Last Updated on :Thursday, November 20, 2014










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THE point of difficulty in a correspondent's mind is this -- if the "defective faith" of the apostles did not necessitate their re-immersion, why should the defective faith of our contemporaries? In other words, if the ignorance of the apostles in regard to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and the things founded upon these facts, did not invalidate their baptism by John, why should men's ignorance of the kingdom of God and His righteousness, make invalid the immersion to which they have been subjected? Is not their immersion the "one baptism" although their "faith" is defective of many things embraced in the "one faith" and the "one hope of the calling"? (Eph. 4:4-6)

This appears to be the difficulty for us to consider. Let us see, then, if it be real and insuperable or not.

In the first place we remark that the case of the apostles is exceptional. They were Israelites under the law, which was then in full force, the Abrahamic covenant not having been confirmed by the blood of its Mediator, the Christ. They were not required to believe in the mystery of its confirmation any more than the prophets were until the confirmation was established. They were under a dispensation of "justification by faith", not of "justification through, the faith"; because when they were justified "the faith" (See Rom. 3:30) had not come (Rom. 3:30; Gal. 3:24). Until the resurrection of Jesus they were "under the law" as Jesus was himself under the law, which was the schoolmaster of Israel who were "shut up to the faith which should afterwards be revealed". This was a position which could only be occupied by Israelites previous to the revelation of the faith. After that faith came, they were no longer "shut up". (Gal. 3:23-25) The apostles were shut up as Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel were "shut up to the faith". Their faith was the faith of these prophets, with the addition that they believed that Jesus was the Son of David and Son of the Deity whom He had anointed with the Holy Spirit; in other words, "the Christ the King of Israel" (Mark 15:32) whom He had covenanted to Abraham and David to inherit the land and to occupy the throne.

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This was their faith. They believed the things covenanted to Abraham and David, and that Jesus was the Christ; but they did not understand nor believe, though it was told them, that Jesus should be put to death and rise again; they did not know, in any sense of the word know, that there should be remission of sins to the prophets and themselves through the death and resurrection of Jesus; that is, through the crucificial outpouring of his soul as the blood of the Abrahamic and Davidian covenants, in the promises of which they believed. This is evident from Luke 18:31-34, where it is written that Jesus said to the twelve: "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on; and they shall scourge him, and put him to death; and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things; and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things that were spoken". John tells us that their ignorance of this class of truths continued until Jesus was glorified (John12:16). Then they received the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth, which guided them into all the truth: and showed them many things which in the beginning of the week of confirmation, Daniel's seventieth week, they were not able to bear (John 16:4,12,13,25).

The apostles, then, were justified by faith in the gospel of the kingdom, and in Jesus as its anointed king. This is positive. They were not justified by faith in a Christ who they believed would suffer death and rise again. This is negative. That they were justified before the death of Jesus is evident from John 15:3, where it is written, "Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you". This word which Jesus spoke to them was "the word of the kingdom", also styled "the Gospel of the Kingdom", and "the kingdom of God" (Luke 18:17; 9:60, 2,6; 8: 1; 4:43,18; Matt. 9:35; 4:23). Faith in it and Jesus was justifying. It cleansed, or purified them all from sins, except Judas. He was excepted, and pronounced "unclean"; for he had not received "the word" into an honest and good heart.

The apostles believed all they were required to believe. They were not required to believe what was purposely hidden from them. They had honoured God in accepting His counsel preached to them through John the baptizer. They had been baptized with "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins", (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3) predicated on faith in the promises covenanted to Israel's fathers, and the approaching manifestation of the Christ. When he appeared they recognized him. He preached the same gospel as John, but amplified in detail. They believed it, and Jesus completed what John had begun in washing their feet, and without which they could have no part with him in the joy that was set before him (John 13:8). They had washed in John's baptism, therefore they needed not save to have their feet washed by Jesus, who thus "shod them with the preparation of the gospel" and made them clean every whit (verse 10; Eph. 6:15). Things being thus ordered, it only remained to redeem them from the curse of the law to redeem them by the same act that should purchase Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and all the saints under the law, from its curse.

This redemption was effected by Jesus submitting to be made a curse for them. This was accomplished, not by his wilful violation of the law, but by his enemies nailing him to a tree, or cross; and so forcibly bringing the curse of the Mosaic law upon him, which says, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree". (Gal. 3:13) Thus the nature crucified was cursed, eternally cursed; and therefore can never occupy the kingdom of God and the earth for ever. The life of the nature that transgressed in the person of the first Adam, became a covering for sin in the sinless person of the second Adam. When glorified the crucified nature was transformed into holy spirit-nature, styled by Paul, "spiritual body", (1 Cor. 15:44) or the body consubstantial with the Father. This is the nature Jesus now possesses, and to which he attained at the price of "the crucifixion of the flesh" in every sense of the phrase.

