M. M. (Morrison Meade) Davis.

How to be saved : a study of first principles online

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speaks of the eunuch's confession, showing that the
apostolic custom continued till near the close of the
second century. Mosheim says that "at the first
proclamation of the gospel, all that professed firm-
ly to believe that Jesus was the only Redeemer of
mankind,'* were baptized. Neander says: "There


was only one article of faith: belief in Jesus as
the Messiah." Shedd: "The candidate for admis-
sion to the Church, at his baptism, professed his
faith in Christ as the Redeemer of the world."
Conybeare and Howson : *Tn ordinary cases the
sole condition required for baptism was, that the
person to be baptized should acknowledge Jesus as
the Messiah."

It therefore seems safe to conclude that in the
early Church the confession, as we practice it
to-day, was the test of the fitness for baptism.
The candidate was not required to accept an elabo-
rate creed, and his opinion regarding speculative
teachings was not asked for. His acceptance or
rejection depended solely on his relationship to
Christ. If he confessed him as the Son of God
and Saviour of men, he was baptized; if he refused
to do this, he was not baptized. But later, when
theology had usurped the place of the gospel, and
the theologian had displaced the evangelist, other
tests were added, and the primitive simplicity and
power of the truth were almost destroyed.

a. For Our Own Good. It
4. Why We commits us publicly to Christ. It

Should Make the . ,-1 i. u- ^ • .1

Good Confession '" ^'^^ ^ ^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ entermg the
territory of his foe and burning
the bridges behind him. It was not a timid whis-
per from a cave, but a clear, round voice in the
sunlight, and in the presence of men. The angels,
smiling in heaven, also heard it, and the demons
glaring in the pit from below. It aligns us with
Christ in the face of both friends and foes. The


Christian is not to be like reeds shaken by the wind ;
we are not to occupy neutral territory. Travis in
the Alamo, surrounded by thousands of Santa
Anna's hosts floating the black flag, drew a line on
the sward and said: 'Who will stand with me to
the death, let him come over this side of the line."
And every man went over. And Bowie, another
leader, as brave as Travis, but sick, called to his
companions: "Pick me up; I can not move; carry
me over on that side." And how many of us have
been steadied and made heroic in the after conflicts
by remembering that God, angels and men had all
once heard this confession from our lips? Don't
fear to make a holy vow. Great men make great
vows, and they serve as anchors for the soul.

b. For the Good of Others. Christianity is
much more than something between God and our-
selves. The light must not be kept beneath the
bushel. A seen religion is not always real; but a
real religion is always seen. A plant grown in the
dark is pale and sickly, and bears neither beautiful
blossoms nor rich fruit. The bold stand taken in
the confession will encourage your timid friends to
confess their Saviour, as the act of Nicodemus in
calling for the body of Jesus brought Joseph of
Arimathea from obscurity. It will also add cour-
age to the hosts who are battling for God, as
Paul "thanked God and took courage" when he
met his friends at Appii forum.

Precept is good, but example is better. It slips
into the life through the eyes and ears, and finds
its way down into the heart, and out into the prac-


tice, and by a secret charm, almost irresistible, it
transforms life, making it beautiful and brave; or,
robbing it of its virtues, leaves it wrecked and
ruined on the world's highway.

c. For the Good of Christ. If some friend
who had been true to you or to yours in some
emergency were maligned on the street, your blood
would boil, and you would hasten to his defense.
What friend has been so true as Jesus of Nazareth?
In sunshine and in shadow alike he has ever been
your friend. And he has also been the friend of
your mother and father. Not one single good thing
received in the whole of life but that came from
his gracious hands. And yet this friend is being
constantly blasphemed upon our streets. And if
we do not confess him, we are not neutral, bad as
that would be, but we are against him. "He
that is not with me is against me" (Matt. 12:30).


