grant that the classical use of baptizo is as the lexicons mentioned teach, that it always means immerse, and kindred ideas; yet the Biblical use is very different, for in the Bible it certainly sometimes means sprinkle or pour. The attempt is made to show this from various passages; really, it seems that so many are tried because it is felt that none of them are exactly conclusive. I should be glad to go over all that have been thus appealed to, but time does not allow that, and I can only mention those which are most frequently relied on, or which seem most plausible.

2. There is the purification theory, put forward by Dr. Edward Beecher and others. In John 3:22-25, we are told that Jesus was baptizing (through his disciples); next, that John also was baptizing, for he was not yet cast into prison; and then it is added: “Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying.” From this it is argued that the word baptize is synonymous with purify. Now baptizing was certainly a very striking form of purification. The fact that baptism was going on might very naturally lead to a discussion between some of John’s disciples and “a Jew” (the correct text) about the general subject of purification and the relation of this to other purifications. Being a peculiar, remarkable, and novel purification, it was perfectly natural that baptism should lead to discussion of the general subject. But why in the world are we to say that the terms baptism and purification are synonymous, that baptism means nothing more definite than purification, and that any form of purification might be called a baptism? Suppose a murder has occurred, and leads some persons into discussion concerning death, are we to conclude that the terms murder and death are synonymous and that any form of death may be called a murder? Yet because the occurrence of baptism led to a discussion concerning purification, we are told that these terms are synonymous and that any form of purification is a baptism. Now upon this assumption rests Dr. Beecher’s theory – a huge inverted pyramid resting upon a single point, and that point a mere assumption and one in itself unwarrantable and unreasonable.

John A. Broadus-Immersion Essential to Christian Baptism

God’s work on the heart happens instantaneously

August 12, 2013 2 comments

Spurgeon 1Spurgeon answers a question on trusting in Christ:

“If I do that,” says one, “When will the blessing come?” The text says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” and the blessing will come at once. Swift as the lightning flash is the act which saves the soul. One moment, a man may be black with accumulated sin; the next moment, he may be white as the driven snow. It takes no time for God to blot out iniquity. We pass in an instant from death to life, from darkness into marvellous light. I am praying that, while I speak to you in feebleness, God may work with his almighty power, with that right hand that rent the Red Sea in twain, that the ransomed of the Lord might cross over dryshod. May he come, and save the people made ready by his grace for this night of his glorious power, leading them immediately to believe, and giving them at once, as the result of their faith, reconciliation to God and justification by Christ Jesus!

Charles H. Spurgeon-Baptism Essential to Obedience-Metropolitan Tabernacle-Lord’s Evening-Oct. 13, 1889

Some say the sacred use of a word is frequently quite different from the classical use

August 9, 2013 1 comment

broadusChapter 7-1: Baptizo – Classical and Biblical.

But another class of persons endeavor to go deeper, not relying upon the opinions of others. They say, grant that the classical use of baptizo is as the lexicons mentioned teach, that it always means immerse, and kindred ideas; yet the Biblical use is very different, for in the Bible it certainly sometimes means sprinkle or pour. The attempt is made to show this from various passages; really, it seems that so many are tried because it is felt that none of them are exactly conclusive. I should be glad to go over all that have been thus appealed to, but time does not allow that, and I can only mention those which are most frequently relied on, or which seem most plausible.

