Matthew 14:22-33 – How To Walk On Water

Jesus walks on water - Matthew 14

And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. Matthew 14:28, 29

Very early in that morning, Jesus’ disciples were in their little boat on the sea of Galilee. A strong, contrary wind whipped boisterous waves against them. There was almost something personal about this adverse gale.

A Joyous Multitude

It had been a remarkable day. Thousands had come to hear Jesus. The disciples felt honored to be associated with the wonderful Teacher. The crowds hung on his gracious words. His doctrines and manner of teaching were delightful. There was a thrilling challenge in his message that searched the depths of their hearts.

Every hearer had some notion of the kingdom hope and the part Israel was to play in it. Most were natural, even carnal, concepts, appealing to human pride; were they not the people of God? But Jesus’ kingdom was beautiful—the Lord’s hallowed presence enthroned in every heart.

Blessing Now, Blessing Later

The throng was hungry for His teachings. They forgot their hunger for food. But the disciples became aware of practicalities. They noticed the descending sun, and became uneasy. They interrupted Jesus, whispering that he should dismiss his audience.

Then followed an experience that would make their minds tingle on every future recollection. They became instruments in an amazing demonstration of power: one lad’s supper fed the multitude. What a climax to the day! They witnessed a portrayal of that blessed time when all human needs would be divinely satisfied and they would again be the instruments used of the Lord to convey blessings to mankind. They were learning to live with the power of God.

This is essential to the preparation of the future ministers of the kingdom. Each was a vessel of divine grace, a channel of divine love, an instrument through which the Lord would exhibit the glory of his power to give life abundant to whosoever will.

A Need for Quiet

Finally, the crowds dispersed, and Jesus was left alone with his disciples—but not before another wonderful moment occurred. The people were so elated by the experience that groups gathered, rallying the support of all. The disciples realized that the hopeful congregation wanted to proclaim Jesus their king!

Knowing the people’s intent, Jesus motioned to his disciples, climbing higher up the mountain trail to be alone with God. He longed for that future day when men would respond to divine love in a way more enduring than the fervor of that crowd.

Their Stormy Challenge

He told the apostles to proceed to Bethsaida, leaving him alone with his Father in prayer. The disciples in the midst of the sea, and Jesus on high with the Father, depicted the Gospel age night of weary toil for the Church.

It was hard for them. A hazardous storm had risen. They strained at the oars, their struggles seeming to avail nothing. Their Master’s presence seemed remote. For hours they toiled, the journey taking much longer than they had anticipated. They longed for the sight of dawn and the shoreline.

But Jesus knew. From his vantage point on high, he saw their plight. The watches of the night passed. In the fourth watch, they glimpsed a sight which frightened them. It was Jesus, but a Jesus they had yet to know. He was now demonstrating divine abilities.

Winds and waves threatened their ship;

               yet there was Jesus,

                                                     walking on that troubled water as though it was solid rock.

Consider their fear: Here was a being with superhuman power—power above that of the storm. Even earth’s gravity was impotent beneath his feet.

Our Stormy Challenges

This parallels the mighty power of One whose presence is now recognized by saints on earth. Can we comprehend the vast resources of divine power now available to our returned Lord? He is exercising in this earth’s atmosphere, in the midst of the storms that bring fear into human hearts, the power of the victor over sin, the conqueror of every evil force released on earth.

We do not cry out in fear, but let us shout in worship and praise to our returned King, no longer bound by flesh but glorious in majesty.

“Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously on behalf of truth and meekness and righteousness” (Psalm 45:3, 4).

The disciples feared because they glimpsed a being with powers of another world. This recognition of spirit realm was awesome. Blessed are our eyes that see beyond human sight to celestial glory. In awe we see that One who today stands here amidst the earthly scene.

We Learn from Peter

We were not with him on Galilee. We cannot feel the might of battering waves, the force of gale, the surrounding darkness. But our proxy was there, Peter. How we love his earnest heart!

In Peter we see ourselves. His lessons were enjoyed by saints throughout the age. Yet now, the lessons are for us. When Jesus and the disciples were united in the boat, the storm abated, the wind dropped, the sea became a great calm. Soon they reached the other shore.

The time of trouble will not end, nor the testing of the saints, until the last is gathered to be with the Lord. That is the dispensational message. There is also a personal message for each saint, pertaining to their walk this side of the veil. It has special meaning for us, in this time of the Master’s presence in the very midst of earth’s troubled scenes.

Peter was reassured by the Master’s voice,

Take courage. It is I! Do not be afraid!”

 What comfort we find in recognizing One who stands before us now endowed with wondrous powers. The earth hears and trembles; Zion hears and is glad. In the midst of so much disturbance, so many demonstrations of the powers of darkness, when all human existence on this earth is threatened, what comfort to our hearts to hear the voice of our Beloved saying,

Be not afraid. It is I!”

 Peter was stirred. He saw that Jesus’ powers could overcome all limitations of flesh. He glimpsed a higher realm. A blessed truth confronted him, and dear, impulsive Peter, wanted to taste that power divine.

Water-walking

The Lord created a scenario, teaching us what Peter sought to learn—how to walk on water.

When Jesus walked upon that sea, he was upheld by an invisible force superior to any power on earth. Here was faith in its fulness, faith-fulness that finds the rock on which to walk throughout life.

Peter asked, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

We should not presume, but meekly ask. The invitation comes from him, “Come. Follow me.”

Peter was not testing God. He was asking for the Master’s power to resist the downward force that gravitates the mind to earth. Peter wanted to experience the power of God.

It was an impulsive request. He had not learned that long-sighted vision which the Spirit would later endow. That Spirit recognizes that a heavenly purpose is working on a grand scale. It is our privilege to co-work with God toward that goal. And the Lord utilized Peter’s impulse to teach us lessons.

