Peace of mind is found only in the Christian who has learned to trust in God. God keeps only “him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because He trusteth in Thee’’ (Isa. 26:3).
When we confess sinfulness, turn from our sins, and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, then we have “peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ’’ (Rom. 5:1).
God desires His children to have this perfect peace, for He knows the necessity of it for our well-being. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. …” We often fail to avail ourselves of this gracious gift, letting our hearts be troubled and afraid (John 14:27).
The three greatest enemies of peace are envy, fear, and guilt.
- Envy is “the rottenness of the bones” (Prov. 14:30). It, along with covetousness and jealousy eat up ones insides. Envy comes from a failure to put first things first. Envy is caused by placing too much importance on material possessions, prestige, or position. There can be no peace in the mind of those who constantly scheme and plan to acquire the next thing.
- A chronic fear can be very harmful, sometimes even producing physical illness. This can be anything from a vague uneasiness to a great anxiety. This can be a fear which is either real or imaginary. It can be a fear of powers greater than we or a fear of losing something which contributes to our safety or comfort or general well-being. In any case, this tormenting kind of fear is the result of our failure to trust God, to take Him at His Word, or to claim His promises. “Whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe” (Prov. 29:25).
- God sent Jesus to take upon Himself the guilt for our sins, to satisfy God’s just demands for our every sin, and thus to remove all of our guilt. But at various times and to varying degrees some Christians fail to understand Christ’s perfect work and all its precious implications.
Sometimes we suffer from the guilt of sins of the past. We fail to understand that God has removed our sins from us as far as east is from west, that He has cast them into the sea of utter forgetfulness (Ps. 103:12). This lack of faith in the perfect work of God in Christ is sinful and a drain on our emotional strength. We must ask God to forgive our refusal to receive the reality of His mercy and grace. And we must prayerfully resolve to look at our sins in the light of Christ’s cross.
More often our guilt is caused by unrepented sin. This results in troubled minds and a “guilt complex”. Adam was afraid and hid after he sinned. Unconfessed sin can often make us afraid of what is really our own imagination (Prov. 28:1). The result is a lack of peace.
What is the answer to these three enemies of true peace?
God works in us a wonderful cleansing of these terrible foes of peace. He does this in the way of the admission of our sinfulness and the dependency which results, the confession to God of specific sins, and the looking to and trusting in the power of the redeeming blood of Christ. Also the desire for and the striving after obedience to God’s commands always accompanies true sorrow. “Great peace have they which love Thy law’’; “mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace” (Ps. 119:165; 37:37).
This is the only way the guilt- troubled mind, the fearful and the envious find rest.
This solution is simple, but it is not easy. It is not complicated, but it is difficult for our flesh. Worrying is so much easier than trusting in God. This solution is made difficult by the fact that we are entrenched in the mind-set of envy or guilt or fear, and we are only released from them slowly.
We may be confessing our sinfulness and repenting of specific sins, but still failing to trust God for ALL our needs. If we are anxious and care-filled and full of fears, we simply have not learned to trust God, for “whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he” (Prov. 16:20). It is so easy to trust in ourselves, our family, friends, doctors, homes, jobs – anything we can see or feel. The only thing we can really find to be a solid rock for our trust is the
One Whose promises are sure.
What is the way in which God gives us peace of mind?
Man’s mind is a wonderful creation. It is wise if we remember that it is always functioning. If we, as redeemed believers, do not prayerfully discipline ourselves in habits of wholesome thinking, it is our nature to become the victims of undesirable thought patterns. These latter most often produce negative attitudes. These negative attitudes can adversely affect the quality of our judgments and activities, and if they are severe enough, they can even make one physically and emotionally ill. By the grace of God Christians can effectively control their thoughts. In general this is done by closing out negative, suspicious, envious, jealous, pessimistic, self-glorifying, impure, foolish, and anxious thoughts.
Allow me to give some suggestions, based on either commands or thoughts given in the Scriptures. One or more of these suggestions can be applied to almost any situation which is causing problems in our thinking. If consistently exercised, these suggestions can be very helpful in restoring peace of mind.
- Taking no thought.
There are some things over which we have no control. Sometimes we can do a lot of worrying about them. “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” (Matt. 6:27). Such anxious thinking is a foolish waste of mental energy and is a drain on our spiritual strength. Learn to know what things you cannot change.
- Controlling the imagination.
God gave us the imagination as a wonderful tool to help us be more creative and useful. However, we do some of our most outstanding worrying when we allow our imagination to run wild, creating frightening possibilities. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5). It is true that we cannot keep certain thoughts from entering into our minds, but we do not need to entertain them. Because we are able to “do all things through Christ which strengthened” us, we can control and direct our imaginations. It is not to be our master; God is!
- Thinking positively.
In Philippians 4:8 Paul lists six things upon which we are commanded to think, i.e. meditate: whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or of good report. Thinking upon these positive things is a great antidote for the suspicious, critical, jealous, or impure thoughts which so quickly undermine peace of mind. Also, while thinking on these things, the peace- removing thoughts will find little room to dwell in our minds.
A critical, complaining, negative, and pessimistic spirit fills the vacuum left by a lack of thankfulness. Quickly a mind-set of negative thinking develops and makes itself at home. Confess this sin of self-centeredness and pour praise and thanks to God. Think of all the aspects of God’s work in Jesus Christ and be filled with praise (Rev. 5:9-14).
Satan can plague us with regrets of the past, causing us to dwell unduly upon them. This weakens us in our present duties. The apostle Paul knew that his apostleship had many weaknesses, but he said, “this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind. . . .” It is commendable to learn from past mistakes. It is useless and unhealthy to grieve endlessly over them.