I. It is said that, in the case of certain other words, such as pastor, bishop, elder, church, supper, the sacred use is frequently quite different from the classical use; and this is thought to afford a presumption that there is also a difference as to the word baptize. But most of these words have not changed their meaning to something quite different; there is only a figurative or novel application, while the ground idea remains the same. Thus the pastor is a shepherd (figuratively), the bishop is an overseer (spiritually), the church is an assembly (actual or ideal). So baptize is still an immersion, having only a special reference and meaning. The word “supper” has been much insisted on, as having a wholly different sense in the New Testament from its classical use. But when the Apostle Paul speaks of the Christians as coming together to eat “the Lord’s Supper,” (I Cor. 11:20) it was a supper. We continue to apply the term “supper” when it is eaten at other times of the day, but Scripture does not so apply it. Besides, our Lord did not tell us to eat a supper, but to eat bread and drink wine. This is what we must do; and we make here no substitute, either for the elements (bread and wine) or for the action (eating and drinking). So the appeal to “supper” is quite inappropriate. The use of “elder,” however, seems to be a case in point, for this word has changed its meaning. But the change is not in sacred, as distinguished from secular use. The application of the term “elder” to a person who is not old is found in classical Greek, as also in Latin and English. The Greek word presbus, an old man, is used in classical Greek to denote an honorable man, an ambassador, a senator. So with the Latin senator, and the English alderman. This, then, is not a case in which the word acquires an entirely different sense in sacred from what it had in classical use. And so all the examples cited break down, and this supposed analogy and consequent presumption, much relied on by some, amounts to just nothing.

John A. Broadus-Immersion Essential to Christian Baptism

Christ is to be trusted, right now

August 5, 2013 3 comments

Spurgeon 6That raises another question, — When is Christ to be trusted? And the answer is, Now. He was never more worthy to be trusted than he is tonight, and you never more needed a Savior than yea do to-night. You are, perhaps, talking about trusting Christ at some future time. You tell me that you do not trust So-and-so, but that you hope to trust him one of these days. I will not give a penny for such a hope as that. No, friend; if at any future time you should deem Christ worthy of your confidence, he is worthy of your trust to-night, for he is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. Just as you are, in that pew, or sitting in the aisle, Christ deserves your confidence; and I pray you to give it to him. Cast your guilty soul on him this very moment; live not another second in unbelief, for that unbelief is a slander on my Lord, a grievous injury to his dear, faithful love. Now, while the word is quitting my lip, as it reaches your ear, say and mean it, “I do believe; I will trust Jesus; I yield myself to Christ, and take him to be my Savior.”

Charles H. Spurgeon-Baptism Essential to Obedience-Metropolitan Tabernacle-Lord’s Evening-Oct. 13, 1889

Reasons given against immersion

August 2, 2013 1 comment

broadusChapter 6. General Reasons Against Immersion.

Others, without going into an argument as to the teaching of Scripture, while neither admitting nor denying that it teaches what we claim, urge general reasons why they cannot believe that immersion is obligatory.

1. They will say, as before, that immersion is sometimes impracticable, and so it cannot be necessary to baptism. We answer, when baptism is impracticable it is not our duty; when it is practicable, let us practice it and not substitute something else.

2. But immersion is often really dangerous. What! a cold bath dangerous, taken promptly, when a person is sustained, too, by strong excitement, and its effects quickly removed? In a few cases of illness or extreme feebleness it might be dangerous, but then it is not our duty. There is, perhaps, nothing in this world which may not sometimes be dangerous.

3. Immersion is indecent. Will you allow a bit of personal experience? My boyhood was spent in one of the counties of Virginia, where Baptists were numerous. The country church to which the family belonged commonly repaired, for baptizing, to my father’s mill-pond, which was a very convenient and a very pretty place. I always went to witness it with eager interest. I was, of course, like other boys, not too good to have noticed and laughed at anything indelicate. But when I grew up and went to the university, and a Presbyterian student one day said that he thought immersion was indecent, the idea was to me utterly novel; it had never, in all my life, entered my head. Such a notion is a mere prejudice of education. If you think baptism indecent, I should beg pardon for saying you have not been “well raised” in this respect. In many circumstances of life there may be personal exposure through bad arrangements, or awkwardness, or accident; as in alighting from a horse or a carriage, in passing a muddy street-crossing, in descending the steps of a church. What does that prove except that, wherever there is danger of exposure, we must take care to avoid it? If, in any of these cases, or in baptizing, there is great awkwardness or bad management, we condemn the managers. If there is merely accidental exposure when a lady alights from her carriage or when a lady is baptized, well-bred people will only feel regret and sympathy. Besides, what about sea-bathing? The very persons who oftenest complain of immersion as indecent are among those who most delight in sea-bathing.

