Were the Apostles Baptized?

I am requested to ask Brother E.G. Sewell to write a piece in regard to the proof of the baptism of the apostles.

Regarding John the Baptist it was said: “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:16f) John was to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. How did he do this? Answer: “And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” (Luke 3:3.) Every man that heard and believed the preaching of John, repented, and was baptized by him, received remission of sins, and in this way was made ready, prepared for the Lord. But those that refused to be baptized of John, rejected the counsel of God against themselves. (Luke 7:30.) When Christ came and selected his apostles, they were from among his disciples, and his first disciples were assuredly of those baptized by John, and were thus made ready for him. Therefore, the apostles were baptized by John in Jordan.

To suppose that the Savior would select his apostles from among men that rejected the baptism of John, when John’s mission was to make ready a people prepared for the Lord, is preposterous, especially so when those that rejected John’s baptism rejected the counsel of God. And would Jesus have selected his apostles from those that rejected his Father? Impossible, because Christ says of the apostles in his prayer to his Father: “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (John 17:12)

God gave the apostles to Christ; and can anyone believe that God – after sending John the Baptist before Christ to prepare his way, to make his paths straight, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord – would then give him the apostles from among those that refused John’s baptism, which means they had refused God himself? The man that could believe that is not to be reasoned with. Moreover, God required Christ, his own Son, to be baptized of John before he had showed himself to Israel and before he owned him as his Son in the presence of the people; and Christ recognized the authority and will of the Father in the matter of baptism when he said to John: “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.”

Thus it was the will of God that Christ should be baptized. Now, will anyone say that God, after requiring Jesus to be baptized, having also sent John before him to make ready a people for him, would then select the apostles out of a lot of men that had already rejected him in refusing John’s baptism and give them to his Son as rebels against himself, when he did not own his own Son in the presence of the people till he was baptized? A man that can believe this could very easily believe any error that has ever been taught by man, even down to the effusions of Robert Ingersoll. But surely these reasons are sufficient to convince anyone that believes the Bible that the apostles were baptized by John.

Elisha G. Sewell

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The Antichrist – Who Is He?

Brethren Lipscomb and Sewell: If it would not intrude on your patience, I would like for you to give me some light on the subject of antichrist. 1 John 2:22 says: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” But as I never heard any person say he did not be­lieve in Christ, I am at a loss to ascertain who the liar is. “So that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2:4). “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:11f).

The word antichrist means against Christ, opposed to him. A man that in any way opposes Christ is an anti­christ. Denying that Christ is divine, denying the existence of such a being, is one way of opposing him. But there are people all over the land that do deny Christ, that utterly refuse to believe on him. Then many who are the pretended friends of Christ are in their teaching and practice opposed to him and are among the very worst enemies he has. They pervert and hide the truth and put the doctrines and commandments of men in the front. Whenever you see any of these things, you see antichrist.

The power spoken of in 2 Thessalonians is the great apostasy from the truth that is foretold in many places in the Bible. It is the “mystery, Babylon the great,” spoken of in Revelation. It is generally understood that Roman Catholicism is the largest development of the man of sin known in our land; but any movement among religious people in the way of creed making or councils, or any other thing that sets aside the word of God, is that much of the man of sin. Any man that says the word of God is insufficient and puts something else in its place exalts himself above God, and his wisdom is greater than the wisdom of God.

When men resist the plain truth of God, will not receive and act upon it, God then sends strong delusion upon such, that they may believe a lie and be damned, because they would not receive the truth in the love of it that they might be saved. But these delusions are only sent to those that will not receive the truth. Those who are satisfied with the plain truth of the word of God can always learn enough of it to be saved by it, and such need not be uneasy. But when men see the truth and then will not receive it, they are in danger of the delusion spoken of.

Elisha G. Sewell

The Spirit of the Antichrist

Please explain, through the Gospel Advocate, 1 John 4:2-3.