Read Psalm 103 and make a list of the things for which you should be thankful. Remembering this list, cultivate an attitude of anticipation of blessings from the Lord. Have no expectations from anyone else! We may and should expect God to bless us, for He has promised that He will and He does abundantly (Eph. 5:20). This attitude assumes that God will bless, though we might not know exactly how.
- Refuging in comforts.
Jesus did not leave His Church comfortless, but sent the Holy Spirit as our Comforter. Also God gives an uncountable number of promises in the Scriptures which serve to comfort His people. When we dwell upon the “God of all comfort” (II Cor. 1:3) and upon all He has done for us spiritually and physically, then our minds should not only be at ease, but also filled with joy.
It is almost impossible for even the most mature Christian to be completely free from anxious thoughts, especially during times of trials. When decisions must be made, then it is necessary to have thoughts about our problems. But God would not have His people sink into hopelessness and frustration due to great anxiety. Trusting Him as the Almighty, all-wise, and eternally loving Savior, we can claim the peace which only He can give.
God promises His peace, which passeth all understanding. Ask for God to fulfill that promise in the way of your being careful for nothing and your laying all your needs at His feet.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Isa. 26:3,4).
“the good will of Him that dwelleth in the bush”
“with good will doing service as to the Lord!”
“on earth peace, in men good will”
-The Heavenly Host
Christian, recovering from the set-back caused him by following Mr. Worldly-Wiseman’s counsel, went on once more in The Way with haste, heeding no one. Finally, he reached the Little Gate he had been seeking, which had a sign over it, “Knock and it shall be opened unto you.” It was necessary to knock more than once or twice, to even call out, “Will He within open to sorry me?” At last he was rewarded with the appearance of a man, but not one the most attractive to a young person, one severely serious, who demanded he identify himself, state his business and whence he was. Immediately striking about the gatekeeper was his commanding seriousness. The significance of his gravity did not dawn on Christian until later as he proceeded in the Narrow Way. Then he would think back and see what he had not before noticed. The location of the gate was enough to banish lightheartedness from any in the area, for the gatehouse was just up hill from the Slough of Despond, the miasmatic damps of which filled the air with a dank depressing atmosphere. Also, the peep slots of the gatehouse looked down on the City of Destruction in the distance and the Wilderness of Sin surrounding it. Then the characters who applied at that gate up to all hours of the night never showed a smiling face. Furthermore, every applicant at the gate had to be pulled in, for there were dangers right at the entrance. Nearby stood Beelzebub’s castle. From the tower arrows flew and thudded into the gate posts. They were meant to make the seeker give up entering and going in The Way. Christian, trembling, but rejoicing, began to think of what the arrows were. All arrows have their own peculiar identification on the shafts. There was the arrow of persecution and the arrow of ridicule. Other arrows were the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, the pleasures of this life and the lusts of other things. The arrow most dangerous to you, young reader, is probably that one, the pleasures of this life. When that arrow is shot it usually has a note wrapped around it which reads, “Christians don’t have a good time!” One person, converted to the Lord like the Ethiopian eunuch, warded off that arrow, saying, “I am happier now when I’m not happy than I was before I was happy!” That is what the man meant who said, “O, wretched man…! Who shall deliver me…! I thank God!”
Now you can see why Goodwill was of such sober cast. Yet, he was not morose, despairing or desponding. Actually, he was a fundamentally joyful man. Who would not be, holding such a post, having such work as his to do? Also you must have a good guess of his nature from his name and know him to be a happy man. Goodwill and his gatehouse were full of goodness, and, holding forth at the head of the good old way, were also full of heavenly happiness. He also anticipates a full glory of happiness when he pulls in the last marcher to Zion.
Knowing Goodwill a little better, you would expect him to direct Christian, having entered the strait gate, in the narrow way. He did. “This is the way thou must go.” He told him of the broad way to hell, the many who crowd in upon it, and the one, only way to heaven, which sometimes has no more on it than a lonely footprint, or a trail of blood. He who commanded, “Strive to enter in through the strait gate” really calls that striving agony. He also said, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and tale up his cross and follow Me.” Does His service cause you any agony? What cross do you daily take up? Where or in what do you deny yourself? Write it in code on the margin of your Bible. In the working out of your own salvation will the most microscopic scrutiny find any fear and trembling? If not, then you probably have not yet met friend Goodwill, either in your parents or in your pastor. For he informs you that “the way thou must go” is steep, narrow, becoming narrower as you proceed, till it almost crushes you, is dangerous and lonely all its way. That book in your hand, what does it say? Watch and pray! Give the more earnest heed! Run with endurance the race set before you! Earnestly agonizing for the faith once-for-all delivered to the saints! Pressing on, reaching forth toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus! What does he know of the truth of Christ or the way to heaven who is a stranger to these things?
By nature Christian was Graceless. There is something about him, all along his pilgrim journey that is graceless. But it is as Christian, not as Graceless that he enters through the strait gate. Asking, seeking and knocking to do so he does as Christian, enquiring, “Are there no turnings or windings by which a stranger may lose his way?” As Christian he was more afraid of missing the way than of meeting the hardships in it. Graceless neither asks, nor seeks, nor knocks, nor strives to enter. Christian was not so ignorant and foolish as to suppose that “our striving or agonizing is the prerequisite for entering into life” as though Graceless may become Christian if only he will fulfill that prerequisite. Christian knew that the striving is a mark of that much coveted life, and that both are God’s gift. Graceless has no care, concern, ability or hope of ability to perform any “prerequisites”.