First we request the Lord’s help to follow him. He does not ask us to do the impossible. God makes ALL things possible.

We are called to walk in Jesus’ steps. How can we do that? He was holy; we are corrupt. Then Peter had to believe that if Jesus gave the word, Jesus had the power. Believe!

Step out of the rocking boat into the stormy sea.

The power is there. This means more than believing when comfortable, in good health. It means to put ALL our confidence and trust on Someone truly worthyto accept him as our TOTAL means of support.

PSALM 20, 7

Jesus walked on water with no visible support. Our visible support refers to job, home, health, family, friends, position, income, material possessions. We cannot depend on them for our peace of mind.

PSALM 118-8

Our Rocky Boats

Believing meant stepping out of the boat. Even a rocky boat is some means of support. Each human strength is like that rocky boat. Stepping out of the boat requires faith.

HEBREWS-11-1-6

Are we then at the mercy of the waves? No, we are abandoning the things that can be shaken and placing our feet on solid rock. Matthew 14:30 records the situation: “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord save me! And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

No one can see what supports the child of faith through tribulation and weakness. But the visible effect of faith can be seenpeace, confidence, joy, at times when the world would expect utter dejection and expect us to sink!

The window of the heart opens to heaven when this body of death is locked in its prison.

PSALM 61, 1-2

The attitude of prayerful praise is the visible evidence of the rock of faith. The confining of the body quickens the spirit of perception that enjoys glorious liberty as God’s sons.

Paul, too, stepped out of a boat and walked on water: “Bonds and afflictions wait for me, but none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto me.” We look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are unseen. No overcomer cowers in the boat. How frightening, when poor Peter found himself sinking!

Our failures teach us deep and permanent lessons.

All saints experience boisterous winds and waves, dark and threatening contradictions to our faith.

Every step of walking on water is a test of faith.

PSALM 73-26

There is no retirement from the life of faith. As the years advance, we become like Enoch: this walk with the Lord becomes so absorbing to our mind that we do not see death, only the victorious Lord at the side of God’s throne, his voice ringing out, “Come!” This is the victory . . . your faith.”

At Golgotha, visible evidence indicated that Jesus had been abandoned. Yet that ultimate contradiction to his faith proved its very reality, faith FULL unto death. Faith is knowing our Father’s abiding faithfulness. We know he is there, he is for us, he knows every detail required to bring us to himself in the bond of perfect trust.

When Peter stepped out, he needed something more sure than the rocking ship made with human hands. He needed the most dependable power that exists. To reach for it, he needed faith that can let go, as surely as it can cling!

Reaching to Jesus

Matthew 14, Mark 6, and John 6, each add some precious detail. We read in Mark 6:48, that as the wonderful Master walked upon those waves, he seemed to be passing them by, proceeding towards the shore. It was this realization that spurred Peter on to request the Lord’s command to follow him.

Peter did not want the Lord to pass him by. He wanted to walk with Jesus. We do not want the Lord to pass us by. We cannot merely watch him from the uncertain safety of our storm-dashed ship.

We are not arm-chair saints.

Our faith is on trial NOW.

THIS is the hour to realize the power of total trust.

Why wait for that hour of tribulation when our ship may break on the rocks? The truth is staring at us today. Jesus defies that which is seen by natural sight. Contradictions are real. This body of humiliation contradicts the high aspirations of the new mind. It humiliates our pure desire for a holy life. Let our clay vessels manifest the miracle of God’s power.

2 COR. 4, 16

Everyone, not just the Lord’s people, eventually lose the things on which human security depends—health, strength, partner, friends. All have a coded date-stamp beyond which corruption will set in. How vital to our peace that we learn to walk on water NOW, before that evil day.

Then shall we know the triumph of faith that conquers the fury of every storm. Then shall we say:

Let the chill mists gather round me.
Let the lights of earth grow dim.
Leave me Jesus, only Jesus.
I am Satisfied with him.

*****

HEB. 10, 23

 

Acknowledgment

Br. Donald Holliday — for the above study.

*****

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Water From The Rock

Moses-Obtains-Water-from-a-Rock-1.png

There are two occasions in the Old Testament of Moses smiting a rock to provide water for the despairing Israelites in the wilderness. Let us examine the events, their differences, and the lessons to be learned.

Exodus 17:1-7

In this account Moses, in the name of God, smote a rock in Horeb with his rod to release water for the thirsty Israelites who had camped at Rephidim (see map below), about 1 1/2 months after the Exodus (compare Exodus 19:1). From this rock gushed water, abundantly refreshing Israel.

exodus-route-map-bible.png

Here is this account of Moses’ first smiting of the rock as recorded in Exodus 17:1-7 (KJV):

“(1) And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.

(2) Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?

(3) And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?

(4) And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.

(5) And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.

(6) Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

(7) And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?”

Numbers 20:1-13, 24 

The second occasion of Moses smiting a rock for water occurred much later, near the end of the 40 years of wilderness wandering. This is recorded in the fourth book of Moses, the book of Numbers, chapter 20. Here Moses and Aaron “rebelled against my word” (verse 24). For on this occasion God told Moses to speak to the rock, but in anger, and failing to credit God for caring for the Israelites, Moses asked the crowd “must we fetch you water out of this rock?,” and smote it twice.

Here is the account (Numbers 20:1‑13, 24 KJV):

“(1) Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.

(2) And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.

(3) And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!

(4) And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?

(5) And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.

(6) And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them.

(7) And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

(8) Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

(9) And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him.

(10) And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?

(11) And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

(12) And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

(13) This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and he was sanctified in them.

(24) Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled against my word at the water of Meribah.”

Moses Not Permitted to go Into the Promised Land

One of the reasons why Moses was not permitted to lead Israel into the land of promise concerns this second occasion. Smiting the rock on the first occasion (Exodus. 17:1‑7) was by God’s direction, and the waters gushed forth. But the second time (Numbers 20:2‑12) the Lord said to Moses, “Speak unto the rock,” but instead he hit the rock with his rod twice.