1. Tell us of the origin of the confession.

2. Tell of some of the great discoveries of the

3. What of the scope of the confession?

4. Give the meaning of the phrase "Thou art
the Christ."

5. What is the meaning of the phrase "The

6. What is meant by the phrase "Of the living

7. What is the relationship of baptism and the


8. What good comes to the individual who
makes the confession?

9. What good comes to his associates?
iO. What good comes to the Lord?




1. Four Figures.

a. Baptism of the Earth.

b. Baptism of Israel in the Sea.

c. Burial and Resurrection.

d. Sufferings of the Saviour.

2. Four Facts.

a. John's Baptism.

b. Baptisms at ^non.

c. Baptism of Jesus.

d. Baptism of the Eunuch.

3. Four Other Proofs.

a. Definition of "Baptizo.*'

b. Testimony of the Greeks.

c. Immersion Satisfies the Soul.

d. It Is the Safe Way.

4. Appeal to the Eye.

5. Design of Baptism.

6. Subjects of Baptism.

a. The Covenant Argument.

b. Baptism and Circumcision Con-


7. Household Baptisms.

8. Objections to Infant Baptism.




The penitent soul in search of salvation, having
believed on the Christ, repented ot sin, and con-
fessed the Saviour before men, is now ready to be
baptized. How shall it be done? Some would
answer one thing and some another, but what saith
the Book? "To the law and to the testimony:
if they speak not according to this word, it is
because there is no light in them" (Tsa. 8:20).

There is much perplexity here. Many people
with honest hearts desire to do just what the Lord
commands, but they do not know what it is. Hav-
ing once passed through this experience, I can
truly sympathize with them; and nothing will give
me more pleasure than to come to their assistance
in this hour of need. Let us now put away, if
possible, all prejudice and preconceived notions, and
study the question with the single desire of know-
ing the truth and walking therein. Our first inquiry
is as to what is baptism.

a. Baptism o? the Earth.
I. Four Figures .^j^^. ,.j^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ overflow of

the earth in the flood] whereunto even baptism
doth also now save us" (1 Pet. 3:21). In Gen.
6:17-24 we are told that the flood came and the
waters rose above the "high hills," "and the moun-
tains were covered," and "every living substance



was destroyed from the earth." And this, to
Peter, is a picture of baptism; but it can not pos-
sibly refer to anything but immersion.

h. Baptism of Israel in the Sea. "More-
over, brethren, I would not that you should be
ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the
cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were
all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the
sea" (1 Cor. 10:1, 2). By reference to Ex. 14:
15-22, we find the facts on which this figure rests.
Moses stretched out his rod "over the sea, and the
waters were parted, and stood like a wall unto them
on the right hand and on the left; and the chil-
dren of Israel entered into the midst of the sea on
dry ground," while the pillar of cloud which had
led them thus far, passed over to the rear and
stood between the two hosts, concealing Israel from
her enemies. Paul calls this a baptism. What
kind of a baptism does it represent? Certainly
not affusion. It bears as little resemblance to
sprinkling or pouring as does the flood. But it
does resemble an immersion. As the people passed
in between the walls of water, with the cloud
hanging over them and in rear of them, there was
a fine picture of immersion. That you may see
this clearly, place two books of equal size side by
side, and standing upright a few inches apart, and
hang a handkerchief on them, with its folds drop-
ping down in the rear. The books are the walls
of water, and the overhanging 'kerchief is the
cloud, and the Jews are concealed in the inclosure,
and you have the picture.


c. Burial and Resurrection. "Know ye not,
that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus
Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore
we are buried with him by baptism into death: that
like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the
glory of the Father, even so we also should walk
in newness of life. For if we have been planted
together in the likeness of his death, we shall be
also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Rom. 6:
3-5). No mistake should be made here. All are
familiar with burials. Our loved ones have left
us. We have stood by the grave, and, with break-
ing hearts and streaming eyes, have watched their
bodies sink beneath the sod. And then with the
eye of faith we have seen these bodies raised and
changed so as to be like unto the glorious body of
the Lord.

In this figure are three facts: (1) Death, (2)
burial, (3) resurrection. And so the sinner (1)
dies to sin, (2) is buried in baptism, and (3) rises
from the liquid grave to walk in newness of life.