4. So many good people have believed in sprinkling, and felt that they were blessed in receiving, administering, or witnessing it. This is with some a favorite argument. But consider: Transubstantiation has, from early centuries, been believed in by multitudes of deeply devout people, including such men as Thomas Kempis and Pascal. They have felt that they were blessed in worshiping the host as the very body of Christ. So, also, as to the worship of the Virgin Mary; many who were deeply devout have found in it great delight. Good people are not infallible. And God may, and doubtless does, bless people in holding opinions and observing practices that are not in themselves according to his will. This must be so to some extent – else who would be blessed? David was greatly blessed of God, and David was a polygamist.

Now, if it is true, to some extent, that he blesses those who have principles and practices which he does not approve, we cannot tell how far it may be carried, and must leave that to God. But one thing follows inevitably : that we must not take the fact of God’s blessing a man, or an association of men, as proving that he approves all their doctrines and all their practices.

5. But sprinkling has not only been widely believed in and practiced by good people – it has been defended by many able and devout men, and after careful investigation. Very well, we may answer. You are a Methodist, or an Episcopalian; what do you think of the doctrine of Election, Reprobation, Limited Atonement? Yet you know that for ages these doctrines have been held and rejoiced in by many good Christians, and defended, after careful investigation, by some of the greatest intellects of the human race. Or you are a Calvinist; what do you think of the doctrine popularly called “falling from grace”? Yet you know that it is held and defended by not a few of the most zealous, fervent, and useful Christians on earth.

But, it may be said, this is not a parallel case; these are doctrines. That makes no difference as to our argument. If grave errors as to doctrine exist, and have long existed, among persons very devout and often richly blessed of God, the same must certainly be true as to the less important matter of ceremonies – something may be quite erroneous, though held and earnestly defended by some good and wise men.

But take the case of Church Government. You are a Presbyterian, and do not believe that Episcopacy is Scriptural or expedient; yet how many pious people believe in it and live under it with joy and with religious growth and usefulness; and how many great men defend it after careful investigation, for example, in the Church of England? Or you are an Episcopalian; how many Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Lutherans there are in America, Scotland, England, France, Switzerland, Germany who are neglecters and opposers of Episcopacy, yet are devout, learned, honest?

What is the conclusion from all this? Why, that we are compelled to think for ourselves. We may err, as so many have done; but we must not be content, without the most earnest efforts, to escape errors that our circumstances will allow. I repeat, there is not only a right of private judgment, there is a duty of private judgment. Every man shall give account of himself unto God. And how can we square it with our consciences if we do not personally strive, in all possible ways, to find the truth in all things? There is here but one alternative. Either we have no right to be sure that anything is true, or we are bound to assure ourselves by personal inquiry. Either universal skepticism, or private judgment. One or the other position is inevitable. To believe all that all have said is to believe nothing that any have said. We must then choose between them, and decide for ourselves according to the evidence and our best judgment.

John A. Broadus-Immersion Essential to Christian Baptism

Many argue from Christian liberty

July 26, 2013 1 comment

broadusChapter 5. The Plea of Christian Liberty.

Christian liberty is the ground on which others proceed.

They say Christians may choose for themselves about mere outward forms; these make no difference if you have the essence of the thing. Yes, and so says the Quaker, more strongly still. What would you say to the Quaker? I asked this question of an esteemed friend, who is an Episcopal clergyman. The Quaker tells us the mere outward form of baptism is unnecessary; the essential thing is to have the baptism of the Spirit, and water baptism need not be observed at all. What would you say to him? “I would tell him the Scripture teaches us to baptize in water.” Very well, I replied, and so it teaches us to baptize in water. If you have an outward ceremony at all, you have a form, and can you say that the form of a ceremony is of no importance? How will such an one answer the Quaker, except upon the Baptist principle?