Moses’ sin in the Numbers account was self‑assertion and lack of faith (R4047:6, R5315:5).

In Numbers 27:14, God clearly states to Moses that He punished Aaron and him for their disobedience. “For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin” (Numbers 27:14). By not saying that God would provide them water,  saying rather that they would give the whole community water, Moses and Aaron had disobeyed God.

Here, we are reminded of Ephesians 4:26, “If angry, beware of sinning” (Weymouth). Moses and Aaron, in anger with the Israelite complaints, took the matter in their own hands. Moses disregarded God’s direction, and failed to direct the people to God’s loving care for them. Evidently Moses remembered his striking the rock years earlier, and vented his anger here without regard for G6 mtqod’s instruction to “speak ye unto the rock before their eyes, and it shall give forth his water.”

As Moses and Aaron were punished for their wrong actions, so too, God’s people may have to live with the consequences of their poor decisions or impulsive actions. However, God still provides access to the the waters of spiritual life. God knows that no one could stand before God if every mistake were recorded and not forgiven.

“(3) If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (4) But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. (5) I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; (6) my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. (7) O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption” (Psalm 130:3‑7, ESV).

Some time later, God led Moses up to Mount Pisgah’s top (Numbers 27:12), with an extended panoramic view of the Promised Land of Canaan. Moses saw this with his natural eyes, but Moses saw much more through the eye of faith, seeing the promises which God had made to the tribes of Israel through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “We hear not a murmur respecting the transfer of leadership and the cessation of his own labors. If God had used Moses in his service to the extent that he was pleased to do, the servant was thankful and satisfied” (R3077).

“The most unjust thing we can do is judge Moses or any other man by his deeds and not by his fruits” (R4055:5).

Antitypical Meaning of “Smiting” the Rock

Christ Jesus, the true Rock, was to be smitten but once for our sins, and as a result of that one smiting at Calvary [i.e. Christ’s death, which made possible the access to God’s grace in Christ to those God has called out of the world] the water of life would be obtained for all true Israelites to all time; and if for a season the flow was stopped it was only necessary that the Rock should be invoked in the name of the Lord, that the waters might again flow forth. Christ dieth no more; death has no dominion over him; therefore in the type the Rock should not have been smitten a second time. But the second smiting, nevertheless, made a new type, because as the Apostle explains, there are some now who crucify Christ afresh, and put him to an open shame‑some of his professed followers denying or ignoring the value of the original sacrifice, denying the blood that bought them, are counted as committing the sin unto death — Second Death — and of these Moses became a type, and as a type of a class which would have to do with the antitype of the rock, he was debarred from Canaan — Hebrews 6:4‑6” (R3077).

Any denial of the Redeemer on the part of the consecrated would signify a crucifying afresh, a smiting of the rock a second time” (R5315:4).

“We might remark here, too, that those who smote the Lord the first time, at Calvary, have the promise of full forgiveness. They shall look upon him whom they pierced, and shall mourn for him, and the Lord will pour out upon them the spirit of prayer and supplication, and they shall have full opportunity of recompense and reconciliation (Zechariah 12:10). It is those who, with greater knowledge, and after they have become partakers of the holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the age to come, sin wilfully and count the blood of the covenant a common thing [unholy thing, Hebrews 10:29] — these are they who commit the real sin unto death, and for whom the Scriptures suggest no hope, or further opportunity, because they have sinned wilfully” (R3077).

What if Moses Had Not Smitten the Rock in the Numbers Account?

If Moses had not smitten the rock in the Numbers 20 account, would he have been permitted to enter the promised land? Br. Charles Taze Russell answers this question in R3077.

“… Moses would not have gone into the land of Canaan [even if he had obeyed God by “speaking to the rock”] because … he was the type of the Law Covenant, which must end before the people can enter into their rest. As Moses was the representative of the Law Covenant, so Joshua became the representative or type of the New Covenant and of its mediator, Jesus, the Deliverer. ‘The Law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.’ The Law was a pedagogue or guide to prepare and bring the Israelites along to the borders of Canaan, but the Law could never give them rest, could never take them into the land of promise. Christ, the antitype of Joshua, must do that. We are to remember, too, that Moses’ error in smiting the rock, did not involve him in the Second Death, nor will it work any injury to him as respects the future. It was comparatively a trivial matter, and taught him a valuable lesson which he evidently learned to the Lord’s pleasement, and his failure to go into the land of promise, therefore, should not indicate a continuance of divine indignation against him, but merely a continuance of the divine purpose in making of him a type of a class who would have to do with the antitypical rock, the antitypical water, and the antitypical smiting.”

Differences and Similarities Between the two Rock Smiting Accounts

Here are some differences and similarities noted between the Exodus and Numbers account concerning the smiting of the rock by Moses.

(1) Time — The first account occurred in the opening year of the Exodus while the other occurred near the opening of the 40th year after the Exodus. The Exodus account was in the second month of the first year, while the Numbers account was in the 1st month of the (last) 40th year of travelling.

(2) Location — Exodus account: in the Wilderness of Sin at Rephidim (Exodus 17:1); Numbers account: in the desert of Zin at Kadesh, in the first month of year 40 of their travels.

(3) Moses’ attitude — On the first occasion, Moses followed God’s instructions to the fullest and his attitude was noble and honorable, while in the closing account his attitude was angry and personal, rather than deferential: “Must we fetch you water?” were his words, rather than giving glory to God by saying something like “God will give you water,” and meekly directing the attention to Jehovah.

(4) Level of Obedience — In the opening account Moses hit the rock once as God told him to do, while in the closing account he was to speak to the rock but he disobeyed and instead hit the rock twice.