Goodwill’s gate is one going easily unnoticed by the majority of worldly wisemen rushing back and forth in the throngs “where cross the crowded ways of life”. It is isolated off to the side, “far from the madding crowd”. It is usually shut when an applicant comes up to it, with no attendant visible. If this is the gate to The Way, then why is there not a welcoming committee of at least one standing there with open arms, garlands of orchids, an enthusiastic hand shake, hug and kiss of reconciliation which sweetly draws us in from the hail of Beelzebub’s arrows? What do you want, a medal? Before the battle is even begun? You recently faced a battle. You knelt in secret prayer to face it. What was visible to you then? Nothing more than living room chair, study desk or bed! No angel! No glorious manifestation of the Divine presence! You prayed a short but earnest prayer. Did you rise from prayer disappointed because “nothing happened” no one appeared to comfort you? Look at the one who now enters the little gate. First he knocked, then he pounded, finally he banged on the door. If he had to, he would take it by storm. He would not merely send up a little prayer, then leave off. Continual prayer, impatient prayer would find him calling.
May I now enter here? Will He within
Open to sorry me, though I have been
A wandering rebel? Then shall I
Not fail to sing His lasting praise on high!
Goodwill was brave, not sour. As we now know him, he was a man full of joy, one who brought much joy to many. Entering that gate and continuing in its way has its difficulties, yet not without its joys. “Hark!” cried Mercy, “Don’t you hear a noise?” “Yes,” answered Christiana, “I believe a noise of music, for joy that we are here.” “Wonderful!” replied Mercy, “Music in the house, music in the heart and music also in heaven for joy that we are here!” In this way they conversed a while before going to bed. In the morning Christiana inquired, “What was the matter? You laughed in your sleep last night! You were in a dream?” “Yes, I was,” Mercy admitted, “and a sweet dream it was. But are you sure I laughed?” “Yes, you laughed heartily; but Mercy, tell me your dream.” “I was dreaming I sat all alone bemoaning the hardness of my heart when I saw One with wings coming toward me, who said, ‘Mercy, what aileth thee?’ (Gen. 21:17). When He had heard my complaint, He said, ‘Peace be to thee.’ He also dried my eyes and clad me in silver and gold (Ezek. 16:8-11). He put a chain about my neck, earrings in my ears and a beautiful crown upon my head. I followed Him until we came to a golden gate. Within, the place looked like the stars, rather, the sun! But did I laugh?” “Laugh? Ay, and well you might, to see yourself so well!” Joy is not so evident at the gate, or in entering it, except as one is mindful of the joy that is set before one at the end of the narrow way. Like Abraham (Gen. 17:17) and Sarah (21:6), one may with that view before the eye of faith laugh indeed.
Good news, yet heart-searching, heart-breaking that welcome of Goodwill’s. “Any, notwithstanding all that they have done before they come hither, they in no wise are cast out.” Christian would, indeed, recall, not all, but much of the worst he had done. Like the woman of Sychar, he felt that “He told me all things that ever I did.” This made Christian conscious again of the place he fled, where he would go and of the burden on his back. From that time on he would often think:
He that would enter in, must first without
Stand knocking at the gate, nor need he doubt
That is a knocker, but to enter in:
For God will love him and forgive his sin.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 29 No. 9 January 1970
Rationalist logician avers argument powerful
That Christ’s death no substitution signifies.
Futile, worthless logic falls before the Cross:
“We have received the atonement
The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep”—
Doctrines of Grace He proclaims, holding heart and mind
Deep-dyed with crimson stain
To ingrain the wool of the soul.
Where His word is not heard, easily men are swept
Away with every sophic miasma.
Uttered He His truth in voice of Luther and Calvin;
Men thronged them to hear at death’s expense.
Huguenots under mortal ban yet mustered
To sermons of interdicted preachers Reformed.
Geneva sent forth prophets to gather auditors
In fields tinged with martyr’s blood.
Why congregated they so on death’s dark brink?
Never jeopardize men life to meditate mere modern thought!
‘Tis the good way, in the old paths, alight with holy allure
Of election, sovereign, precious, pure—
Redemption which actually redeemed—
Preservation ensuring perseverance to glory eternal—
Truth, which is matter of life and death;
Divine magnet in life; deep comfort in death;
Forms a race of real men receiving a Kingdom
Immovable, in palaces divine
Founded on the Rock.
O Shepherd-Lord of rod and staff,
Before thee now we bleat and pray,
Who are the creatures of thy fold,
That thou wilt bring us forth today.
Thou Shepherd, whose strong voice we know,
O guide and lead us in the way
Beside the still, reflective pool,
In sunlit fields to feed and play.
There is no shepherd like to thee
Come quiet in the dawning morn:
The one clothed in a shepherd’s cloak,
The fleece of foolish wool has worn.
That we as sheep might each be called
Thou as a poor, dumb sheep wast shorn.
That he might know our every need,
Our Shepherd-King a lamb was born.
We are so weak and helpless, Lord;
Before thee now, true sheep are we:
Either to bump them or to stray,
These woolly heads do foolishly.
O thou, who art to us as God,
Do thou in need our helper be.
Come, seek the straying, find the lost,
And gently lead them back to thee.
From butting with the horn of pride
Stay with thy rod the haughty rams;
From foolish bleating and from fear
Lead with thy staff the mothered dams;
And in the shelter of thy arms
Bring back the capering, lost lambs;
That we one flock and fold may be,
All named, all gathered by thy hands.
O thou, who art the fold’s strong door
And circling wall on Zion’s height,
By day preserve our going out
And show us forth with truth and light.
From wolves, from shades of fear and doubt
A strong protector be by night.
As guard and watch ‘neath sun and moon
So let us hear thy voice of might.