And as we watch the penitent sinner sink
beneath the wave, and rise to go forth in the Chris-
tian life, we instinctively recognize the beauty and
perfection of the symbol. No one can fail to see
them; neither can he fail to see that the sprinkling
or pouring of a little water on the head does not
in any sense represent a burial.

d. SuF ERiNGS OF THE Saviour. "I have a
baptism to be baptized with ; and how as I strait-
ened [pained] till it be accomplished!" (Luke 12:
50). The Saviour in these tender words refers to


his sufferings, and calls them a baptism. The awful
agony of Gethsemane, with its bloody sweat, and
Calvary, with its excruciating pain, its darkness
and desertion, are before him, when from his brok-
en heart would be wrung the bitter cry: "My
God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me!" Let
the reverent soul look upon this scene, and then
ask himself, Does sprinkling a little water on the
face, or the burial of the body in its depths, rep-
resent these sufferings? Surely not the former,
but the latter. As we see his pure soul plunged
into this bitter sea of suffering, and behold the
black waves, mountain high, overflow him, we feel
that nothing short of the complete burial of the
body in the baptismal waters can symbolize it.

a. John's Baptism. "In those
days came John the Baptist,
preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying,
Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
. . . Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all
Jud^a, and all the region round about Jordan, and
were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their
sins" (Alatt. 3:1-6). Notice that John baptized
"in Jordan." He did not stand on the bank near
the water, but went down into the stream. Why
this? If his baptism had been by affusion, I can
see no sense in it, for he could easily have dipped
up the water, and saved himself and the people
the inconvenience of going into it. But as it was
an immersion, the going down into the river was a

b. Baptizing in ^non. "And John also was


baptizing in ^non near to Salim, because there
was much water there" (John 3:23). We are not
left to guess why John went to TEnon to baptize,
but are told that it was "because there was much
water there." Sprinkling and pouring do not
require "much water," but immersion does, there-
fore John's baptism was immersion. If it should
be said that a man located his mill at a certain
place "because there was much water there," all
would understand that it required "much water"
to operate that mill.

c. Baptism of Jesus. "And Jesus, when he
was baptized, went up straightway out of the water"
(Matt. 3:16). The Saviour's long journey to the
Jordan to be baptized is finished. He makes known
his mission to John, and he refuses to baptize
him, claiming that himself, and not Jesus, needed
to be baptized. But the Master replied: "Suffer
it be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all
righteousness." Then John led him into the water,
and buried him beneath the yielding wave, after
which he "went up straightway out of the water."
The Lord here fixes forever the form of this
ordinance by his own baptism. As we look upon
this sacred scene, let prejudice and previous bias
have no place in our hearts, and let us ask, How
was my Lord baptized? And when the answer is
clear, let us walk in his footsteps, whatever be the
cost. And what is the answer? There can be but
one: He was immersed. Immersion requires com-
ing up out of the water; sprinkling and pouring do
not; therefore Jesus was immersed.


d. Baptism of the Eunuch. "And as they
went on their way, they came unto a certain water:
and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth
hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said. If thou
behevest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And
he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ
is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot
to stand still : and they went down both into the
water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized
him. And when they were come up out of the
water," etc. (Acts 8:36-39). This story, plain
enough for a primer, could not be misunderstood
by men of clear heads and honest hearts. It says
that they first came to the water. That would have
been sufficient for affusion. No need in that case
to go down into it, but only to dip it up. But it
does not stop there. After coming to the water,
they next go down into it, and there the baptism
takes place ; and after the baptism they came up out
of the water. All this is necessary for immersion,
but not for affusion; therefore this is a case of
immersion. It is said that in the early days of our
history a preacher found a bright Indian boy, told
him about the Christ, gave him the New Testament,
and asked him to read it and be ready to do his
duty when he came again. They separated, the
preacher going over his long circuit, and the boy to
his wigwam to study his strange new book. After
three months they met again. The preacher asked
the boy if he had learned his duty to Jesus, and
was told that he had. "What is it, my son?" asked
the preacher. "Duty of Injun to be baptized,"


replied the boy. The good man thanked the Lord.
The boy asked when he could be baptized, and
was told to-day. He then asked where he would
be baptized, and was informed that it would take
place there where they were assembled. After a
puzzled survey of the surroundings, in which he
failed to discover any such facilities as he thought
necessary, he asked, "Where is water for bap-
tizing Injun?" 'TIere it is," said the preacher,
pointing to a pitcher on the table. "You no put
Injun down into pitcher," was the prompt reply.
*T will not put you in the pitcher," said the
preacher, "but will pour the water on your
head." With a look of keenest disappointment,
the boy turned away, saying, "You give Injun
wrong book."

