Awake My Soul – Hymns of Dawn No. 20

Awake My Soul – Hymns of Dawn No. 20

Here is a recording of Hymn No. 20 from the “Hymns of Dawn” to aid God’s people in singing and making melody in their hearts unto God.

“(1) Come, let us shout joyfully to Jehovah! Let us shout in triumph to our Rock of salvation. (2) Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; Let us sing and shout in triumph to him” (Psalm 95:1, 2).

“My mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5).

Lyrics

1.
Awake, my soul, stretch ev’ry nerve,
And press with vigor on;
A heav’nly race demands thy zeal,
And an immortal crown,
And an immortal crown.

2.
A cloud of witnesses around
Hold thee in full survey;
Forget the steps already trod,
And onward urge thy way,
And onward urge thy way.

3.
‘Tis God’s all animating voice
That calls thee from on high;
‘Tis his own hand presents the prize
To thine aspiring eye,
To thine aspiring eye.

4.
That prize with peerless glory bright,
With thee, O Lord, we’ll gain,
When earth’s great monarchs shall have lost
Their glory and their fame,
Their glory and their fame.

5.
Blest Saviour, introduced by thee,
Our race have we begun;
And crowned with vict’ry, at thy feet
We’ll lay our trophies down,
We’ll lay our trophies down.

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The History Of This Hymn

Author Philip Doddridge (1702-1751)

Composer George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). This Hymn’s tune was written by Handel in 1728 and titled “Christmas.”

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Bible Scriptures Associated With This Hymn

James 1:12 (NIV) — “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Revelation 2:10 (NAS) — “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Revelation 3:11, 21 (ESV) — “(3) I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown... (21) The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

Isaiah 62:3 (NAS) — “You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, And a royal diadem in the hand of your God.”

Philippians 3:14 (NIV) — “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Hebrews 10:36 (NAS) — “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NAS) — “(1) Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV) — “(7) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (8) Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

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The words below are from Reprint No. 5499, from the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

THE PURPOSE OF OUR TRIALS

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.” —  James 1:12.

THE WORD blessed in this text may be understood to signify the condition of one in the favor of God. The state of such will be a happy one, a desirable one. The word blessed does not, of course, always suggest a happy condition as relates to the feelings, or emotions, but rather as relates to the outcome. It is used here in connection with the results of trial to the Christian. The child of God who wins the crown of life will be very highly favored or blessed of God; then whatever conduces to this end is a very great blessing, even though it cause much pain to the flesh.

Who will gain this crown of life? Of what character will he be? The Scriptures declare that it will be that man or that woman who endures temptation, trial. What is signified by enduring temptation? Evidently the thought is not the enduring of one temptation for one time or for many times. Even the world must endure trials. The reference is to the retaining permanently of the attitude of patient endurance and faithfulness when tempted, of remaining true to God under temptation and stress. Temptations come from a variety of sources. They may come from friends, who may tempt us to live a life of more or less self-indulgence, to relax in a measure our fidelity to the Lord. The enticements of wealth or worldly society, a natural love of ease and disinclination of the flesh to endure hardness—any or all of these may prove strong and subtle temptations to the Christian.

But if we love the Lord supremely, that love will become the chief impulse of our lives. Our one aim will be that we may glorify God in our spirit and in our body. We know that there are things which are displeasing to God, and if we love Him we will seek to keep His commandments. The child of God might fail once, or he might fail repeatedly along the same line, until in deep humiliation and anguish of soul because of his continued manifestation of the same weakness, he would be led to cry out with strong crying and tears to the Lord; and his pain and distress of heart might so impress upon him his need of greater watchfulness along that line that he would become strengthened for further attacks of the same nature, and thus be enabled to gain the victory over his besetment, his special weakness.

THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

While we shall never reach the point of perfection in the flesh, nevertheless this power to endure temptation should become more marked day by day, as the New Creature remains loyal, still resisting and striving still harder to resist and be true to the Lord in thought and word and deed. Blessed is the man who shall endure—time after time, day after day—thus proving his faithfulness and obedience to God. For when that man is tried, when the trial time is over, when God has seen that he has demonstrated fully his loyalty, then, when God’s “due time” has come, that tried and proven one shall receive the crown of life.

The expression, “the crown of life,” is another way of saying the reward of life; and this life is on the highest plane. The Apostle Paul speaks of this same crown as the “crown of righteousness.” The Apostle Peter calls it the “crown of glory.” It is the crown of righteousness because it is the reward that comes as the result of righteousness, of obedience to God and the principles of His Government, of faithfulness to our covenant. It is the crown of glory because it is the reward which brings glory, honor, immortality.

In the Grecian games certain rewards were given to those who endured successfully the trial of their skill, of their prowess and of their physical endurance. The reward given was usually a crown or wreath of laurel. That crown was valuable, not so much in itself, but especially as an outward token of appreciation of superior merit. The fact that it was evergreen would suggest to the Christian that our reward as “overcomers” will be a lasting reward, an eternal reward.

The Lord is to give us life in fullest measure. The penalty that came upon our race because of sin was death; but now there is an opportunity to regain life—life in perfection, untainted, unending. This life is in the Son of God. At the present time life can be gained only by being begotten to the spirit nature. The crown of life, to be given to the “more than conquerors,” is a very special kind of life—immortality, the highest form of life possible, the crown, or pinnacle, of all life. This is to be the reward of the class called in Scripture the Bride of Christ, when they shall have demonstrated their faithfulness, when they shall have been proven worthy to be members of that exalted class.

There will be a crown of life in the next Ageperfect human life—as the result of obedience to the tests and trials of that time. These tests will differ in many respects from the trials and difficulties of the Church at the present time. They will be much less crucial; for then temptations to sin from without will be removed, and bodily and mental uplifting and assistance granted, which will make their trial a more favorable one. Righteousness, too, will immediately be rewarded in that Day, and sin and disobedience of every kind will be promptly punished. But now righteousness often brings suffering, reproach, pain and loss, from the human standpoint; while sin often brings present advantage, popularity and pleasure to the flesh.