(5) The Rods — the rod in the Exodus account was Moses’ rod, while the rod in the Numbers account may have been the rod of Aaron. (Numbers 20:9, “Moses took the rod from before Jehovah” — perhaps the rod of Aaron that had been “before the testimony,” Numbers 17:10).

(6) Who was present — In the Exodus account Moses struck the rod in the sight of the Elders, while in the Numbers account, the whole assembly of the Israelites was present.

(7) All the Israelites still murmured and quarrelled during the 40 year wandering in the wilderness. Thus the only ones to enter the Promised Land of Canaan were Joshua, Caleb, and all the children of the Israelites who were less than 20 years of age (Numbers 14:20‑30).

(8) The Rock — in both cases the rock represents Christ, the Rock of Ages. “And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).

(9) In both cases, the waters quenched the thirst of the Israelites.

(10) Two examples of the spiritual Rock are given during the life of Moses to show that there are two time periods in history during which the spiritual waters of life do flow — first for the Church class during this Gospel Age (from Pentecost in 33 AD) and next, in the kingdom age, for the world of mankind. In the Exodus account it was thus necessary for Christ to be smitten once: Romans 5:8, 1 Peter 3:18, John 7:32, 37. Before anyone can come unto Christ, he must thirst for the Truth. He must first have and show an appreciation of all that the Heavenly Father has to give. The waters beautifully picture the waters of eternal life that the Heavenly Father offers to those who have faith in Him, and the blessings that will flow through Him. The flowing waters satisfy the hearts of the Church class during the Gospel Age. These are pictured in the Elders in the Exodus account who were present with Moses. This water becomes a well spring of Truth in each one of us, with an opportunity to nourish others along the way.

(11) The Church’s sojourn began at the beginning of the Gospel Age, just as the Exodus account comes at the beginning of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness. In Revelation 22:1 we read, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Mankind will only receive that life‑giving water after the Kingdom is ushered in, just like in the Numbers account it comes at the end of the wilderness wanderings when the Gospel Age is complete. Then the resurrected world of mankind will receive the benefits of the Kingdom when they are ready to enter into the Promised Land, but on the earthly plane of existence.

(12) Christ will not then be smitten a second time. As pictured in the Numbers account, God will speak to Jesus at the appropriate time and the waters will not simply come forth, but they will come forth abundantly, as we are told in Numbers 20:11. Then the waters of life will be given to refresh all the people.

(13) The spiritual walk that we have entered into began with Christ. After crossing the Red Sea, the waters of Marah were bitter, representing the prevalence of sin throughout the world. Christ came to Jordan and offered his life and the first glimpse of the sweetened waters were given there. Next, at Elim, there were 70 palm trees and 12 wells. This relates to when our Lord sent out 70 into Galilee to preach the Gospel and he sent out 12 Apostles as the “wells” of spiritual Truth. Our Lord said he was “the true bread from heaven.” Yet the Israelites did not want that, but the quail. At Sinai, the tables of the Law were written into their hearts. Some have gone through difficult experiences like Miriam who was struck with Leprosy for 7 days, and some come back with a bad report and think it’s too much of a cost to bear, being consecrated to God. But those who endure with faith receive God’s blessings. In Numbers 21:6 the fiery serpents represent the affliction of sin, which the world can be relieved of by looking to Christ for their healing (Numbers 21:8).

Lessons

(1) Dependency on God

Not just to seek and ask God for answers and direction in our situations of daily life, but above all, in doing so, to  give God the glory in all that we say and do, and in any way the Heavenly Father permits, allow for the “hearers” as well as ourselves to recognize God’s influence in each matter. That is, see the presence of Christ through the actions, words and doings of the person(s) each does associate with in the experiences of this present life.

Example

Here is an example of a lesson to learn from Moses’ smiting the rock twice, in today’s world. If we give someone either financial or material gifts, then we should not think it is because of our power or our ability, but rather see that it is because of our Almighty Heavenly Father’s help — His love, justice, power, and wisdom working in harmony through His children called by Him, to do works that reflect Christ-likeness. We should do works in a way so as to fulfil God’s will and God’s purpose through us whom He has called to be partakers of the Heavenly calling now during the Gospel Age, from Pentecost forward.

St. Paul, by inspiration, points out to us that that rock represented Christ, that the smiting of the rock represented putting Christ to a shameful death, and that only by this means is the Water of Life provided for the people of God. As the waters of that rock followed the Israelites, so the stream of God’s favor, through the sacrifice of Christ, refreshes Christ’s disciples throughout their wilderness journey.

Refreshed in body and in faith, Israel journeyed onward, but encountered new obstacles. The Amalekites, a warlike people, considered the coming of Israel as an invasion of their country, and attacked them in battle. A people used to peaceful pursuits, as the Israelites had for centuries been, would naturally be at a disadvantage in a conflict with such opponents. Yet God gave them the victory. He indicated, however, that it was not by their prowess or skill, but of His grace that they conquered.

Moses, stationed upon a high hill, lifted up his hands in prayer to God for the people. While he did so, success was theirs; but when he ceased thus to pray, the Amalekites were the victors. Perceiving this, Aaron and Hur assisted in holding up the hands of Moses until the battle terminated with success for Israel. God thus indicated that Moses was the advocate or representative of Israel, and that without him they could do nothing.

(2) Regular Prayer = Close Communion with God

By having close communion with God through unceasing prayers, God’s people can seek the Heavenly Father’s direction and counsel in all of life’s affairs. Such complete dependency on God may by God’s grace and mercy result in a mind that desires and does only the will of God, which in turn, can result in glory, honour, and praise to our Heavenly Father through Christ.

Spiritual Israelites have conflicts with enemies too mighty for them without the Lord’s assistance. The world, the flesh, and the Devil make common cause against all who are seeking the Heavenly Canaan. We who are followers of Jesus have success in our warfare only as we have Him as our Advocate. “We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” Through Him we may come off conquerors, yea, more than merely conquerors, victors in the highest sense — “through Him who loved us and bought us with His precious blood.”