What a commentary on the simplicity of the
language of the New Testament on the subject
of baptism. This intelligent and honest-hearted
boy, who had never heard of a Greek lexicon or
grammar, and knew not the meaning of the word
"theology," reads it without prejudice, learns that a
penitent believer should be baptized, and that, in
order to baptism, he has to go down into the water.
And perhaps there is not, and never has been, and
never will be, a similar situation without a similar

Putting these figures and facts together, the case
of immersion is made out. It is not all that could
be said, but it is all that need be said. For if we
will not be convinced by them, we would hardly be
convinced even though a large volume was written


on the subject. But that certainty may be made
doubly sure, I will add

a. Definition of Baptism.
Z ^ r The Greek word from which we

get our word baptism means
primarily to immerse. The scholarship of the world,
whatever may be the practice of these scholars as
to baptism, may be regarded a unit on this point.
There are two other words in the Greek, one
meaning to sprinkle and the other to pour, and yet
the Master passed both of them by and chose the
one which means immerse. This fact alone ought
forever to settle this question.

b. Testimony of the Greeks. If in China a
question should be raised as to the meaning of an
English word, the best way to settle it would be to
appeal to the English-speaking people. Applying
this principle in this case, let us appeal to the
Greeks. Ancient and modern Greek is substan-
tially the same. If the Greek Fathers — Socrates,
Plato, Demosthenes and Homer — should return to
Athens to-day, they would have little difficulty in
reading the daily papers. It is claimed that there
has been less change in the Greek language during
the past twenty-four hundred years than in the
English within the past five hundred years. The
word "baptize" is therefore in constant use among
the Greeks to-day, and it is used now as it was
in the time of Christ. Cereas, a strong Greek
writer, says : "Righteousness forbids a man to dip
[baptize] his pen in the filth of flattery." And their
religious practice is immersion. And, to cap the


climax, the Presbyterians of the United States have
some churches in Greece, and they practice immer-

c. Immersion Satisfies the Soul. Water
slakes thirst, bread appeases hunger, light fits the
eye, and sound the ear, showing that these things
were designed for these purposes. And so it is
with immersion. It is a well-known fact that
thousands of good people are constantly becoming
dissatisfied with sprinkling and pouring, and are
immersed; but not so with the immersed. Their
baptism satisfies the soul, and leaves it, so far as
that ordinance is concerned, forever at rest, showing
that as bread and water, light and sound are adapted
to man's material wants, so is this ordinance adapted
to his spiritual wants,

d. It Is the Safe Way. In material things a
statement like this has wonderful weight. If the
reader wished to buy a home, and, finding two
places which he liked equally well, should ascertain
that there was well-grounded doubt as to the title
of one, but none as to the other, he would not
hesitate to choose the place about whose title there
was no doubt. It would not be necessary to con-
vince him that the title was bad; only show him
that it is reasonably doubtful, and he would turn
from it, and he would be wise. ("The children
of this world are wiser in their generation than
the children of light.") And this is the exact posi-
tion of the baptismal question. Immersion is not
in doubt, but affusion is. The great army of those
who practice nothing but immersion, and multitudes




of others who practice affusion, testify to the
Scripturalness of immersion, and all others say it
is all right, but add that they think the form of
baptism is not important, and so they substitute
something else for it. The title of affusion is there-
fore clearly in doubt; why not take the safe side?

Let us close this study with an
4. Appeal to the Eye

Baptism Requires:

Immersion Requires :


1. Water (Matt, 3: 16).

2. Much water (John 3:


3. Cjming to the water

(Acts 8: 38).