THE PROPER VIEW OF OUR TRIALS

There is a special love required by God of the Gospel Church—this peculiar class now called of Him. They are to have a love that is so unselfish that it will be willing, yea, glad, to lay down the earthly life in the service of God, that they may bring blessings to others. To these God has promised the special crown of life—immortality, His own nature. These are to be the blessers of their brethren, those of the nature formerly their own. As Isaac was the blesser of Ishmael and of the sons of Keturah, and as the first-born of Israel were the blessers of their brethren, so these will bless all the peoples of the earth, from among whom they were chosen. How thankful we should be for an honor so great!

If these favored children of the Heavenly King could always keep in mind the fact that every trial and testing, every persecution and difficulty, permitted to come upon those who have made the Covenant of Sacrifice with the Lord, is designed to develop them, to prove and test their love, to demonstrate whether or not their characters are fixed, rooted and grounded in righteousness, it would set all their painful experiences and temptations in a new light, and would be a great assistance to them in fighting the good fight of faith successfully. For if by these trials and tribulations the Lord is proving our love and devotion to Him, then whatever they may be, whether great or small, we should diligently use them as opportunities to demonstrate to our God the fulness of our love for Him and His cause, and as means by which we may rise day by day to greater heights of spiritual attainment, being changed into the likeness of our Master.

Thus viewed and thus met, every trial and affliction would prove a blessing, a Heavenly messenger, bearing us on wings of faith “Nearer, our God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.” Then, beloved, “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [trials, testings], knowing this, that the trial of your faith worketh patience [patient endurance]. But let patience perfect her work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Herein we “greatly rejoice—though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [testings, provings], that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold, which perisheth, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls!”—James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-8.

Truly, “these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things that are seen [the things of the present order] are temporal, but the things which are not seen [the glories to come] are eternal.”—2 Corinthians 4:17,18.

“WILL YE ALSO GO AWAY?”

Thus we are assured in the infallible Word of God that those who love the Lord, and who are to receive the Kingdom, will have their love tested by trials and temptations on the way to that Kingdom. Those who do not [R5500 : page 215] love the Lord with all their hearts, in whom self or some other idol has first place, will be seduced by the world, the flesh or the Devil into some form of rebellion against the Divine Word or the Divine providences. They will have schemes and theories which they will prefer to the Lord’s Plan and the Lord’s way; and their schemes when analyzed will usually be found to be based either upon selfishness or ambition or upon an evil spirit of envy, hatred, jealousy, etc.

The Lord’s leading and the Lord’s words lose their attraction to such, and they lose their interest correspondingly; and like those who turned away from the Master at His First Advent, and said, “This is a hard saying,” so these also go away and “walk no more with Him.” But some will continue to walk with the Lord; some will not be driven away nor decoyed from Him by the arts and wiles of the Evil One and his hosts. These are such as are at heart fully the Lord’s, not their own; they will follow the Lamb of God, whithersoever He may lead, because they have no will except His will. They will follow Him through all the Narrow Way of discipline and trial in this life; and by and by, as He has assured them, “They shall walk with Me in white; for they are worthy.”—Revelation 3:4.

OUR UNFAILING SHELTER

Nor will this choice company lack in number by reason of the falling away of some. It will be of the predestinated number which God arranged to constitute the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife. The Father’s foreknowledge made full allowance for all who would turn back, and He knew that the requisite number would follow on, to make their calling and election sure. These have learned that the call of the world, the promptings of the flesh, and the arts of the Adversary, are all snares and traps and pitfalls to drag them down to death.

They have learned the sound of the true Shepherd’s voice, and cannot be enticed by the voice of strangers.

Precious children of the Lord, blessed are ye! Sheltered in the “secret place of the Most High” no evil shall befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. “He shall give His angels charge concerning thee; they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” How safe and secure are these! Though a thousand fall at their side, and ten thousand at their right hand, yet the plague shall not come nigh them. They have “made the Most High their Habitation,” and He will keep them from all harm.

Under His Wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild;
Still I can trust Him, I know He will keep me;
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Under His Wings! What a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
Here I find comfort, and here I am blest.

Under His Wings! Oh, what precious enfolding!
Here will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore!”

As the faithful disciples of the Master in the first Harvest realized a meaning in His teachings which others of the professed children of God could not appreciate, so now, at the Second Advent of the Lord, His words have a precious significance to those who are in heart-harmony with Him which none others can realize. And we see now, as at the First Advent, that some are stumbling and going back, while others are being drawn more closely to the Lord than ever, by means of the knowledge of His Plan which He is supplying.

FEASTING IN THE BANQUET HALL

As we draw nearer to the close of the Harvest, we shall not be surprised if the way become still narrower, still more difficult, and if the temptations to stumble and to fall become still more frequent.

Let us then, dear brethren, be more and more on our guard against the wiles of the great Enemy of our souls, and against the deceptions of our own fallen nature. Let the perfect love of God rule in your hearts, driving out self-love and world-love, with their pride, ambition and folly. Let entire devotion to God bring into your hearts the promised fulness of joy and rest and peace.

Be fruitful branches in the Vine, abiding ever in Him, responding to all the prunings of the great Husbandman with more abundant fruitage.

If beguilements come to us, let us say with the Apostles of old: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” There is life nowhere else, and we wish to go nowhere else. We are feasting in the banquet hall of our Father’s House, “and His banner over us is love!” We have an abundant supply: our table is richly laden. So we eat and go on our way rejoicing. We are nearing Home. We shall soon reach the last mile-stone in our journey! Then, with a song on our lips, let us press on!

Tempted and tried, whatever betide,
In His secret pavilion His children shall hide.
‘Neath the shadowing wing of eternity’s King,
His children may trust, yea, His children may sing.

Tempted and tried, yet the Lord will abide
Thy faithful Redeemer and Keeper and Guide,
Thy shield and thy sword, thine exceeding reward;
Then enough for the servant to be as his Lord.

Tempted and tried, the Savior who died
Hath called thee to suffer—then reign by His side.
If His cross thou wilt bear, His crown thou shalt wear,
And forever and ever His glory shalt share.”

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Hymn Book Purchase

The Hymns Of Dawn (hymn book) can be purchased at:

 

Acknowledgment & References

  • Br. Charles Taze Russell

pastor-russell-in-his-study.jpg

Br. Charles Russell—the founder of the Bible Students movement, who is the compiler of “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” which was published in Allegheny, Pa., in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional originally contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.

POEMS-AND-HYMNS-OF-MILLENNIAL-DAWN

The following prefatory to the 1905 publication of Hymns of Millennial Dawn may be of historical interest to many of our readers.