The state of mind represented, the baptism of the Spirit, is of course the essential thing; without it, the outward ceremony is an empty form. But our Lord has appointed a form, a ceremony. We ought to observe this because he has appointed it; and plainly, therefore, ought to observe it as he appointed it. Either the Baptist ground or the Quaker ground.

“But suppose,” one says, that immersion is impracticable or excessively inconvenient; there is not enough water, or it is too cold; why not substitute another use of water and attach the same meaning to it?”

Well, suppose you want to observe the Lord’s Supper and there is no wine to be had – a thing much more likely to happen than that there should be no water, and which I once knew to happen in a country neighborhood – why not take some other beverage, and let that represent to us the same thing as wine? We should all unite in raising two objections. First, our Lord told us to eat bread and drink wine; if circumstances really prevent our doing that, let us do nothing, feeling that we are providentially hindered. Second, while any liquid, as water, might in some sort represent the blood of our dear Lord, yet it is obvious that wine much more clearly and strikingly represents it. Even if we did not perceive this, we ought to do just what he said; and much more when we do perceive it.

And so, if immersion be really impracticable, we should make the same two points. First, we must do what he told us or do nothing. What is really impracticable is not our duty. Second, while sprinkling with water may represent purification, yet even this part of the meaning of baptism is much more strikingly represented by immersion; while the other part, the idea of burial and resurrection, which the apostle twice connects with baptism, sprinkling does not represent at all. Even if we did not perceive that what he appointed is more expressive, we ought to do just what he said, and much more when we do perceive it. Either, then, what he told us to do, or nothing.

But someone is dying – shall we deny him the satisfaction of being baptized? Why not? How was it with the thief on the cross? Suppose the same dying man wants the Lord’s Supper, and you have no wine?

Nay, my, friends, such pleas look like making too much of baptism. In this, as I said, began clinic baptism; and pray notice how the argument we are discussing – a favorite argument with some – just comes back to the same thing, attaching an unwarranted importance to baptism. If baptism or the Lord’s Supper be providentially impracticable, as under certain circumstances may well be the case, surely there is nothing lost, and no guilt incurred, by failing to observe it.

John A. Broadus-Immersion Essential to Christian Baptism

One must trust the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved

Spurgeon 3That I may answer this question better, let me correct it, or turn it into another, and then answer that. The question is not so much what is to be believed, as Who is to be believed? For, in very deed, the believing of a certain thing to be true, though that maybe helpful, is not the whole of the matter. I, believing a thing to be true, trust myself to that truth; there is faith, the act of trust. But if we would be saved, we must trust a Person, we must trust the Lord Jesus Christ. You are not so much saved by believing a dogma, as by trusting a Person; you must believe the dogma, or you will not trust the Person but, believing the doctrine, you then come, and put your trust in the Person about whom that doctrine is taught. If you would be saved, trust yourself with Jesus Christ. He, who died, ever lives, and “he is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him.” Saving faith is trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting him truly, wholly, solely, constantly, trusting him now. Behold him, then, the Son of God, enthroned in glory; lay your soul and all its sins at his dear feet, and trust in him to save you, and he will do it.

Charles H. Spurgeon-Baptism Essential to Obedience-Metropolitan Tabernacle-Lord’s Evening-Oct. 13, 1889

 

Sprinkling Examined

broadusChapter 4. The Defense of Sprinkling.

In the face of such facts as have been stated, on what ground do any Christian people defend the practice of sprinkling for baptism? Well, some of them have really never known the facts, or never stopped to think about them. But others, with the facts before them, still defend sprinkling. Respect for my fellow Christians requires that this matter be as carefully considered as the time will allow. Yet I can but briefly mention and rapidly discuss.

There are several distinct grounds which are relied on by different classes of persons.

I grant that New Testament baptism was immersion, some hold that “the church has authorized a change.”