Our bleating is but poor return
For all that thou with power divine,
Dost do for us, who many a day
Forgetting thee, in hunger pine.
So often huddled in distress
We have forgotten we are thine.
Thou Shepherd-King, of strength and song,
O let us hear, “These sheep are mine.”
III. The Warning to Judah Against Apostasy and Judgment
B. Avoid Profane Swearing
1. As swearing trivially, rashly, falsely, deceitfully
“Do not swear, ‘Yehovah hay’” i.e. Jehovah lives! Or Jehovah is living! What is forbidden here is the not using God’s name as required, i.e., not exalting His good name alone. One may not lump Jehovah’s (Jesus’) name in common with Moses, Plato, Aristotle and Zeus. Also forbidden by this command is (1) the abuse of His name in ignorance of His being and attributes (Acts 17:23); (2) light, empty usage of His name, as in “God bless!” or “Lord, love you!” (3) the irreverent use of His name, as in “O lordy, lordy!” or the frivolous and habitual use of “Hallelujah!” (4) the profane use, making God’s name common as in the frequent and thoughtless, “O my God!” (5) the superstitious use, as in mantra-mumblings of Ave Marias and Pater nosters; (6) as in all blasphemous cursings and swearing (as in Peter’s denials); (7) profane oaths (such as using “damn it!”) (8) sinful usage of lots (Esther 3:7; 9:24): this includes the wicked gambling lottery, which ignores God’s name, law and divine providence, Cp. Larger Catechism, Q. 1A. 113. These forms of swearing are some of the earlier signs of apostasy and must be rooted out of a Christian’s life by prayer, confession of sin, repentance and speaking the truth in love.
2. Swear as commanded (Jer. 4:2).
a. in truth
“Thou shalt swear, “Yehovah hay! i.e., Jehovah lives, or Jehovah is living in truth.” This means to constantly and consciously live in recognition that to the Christian God’s existence is the most sacred fact and reality! “The Lord liveth” is the most basic presupposition and proposition of the Christian faith. No proposition could better express certainty.
b. in judgment
Thou shalt swear “the Lord lives” in judgment, i.e., one must never think of God’s name (His being and persons) abstractly, apart from His judgment, which is the only standard of right and wrong, and concerning which nothing is more awesome! Therefore, we must never use expressions which objectively invoke dead or non-existent gods or idols, as Allah, Confucius, or use such expletives as “By Jove!”, “by Jupiter,” or “ye gods!”
c. in righteousness
To swear Jehovah liveth in righteousness means that God’s names, titles, attributes, words, sacraments, works and worship be holily and reverently used in thought, meditation, speech, writing and manner of life. (See Larger Catechism, Q. A. 112).
C. Apostasy a defection of the church.
Apostasy describes the present defection of the professing church from true Christianity. It is a defection or falling away from the God of truth and His commandments. The devil was the first apostate since he remained not in the truth, John 8:44. He revolted from obedience to God and became the ringleader of all rebels and apostates, whether angels or men. The fall of our first parents was in itself fatal, but Christ so intervened (in the gracious divine intervention of Christ’s substitutionary atonement) that they fell on Him. To be sure, in the Fall the elect fell also, but they fell in and on the responsibility of Christ, and so were recovered from the Fall. The rest fell on their own responsibility, and so perished.
We have examples of apostasy in Cain (Gen. 6:2), in the case of that Micah of the times of the judges (Jud. 17:1-13), in Joash (2 Chron. 24:17-22), in Amaziah (2 Chron. 25:14, 27), in disciples who depart from Christ (John 6:66), in Hymeneus and Alexander (I Tim. 1:19-20).
Apostates are described as sons of Belial who depart from the professing church, drawing an aberrant following along with them into idolatry. Apostasy was such a detestable abomination to God in the Old Covenant church that He commanded that apostates be exterminated by capital punishment, and every whit that belonged to them be destroyed by fire, Deut. 13:13. The New Covenant church is warned against apostasy – departing from the living God – which the natural man is inclined to by “an evil heart of unbelief” (Heb. 3:12). Apostates are “stony ground hearers” of the Word of God, who for a while believe, ever receiving the Word of God with joy until, under testing and trial, they fall away (apostatize). Luke 8:13. It is love of this world which draws away souls into apostasy (2 Tim. 4:10). But apostates never really belonged to the true church. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continues with us, but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (I Jn. 2:19). Apostates never belonged to Christ (Matt. 7:21). John tells us in his epistle that all apostates are antichrists and that they originate in the church. Therefore, heathenism, Judaism, Mohammedanism, though hostile to Christ and to Christianity, are not “antichrist” in the sense of these apostates, not having originated in the church. Apostates were either false from the start, like the mixed multitude which came along with Israel out of Egypt, or they became so and then left, like Israel under Jeroboam.
But saints do not become apostates. They may declare the truth, “Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from Thy way” (Ps. 44:18). Of apostates, Scripture informs us that once they do fall away (apostatize), it is impossible to renew them to repentance, and so recover them. It is not only difficult that this should be, or rare that it should ever happen; it is absolutely impossible. It is impossible for these to be renewed and to recover themselves. It is impossible for ministers to recover them. It is impossible for God Himself, for their sin is the sin against the Holy Spirit, for which there is no repentance and no remission. But of God’s beloved saints we are persuaded better things, things that do accompany salvation. We cannot be so persuaded concerning apostates. For apostates there is no restitution.