(3) Avoiding pride.

C. S. Lewis said: “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

Pride in any form and in anybody is a dangerous thing. In a worldly way the proverb is well attested, “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Moses was the “meekest man in all the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Perhaps this is one reason that this experience of Moses is recorded for our benefit — to alert us, that no matter our development of humility and meekness, we need to be careful lest a moment of self-assurance, or spiritual pride, does not cause us to forget our proper reliance upon, and respect for, our Heavenly Father.

“For the comfort of those who may feel that they have done much worse than Moses, or been much more self‑assertive, been much less careful to honor the Lord, have manifested much more spiritual pride‑for their comfort let us notice that the punishment here was severe because it was part of a type” (R5957).

“Neither are we to think that brethren who have manifested spiritual pride and done things in their own name, rather than in the name of the Lord and the name of the Class, have thereby committed the sin unto death. We are, however, to realize that a terrible danger goes with spiritual pride. … Realizing this, how anxious, how zealous we should be, not only in the eradication of every symptom of it we might find in ourselves, but also in being careful lest we should take the contagion or in any manner come under its influence or have any of its symptoms!” (R5957)

“When one attends a testimony meeting, or a Berean class, and hears no real good testimony but his own, hears no proper answer except his own to any of the questions, never sees an Elder in the chair who knows how to lead a meeting anyway — these should be considered dangerous symptoms of spiritual pride” (R5956).

The proper attitude, as all will agree, is that the Lord’s people should feel greatly humbled instead of greatly exalted and heady in respect to these opportunities for telling the Truth to others” (R5956).

“We should feel our unworthiness. We should realize that the Plan is not ours; that we have merely heard of it ourselves; that it is really God’s Plan; that we are honored as His servants to tell it out” (R5956).

“But if we allow any impression to go out that it is by any wisdom on our part, or any skill, that the beauty is seen in the Message, then to that extent we are taking glory to ourselves which belongs to the Lord, and doing injury to ourselves proportionately by failing to demonstrate our worthiness to be used by the Lord in the present and in the future. The wonderful privilege of speaking as ambassadors for the Lord, to tell of His greatness and Plan should humble us with the thought that He has privileged us, whereas He has angels, who excel in strength and whom He might have used in communicating this most wonderful Message” (R5956).

We should not feel offended if we are not elected as a deacon or Elder or assistant in the Lord’s service. Br. Russell writes that “in all meekness and humility they should feel a timidity even about taking a position where there would be such a responsibility. The admonition on this is that although all of the Church should, according to their knowledge of the Truth, be qualified to be teachers, nevertheless the safer place is not to be a teacher, knowing that such shall have the severer trial. Only a sense of responsibility to the Lord and to the brethren should make one willing to serve in such capacity, much as all ought to love to be the Lord’s representatives in the Church” (R5956).

The Need For Self‑Examination

“Let us not forget that while we are to exercise great leniency in viewing the words and deeds of others, ascribing only good intentions where they are professed, we are to scrutinize with all of our might our own hearts, our own intentions. We are to inquire why we did this thing or left undone the other thing; why we did this thing this way; why we spoke in such a tone, etc. Such a careful examination, weighing of thoughts, words and deeds, would be very unsatisfactory to a person who was not wishing to be in accord with the Lord. But those who have made a covenant with the Lord and are faithful to that covenant will find such a course to be a great blessing, comforting their hearts at the time, strengthening them for the future, and in connection with the Lord’s providences it will be fitting and preparing them for places in the Heavenly Kingdom” (R5958).

By relying on and asking the Heavenly Father through Christ to show us His way and do it, we can help keep the spiritual armour of Christ on 24/7 to protect us against sinning in a sudden moment that can creep up unexpectedly. Let us remember Moses’ situation and ask God to protect us from it happening to us, and trust that God is able to do more than we even ask for or imagine if He chooses to (Ephesians 3:20).

“To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21, ESV).

References:

Br. Charles Russell — Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence: R2299, R3077, R4047, R4055, R5285, R5315, R5955.

Bibletruth411 ‑ YouTube: “The Waters of Massah and Meribah.”

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/12/11/water-from-the-rock/

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Abide, Sweet Spirit – Hymns of Dawn No. 1

Abide, Sweet Spirit – Hymns of Dawn No. 1

Lyrics

1.
Abide, sweet Spirit, heav’nly Dove,
With light and comfort from above;
Be thou our guardian, thou our guide;
O’er ev’ry thought and step preside.

2.
To us the light of truth display,
And make us know and choose thy way;
Plant holy fear in ev’ry heart,
That we from God may ne’er depart.

3.
Lead us in holiness, the road
Which we must keep to dwell with God;
Lead us in Christ, the living way;
Nor let us from his pastures stray.

4.
Teach us in watchfulness and prayer
To wait for thine appointed hour;
And fit us by thy grace to share
The triumphs of thy conq’ring pow’r.

Doxology
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him aloud with heart and voice,
And always in His Son rejoice.

Hymn Book Purchase

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

The Dawn Bible Students Association: http://www.dawnbible.com/dawnpub.htm
The Chicago Bible Students Online Bookstore: https://chicagobible.org/product-category/books/page/4/

Acknowledgment & References

Bro. Charles Taze Russell

pastor-russell-in-his-study.jpg

Bro. 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

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.