We published in 1890, with several more recent editions, a volume entitled “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” without music. The same collection of hymns with the music is now urgently needed, and therefore appears in this volume. The poems, although highly prized, are omitted for greater convenience in size. We have preserved the same alphabetical order, because so many of our readers have the older book; and where a different tune is given from that originally suggested the latter is indicated by Alt. for alternative tune, with the number where that tune can be found.

Both words and music are credited to the same class to whom the work is dedicated—to the Lord and His faithful people, “the Saints.” The authors of many of the best of them are unknown to us, and, besides, slight changes have been made in the phraseology and sentiment of quite a number, which we could not be sure their original authors would approve, and to give personal credit to less than one half would seem invidious. To all of these dear “Saints” of all ages we therefore give united and hearty thanks for the blessings which they, as the Lord’s servants and handmaidens, have bestowed upon their fellow-members of “the Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in Heaven.” Most of them died long ago: their abundant reward will be of the Lord in the resurrection.

That the collection is thoroughly undenominational, unsectarian, will be manifest to those recognizing the fact that it includes the choicest old hymns and tunes used by all denominations.

Although we have gathered far and near and winnowed carefully we cannot hope to have gotten all the golden grains, though we do hope that no chaff can be found. The collection is for the Church, for “believers” “reconciled,” and hence contains none of the “sinners” hymns, such as “Come, ye sinners poor and needy,” because willful sinners are in no sense members of the “Body” of Christ, nor are those who have not yet accepted the Lord as their Savior.

Those who will feel the deepest interest in this collection, and whose sentiments will be most fully voiced in its verses, will undoubtedly be those in fullest degree of sympathy with the divine plan of the ages, as set forth in the several volumes of Millennial Dawn – the eyes of whose understanding have been opened to the clearer, purer light now shining from our great Redeemer’s cross, showing the fulness and the completeness of his salvation.

In fact, this volume, while not numbered as one of the volumes of the Millennial Dawn series, is designed to be a companion volume, a melodious accompaniment to the “new song,” “the song of Moses and the Lamb” (the grand harmony of the Law and the Gospel), as presented in the regular Dawn series.

Let the music of God’s good and great plan ring through your hearts and lives, dear fellow-pilgrims and fellow members of the “royal priesthood,” so that every day and every hour shall be filled with joy and praise and thankfulness! And that this little volume may assist in deepening the work of grace in your hearts is our hope and prayer.

– Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, July, 1905, Allegheny, PA, USA

—–

Later on, the hymns from this book formed a basis for the hymnal titled “Hymns of Dawn” which was published by the Dawn Bible Students Association in East Rutherford, New Jersey (USA) and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.

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Suggested Further Reading

1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18 – Prayer – The “Oxygen” for the New Creature in Christ.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/11/04/1-thessalonians-516-18-prayer-the-oxygen-for-the-new-creature-in-christ/

Be Thou Faithful Unto Death
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/08/10/be-thou-faithful-unto-death/

Our Trial
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/10/our-trial/

Are You Able
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/04/are-you-able/

ACTS 23:6 – HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART A. What Is Jesus All About?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/03/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-a-what-is-jesus-all-about/

ACTS 23:6 – HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART B. Will Mankind Resurrect With the Same Mind?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/05/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-b-will-mankind-resurrect-with-the-same-mind/

ACTS 23:6 – HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART C. The Order of the Resurrection Process. https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/11/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-c-the-order-of-the-resurrection-process/

ACTS 3:19-21 – The Restitution of All Things
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/08/02/acts-319-21-the-restitution-of-all-things/

Epoch Periods In God’s Plan
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/08/16/epoch-periods-in-gods-plan/

The Resurrection of the Dead. Faithbuilders Fellowship, Nov. – Dec. 2008 (Journal Section). http://www.2043ad.com/journal/2008/06_nd_08.pdf

Life After Death. Dawn Bible Students Association.
http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/life.htm

What Does the Word “hell” really mean?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/05/18/what-does-the-word-hell-really-mean/

The Truth About Hell booklet, the Dawn Bible Association.

When A Man Dies booklet, the Dawn Bible Association.

What Everyone Should Know About Being Saved booklet, the Chicago Bible Students.

What Say the Scriptures About Hell, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine.

 

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1 CORINTHIANS 15:45 – How Long Until the Millennial Reign of the “Last Adam”?

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“Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life‑giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).

Of the two natures, human nature and spirit nature, Br. Charles T. Russell wrote in R1259:5: “As surely as there are natural, human or earthly bodies, so surely also there is such a thing as a heavenly or spirit body.”

Adam was the first human man and all the peoples of the earth are descended from Adam, no matter how different in color, stature, intelligence, etc. they may now be (R2344:6). Adam generated no children until first Eve had been taken from his side (R4556:2). The first Adam is the sample of what an earthly body will attain to in the resurrection. (R1855:2, R3564:3).

The Apostle Paul in this statement from 1 Corinthians 15:45 does not contrast Adam and Jesus, but speaks of the “first Adam” and the “last Adam.” Christ is very unlike Adam. Jesus was obedient. However, Adam and Eve in some respects foreshadowed Christ and the Church in the sense that Christ will be the Great Life‑giver, or Father of mankind, while the Church (Hebrews 12:23, 2 Timothy 2:10) will be the mother or caretaker of the regenerated hosts (R5141:5, 777:1).

Jesus as the “Last Adam”

Jesus, as a “last Adam,” presently lifts us from condemnation and restores us to the fellowship of God through redemption. The saints have been regenerated by our Lord from heaven, but rather than grow to human perfection, they sacrifice their justified bodies in the service of Christ for a higher calling, theHigh calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). These, if faithful to their calling, will become, symbolically, a spiritual “bride” for Christ (Revelation 21:2). Then Christ and the Church will together restore and uplift the world, and bring them back to perfection during the Millennium. In this way Christ will be a “second Adam” or life giver to the world, and the Church will be a second “Eve” to nurture and assist them.

Adam was made a living soul since he was given a natural body, which is earthly. The “last Adam,” or life‑giving being, is Jesus, who from his resurrection forward is a glorious spirit being of highest magnitude.

“Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3, KJV).