Zephaniah, in the century after Hosea, prophesied of the guilt and punishment of the apostates of his day (1:4-6). So also the writer of the Hebrews pronounced divine vengeance and fearful judgment against them, as those who draw back to perdition in distinction from us, the people of God, who believe to the saving of the soul, Heb. 10:25-31, 39. Peter also, in 2 Peter 2, warns of apostate teachers, and describes their identifying marks: they (1) have forsaken the right way, (2) are gone astray, (3) follow in the way of the false prophet Balaam, (4) are destined to eternal darkness, (5) allure through the lusts of the flesh, (6) are entangled and overcome in the pollutions of the world, (7) turn from the holy commandment (Mark 12:29-31).
True believers are cautioned against becoming apostates. “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” Heb. 3:12. Here is warning that in profane, ungodly sinners, and in hypocritical professors, there is an evil, unbelieving heart, and that there is unbelief in the regenerate; and that there is for all hypocrites and apostates a final and total departure from Christ, from His gospel, from His people, and from their former profession. But this is never the case with true believers “…there is a partial departure…for a while, which they are liable to…attended with bad effects to them (which) should be guarded against. Saints should take heed to themselves, and of their hearts, and of the unbelief in them that they do not in the least depart from Christ…” (John Gill). “Ye, therefore, beloved, seeing that ye know these things before, beware lest ye also being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Pet. 3:17). “Though the saints can never finally and totally fall into sin or from the truth, yet they may fall from their steadfastness” of profession and of exercise of the grace of faith.
Just before the return of Christ, the apostasy shall occur (2 Thess. 2:3) in which “some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons….” (I Tim. 4:1-3). The final stage of apostasy is Spiritism (Rev. 13:4). When the churches apostatize they often defect to the cults. The cults today are almost invariably involved in the occult. The occult shows itself quite commonly in Spiritism. The principle errors of this evil of Spiritism are animism and monism. Spiritism nowadays takes various forms. It takes one form in Swedenborgianism, chiefly centering around a strange and corrupt angelology. It takes yet another form in Muslimisn. It has its own peculiar form in Mormonism. It has a very Satanic form among the Children of God (the Family of Love). It takes yet another form among the UFO cultists. It is really a form of spiritism among so-called Evangelicals to speak of the possibility “that God may send angels even today in specific cases” Billy Graham accepts the idea of this possibility. “But no one should seek communication…even with angels. We are told to seek God alone and are exhorted to know His Word.” (Dave Hunt in The Cult explosion, 154-155). See Isa. 8:19, 20. Prominent converts to and dabblers in Spiritism were writer James Fennimore Cooper, politician William Cullen Bryant, journalist-publisher Horace Greeley, Queen Victoria. Canadian Prime Minister MacKenzie King was a convert to Spiritism. Carl Jung, the psychologist, was heavily into the occult, grew up in a “poltergeist” house, and was a medium (trance channeler) for his “spirit guide” going by the name of Philemon. Jung then may be said to have been a spiritist medium for “Philemon the demon.” Tal Brooke is one of the most recent converts from Hindu spiritism. This form of apostasy culminates in the open worship of Satan himself. It is the ultimate form of faithlessness, and is terminal error. It actively rejects God in Christ, and actively embraces the replacement of God – Antichrist.
-END OF “GOD’S CONTROVERSY WITH ISRAEL”-
SCP JOURNAL, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1987, $4.00. Spiritual Counterfeits Project, P.O. Box 4308, Berkeley, CA 94704. (This is a special issue devoted to the latest and most deceptive form of and development of Spiritism. – RCH.)
II. D. The worst judgment: divine abandonment (17)
“Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.”
The Lord does not intend to lead Israel to repentance. For His decree is, Conscience, let him alone; Ministers, let him alone; Spirit of God in the Word, let him alone. There comes a day, too, when godly parents must let him alone, for they die and pass on to heaven. They cannot exhort and warn him anymore. Let him be oblivious to his backsliding until he slides into hell. He loves his enslavement to sin preferring to be let alone! He does not want to be pestered by his concerned brothers and sisters in the Lord, nor to be bothered by the elders and the minister. He gives them all a wide berth. But if let alone in sin he shall die in his sin.
Ephraim is Israel since Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin in the idolatrous superstition of the golden calves. He was the source of all this evil. Jeroboam’s intention was not to displace Jehovah with idols, but to use the figure of an ox, or bull, as a symbol of power, i.e., of God in His power. It was not to be the worship of images but of God represented by the images. This is the rationalization of the Roman Catholics in defense of their image worship. But we in our churches have trouble with idols. One has a problem with the idol of alcohol. Another with the idol of drugs; still another bows down to Baal and Ashtoreth, going around a whoring. Or one has listened for decades to the preached Word but is always a stony-ground hearer. How awful to persevere in any idol-sin to the point where God is provoked to hand down the sentence, Let him alone! Then it is that “he…being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Prov. 29:1). So the Lord was done with the Pharisees. “Let them alone; they are blind leaders of the blind.” (Matt. 15:14). Finally, the Lord says, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is unrighteous, let him be unrighteous still….” (Rev. 22:11).
What happens when God lets a sinner alone, gives him up (Rom. 1)? Like Cain, he goes out from the presence of the Lord. Like the Jewish Sanhedrin, he becomes a persecutor of believers. Like the son of perdition, he gets deeper and deeper into sin. His conscience becomes seared and sin- hardened. He becomes a scoffer, a sceptic, an enemy of truth. Then no more does the Lord say to the devil, Let him alone. Nor will He say to Death, Let him alone. He will nor say to Judgment, Let him alone. He will not say to infinite, eternal misery, Let him alone.
Then ought not we to pray in conviction of sin, of righteousness, and judgment, “God helping me. I will not be one of those of whom God shall say, ‘Let him alone’”?