Hymns of Dawn.jpgFor Further Reading

Pastor Russell Blogspot: http://pastorrussell.blogspot.com.au/2009/12/

Pastor Charles Russell founded the Bible Students movement not the Jehovah’s Witnesses:
http://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/wp-content/uploads/Bible-Students-not-Jehovah-Witnesses2.pdf-final2.pdf

pastor-russell-founder-of-bible-students-not-jehovah's-witnesses

Did Russell Start The JWs?
http://rlctr.blogspot.com.au/2009/04/was-russell-founder-of-jws.html

Pastor Russell – Not the Founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses
http://www.dawnbible.com/1940/4008-hl.htm

“Who We Are.” Bible Students Daily – https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/who-we-are/

The URL of this post: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/09/06/abide-sweet-spirit-hymns-of-dawn-no-1/

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What Does It Mean To Be Baptized Into Christ?

matt-16-25

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.

 

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What is the Purpose and Intent of Prayer; What are its Privileges and its Limits?

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The following words are from an article in Zion’s Watch Tower titled “The Province of Prayer” (R797). Some subheadings and scriptural citations have been inserted.

The Privilege of Prayer

“The privilege of praying to God, of holding communion with Him, is a great privilege and an evidence of His favor. God permits and arranged to grant us this privilege, not that he might be informed of our desires, for we being imperfect our desires are not perfect, so that “we know not what things to ask for as we ought,” and he does for us better than we know how to ask or think. Nor does God permit us to pray to Him that we may inform Him regarding matters here; for He knoweth the end from the beginning as well as every intervening step. But He has instituted prayer for our benefit and comfort and instruction.

The Object of Prayer

“The OBJECT of prayer is to bring the heart and mind of the child of God, whether in joy or sorrow, into contact with the heart of God, that He may be enabled thus, most fully to realize the fatherhood of God, His love and care and His deep interest in every item of our welfare; that in deep affliction we may unburden our hearts to God and thus have forcibly brought to our attention His love and care and wisdom—for our encouragement, not His; for our strengthening, not His, and for our joy. This opportunity is not for us to instruct Jehovah how to arrange matters for the best, but it is to bring our hearts to realize Him as the centre of wisdom and power, that having unburdened our hearts, we may be prepared to listen for His answer and advice through His word. And he whose knowledge of prayer is confined to the meagre information he has imparted to God with “much speaking,” and who has never learned to listen for the answer to his prayer at the word of God, has as yet measurably failed to appreciate the object of prayer.

“Earnestness in God’s service will bring His children to Him frequently, to realize at His feet His sympathy with them in the difficulties, discouragements and trials of life, as well as to ask His guidance and overruling of every affair of life, through His word, and to hearken to His wisdom, which will enable us to serve Him acceptably.

What To Pray About and What Not To Pray About

“The PROVINCE of prayer is to ask for such, and only such things, as God has already declared himself well pleased to grant. And while we may freely speak to Him as a Father, and tell Him how we understand His word, and the confidence and trust we have in its ultimate fulfilment, yet we must not only avoid telling the Lord of our will and our plan, and what we would like; but we must avoid and put far from us any such spirit, and must recognize and bring ourselves into full accord with His will and His plan of accomplishing it. If this thought were appreciated, it would cut short some of the “long prayers,” “much speaking,” and “vain repetitions” by which some endeavor to instruct the Lord in their wishes regarding every matter under heaven. It would send them speedily to the word of God to search diligently the plan of God that they might labor as well as pray in harmony with it. While assuring us that the Father careth for us, and is well pleased to have us come to him with sincere hearts, the Master informs us of the conditions upon which we may expect an answer. He says: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). These are the conditions for sure answers to our prayers. What is it to abide in Christ? It implies first that our WILL has been wholly consecratedswallowed up in the will of Christ. And more, that the will is in this condition at the time of the prayer, abiding in Christ. And if the suppliant’s own will is gone and he is now controlled entirely by the will of Christ, he surely would consult the words of Christ and there seek information as to what His will is before framing a petition to the Father in Christ’s name. And if this be his case, if the will of Christ is governing him, and the words of Christ are abiding in him, such an one is prepared to ask any and everything he may WILL to ask.

“His requests would probably be as simple as was the Master’s petition when he prayed, “Not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). In such a condition prayers are always answered; but in such a condition the prayers would be very modest. Our prayers under such circumstances would be more a thanksgiving for our blessings, an expression of confidence and trust, and the committal of our way unto the Lord, confidently realizing the promise that to us under such conditions, ALL THINGS [even seeming disasters and troubles] shall work together FOR GOOD. Hence whatever came, such an one could realize his prayer answered. He could rejoice evermore because he is prepared to rejoice in tribulation as well as in prosperity, in the path of service.

He has no will to oppose whatever God permits, knowing that it will work out good.

“Such could not pray for anything of their own will, for they have no will except God’s; then abiding in Christ, and his words in them, would prevent any other petition. They could not pray for the immediate conversion of the world, for though they know that “God will have all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth,” they also know that the present age is not in God’s plan devoted to this work, but solely to the selection, under SEVERER trial, of those who shall be God’s instruments for blessing all the families of the earth in God’s arranged time.

“We cannot single out an ungodly friend and request God to work a miracle on him, and bring him into the “Church of the first-born” (Hebrews 12:23), though we may pray for wisdom to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), that if possible the light of the knowledge of the glory of God might thus shine into the understanding of that friend. This would be in harmony with the Word. Jesus said, “Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16), and instructs that “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask [it] of God, who giveth liberally and upbraideth not” (James 1:5).

“We may not ask for riches and honor; nor for fine food and fine clothing. To seek or pray for these is contrary to the Spirit of the Master. But we may ask, “Give us this day our daily BREAD” (Matthew 6:11), assured that the Father knoweth best what kind is best, and what things are needful to us as seen from His standpoint which embraces our interests spiritual as well as temporal, future as well as present.

“We may not pray for the increase in numbers of any of the many sects of today, well knowing that Jesus would not approve of thus fettering with human tradition those whom He calls to liberty; and that He does not approve, but would condemn the sects of today as He did those of eighteen centuries ago, saying, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Mark 8:15), and declaring to them, “Ye do make void [useless and ineffective] the law of God by your traditions” (Mark 7:13).