This scripture seems to recognize that there is a spirit peculiar to every system of teaching. A class of teachers had arisen in the church, claiming to be inspired or sent of God, who denied that Christ had come in the flesh. He says: “They went out from us, but they were not of us.” It is probable that these teachers exhibited some ability to work wonders, as evil spirits in the days of the Savior possessed such power. John’s letters were written to warn against these false teachers who were guided by these spirits. He urged them to try the spirits. Paul to the Corinthians, warning against the same class, said: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual [inspired], let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” This is a command to test those claiming inspiration by the word of God. This shows that obedience to the word of God even in the days of the apostles was regarded as a higher evidence of acceptance with God than the power to prophesy or do wonders. John tells them that those denying in his day that Christ had come in the flesh were of antichrist. Antichrist was to come “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.” These spirits which worked wonders were all to be tested — proved by the word of God — and one who did not conform to the word of God, even though he should work wonders and signs, was to be rejected. Conforming to the word of God is the only test of acceptance with God. Then the spirit in those persons led them to confess that Christ had come in the flesh. To do this was to recognize him by obeying him as Christ the Lord. “No man can call Jesus Lord, save by the Holy Ghost.” The spirit that prompted others to deny that he was come in the flesh was of antichrist. Antichrist was a spiritual power, but a wicked spirit. These verses recognize there were many spirits gone out into the world. These spirits worked wonders. All were to be tried by the word of God. Only those who acknowledged that Christ had come in the flesh, which is the same as to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, were of God. All who denied this, which was a denial that Christ is the Son of God, were of antichrist.

Anointing with Oil and Prayer (2)

Brother Lipscomb: Please explain James 5:14f. It seems that James was writing to Christians. Of course they were Jewish Christians; but are not all Christians entitled to the same privilege? And if the elders should pray faithfully, anointing with oil as instructed, does it not seem that the Lord has promised to raise the sick, not only then, but through all coming ages? If not, why not?

With the meaning our brother attaches to this passage, how could any Christian have died in reach of the elders with oil? If the elders could have cured every one that got sick, certainly none would have died or lingered in sickness; and if that order had become perpetual, a Christian in reach of elders and oil would never die. The scripture, whether applicable now or not, was in some sense true in the early days. Was there ever a time when Christians did not sicken and die? If God had ordained all that the elders anointed with oil and prayed over should recover, why did they not cure all? Why would any die? Why would Epaphroditus come nigh unto death ministering to Paul? (Phil. 2:27) Many sickened and died during the days of the apostles and of the miraculously endowed. So I take it James did not mean to say that all were or would be cured in this way at any time. Because this is so, I hardly think it was a miraculous cure. I think he only meant to say that if the sick would send for the elders and they would pray for them and anoint them with oil, those who could be cured at all would be cured in this way. That means that this was the best system of treating diseases and would cure all that could be cured. This may be true now. It may mean that anointing with oil was a remedial system very common at that day, and probably better than any in vogue. The practice of medicine then was a crude mixture of superstition and conjuration; so with the use of oil as a remedial agent the prayers of the elders should be connected. That would teach us that with any remedial agent we should connect the prayers of the elders. I think that just what was taught by James is applicable now, but I do not think he taught all would be cured at any time. That was not an antidote to mortality and would not stop the work of death.

David Lipscomb

Anointing with Oil and Prayer (1)

Brother Sewell: Please give us your views on James 5:13-15. Is not that portion of his letter as applicable to us in this age as any other portion of it? If not, how can we know where to draw the line? In verse 17 he refers to Elijah’s being a man subject to like passions as we are, and then speaks of the efficacy of his prayer. Is not the want of faith and works on our part the reason why our prayers are not efficacious in cases like those mentioned in the verses referred to above?

Verse 13 is plainly applicable to Christians at the present time. All Christians suffering afflictions should pray to God for help in these afflictions — in fact, all Christians should pray to God at all times, and then when afflictions come their special prayers will be regarded. People that are merry should always sing psalms rather than go into frivolity. But as to the matter of praying for the sick, with the full assurance that they will be restored, there are differences of judgment regarding this. Some think this pertained to the miraculous age of the church, and that the raising up of the sick had special reference to miraculous healing; and to this idea I am inclined. But, at the same time, anointing with oil is a good remedy in many things, and would be no bad thing to do in any case where oil could be beneficial. Calling the elders together and praying for the recovery of the sick, praying that the efforts made to cure the sick may be made effectual, is also a good thing to do at any time. And in all such prayers there should be the meek and humble expression: “Thy will, not mine, be done.” Then after all these things are done, if our sick do not recover, we should confidingly submit, Job-like, and still praise the name of the Lord. And while these prayers are going on for the recovery of the sick, if the sick member has committed sins, he should sincerely repent of and confess his sins to God and all pray together for their forgiveness. All this, I think, would be proper and right. But to expect speedy and certain cure of the disease of the sick, I think, belonged to the age of miracles. Prayers for healing, through the general laws of healing, for the success of our efforts to heal, I think, are in order all the time.