II. D. The worst judgment: divine abandonment (17).
1. They shall not correct one another (4).
“Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another; for thy people are as they that strive with the priest” (4). Ordinarily, we are to reprove the sinner (Lev. 19:17), but here is a command to do so no more. Why not? Because there comes a time when the Lord will cease to call all men including the reprobate to repent (Acts 17:30), because the time has come to abandon them to destruction (v. 6,14), and because they will not cease from sin, no matter what! (Rev. 16:10, 11). We have good commentary on “for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.” We find this in II Chron. 25:16. The priests were given to Israel to preserve them in the truth and in the knowledge of God. The prophets were sent to call them back to the truth and knowledge from which they had departed. But there comes a time when the prophet, directed by the Lord, will no more strive with nor reprove those who have apostatized. He, representing God, let them go to determined destruction.
- God will not punish them (14).
“I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses (husbands) when they commit adultery; for they themselves are separated with whores; and they sacrifice with harlots; therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.”
Not being punished, i.e., not being stopped dead in their tracks, for the scandal and disgrace brought on their families for the sexual immoralities committed by both the single and the married women, they would continue in it until their apostasies all worked through to ruin and judgment. Calvin says that if “is a just punishment when adulteries prevail and when vagrant lusts promiscuously follow.” So that not to punish is a form of punishment!
“For they themselves,” i.e., the husbands, for the men were primarily responsible and guilty. They were the ones who “went to Baal-peor, and separated themselves to ‘that Shame,’ and their abominations were according as they loved.” (Hosea 9:10b). “They themselves are separated with whores.” They had separated from their wives, and from God and His pure worship to separate themselves to the Baal-peor god of shame.
“Therefore, the people…do not understand.” Why not? because (1) they had not been taught by the priests in the knowledge of God. They had not been catechized. An uncatechized people are an unreformed people, and are especially exposed to the lusts of the flesh and all kinds of spiritual seductions. (2) The priests led the people into carnal and spiritual whoredom by their own idolatrous and immoral practices. In turn, the whorish examples of the parents led the children into the same impurities.
There are so called “churches” today where the “ministers” encourage the “Father Divine” miscegena- tionistic life-style notorious in a Negro cult kingdom of the twenties and thirties. (W.R. Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, chap. 8, “The Reign of Father Divine,” 213-221).
“Shall fall” by the seductive snares set by heathen whores (cp. Prov. 7:10, 22; 22:14). Baal-peorism is far from being stamped out of the churches. It is, as we have previously noted, all a part of ecclesiastical Babylon, Rev. 17:5. So we can agree that “all fictitious modes of worship, however much adorned by a specious guise… (are) adulteries and whoredoms.” (Calvin).
- Rather, they shall temporarily prosper (16).
“For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer.” Calvin says “a backsliding heifer” means a wanton (lascivious, licentious, lustful) heifer. This is correct. “The Lord said also unto me (Jeremiah) in the days of Josiah, the king, ‘Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? She is gone up upon every high mountain, and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot” (Jer. 3:6. See also 7:24; 8:5, 6).
“Now the Lord will feed them as a lamb in a large place.” (Cp. Jer. 11:19 with 12:1-3). Matthew Henry said, “If they wax fat and kick, they do not wax – fat for the butcher.” The wicked do often-times prosper. But it is to be pulled out of a fat pasture (the large place) as sheep for the slaughter. As they are fed and fattened in the large, lush, fat pasture, it is that they might fill up their cup of iniquity to be ripened for destruction and judgment. “The Lord would leave them in their luxuries to gorge themselves according to their lust.” (Calvin). It is a punishment when God gives men and women up to their own lusts (Rom. 1:24, 26). Asaph had admitted that he “was envious . . . when I saw the prosperity of the wicked . . . the ungodly . . .prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” (Psm. 73:3, 12). Why was it that the Lord had brought them into such prosperity? Surely it was to set them in slippery places to cast them down to destruction (73:18). For “when the wicked spring like the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed for ever” (92:7). “The
sheep that are designed for the slaughter are put into the fattest pasture.” —Matthew Henry.
Therefore, let none boast that they are sheep; that is not sufficient. For the biblical distinction is between “not My sheep” and My sheep.” Those “not My sheep” do not believe. “Unspeakably solemn was (and is —RCH) this word. They were reprobates, and now that their characters were fully manifested the Lord did not hesitate to tell them so.” (A.W. Pink). At the same time the Lord identifies the character of “My sheep.” “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:26-27). A stranger they will not follow (v. 5); and I give unto them eternal life” (v. 28). “My sheep” is “equivalent to God’s elect” (Pink) as verses 14 and 16 of this chapter clearly show.
III. The Warning to Judah Against Apostasy and Judgment
- Avoid places of idolatry (15)
“Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come yet not unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Beth-aven, nor swear, ‘The Lord liveth’”.
For example, Christian tourists should not visit, at the hours of worship, heathen temples, Muslim mosques, Jewish synagogues, or Roman Catholic churches. Do not attend “the mass,” which is an “accursed idolatry.” Calvin warns, “Let all, then, who are neighbors to idolaters beware, lest they contract any of their pollutions.”
“Judah had greater advantages than Israel, having the temple, the priesthood, the place to offer sacrifices — in Jerusalem, a king of the house of David. Therefore, “let not Judah offend.” Much more is expected of Judah than from Israel. Judah has more to answer for if they do offend. Judah then, must avoid the places of idolatry, avoiding Gilgal, where all Israel’s wickedness erupted. Hos. 9:15. So they were forbidden to enter Gilgal (Amos 5:5), for (1) Gilgal was where transgression was multiplied (Amos 4:4), and (2) Gilgal was destined to go into captivity, so coming to nothing.
is Bethel, House of God, ironically called Beth-aven, House of iniquity. (Aven is many times rendered iniquity, and two or three times nothing, idols being regarded as nothings.)