“We can neither labor nor pray for the advancement and growth in power, wealth, influence and numbers of any of these sects, knowing their very existence to be contrary to God’s Word, and their advancement a hindrance to the light of truth.

“Nor can we today either labor or pray for the perpetuation of the governments of this world, for the word of Christ abides in us, and we are therefore not in darkness, but we know that “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) are about fulfilled; and the time for the establishment of God’s kingdom is at hand. For that new kingdom we may pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth” (Matthew 6:10) patiently awaiting the fullness of God’s due time. So surely as we are children of the light, not left in darkness that that day should come upon us unawares, we know that the success of the heavenly kingdom for which we pray, means the destruction of all these kingdoms of earth (Daniel 2:44).

“We cannot pray our Father to grant abundant harvests, send rains, prevent famines, drouths, wars and pestilences, for we find no example in the Master of such presumption, and realize from his words (Luke 21:9) that God will permit these things until the reign of Christ is inaugurated. And further, we are informed by the Master that the present day will be one of trouble caused by the new Prince binding the strong ruler of earth and spoiling his house (Matthew 12:29). Hence we pray for none of these things, but with trust and peace look with patience into the future, praying, “Our Father—thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). In all things “Thy will be done,”—and even in the midst of the present necessary unrest and trouble we rejoice in confident hope, knowing that all things are so overruled as to work out the accomplishment of our Father’s grand designs, revealed to us in his Word.

“Instructed by the abiding words of Christ, and realizing the covenant of sacrifice to be even unto death we cannot ask release from pain and trouble and death, but with Jesus we can only ask that if it be possible, the cup of shame and misrepresentation might pass, that we suffer not as evil doers; and yet with him we must say: “Not my will but thine be done!” (Luke 22:42“Father, glorify thy name!” (John 12:28)

“These may pray for the healing of others, but not for themselves. It was truly said of the Master, that he saved others, but he could not save himself and be a sacrifice too. Yet, in requests for the healing of others we must remember that the time for full restitution of life and health to the world has not yet fully come. Jesus did not heal all the blind and impotent in Judea, and what healing he did was merely to show forth the glorious power and blessing of his coming glorious reign which has not yet fully dawned. Hence our prayers for the sick should be with full confidence in God’s ability to heal, yet not demanding it, always letting the words of our Lord abide in us—“Thy will be done.”

“To pray in other than this spirit is to “ask amiss,” to ask for things to be consumed upon our own lusts [desires] (James 4:3). Desires for ease, for earthly prosperity, for a sect and its growth and honor; all these are earthly lusts contrary to the Spirit and Word of Christ. Thus the word lusts is used by the Apostle in the above instance. Most prayers seemingly are of this sort, and therefore amiss.

“Those who abide in Christ, and in whom his word abides, can pray for their enemies and those who despitefully use and persecute them, though they cannot pray God to open their blinded eyes at once, or in their way; but realizing from the indwelling word of God’s promise, that the blinded eyes shall all be opened to the truth, they can abide His time, but going to God in prayer they may express their forgiveness of the persecutor, their interest in him, and their patient waiting for the day when “the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth,” and His will be done on earth (Habakkuk 2:14).

“When in harmony with Paul’s exhortation (1 Timothy 2:1,2) these pray—“For all men; for kings and all that are in authority,” their prayers will not be that those kings may be continued in power and control; for they well know that this would be in direct opposition to God’s expressed plan, which is to break in pieces and consume all these.

“And though these may labor toward it they cannot expect and pray for the conversion of “all men,” “kings,” etc., well remembering the Master’s prayer—“I pray not for the world but for THEM which thou hast given me,…that they all may be one, that [then] the world may believe” in its due season (John 17:9,21). In none of Jesus’ prayers did he ever pray for Caesar, or Pilate, or Herod; nor did he make any special effort to reach these, with the gospel message, remembering how it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the MEEK (Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18). And when he gave the disciples a formula of prayer it contained no prayer for kings and rulers of this age, nor for “all men” except as this is implied in the expressions of forgiveness of debtors, and the prayer for the coming kingdom which will bless all men.

What then could we pray for “as we ought,” and not ask “amiss,” for all men and for kings? Very little, indeed, other than the prayer for the blessing of allimplied, when we pray, “Thy kingdom come.” Our prayer to God for kings, etc., must be merely that he would so overrule and direct by raising up or casting down among the nations, as would be most in harmony with his wise plans, for the blessing and development of the Church now being selected. For though God has given over the world to the rule of the Prince of this world and His faithful agents until the full end of Gentile Times, when He shall come whose right the dominion is and shall take the dominion under the whole heaven, associating with Him His faithful followers according to His many promises (Daniel 7:14,18,22), YET God has not given present rulers unlimited power. He will suffer them to take their course only so far as it does not interfere with His plans—there it must stop. The wrath of man shall not work ruin to the plan of God, for God will cause the wrath of man to work to His praise, and all that will not so work He will restrain (Psalm 76:10). And this is what the Apostle has in view: Pray God’s guidance and direction over all the affairs of life and over rulers TO THE END THAT the piety and sobriety and growth of the Church may be conserved. Verse 2.

“Thus considered, not merely as a begging arrangement, nor yet as an occasion for instructing the Lord as to our wills; but considered as a season of union and communion of heart with our Father in which we may relieve our burdened or perplexed hearts by there realizing divine sympathy, calling to mind divine promises, reviewing divine care, and expressing our confidence in God’s many promises, thus bringing those promises afresh and closely to our hearts, as though God now audibly uttered them in our hearing—thus considered, how proper, yea, how necessary, is prayer to the true child of God. He cannot live without it. To break off this communion would be like stripping a tree of its leaves: it would stunt and hinder its development.