Eve was drawn from Adam when his side was opened up after he passed into a deep sleep. She was formed from a rib of Adam, “bone of my bones” (Genesis 2:23). Jesus also was caused to pass into a deep sleep, the sleep of death, and then his side was opened up by the spear of the soldier at the cross (John 19:34). From this came blood and water, which represents redemption and the water of the Spirit, by which the Church class is developed.

The Church class are “bone” of Jesus’ bones, in the sense that bones represent one’s hopes for the future. We share the same hopes for glory in the service of God, as our Lord Jesus had. Of Jesus it was said that “A bone of him shall not be broken” (John 19:36). That means that despite the tortuous trials and treatment suffered by Jesus, not one of his prospects for the future was in the least damaged. Those same prospects are sure for his bride also, “bone” of his bones.

The Bride of Christ shall be made Christ’s joint‑heir and help mate in the Kingdom who’s role will be to nourish and instruct all the willing and obedient back into harmony with God during the Millennial age (R4556:2, R5967).

“The plan of God proposes that the second Adam shall in relation to Adam take his place as the life‑giver to a race who shall possess the earth and enjoy it… as Father to our race does our Lord correspond to Adam—as the second Adam” (R4556:2). He is called the second Adam, in that he takes the place of the first Adam—undertakes to be the Father and life‑giver to Adam and every member of his race” (Expanded Biblical Comments). Upon condition of their obedience to him, they may then obtain everlasting life.

Our Redeemer presently enlivens us, in the respect that our old nature has been lifted from condemnation. This allows us to present ourselves in devotion and service to God, in order that we may grow a new life, a spiritual life, a heavenly life, to be secured in the first resurrection. Of that life God is Father, our “Heavenly Father.” “In accepting Christ as Redeemer, the believing one is reckoned no longer as a dying son of the dead Adam, but as a living son of the ‘last Adam,’ having a new life in Christ” (R1438:1). Our renewed standing is then laid down in sacrifice to God for the prospect of a heavenly life above. Our higher prospect is mentioned in Ephesians 2:6, NIV, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

How Long from the Creation of Adam to the Millennial Reign of the “Last Adam”?

The period in question, judging by the Hebrew Scriptures, was on the order of 4000 years. As we are now on the order of 2000 years further, brethren of our fellowship recognize that it is now timely for the blessed Kingdom of God to become established on Earth. For there is a long standing view, held even by Jewish Sages in pre‑Christian times, that God intended a millennium of blessing for the world following six millenniums of sin and death.

The Holy Scriptures refer to a “day” with God as a thousand years:

“A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday [one day] when it is past, or as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4).

“With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).

By this measure, the six days of labor in the Jewish economy represent 6000 years of sin and death, and the sabbath of rest represents the 1000 year Millennium of restoration (Revelation 20:1‑6).

Ezekiel 46:1 (ESV) expresses this concept symbolically. “Thus says the Lord GOD: The gate of the inner court that faces east shall be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day [the 7th day, which represents the Millennial Age of Revelation 20:4‑6] it shall be opened, and on the day of the new moon [when a new covenant will be inaugurated with Israel] it shall be opened.”

With this hope in mind, Christians throughout history have endeavoured to estimate when the close of 6000 years may come.

 A Historical Perspective

In the days of William Miller and the early Adventist Movement, they supposed 6000 years were drawing to a close in the mid 1800s. In fact, William Miller concluded that Christ would return in 1843, assuming that 6000 years would end then. When Christ did not return as expected, some brethren gave up their faith but others simply recognized that they needed to keep looking. Br. Nelson Barbour was among those. He came to believe that Jesus would return in 1873. Therefore, he assumed that 6000 years would end about that time. He went looking, and found in EB Elliott’s work, “Horae Apocalypticae,” written in the early 1800s, a version of Bible chronology suggested there that shows how 6000 years might conclude somewhere near the year 1872.

Br. Barbour was a younger associate of Br. Miller, so he followed Br. Miller’s assumption that 6000 years would approximately mark the return of Christ. As far as we know, Br. Barbour did not consider another option—namely that 6000 years would take us to the completion of the Church, rather than simply to the return of Christ.

Br. Russell met Br. Barbour in Philadelphia in 1876, and accepted the prophetic package, as it seemed reasonable. At the time they anticipated that the Church would be complete in 1878, after that they supposed it would be in 1881, and subsequently the expectation was reset to 1914. But concerns persisted. It seemed that a seventh “day” had commenced, and yet the “thousand years” of Revelation 20:4,6, was deferred. How could this be explained?

Some of the dear brethren seem unaware of the perplexity expressed on this issue by Pastor Russell himself. However, his words are clear and to the point about the uncertainty. It thus surprises us that even some who honor and revere his service bypass the important and specific points he advised brethren of, respecting this. However, the issue did not escape the attention of brethren in Pastor Russell’s own day. Thus, near the end of the year 1900, the following specific question was submitted to Pastor Russell.

“I understand from Revelation 20:4-6 that Christ will reign one thousand years, and from verses 2 and 7 that Satan will be bound during that period. If Christ began to reign in 1878, and Satan will not be bound until 1915, the two periods do not seem to synchronize; and … both extend beyond the seventh-thousand year period which … began in the Autumn of 1872. … Can you assist me?” (R2739

Pastor Russell’s answer is very different from what some appear to suppose it should have been.

Some today appear to suppose that the right answer would have been, “The reign, the binding of Satan, and the 1000 years all began in 1874.”

But not a word of this in Pastor Russell’s actual reply.

Instead, he refers to the “obscurity” of the issue as “an open question” that, at the time, was “not now ‘meat in due season for the household of faith.’ ” However, Pastor Russell did affirm the following part of the answer.

“The Scripture declaration respecting the saints, the ‘overcomers’ is, ‘They lived and reigned a thousand years.’ The reign of the saints cannot be properly said [R2740: page 368] to begin before all the ‘jewels’ have been gathered, nor before ‘the times of the Gentiles’ end, in 1914.”

It is clear from this direct answer to the brother’s question—on an issue that was declared as of then unresolved—that the 1000 years of Revelation 20:6 would not begin until the Church was complete. It was not apparent how this synchronized with the then-current view that 6000 years had been completed.