Yes; clinic baptism – baptism of a sick person in bed – began, as early as the third century, to be allowed by some ecclesiastics, e.g., Novatian. They poured water copiously around the dying or very sick man as he lay in bed. This practice arose from exaggerated notions of the importance of baptism. We should say, if the man was too ill to be baptized, it was not his duty; but they were afraid to let a man die without baptism, and as real baptism was impracticable they proposed a substitute which, by copious pouring, would come as near it as possible. There were many disputes as to the lawfulness of this, but it came by degrees to be generally recognized as lawful.

As the centuries went on there was gradual progress. The more convenient substitute was preferred in other cases than illness, was further reduced to mere sprinkling, and became increasingly common. It was long with-stood by Popes and Councils, but grew in popularity through the Dark Ages, until, in the thirteenth century, one thousand years after clinic pouring began, the Pope finally yielded, and authorized sprinkling in all cases.

So the Reformers found it. And, unfortunately for our modern Christianity, they did not insist on a change. Luther repeatedly said a change ought to be made, e.g., “Baptism is a Greek word, and may be translated immersion, as when we immerse something in water that it may be wholly covered. And, although it is almost wholly abolished (for they do not dip the whole children, but only pour a little water on them), they ought, nevertheless, to be wholly immersed, …. for that the etymology of the word seems to demand.” Again, he says that baptism does not simply represent washing for sins, but “is rather a sign both of death and resurrection. Being moved by this reason, I would have those that are to be baptized to be altogether dipt into the water, as the word means, and the mystery signifies.” So elsewhere (see Ingham’s “Handbook of Baptism”, p.89).

In like manner Calvin. In commenting on the baptism of the eunuch by Philip (Acts 8:38), he says: “‘They descended into the water.’ Here we perceive what was the rite of baptizing among the ancients, for they immersed the whole body into the water; now the custom has become established that the minister only sprinkles the body or the head. But so slight a difference of ceremony ought not to be esteemed by us so important that on account of it we should split the church or disturb it with quarrels. For the ceremony of baptism itself, indeed, inasmuch as it was handed down to us by Christ, we should a hundred times rather fight even to death than suffer it to be taken away from us. But when in the symbol of the water we have a testimony as well of our ablution as of our new life; when in water, as in a mirror, Christ represents to us his blood, that from it we may seek our purification; when he teaches that we are fashioned anew by his Spirit, that, being dead to sin, we may live to righteousness – it is certain that we lack nothing which pertains to the substance of baptism. Wherefore, from the beginning, the church has freely permitted herself, outside of this substance, to have rites a little dissimilar.” (“Calvin on Acts”, viii, 38). The ancients, in the time of Philip and the eunuch, practiced immersion; a different custom has now become established, the church allowing herself liberty.

The leaders of the Reformation in England attempted a return – not, indeed, to the full New Testament plan, but that of the Fathers in the third century. The rubric of the Church of England has always been, from the Reformation till now, “shall dip the child in the water, …. but if they certify that the child is weak, it shall suffice to pour water upon it.” This is essentially the principle of the old clinic baptism. And this the Greek Church also tolerates as an exceptional practice.

But among the Reformers, on the Continent and in England, the custom of several centuries, with convenience, etc., triumphed over those attempts, and pouring – nay, even sprinkling – became the common practice.

In this sense, then, the church ” has changed the act of baptism. On this ground the Roman Catholics stand – the church has changed it – so they always meet the complaints and censures of the Greek Church. And intelligent Romanists see exactly how the matter stands among us who are called Protestants. Thus the famous Dr. Döllinger says: “The fact that the Baptists are so numerous, or even the most numerous of all religious parties in North America, deserves all attention. They would, indeed, be yet more numerous were not Baptism, as well as the Lord’s Supper, as to their sacramental significance, regarded in the Calvinistic world as something so subordinate that the inquiry after the original form appears to many as something indifferent, about which one need not much trouble himself. The Baptists are, however, in fact, from the Protestant standpoint, unassailable, since, for their demand for baptism by submersion, they have the clear Bible text, and the authority of the church and of her testimony is regarded by neither party.” (“Kirche und Kirchen,” s. 337.)

