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Thoughts on Baptism

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    THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST

    We do not by this mean that baptism which was taught or administered by Christ, as in the case of John, but that which he received at the hands of John in Jordan. On this also there has been much conjecture. It is mostly supposed to have been merely for an example. Jesus truly was our example; but we think his baptism has a significance beyond that of mere example. And here again, if John’s baptism was so essentially different from that of the gospel as most people suppose, his example under one would carry no weight in favor of obedience to the other. To this point we would call particular attention.TOB 60.2

    Christ was not our example merely, but he came into the world to be our substitute and our sacrifice. They who deny (as some do) the sub-stitutionary or vicarious nature of the work of Christ, set aside the efficiency of his work unto our salvation. His suffering for us was not altogether on the cross; his whole life was one of trial, of temptation, and of affliction. In the garden his soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death; but an angel strengthened him that he might not then sink under the heavy burden of suffering. When Paul said, “He hath made him to be sin for us,” he evidently meant he was made to occupy our position, or be a partaker of our condition. And again when he said, “He was made under the law,” he must have meant that he was subjected to our condemnation; the apostle’s argument on the need and work of justification shows that this expression—under the law—signifies under its condemnation. He was made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law. Not under obligation to the law, as some vainly urge, for that condition does not call for redemption. Adam was subject to the law before he fell, but not a subject for redemption. It is a sinful condition, or being condemned by the law, which calls for redemption. It is evident that Christ was “made under the law” in this sense: as “the wages of sin is death;” he was “made sin for us,” to fall under death for our sakes. And this condition must have dated from his taking upon him the nature or “seed of Abraham.” And if he died because our sins were upon him (Isaiah 53), and suffered under temptations and sorrows in our behalf and on our account, we must conclude that he was baptized for the same reason. And this is yet more evident when we consider that John’s baptism was “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sin.” Mark 1:4. There could be nothing appropriate to this purpose in his being baptized for himself; for he had no sins to confess, and needed no repentance. But inasmuch as the Lord “laid upon him the iniquity of us all,” it seemed suitable that he should be baptized, even as sinful men, for whom he stood, should be baptized.TOB 60.3

    There is a wonderful significance in his baptism which seems to be entirely lost if we lose sight of this momentous truth. “He bore our sins;” he acted and suffered as our substitute—in our stead. They who pervert or lightly esteem baptism, must lightly esteem the sufferings and the cross of Christ, as well as his example.TOB 62.1

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