Pastor Charles Russell continued to affirm his view that the 1000 years of Revelation 20 would not commence until the Church was completed. Nor does he express any view other than this, respecting Revelation 20 directly. In R3460 (Diagram 3), you will find a diagram showing 1000 years beginning in 1914, when he supposed the Church to be complete. He later supplemented this with the following comments in later years.

R5115“The Church shall have passed into glory … Messiah will then reign for a thousand years.”

R5604 “The great Battle of Armageddon … will precede … Messiah’s glorious rule of a thousand years … (Revelation 20:6).”

R5692“Messiah’s kingdom shall be fully inaugurated. Then these shall … reign with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:4.)

R5919The Kingdom cannot come until the Royal Family is ready to take the Throne. Jesus, indeed, has long been ready; but in harmony with the Father’s Plan He has waited and has been doing a work in the preparation of the Church, His brethren, who are to be His joint-heirs in the Kingdom—otherwise styled ‘the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife.’ (Romans 8:17; Revelation 21:9,10.) Then for a thousand years the Restitution privileges will be open to the whole world of mankind. It will no longer be necessary to preach; for all will know the Lord, from the least unto the greatest, and unto Him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. (Jeremiah 31:34; Philippians 2:9-11.)”

There is more. Sometime late in the year 1913, Br. Russell changed the chart to accord with the expression cited just above. Early on, the period from the parousia of Christ forward was labeled “Millennial Age.” But late in 1913, Pastor Russell changed the designation to the broad Messianic Age.”

Why this change?

The reason seems apparent. Strictly speaking, the 1000 years of Revelation 20:4-6 would not begin until the end of the Harvest. Thus, if one begins a period incipiently from the parousia forward, better to give it a more general designation, “Messianic Age,” to avoid the inference that the 1000 years proper, of Revelation 20:4-6, had commenced.

A perceptive awareness of these points is the foundation for a recent presentation by Br. George Tabac, “Harvest Timing Clarifications (2016),” which explains these points in remarkable detail. This presentation is specially excellent for brethren with high regard for the teaching of Pastor Russell.

What is the Answer?

What, then, is the answer to the question that has spurred so much discussion during the Harvest period? Namely—how does one reconcile the end of 6000 years early in the harvest of the Gospel Age, with the fact that the thousand years of Revelation 20:4-6 begins at the close of the harvest?

The answer is now at hand.

In the century and a half since the harvest began, and decades after Pastor Russell completed his course, the history of the Old Testament has clarified. 

Not because of the wisdom of men, but because it was God’s due time for greater clarity, to direct the Church to the approaching climax of their hopes.

The timeline from the Hebrew scriptures directly, respecting the synchronisms of the kings of Israel and Judah, shows that some of the kings of Judah (and of Israel) overlapped one another, in periods of coregencies. The testimony of these facts comes from the scriptures directly. However, the issues had not been solved while Pastor Russell lived. It was premature. “We may see some day just how [these synchronisms in the Hebrew Scriptures] can be harmonized, but at present we do not” (Question Book, page 42).

The overlapping of Judean kings, testified to in the Old Testament Scriptures, reduces the period of Kings from 513 years to 463 years. Affixing the end of this period to the firm date of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, establishes the year in which Israel’s last king, Zedekiah, lost his throne, was in 587 bc.

This means that we can now date the spring of Solomon’s fourth year to 966 bc, at which time was founded (but not yet operational) “Solomon’s Temple,” referred to in 1 Kings 6:1. From that text we can then place the Exodus at 1445 bc. (Note: 1445 bc is discussed in the following post: STUDY 2: The Pillar of Cloud by Day and The Pillar of Smoke by Night.)

As detailed in Volume Two of Studies in the Scriptures—“The Time is at Hand,” by Br. Charles Russell (page 43-47)—the time from Adam to the Exodus is widely agreed among brethren to be 2513 years. That is:

From Adam to the Flood

From the Covenant with Abraham to the giving of the law.jpg

If we now count from the Exodus date of 1445 bc, a period of 2513 years backward to Adam, the result is the date 3958 bc for the creation of Adam. Six thousand years forward from there will be the year 2043 ad—thus the date opening the Seventh Millennium, which apparently is the same as the 1000 year Millennium of Revelation chapter 20.

Now the answer to the conundrum that Pastor Russell said was an “open question” in his day, can be resolved—for it is timely, inasmuch as the end of the harvest approaches. The resolution is straight forward. The end of 6000 years of permission of evil synchronizes with the close of the harvest, rather than with the opening of the harvest. With this key, all is harmonious.

 

Acknowledgements

 

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What Does It Mean To Be Baptized Into Christ?

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What types of baptism are practiced in the Churches?

There is more than one type of baptism practiced in the Christian world. There is:

  • Sprinkling or Pouring on the Head
  • Infant Baptism
  • Submersion under water.

Sprinkling or pouring water on the head

There are no Scriptures in the Bible that describe baptism as the sprinkling or pouring of water on the head.

The first instances in the Bible where individuals were baptized was accomplished by John the Baptist.

Did John the Baptist sprinkle water or submerse the person under water?

“Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized” (John 3:23, NKJ).

And He [Jesus] went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first” (John 10:40, NKJ).

If all John was doing was sprinkling water to baptize, he did not need to worry about being near the “much water” of the Jordan River. Clearly, John was doing more than just sprinkling those he baptized.

Infant Baptism

Is infant baptism scriptural?

Nowhere in the Bible do we find infant baptism mentioned. Although at times the Scriptures do mention the baptism of households, they never specifically mention children or infants.

For example, in Acts 8, Philip preached to the people of Samaria.

“But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12, NKJ).

Notice, there is no mention of Philip baptizing infants in Samaria; just men and women.

In Mark 16:16, Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.”

It would not be possible for a newborn infant to understand who Christ is, let alone believe in him.

Remember the question Jesus asked James and John in Mark 10:38,

Are you able to be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

A newborn infant would not be capable of answering Jesus’ question, let alone responsibly making such a commitment.

Submersion (Dunking) into Water

Now we do find examples in the New Testament of adult baptism and in every case we believe the baptism was a submersion into water. For example:

“When He [John] had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him” (Matthew 3:16).

” (38) So he [Philip] commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. (39) Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the LORD caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:38-39).

The only way Jesus and the Ethiopian eunuch could have “come up” out of the water is if they have been submersed under it.

Greek Definition Of Baptism:

In support of this conclusion that baptism is submersion, let us looks at some definitions.