Elisha G. Sewell

When was Christ Anointed?

When was Christ anointed Prophet, Priest, and King?

Christ says: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor,’’ etc. (Luke 4:18.) The Lord was anointed as a preacher and teacher when the Holy Spirit was given him after his baptism, as is indicated in this passage. But he was not constituted high priest while he was on this earth. Paul says: “For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law.” (Hebrews 8:4.) This is equivalent to saying that he was not a priest while he was on earth. But the last verse of Hebrews 7 tells when he was made high priest, and how: “For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.”

“The word of the oath, which was since the law.” The law did not die till the death of Christ. It is, therefore, certain that Christ was not made high priest till after his death; and after his death and up to the ascension he was not made high priest. Hence he was made high priest when he ascended, and was made “King of kings, and Lord of lords,” at the right hand of God in heaven. He is there now as our high priest, to appear in the presence of God for us.

Angels Rejoicing and Future Recognition

Please explain through the Gospel Advocate the following verse: “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:7.)

In 1 Cor. 13:12, does Paul mean that we shall see each other face to face and know each other?

 

The passage in Luke, we think, means just what it says. There is, doubtless, joy in heaven over a sinner that truly repents, truly turns from sin into the service of God. The angels of heaven, doubtless, know what is going on in earth, as angels are ministers for those who shall be heirs of salvation. This passage shows the interest that is felt and manifested in behalf of men by those in heaven.

As to the passage in Corinthians, we cannot speak definitely. Some think that Paul in this passage had reference to the perfected state of the church and to the completeness of the revelation of all matters pertaining to the new institution, so that they could comprehend at once the whole scheme of human redemption. In the days of the apostles these things were only given in parts—just so much at a time as was needed at a certain place or time or occasion; but finally, little by little, the whole was fully given, until they could comprehend the whole matter, as a friend knows his friend when face to face with him. Others, however, think Paul had reference to heaven, when all the fullness of God’s mercy and love will be fully and clearly disclosed before our eyes, and that then we shall know all things pertaining to eternity. And if this idea is correct, then the passage certainly includes the idea that we shall know each other there. We do not think that either interpretation would do violence to other passages on the subject; and we, therefore, will not say definitely, but have generally inclined to the first-named interpretation.

Office of Angels

Do all believing Christians have a guardian angel? This came up in our Sunday-school lesson on Matthew 18:10, and Mr. Wesley was quoted as believing that all Christians had a guardian angel. I am not after Mr. Wesley’s theory, but I am after the plain truth as taught in the word of God by our Lord Jesus Christ and the holy apostles. Please give me the best information you can. There are plenty of places in the New Testament where the angel of the Lord spoke and said things, and the angel of the Lord smote Peter on the side when he was in the prison.

Also please tell me what is meant in Hebrews 1:14. Are they not all ministering spirits? Was Paul alluding to the prophets and to Jesus and himself and the rest of the apostles?

“That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” What was meant by “their angels”? Please give me the best information you can on the question, and oblige me.

I am a subscriber to your paper, and am well pleased with it. I am a member of the Methodist Church, but am not satisfied. Brother Joiner, of Morgan County, a Christian minister, preached for us about two months ago, and promised he would preach more for us when the weather got better. I have not been baptized; was sprinkled when a boy. I hope I may get settled as to which is the nearest after the teaching of Jesus and the apostles. We have no church near here, except Methodist; but I am hopeful of Brother Joiner’s promise to me. I am reading the Bible daily, and find I am learning something every day, and feel the help I have already derived from your good Gospel Advocate. I am going to order some of your Sabbath-school helps; and if they teach as plain and simply the truths of the word of God as the Advocate does, I will try to get our good Methodist brethren to introduce them into the school.

 

I do not find any clear indication in the Bible that each person has a guardian angel. Angels came to men during the miraculous ages of the world, but always with a clear and distinct form and with a clear, well-delivered message from God. They never influenced men in a mysterious way, nor is there any evidence that they sought to lead them or influence them otherwise than through the message they delivered to them. None of us believe they come in visible form or with an audible message now. If not, I cannot see how they can affect men or their courses. The Bible says, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him;” but this was from the Psalms, when angels did come to reveal God’s word, and means the same thing as the expression: “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Peter. 3:12.)