4. Going down into the

water (Acts 8: 38).

5. Coming up out of the

water (Acts 8: 39).

6. The figure of a burial

(Rom. 6:4).

7. The figure of a resur-

rection (Rom. 6:







Much water.

Coming to the water.

Going down into the

Coming up out of the

The figure of a buri-

The figure of a resur-

I. Water.


From the diagram, which is based on the Scrip-
tures, it is seen that immersion meets the seven
requirements of baptism; but affusion only meets
one; therefore immersion is baptism.

Baptism must have a purpose,
or it would have no place in the
scheme of redemption. What is
that purpose? In connection with faith and repent-
ance, the Book teaches that it is "for the remission
of sins." This ought to settle the matter with
Bible believers, but it does not. Many of them

5. Design of


believe that men are saved without baptism, and
that it has no connection with "remission of sins."
Their theory is based on a certain class of Scrip-
tures. Let us examine this opposing theory.

*'He that believeth on him is not condemned"
(John 3:18), and "he that believeth on the Son
hath everlasting life" (John 3:36), are fair samples
of the Scriptures used as a basis for this theory.
It is argued that since one is not condemned
when he believes, and as in the absence of con-
demnation he is pardoned, therefore faith is the
sole condition of salvation.

Over against these passages let a few others be
placed. "Many other signs truly did Jesus in the
presence of his disciples which are not written in
this book; but these are written that ye might
believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and
that believing ye might have life through his name"
(John 20:30). "He came unto his own, and his
own received him not, but as many as received
him, to them gave he power [or the right of
privilege] to become the sons of God" (John 1:11,
12). Here we are taught, not that the believer is
saved, but that he has the right, privilege and
power of being saved. I am not an Englishman,
but I have the right, privilege and power of becom-
ing one if I choose. When it is declared that my
attitude to England gives me the privilege of becom-
ing an Englishman, it is also clearly implied that I
am not an Englishman.

"Thou believest that there is one God; thou
doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble"


(Jas. 2: 19). Here is faith so strong that it makes
even a devil tremble, but he is not pardoned.

"Ye see then how by v^orks [obedience] a man
is justified, and not by faith only" (Jas. 2:24).
This Clear statement needs no comment.

The fundamental trouble with this theory is
that it does not go far enough. It stops with one
of the conditions of pardon. Faith is all right, but
it is not the only condition of salvation. A French-
man twenty-one years of age asks how old a man
must be in this country in order to vote. You tell
him twenty-one years. He hurries to the voting-
place and asks for the privilege of suffrage, but
is denied. Why? Not because he has not one of
the qualifications of an American voter, and a most
important one, but because he has only one. He
must comply with all the conditions of the law of
suffrage, or he can not vote. He must not scrap
this law. And so we must not scrap the Scriptures
on the subject of pardon. We must believe, we
must repent, and we must be baptized. By scrap-
ping the Scriptures we can prove anything. ''J^^^^s
went out and hanged himself;" "Go thou and do
likevv^ise;" "What thou doest, do quickly." This
is all Scripture, and, scrapped in this way, it
teaches us to commit suicide, and to do it just as
soon as possible.

The true theory is not that baptism alone is for
the remission of sins. In fact, in the Bible sense
of the term, there can be no such thing as baptism
without faith, repentance, love of God, holy pur-
poses, etc. A man without these qualifications might


be buried in water a thousand times, and it would
not be Bible baptism. That is the reason why we
do not baptize babies. They can not exercise these
spiritual qualifications which must go before and
prepare the subject for baptism. Water in the
abstract is absolutely without value in Christian

It is not that no one unbaptized can be saved.
Infants die by the millions and go to heaven with-
out baptism. Idiots do not need to be baptized.
It is easy to conceive a penitent man so situated
physically that baptism would be impossible. In
that case he would be saved without it. Where
there is no ability there is no responsibility. The
true theory contemplates a penitent believer who
can, if he will, obey the Lord in the ordinance of
baptism. We note some of the proofs of this
theory :

"Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should
be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under
the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and
were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in

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