STRONGS: 907 baptizo (bap-tid’-zo); to immerse, submerge; to make overwhelmed (i.e. fully wet).

VINES: baptism, baptist, baptize.

A. Nouns.

1. baptisma (908), “baptism,” consisting of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence (from bapto, “to dip”).

B. Verb.

baptizo (907), “to baptize,” primarily a frequentative form of bapto, “to dip,” was used among the Greeks to signify the dyeing of a garment, or the drawing of water by dipping a vessel into another.

So this word has the meaning of complete submersion under water. Certainly when dying, the garment must be totally submerged in the dye.

There is a variation of this word.

2. baptismos (909), as distinct from baptisma (the ordinance), is used of the “ceremonial washing of articles,” in some texts; once in a general sense.

This word is only found four times in the New Testament and refers to ceremonial washings.

John’s Baptism & Its Purpose

Let us talk about John’s (the Baptist’s) baptism. John’s work was not for the Gentiles. His work of baptism was intended to reveal Jesus to the Israelites only, but John did not baptize believers into Christ. That would come later, after Pentecost. His work was not for the Gentiles.

In John 1:29-31 we read, “(29) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (30) This is He of whom I said, After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. (31) I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.‘”

So John the Baptist was baptizing in order to reveal Jesus to Israel only, not yet to the Gentiles.

Bearing fruit was an evidence of those who had sincerely baptized. As John the Baptist said, “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8, NKJ).

John’s baptism required a personal confession of sins. “And all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:5, NKJ).

Repentance and typical cleansing restored repentant Jews back to the condition of harmony with God as enjoyed under the Law Covenant and through the tabernacle arrangement.

“John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4, NKJ).

The Jews had not previously practiced individual baptism. The whole nation was recognized as “baptized into Moses in the sea and in the cloud” (1 Corinthians 10:1-2).

In what sense were the Israelites “baptized into Moses in the sea and in the cloud”? 
We answer: When the Israelites passed through the Red Sea they were surrounded by water, and Paul mentions that this is a picture of them being baptized. The cloud is mentioned in Exodus 13:22, “He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” We think that that was the cloud Paul referred to as over the Israelites — so that in that sense they were surrounded from above by water as well.

The Jews were already children of God and heirs of the covenants and promises, and their washing away of their sins meant their coming near again to God, and into closer touch with all the promises and the blessings thereof (Harvest Gleanings I, 1HG255).

John the Baptist’s baptism, was “for the remission of avoidable sins, gross sins. The godly Jews were not intended, nor expected, to come to John to be baptized. He said, ‘Now come, if you want to get ready for Messiah’s kingdom, and try to keep the law the best you are able and take this water immersion, accepting this as a sign of your putting away sin and starting a new course of life.’ This is all that baptism meant to the Jews. That was not a regular institution. It was a peculiar thing that belonged just to the end of the [Jewish] age, and John tried there to especially prepare a people by this preaching of holiness and putting away of sin for the Messiah; for the testimony is that if they had believed John they would have believed Jesus. If they disbelieved John and disregarded what he said, and were not careful to come back into harmony with God, and become as holy as they were able to do, then they were not in a condition to receive the message God had to give” (What Pastor Russell Said – Question Book, Q34:3).

This typical cleansing available to the Jews is discussed in Leviticus & Hebrews.

“For on that day [of Atonement] the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD” (Leviticus 16:30).

“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11).

So John baptized the Jews for repentance and remission of sins similar to the typical cleansing as was accomplished in the tabernacle by the sacrifice of bulls and goats on the Day of Atonement. Every Jew under the Law Covenant was a member of the house of Moses (Hebrews 3:5). As mentioned above, the Jews were baptized unto Moses in the sea and in the cloud (1 Corinthians 10:12). As natural branches of the olive tree the Jews did not need en-grafting into Christ (Romans 11:16-21). John could not baptize Gentiles since they could not by repentance be restored back to a position they had never occupied.

After Pentecost, John’s baptism was replaced by Christian baptism into Christ.

In the book of Acts we have an incident where some of John’s disciples, after hearing the gospel, were baptized again, this time into Christ; after which they received the holy Spirit.

Acts 19:1-6 – “(1)… Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples (2) he said to them, ‘Did you receive the holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a holy Spirit.’ (3) And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ (4) Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ (5) When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (6) And when Paul had laid hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (7) Now the men were about twelve in all.”

These disciples were baptized twice (John’s & Christ’s). Bro. Charles T. Russell teaches, “The Apostle instructed them more fully, assuring them that John’s baptism was all right in its time and place, but that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus, baptized into Christ” (Harvest Gleanings I, HG732:6).

In Acts 2:41 three thousand people were baptized and among these, there may have also been some that had been baptized by John earlier.

‘Never is it said of any Gentile that he was baptized unto repentance and remission of sins, that he got back into Moses and in accord with the law. On the contrary, the apostle shows that we and all spiritual Israelites coming from among the Gentiles, come into Christ in a different way from that in which the Jews became related to him. I call your attention to the apostle’s argument in Rom. 11:17-24, where he uses an olive-tree as a symbol or picture. He tells us that that olive-tree was primarily the Jewish nation; that its root was the Abrahamic promise; its branches were the individual Jews. It was to those branches that John preached the baptism of repentance. Many of them were defiled, living in sin, and he urged them to repent and be washed, cleansed; that otherwise they would be broken off. And so it was when Messiah was manifest; the prepared ones, Israelites indeed, in whom was no guile, were ready for him, received him and he received them, and they continued to be branches of that olive, tree. But the great mass of the branches, as the apostle goes on to explain, were broken off because they did not receive our Lord, because they were not in the right condition of heart, not “Israelites indeed, without guile” (Harvest Gleanings I, HG).

Christian Baptism and Its Meaning

Christian baptism has many elements that are similar to John’s baptism and some elements that are different. As with the Jews baptized by John’s baptism, Christians are to confess and repent from their sins.

“And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds” (Acts 19:18).

“(46) Then he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, (47) and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem'” (Luke 24:46-47).

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 2:38).