The passage in Hebrews 1:14 clearly refers to the ministry of angels in giving the Jewish law and their visitations to men under that law. The whole connection is a contrast between the ministry of angels in the Jewish law and the ministry of Christ under the Christian dispensation. Read from the beginning of the first chapter, and see the superiority of the ministry of Christ over the ministry of angels is continually kept up. Paul says: “To which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them [under their ministration] who shall be heirs of salvation? Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels [this shows how and when the angels were ministering spirits] was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him, God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” (Hebrews 1:13-2:4.) The connection clearly shows that the angels ministered to them by giving the law and revealing the will of God. It was the ministration of angels in contrast with the ministration of Christ. The only trouble is, the expression, “ministering spirits,” is in the present tense. This we think not strong enough to break the force of the whole connection. Besides, they do minister just as the law and the prophets testify of Jesus as the Christ.

The passage, “their angels do always behold the face of my Father,” means when they are transformed into the angelic state, they will then always behold the face of the Father in heaven. We do not think there is any evidence of what is called “angelic guardianship” here, nor can we see what possible office they perform. The will of God is revealed and completed in the Bible. Their office was to minister to the heirs of salvation by making the will of God known to them. When that perfect will was made known, we can see no more room for their office.

It is well always to speak of Bible things in Bible terms. It is common to call the Lord’s day the “Sabbath,” but it is never so called in the Bible. Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath. Saturday is always referred to when “Sabbath” is used. To call the Lord’s day “Sabbath” is to confuse terms and ideas that ought to be kept distinct.

Are there Now Any Ambassadors?

Brother Sewell: Has Christ any ambassadors on earth? If so, who are they? I understand the apostles to be the last ambassadors. Am I right?

You are certainly right about the apostles being the last ambassadors from God to men, and there will certainly be no more. The apostles gave fully the conditions of pardon, upon compliance with which we can have peace with God, and the conditions upon which eternal life can be obtained. We have all these conditions on record, and do not need any more ambassadors now. What we need now is for men to repeat the conditions of salvation the apostles gave. But the trouble with the religious world now is that there are men who think they are ambassadors, and they give differ­ent conditions from those the apostles gave, and thus turn the ears of the people away from the conditions the true ambassadors gave and turn them to the doctrines and com­mandments of men. There are no conditions of salvation now from God to men except those given and left on record by the apostles. All others are conditions given by unin­spired men to men, and all of these combined cannot save one sinner. Let all those, therefore, that propose to labor for the conversion and salvation of men see to it that they repeat the terms of peace and redemption that the apostles gave under guidance of the Holy Spirit. Then all will preach alike, and all can be saved if they will comply with the terms.

Elisha G. Sewell

The Place of the Golden Altar

Brother Lipscomb: Where was the God-appointed place for the golden altar of incense — in the holy place or the most holy? Breth­ren are on both sides. Please give reasons for apparent discrepancies in the Bible on this.

The place appointed for the altar of incense, or the golden altar, was in the holy place, beside the veil that leads into the most holy. The most holy was the dwelling place of God. The incense arising from the altar without the most holy passed through the veil and entered the most holy as incense to God. In Ex. 30:6-7 the order is given: “And thou shalt put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. And Aaron shall burn thereon incense of sweet spices: every morning, when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn it.” In Ex. 40: 26-27 he repeats the statement that he placed them as he was commanded: “And he put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the veil: and he burnt thereon incense of sweet spices; as Jehovah commanded Moses.” Because the incense arising from this altar reached God in the most holy place, it is sometimes spoken of as though it belonged to the most holy place. It was placed in the holy place beside the veil that enters the most holy, that the incense might, like the prayers of the saints, pass through the veil to the presence of God.

A perversion of one of these figures is seen in the pictures intended to represent the cherubim — a couple of winged women squatting with their faces opposite each other. If one will read the description of the cherubim as given in 1 Kings 6:23-28 and 2 Chron. 3:10-14, he will find that they were images ten feet high, reaching the ceiling above, the wings extended, touching each other in the cen­ter and the walls on each side. They looked toward each other. I used to know a Methodist preacher who insisted that Methodists should keep up the primitive and approved style of kneeling in prayer. In kneeling, many of them squatted to keep their knees out of the dirt. This preacher got to see who kneeled and who squatted, and reproved the latter as following a custom nowhere approved by God.

David Lipscomb