“But to suppose that Christian life depends solely upon prayer without earnest study of God’s word, is like supposing that a tree could flourish from its leaves only, without roots and soil. Both are needful: good soil and roots will produce leaves and fruitage, and, likewise, the promises of God’s word absorbed by us will naturally lead to good works and to communion with God in prayer, without which our fruits would soon wither and disappear.

“No wonder, then, that Jesus both by precept and example said, ‘Watch and pray’ (Matt. 26:41), uniting the two conditions needful in our development. Some pray and neglect to watch; others watch and neglect to pray; both these errors are serious, and it is not possible for us to decide which is the most serious neglect, since either would work disastrous loss of the great prize for which we are running.

Prayer Not a Ceremony

“No where is prayer defined as a duty, though its necessity is stated. The Father desireth such to worship Him as worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23); and it would be contrary to this principle to define prayer as a duty, and stipulate a set time or place or formal manner. The earnestness of the service and the peculiarity of the circumstance, will regulate the frequency and the matter.

“But though “Family Prayer,” “Morning Prayer,” “Evening Prayer,” nor any other stated time of praying is not specified in Scripture, who among God’s children has not experienced the blessedness of communion with the Lord in the morning of each day asking His guidance of its affairs, and realizing and expressing to Him our confidence in and reliance upon His promises. This does not remind the Lord of his obligation contained in these promises, but it does remind us of those promises and thus strengthen and prepare us for the events of the day. Likewise, how impossible it is for a child of God, remembering and impressed by the events of the day, as to the Lord’s wisdom and care and the surety that all things shall work for good—how impossible, we say, for such an one to retire to rest without thankfulness of heart to Him upon whose power and promises they have leaned throughout the day: and how appropriate to bow the knee as well as the heart to render homage as well as thanks.

“Hence no form of prayer is furnished in the Scripture. Even the Master, when asked by the disciples for instruction on this subject, gave them not a form to repeat, but merely an idea or example of how to arrange their prayers to God. He did not say, Pray this prayer; but “after this manner pray ye” (Matthew 6:9). Our prayers, then, should be after this manner—not an assortment of extravagant demands, but the simple expression of the earnest heart.

[1] First acknowledging and paying homage to God as our Father the Almighty and hallowed One.

[2] Secondly, expressing our expectations and trust that His kingdom according to promise is coming, and our eagerness for it, and the time when His will shall be done as in heaven.

[3] Thirdly, our reliance upon Him, for “daily bread,” which He has promised us.

[4] Fourthly our acknowledgment that our ways are not perfect and our reliance upon his favor [granted through Christ Jesus] for forgiveness; and our willingness to exercise forgiveness toward our debtors.

Family Prayer

“Though not enjoined specifically, how appropriate that husband and wife should blend their hearts and bow their knees in divine worship, and in submission to the divine will. How much this must tend to unify those hearts and lives. How blessed must such an example be to the children. How appropriate that the little “olive branches” be trained to look to their Creator in the days of their youth, not with formal and long prayers, but with the evidence before them of parental trust in and love for the giver of every good, as expressed in a simple, earnest, trustful prayer after the MANNER of the Lord’s illustration. As children see their parents recognizing and bowing to the superior will and wisdom of their heavenly Father, they learn from the example the lesson of obedience and submission to parental authority while learning to know and reverence their Creator.

“As soon as children come to reasoning age, their attention to the daily family prayer, whether it be morning or evening, should be placed on the same plane that God places it before us: not of CONSTRAINT, but of a willing mind, out of thankful and loving hearts. Such an influence and example will make home and parents and sacred things dear to children in after life. The true worship of God is profitable both for the present and future life.

Unceasing Prayer

“With the climax of Christian growth, the climax of worship is reached, and the earnest child of God will presently experience the meaning of the Apostle’s words: “Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18). Communion with God and the feeling of continual trust in His goodness and care, will become interwoven with all the affairs of life, so that to thus pray without ceasing, and be continually thankful, will become as natural as breathing. But this continual prayer and thanksgiving can never take the place of the formal recognition of worship of God, either to our own hearts or to our families.

Prayer in the Church

What is true of our families is not less true of God’s family, of which we are members—the body of Christ. To bind us together in love, God has arranged to make the various members more or less dependent on each other for the blessings He is willing and ready to bestow. Thus He would unify the body of Christ in His method of providing spiritual food, as the human body is dependent as a whole upon its various members for the natural “daily bread” which God thus supplies.

This being true, we should not only neglect not the assembling of ourselves with those of like precious faith, personally when we can; and at least through the medium of the printed page, but when assembled how sweet and refreshing, and how appropriate, to ask our Father’s blessing upon the meeting; that the spirit of love may pervade the members of Christ’s body there assembled, and that the truth might be discerned by sincere and truth-hungry souls, so that all might be more and more filled with the self-sacrificing spirit of that truth, and thus be built up in the most holy faith and love, and made meet for the Master’s service both now and hereafter. Can it be doubted that to the extent that such prayer is the expression of the sentiment of all, it will bring an answer at the moment of its utterance, by impressing upon all solemnly the object of the meeting and the blessings to be expected and enjoyed? It is ever thus; as we draw nigh to God in prayer we bring the blessings promised nigh to ourselves by bringing our hearts into a condition of readiness to enjoy the blessings promised the seeker.

While the offered prayer is to God it should not be forgotten that in harmony with the foregoing statement (that the prayer influences of all who join in it) that Jesus and the Apostle indicate that it should be uttered in such a voice and manner as to enable those about to appreciate and intelligently join it. Jesus said, in connection with one of the few of his recorded sayings, “Because of them that stood by I said it” (John 11:42). Paul exhorts those who lead the company in prayer to seek to do so in such a manner that all may be able to hear and acquiesce in it (1 Corinthians 14:14-17). And in all things whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

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