Br. Charles Russell teaches, “This baptism was for Jews only, who had already been baptized into Moses in the sea and the cloud. Sins thus figuratively washed away did not include original sin, but merely minor transgressions against the Mosaic law.” (Reprints of the Original Watchtower 4308:5, 6th Volume of Studies in the Scriptures p.428, Harvest Gleanings I, 600:1,2)

John the Baptist could only provide typical remission. The Christian receives a real remission of sins through actual justification by Jesus’ blood.

John’s baptism pointed the Jews to Christ, but the Christian is to actually believe in Christ and accept Him as their Savior. Let’s see how this is shown in the Scriptures.

“(36) Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ (37) Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God’” (Acts 8:36-37).

Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8).

So faith in Jesus Christ is a requirement for the Christian baptism.

Baptism Into Christ – Not Into An Organization

Although those baptized into John’s baptism were to bear fruit, the Christian’s death to sin, walking in newness of life and drinking of the cup is a far deeper action. Christian baptism is more than the pursuit of righteousness. It is the total death of self will and a total commitment to sacrifice ALL — one’s time, talent and possessions to the Lord, often at the cost of suffering and persecution.

“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

“(3) Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (4) Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (11) Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (13) And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:3-13).

So we see from the 6th chapter of Romans and lowering the candidate into the water represents the death of the Old Man with his sinful ways and the raising up of the candidate shows our walk in newness of life as New Creatures in Christ Jesus. Notice how Romans 6:3 teaches that we are baptized into Christ’s death.

No scripture talks about being baptized into Jehovah’s organization. Also see how the following text show we are actually baptized into Christ.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27, NASV).

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 2:38, NASV).

Ultimate Purpose of Baptism

What is the ultimate purpose of Christian baptism? Certainly to lay down our lives in the Lord’s service is purpose enough, but the Bible shows a purpose even beyond that.

Just as going to medical school is of no benefit to humanity unless the student becomes a practicing doctor, so it is with the Christian.

Context:

“And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed'” (Galatians 3:8, NKJ).

“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:18).

“(27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have PUT ON Christ… (29) And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:27,29).

Those who are baptized are Abraham’s seed through whom God’s purpose is to bless all the families of the earth. This is the ultimate purpose of baptism.

The same point is expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:29.

“Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?”

This passage says that we are baptized for the dead,” not “into death.” The ultimate purpose of baptism is to bless all the families of the earth.

Many translations agree with this wording, “baptized for the dead.” The translators do not believe this. They would rather not translate this text. Peter puts it this way:

“receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9, NKJ).

The word “your” is in italics. The thought is that the outcome of our faith, THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE, will be the salvation of mankind.

Does water baptism cancel sins? 

The traditional view among Catholic and many Protestant denominations is that baptism is necessary for salvation, forgiveness and the cancellation of sins. Not only do they believe it necessary, but some feel it must be performed in a prescribed fashion in order to secure salvation.  Some of their supposed proof texts are:

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ ” (Acts 2:38).

“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

“There is also an antitype which now saves us — baptism” (1 Peter 3:21).

These texts are telling us that those who are baptized will be saved and receive a remission or washing away, of sins. So are the Catholics and many Protestants correct in believing that the act of baptism is necessary for salvation?

No. Where these Christians are wrong is that it is NOT “water baptism” that saves us.  Rather, the true baptism saves us, that is, consecration and the resultant justification by Christ’s blood. Water baptism cannot save.  It is merely a symbol of the true baptism and the resultant justification that can save us.

Baptism is the outward sign of an invisible grace from our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9, ESV). 

We are saved by Jesus’ act of justification, not by our symbolic act of water baptism.

Water Baptism Is Symbolic

Many Scriptures establish that water baptism itself is merely a symbol and that it does not have intrinsic atoning qualities.

Luke 12:50 – “But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!”

Jesus had already received water baptism by John, so in this case the word “baptism” must be symbolic of more than the literal water baptism. This is also borne out in Mark 10:38-39 (see also Matthew 20:22-23):

“(38) Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you ask. Can you drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ (39) They said to Him, ‘We are able.’ So Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized.'” 

More evidence of the symbolic nature of water baptism is found in Colossians 2:11-12 (ESV):

“(11) In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (12) having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Notice here that both circumcision & water baptism are symbolic of putting away sin.  Obviously “circumcision” here is not literal. The Christian is not literally required to be circumcised as were the Jews under the Law. This is the symbolic circumcision of the heart. So, just like circumcision is symbolic, likewise, water baptism here is also symbolic.

Next is another symbolic usage of baptism, although a much different one.

“(11) I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (12) His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11-12, ESV). 

The baptism by “fire” is symbolic of the judgment and destruction upon the nation of Israel as stated in verse 12, “He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Just as the baptism by fire is symbolic, so is water baptism.

We are not saved by the symbol “water baptism,” but by the reality of it, the meaning of which we will get to shortly.

Born of Water – Spirit Begettal

Many believe John 3:5 teaches that unless you are baptized in water you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. It says, “Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'”

The word “baptism” is no where to be found in this context. “Water here is symbolic of the Word of Truth. Without the Bible we would not have the necessary knowledge to grow in Christ and enter God’s Kingdom.

Our growth in Christ through his Word (the Holy Scriptures) is illustrated by the Greek word genno, that is Strongs #1080. Vines defines it as:

BEGET, BEAR (OF BEGETTING), BORN

gennao —“to beget,” in the passive voice, “to be born,” is chiefly used of men “begetting” children; more rarely of women “begetting” children (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, 1985).

So in John 3:5 we are “begotten of water.” This means that we are spiritually begotten by Truth.

Br. Charles Russell writes “We see that symbolical water represents truth, and that our begetting of the holy Spirit is said to be also a begetting ‘through the Word of truth’” (James 1:18). (Reprints of the Original Watchtower: R.4124:6, R.3600:6, R.2422:1.)

In support of this we will quote four scriptures which relate begettal to the Word of God.

“Of his own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18, KJV).

“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15, NKJ).

“…having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of GOD which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23).

“…that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).

So we see that John 3:5 does not teach that unless you are baptized in water you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. It actually teaches that we are begotten as New Creatures in Christ by the Truth of God’s word. It is the guidance from God’s Word that develops the embryo New Creature in Christian growth, preparing us for our ultimate Spiritual birth, after the first resurrection.

Saved By Belief, Grace & Justification, Not Saved By Baptism

There are many more Scriptures that talk about us as being saved, but it’s not by water baptism, it is by belief in Jesus Christ and the resultant grace of God and justification to life.