— To be continued, D.V.—
Our Father, of whom the whole
family in heaven and
earth is named,
therefore not the First
Person of the Trinity,
but the Triune Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ.
Who art in heaven—
Heaven is Thy Throne,
earth Thy footstool;
Thy throne and its dwelling
place are for ever and ever,
and Thou art God over all
blessed for ever.
Thy name be hallowed—
by Thine own self, as Thou
dost dedicate Thy holy
nature to Thine own covenant
Thy name be hallowed
by the holy angels in
heaven, and by
the saints (holy ones)
on earth, where they
are made saints
(for Romanists have
them made saints
after eons in
Thy Kingdom come—not
Thy Kingdom of Providence—
no need to pray for that
which always has been and
always is with us;
not the Kingdom of grace,
which always has been,
and always is over the
but the Kingdom of glory,
yet to come—which
means; Let first
come what must—
the Great Tribulation,
the Final Antichrist
and his kingdom…
The Kingdom of Glory
in the New Heaven and
Thy will be done—Thy decretive
will in heaven and on
earth is always done,
through or without us
and our prayers;
Thy perceptive will
on earth and out of
heaven by the angels
be done as it is in heaven—
Give us this day sustenance
as apportioned for the day—
Our daily bread—the means
for life today…
not poison, no harmful
side effects, but Bread,
today’s needs made effectual,
bringing about the results
And forgive us our debts
take up and off from
us our debts…pay them all…
send them away…
How much we owe!
How much of what we must
and do repent!
We owe a debt of obedience,
having failed it in Adam’s
fall…we owe a debt of
sin—the wages (debt) of sin is
As we forgive our debtors—
Our Father, how dare we
pray this ‘Disciples’ Prayer’?
And lead us not into temptation
(as sometimes Thou art
pleased to do: Isa. 63:17;
Josh. 11:20; Jn. 12:40;
Rom. 9:18, 20.
But do we pray this petition
only to deliberately turn
off into paths of temptation?
But deliver us from evil—
set us free from the evil,
from every form of evil—
evil doers, the
evil heart of unbelief.
But do we pray this
petition only to deliberately
set our eyes upon evil?
For Thine is the Kingdom
in the blessed ideal and reality—
in the predestinated Kingdom
And the power—the ability
of divine omnipotence
to eternally maintain the
kingdom of Glory.
And the Glory, Thine own
highest end and purpose!
for ever! to all
Amen—so let it be,
so it is,
so it ever shall be,
World without end,
Amen and Amen!
II. B. All the land ruined with pollution (3)
“Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth in it shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of the heavens; yea, the fish of the sea also shall be taken away.”
Here read Joel 1:9-13: “Therefore”—because of all those horrible crimes of vs. 2, “the land shall mourn” in bereavement. For the inhabitants shall languish. Cp. Rev. 9:5, 6, 20, 21. “…with the beasts of the field,” the domestic cattle, and the wild animals of the veld; the birds die, and the fish of the sea shall be destroyed. Noah’s flood did not affect the fish, but this judgment does. Divine vengeance (God’s curse) extends to the inhabitants of the land and to its living creatures. The land and its creatures were made for man; now God’s purpose is to punish man in the removal of these creatures.
How could there be such a complete devastation of nature? By drought, pestilence, or the ravaging invasion of enemy armies; or by any combination of these. Palestine is about the size of the state of Florida. Therefore it is not difficult to imagine a literal fulfillment of this prophesied judgment. Even as recently as March of 1988 a devastating plague of locusts struck countries in Africa already suffering famine and starvation.
In our own land toxic wastes poison the ground. The run-offs from this poison the streams. Then fish die. Industrial wastes are poured out into the ground, belched up into the air and dumped into the Great Lakes. Land pollution, air pollution and water pollution poison our environment. Water fowl are poisoned, born deformed, and quickly die. Where air pollution is said to be the worst is in Washington D.C. There the air pollution count is the highest of any city in the world. Jacques Cousteau, famous French oceanographer, tells us that the oceans of the world are becoming irreversibly polluted. The Mediterranean Sea is becoming such a sewer that bathers in it run the risk of infection from sewage pollution. At seaside restaurants there is a danger of mercury poisoning and other toxins found in the food chain. Another famous oceanographer, Armond Fruchart, said, “Man in the year 2000 probably will not die of hunger, but of suffocation for lack of clean air, or of thirst, for lack of pure water.”
We and all men everywhere take the world’s resources for granted. We take our life for granted, giving no thought to the quality of life. We take air and breath for granted with little thought to air pollution. We take our drinking water for granted, giving no thought as to how long into the future we shall enjoy pure, safe water. We take the sunshine for granted, unconcerned with those areas where smog makes the disc of the sun appear red. We take refreshing rains for granted, hardly realizing that “acid rain” (poisoned rain) ruins whole forests, unmindful of the whole ecological chain affected—the ground, the streams, rivers, fish, birds, poisoned! A few years ago we learned that the Mississippi River had become so badly polluted that signs had to be placed along its banks warning against the wind-blown river spray as poisonous.
Therefore we do well before we eat to pray the Lord to bless our table fare, and then after our meals to thank Him for good, nourishing, untainted food and drink. Also we ought to pray that on the ground of Jesus’ perfect satisfaction for all our sins we henceforth live in true repentance a new life of holy obedience.