When the redemption price was thus paid the law of Moses had no more dominion over the apostles. Its curses had become ineffectual in their case. Every whit clean by the arrangement indicated, they could stand up on Pentecost, and under inspiration of Holy Spirit, could reveal to the astonished Israelites the new doctrine of God's system of justification in the name of Jesus, attested by the law that cursed him, and by the prophets. Being redeemed from the curse of the law they had received the adoption of sons; and because they were sons He had sent forth the spirit of His Son into their hearts; and they could stand up and proclaim without sin "justification through the faith", (Rom.3:30) independently of the sacrifices prescribed by the ritual of Moses. "The faith" had come, and they were no longer under the Mosaic schoolmaster.

The reader, then, will bear in mind the distinction subsisting between, "justification by faith", and "justification through the faith". (Rom. 3:30) The apostles and prophets were justified, or cleansed from all their sins "by faith"; but since the day of Pentecost no Jew or Gentile can obtain pardon or purification by the same formula as they. To believe the word of the kingdom, and that Jesus is Son of God, will, since that notable day, save no man apart from the revealed mystery; nor would the belief that the Christ should die and be raised again, apart from the recognition of Jesus as the Christ, and the word of the kingdom, save a believer. The area of "faith" was enlarged by the apostolic proclamation into "the faith", so that after the day of Pentecost the doctrine of the apostles presented people with more things to be believed for justification than were believed by Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, or themselves. Till the glorification of Jesus they were "fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken"; (Luke 24:25) for they did not understand that the Christ ought to have suffered the things Jesus suffered, and afterwards to enter upon his glory (Luke 24:25,26). But when Jesus was about to betaken up and received into glory, he opened their understanding that they might understand the scriptures of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms, concerning him; and said unto them, "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved the Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead on the third day; and that repentance, and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (verse 44-47).

Such was the case of the apostles in regard to their personal justification, which resolved itself into :

    1. -- Their baptism of John's immersion of repentance for remission of sins through the word Jesus should preach to them.

    2. -- Their belief of that word of the kingdom in an honest and good heart.

    3. -- Their confession that he was the anointed Son of the Deity and King of Israel; and,

    4. -- Their feet being washed by the personal ministry of the King himself.

Here was a work of the Spirit which occupied a much longer time to accomplish than a modern clerical religion-getting. This is the excitement of an instant which leaves the proselyte as ignorant of the truth as it found him: whereas the cleansing of the apostles every whit was, like that of Abraham's justification, an affair of years.

The apostles were a practical illustration of the word in Dan. 9:27 concerning the transactions of the seventieth week, "He shall confirm a covenant for many one week, and in half of the week he shall cause to cease from sacrificing and offering". They belonged to the Week of Confirmation, in which the Spirit was causing to cease from sin-offerings; preparing a covering for iniquity; introducing a righteousness for the hidden periods; sealing the vision of the eighth chapter, and ,the prophecy; and anointing the holiest of the holy ones, or saints. Their baptism of John did not cause them to cease from sacrificing and offering according to the Mosaic law; nor did their feet-washing by Jesus. Till he put away sin-offerings by the sacrifice of himself, the immersed apostles were under the dominion of the law, and bound to attend to its requirement; but when Jesus died "to redeem the transgressions under the law", their iniquity and that of all the prophets was, covered; and in his resurrection their justification was complete. The righteousness they had acquired was such as the law could not give. This could only represent the taking away of sins, not actually and permanently abolish them; while the state perfected by the death and resurrection of Jesus invested them with a purification which needed not to be renewed in all subsequent time, and would be found sufficient for the Millennial Period and beyond, in other words, "for ever".

After Deity was "justified in spirit", (1 Tim. 3:16) by the perfecting of Jesus, the apostles no longer offered sacrifices and offerings. They "ceased sacrificing and offering", though sacrifices and offerings continued to be offered according to the law for nearly forty years after by all Israelites who did not submit to the Deity's system of righteousness exhibited in the gospel the apostles preached.

From these premises the reader will perceive that John's baptism was altogether wrong and out of place after the resurrection of Jesus. It was quite right in its right place; but altogether wrong out of its place. A pre-pentecostal immersion is therefore impossible; and the case of the apostles who are subjects of it, altogether irrelevant to any supposable among us. Their faith was according to the formula of the week of confirmation, which terminated with the cutting off of Messiah the prince at the crucifixion. It was not defective for "justification by faith", though it was defective for "justification through the faith", which, however, when they were cleansed was to them impossible, seeing that "the faith" had not then as yet come. (See Rom. 3:30)


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