“And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

“Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

“(30) And he [the jailer] brought them [Paul & Silas] out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ (31) So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household'” (Acts 16:30-31).

“…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

“Much more then, having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9).

“If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).

“(1) Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, (2) by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you– unless you believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).

“Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved.)” (Ephesians 2:5).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

The Jerusalem Counsel never addressed the issue of baptism when presenting minimum requirements expected of the Gentile brothers.

“(28) For it seemed good to the holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: (29) that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell” (Acts 15:28-29).

Where is water baptism on this list? If it were necessary for salvation, certainly the Apostles would have required it of the Gentile brethren.

“And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved'” (Acts 15:1).

Some Christians today take the same approach with baptism as these Jews took of circumcision, that it is a requirement for salvation.

Saved By Baptism?

In 1 Peter we find scriptures used by many Christians to again attempt to prove that water baptism is necessary for salvation.

“(19) by whom also He [Jesus] went and preached to the spirits in prison, (20) who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine long suffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. (21) There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:19-22).

Does this passage prove we are saved by literal water baptism? The simple answer here is that Peter is not talking about literal water baptism. In verse 21, He describes “baptism” as “a good conscience toward God.”  That word “conscience” is also used in the prior chapter.

“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully” (1 Peter 2:19, KJV).

So the word “conscience” connected with the word “baptism” refers to suffering for righteousness sake. Hence, the word “baptism” is talking about living our consecration.  Our consecration results in justification by the ransom to life. That is what saves us.

It is interesting to note from verse 21 that we are not saved by the “removal of the filth of the flesh,” that is, we are not saved simply by John’s baptism, the repentance from sin. But we must go beyond that to consecration INTO Christ’s death and this involves cheerful in the spirit, willing patient endurance and sacrifice of self-will and self-interest.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Baptized In Who’s Name?

In whose name is the Christian baptized? Many quote the great commission of Matthew 28:19 to prove we are baptized into the Trinity, not into Jesus Christ alone.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

If we accept the translation as is, it does not prove that we are baptized into the Trinity, but merely the desperation of those who strive in vain to find support for this false doctrine, in Scripture. This passage does not state that these three are one person, nor anything of the kind.

In conflict with this, six other Scriptures refer baptism in the name of Jesus, not baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of Matthew 28:19.

Let us look at these Scriptures that contradict Matthew 28:29. Notice that in none of these texts was anyone baptized in the name of the Father, Son and holy Spirit.

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'” (Acts 2:38).

“But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of GOD and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12).

“For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus(Acts 8:16).

“And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days” (Acts 10:48).

“When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5).

“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into HIS DEATH ?” (Romans 6:3).

*******

How else are we “baptized into Christ’s death?

We need to surrender our wills to God, as Jesus did. He said, “Lo I come…to do thy will, O God. I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy law is written in my heart” (Psalm 40:7, 8; Hebrews 10:7).

We dedicate or consecrate our all to follow and obey the Lord with our minds, hearts, and our whole beings. This is a total dedication of service to do God’s will. When consecrated, we walk “in newness of life,” having a new, different direction or purpose. We pattern our lives after our dear Redeemer.

A few days before his crucifixion, Jesus stated, “But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:50) This shows that in Jesus’ baptism, water was a symbol of his real baptism in death. It was about to be accomplished at Calvary. Like Christ, we who dedicate our lives to the Lord make ourselves “dead” to the world’s pursuits. Instead, we pursue heavenly things, studying the scriptures to find out what God’s will is for us. Our desire is to prove faithful unto death and be resurrected with Christ in a divine and immortal body (Philippians 3:10, 11; Romans 2:7, Revelation 2:10).

Water baptism is a witness to others of what has taken place in our hearts with the Lord and our commitment to Him, as well as symbolizing that life of baptism. The individual places himself in the arms of another, and being fully immersed in the water, is dependent on that person to help him up. He comes out of the water into “newness of life.” This is the new life to which he has committed himself until he dies. Hence, we believe water baptism is necessary, not for salvation, but for a witness of that life of commitment.

SO WHAT NOW?

Are you interested to GIVE UP your life rights on earth to inherit what eye has not seen nor ear heard … to inherit a life with Jesus and those who have now given up the pride of life and disclaim all rights to themselves, to their soul, to their body, to their time, to their health, to their reputation, to their talents or to anything that they own?

 If you confess to be the property of Jesus Christ your Redeemer, then:

  DEDICATE YOURSELF

to belong entirely to Jesus now,

to serve, love and trust him as your life and salvation until your life’s end and show this through baptism.

“Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

God is now selecting men and women of faith for special honors during the Millennium. Namely, to reign with Christ in heaven as spiritual rulers of the world, to lead the world to righteousness, godliness, and truth and raise all the dead of past Ages. Satan’s demons now lead the world into sin and ignorance. Then, Christ and his saints will lead the world into obedience and understanding (Revelation 20:1-6).

High Standards

When we understand the high honor to which the saints are called, we better appreciate the high standards that are expected of them.

(1) Godly conduct
(2) Character Development
(3) Study of the Truth
(4) Service and Sacrifice.

Consecration

We enter the race for the “prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14) by consecrating our life to GOD.

This we do in personal prayer to God, committing our life and service and interests to God hereafter.

If this step is taken, then it is proper to symbolize that decision with water baptism, as a testimony to others.

(11) The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; (12) if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:11-12, ESV).

If you have not considered the matter of consecration, take time to do so.

Read our Lord’s words about this decision, thoughtfully, in Luke 14:27‑35.
Remember the blessings promised, and the conditions for them:

“by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (Romans 2:7).

Remember the privilege of being with Christ, in heaven, to bless “all the families of the earth” during the Millennium. God wishes us to respond favorably. “This is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

So dear brethren, let us pursue our consecration with determination and great zeal, so that we may please our Father and be prepared for our future mission.

Click here to watch a baptism service video

References and Acknowledgement:

Br. Peter Karavas & our brethren in Christ at http://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/

Br. Charles Taze Russell: What Pastor Russell Said – Question Book, Q34:3; Harvest Gleanings I; Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, Studies in the Scriptures – Volume 6.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, 1985.

STRONG’S Concordance.

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/07/09/what-does-it-mean-to-be-baptized-into-christ/

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