I may remark here, that on this subject the Baptists belong to the majority. It is often objected to us that we are an insignificant minority of the Christian world, and it is a point about which we are not greatly solicitous. But if anybody cares greatly for majorities in such a matter, let him observe that, in contending for immersion as necessary to the baptism taught in the New Testament, we have on our side the whole Greek Church, and the whole Roman Catholic Church, and a very large proportion of the Protestant world, particularly of the Protestant scholars.

To return. This is an intelligible position. New Testament baptism was immersion, but the church has changed it. Accordingly, in the Church of England, few scholars ever, for a moment, question that baptizo means immerse or that the New Testament baptism was immersion.

The church has changed it. Very satisfactory for a Romanist, but how can a Protestant rest on this? Chillingworth, the Church of England scholar, left a dictum which has grown famous: “The Bible, I say – the Bible only – is the religion of Protestants.” Was this all a mistake?

John A. Broadus-Immersion Essential to Christian Baptism

Dispensationalism casts sound principles of exegesis to the wind

Arthur PinkInstead of being engaged in the unholy work of pitting one part of the Scriptures against another, these men would be far better employed in showing the perfect unity of the Bible and the blessed harmony which there is between all of its teachings. But instead of demonstrating the concord of the two Testaments, they are more concerned in their efforts to show the discord which they say there is between that which pertained unto “the Dispensation of Law” and that which obtains under “the Dispensation of Grace,” and in order to accomplish their evil design all sound principles of exegesis are cast to the wind. As a sample of what we have reference to, they cite

 

“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Exodus 21:24)

 

and then quote against it,

 

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39),

 

and then it is exultantly asserted that those two passages can only be “reconciled” by allocating them to different peoples in different ages; and with such superficial handling of Holy Writ thousands of gullible souls are deceived, and thousands more allow themselves to be bewildered.

Arthur W. Pink The Application of Scriptures-A Study of Dispensationalism

What is to be believed in order to be saved?

Spurgeon 3I want to do my part to-night as far as my feeble voice will permit me; and I will speak a few words, first, concerning belief; secondly, concerning baptism; and, thirdly, concerning being saved. We shall get the whole text clearly in considering those three points.

I. First, CONCERNING BELIEVING. This is the main point, this is the hinge of salvation, for he that believeth in Christ is not condemned; he that believeth in him hath everlasting life.

Now, concerning believing, let me, ask, first, What is to be believed? Well, you are to believe that you have broken the law of God, and that consequently you are under condemnation; but that God, in his infinite mercy, has sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world that you might live through him. His Divine, Son, his only-begotten Son, was born of Mary, as a man of the substance of his mother, feeling as we do, and was in all respects most truly man. Being here, he obeyed his Father’s will; and. When the time came, he gave himself up as a sacrifice for guilty men. He died, “the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” Himself being without sin, he took upon himself the sin of his people: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” Being found with human sin imputed to him, he suffered in the room, and place, and stead of those whose sins he bore. On the cross his blood was shed, for without the Shedding of blood there is no remission of sin, but by that shedding of blood he blotted out the iniquity of all those who put their trust in him. This is what you have to believe, that —

 

“He bore, that you might never bear, His Father’s righteous ire.”

 

He was laid in the grave; and on the third day he came forth from the tomb, rising again for the justification of his people as he was crucified for their offenses. After a while, he went up into the highest heaven, and he is now enthroned there, King of kings, and Lord of lords. He sitteth at the right hand of God, even the Father, and there he pleads and makes intercession for sinners. Believe this “Through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.” He is exalted on high, a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance and remission of sins. That is what is to be believed. I might go into a great many details; but I shall not do so tonight. The essence of what is to be believed is that Jesus Christ is given of God unto us, that by his death he might put away sin, and we might be reconciled to God, and that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

Charles H. Spurgeon-Baptism Essential to Obedience-Metropolitan Tabernacle-Lord’s Evening-Oct. 13, 1889