II. The Consequences of God’s Controversy
C. People and prophet fall to destruction
“Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.” This divine severity would come on them because they had destroyed His prophets. The people would fall, and by night, so would the prophet, the false prophet who had deceived them. They deceive with their message of “Peace! peace!” But then sudden destruction comes on them. Then both the blind leadesr and their blind followers fall into the ditch.
True prophets were sent when the priesthood had failed. II Sam. 2:27, 28; Mal. 2:7, 8; Jer. 6:13. “I will (temporarily) destroy thy mother,” i.e. Samaria, the metropolis of Israel. Of course, this meant then, that the whole organism of the church, in its reprobate shell and elect kernel, would be destroyed (but later revived under Nehemiah). But what is strictly in view here is apostate Israel—the Israel that falls away, the false prophets which have apostatized. True prophets never do that.
Whenever a true church apostatizes to become a false church, it does not fall into a static state, but keeps on falling away, say from Puritanism to Unitarianism, to Romanism, to Atheism, to destruction in Hell. Or the church falls away from the Reformed faith (from the Reformed Confession and Reformed standards and liturgies, from the Presbyterian catechisms and Westminster Confession) to Amyraldianism, to Arminianism, to semi-Pelagianism, to Modernism, to the cults and the occult…The text brings us to that last fall—into Hell. All apostasy culminates in ecclesiastic Babylon, which keeps falling away (apostatizing) until its ultimate fall: “And there followed another angel, a second, saying, ‘Fell! Fell! Babylon the great city!…’” (Rev. 14:8; 18:2, Greek)
II. C. 1. The people put to shame (7, 19)
“As they were increased, so they sinned against Me; therefore will I change their glory into shame. The wind hath bound her up in its wings; and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.”
“As they,” the children, v. 6, of apostate priests and false prophets, “were increased.” Here is the increase of ungodly children in reprobate generations. They increased by whoredom. Think of the bastard children American servicemen leave behind in every country they have been in. As they increased in number, so they increased in sin, so the more they became careless and profane. They produce an unholy seed, ignorant of God, His law, His ways, so rejecting knowledge. “Therefore, they say unto God, ‘Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.’” (Job 21:14). This is what the U.S. Supreme Court says to God, and what the public school system says to Him. Could this have anything to do with the fact that “American schools are far behind the schools of the civilized world”?
“So they sinned against me,” imitating their parents. “Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken ye house of Israel, and give ear, O house of the king, for judgment is toward you” (Hos. 5:1) “As troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way of consent; for they commit lewdness” (6:9). “According to their pasture, so they were filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten Me” (13:6). “Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked. Thou art become fat; thou art grown thick; thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God who made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation” (Deut. 32:15).
When they became rich and prosperous, rolling in luxury, their prophets rebuked them and goaded them with good, but they kicked aside the admonitory ministry. When warned that “the prosperity of fools shall destroy them” (Prov. 1:32), they lifted up the heel against God and flew in the face of Providence. They had taken to that old lie, “ye shall be as gods” and made a god of their bellies in their pride, plenty, prosperity, sensuality and senselessness.
“And I will change their glory (the priesthood, Mal. 2:7-9) into shame” (v. 7b). The people shall mourn over its departed glory, and also the priests that rejoiced in it, because now it is gone, and so are they (Hos. 10:5). They “shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel” (10:6).
“The wind hath bound her up in its wings; and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices” (4:19).
In their idolatries and adulteries they had sacrificed all their health, wealth, comforts, time and strength to the lusts of the flesh. “By means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread” (Prov. 6:26).
Next, from that first point (under II. C.), the people put to shame (7, 19) we go to:
2. Nothing shall satisfy them (10).
“They shall eat and not have enough.” They never have enough who never know when they’ve had enough. “They,” the priests who robbed the people of the best, fresh, raw meats so they could enjoy their own favorite roasts. They got fat and overweight without being satisfied or nourished. Greedy, they were insatiable.
“They shall commit whoredom and not increase.” Solomon had wives, concubines, a total of 1000 women, yet only one son to carry on his name, and he was a fool! I Ki. 12. “Their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left
…Ephraim shall bring forth his children to murderers…Give them, O Lord…a miscarrying womb and dry breasts…I will love them no more…they shall bear no fruit; yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb…”(Hos. 9:11-17).
Part of this spiritual whoredom was involvement in the occult, in witchcraft, with spiritist mediums. Dr. Kurt E. Koch has had years of experience observing family case histories of witches, wizards, i.e. mediums, now called “trance channelers.” He documents their coming to tragic ends by suicide, fatal accidents, horrible death-bed scenes—all well-known to him. In his book, “Christian Counseling and Occultism,” pp. 184-189, he writes of God’s curse on occult fortune-tellers, the trance channelers and their families and descendants to the third and fourth generation. He details the horrible effects that their occult activities have had on them. Israel was never to have found among them an enchanter, charmer, witch, a consulter of familiar spirits (of “spirit guides”) or a wizard (a male medium, sometimes called a “shaman.” Deut. 18:10, 11). The law of Moses required that these not be allowed to live (Ex. 22:18), but be stoned to death (Lev. 20:27).
– To be continued, D.V. –
Note: This is Article IV in the series: I. Immersion in the Baptism Form, II. Incorporation Into Christ, III. Immersion, Children and the Lexicons. A discussion follows between Rev. Johann Muller, Catechumen Charles Fessler, and Charles’ Baptist friend, Melvin Rausch.
Rev. Muller: The topic of our discussion and theme of our lesson today is, Infant Baptism and the Gospel. Melvin has another little tract to show us, which ought to make us smile. Tell us about it, Melvin.
Melvin: The Berachah church I used to attend maintained that there is not one word in Scripture commanding Infant Baptism. They issued this little tract, bookmark size, and on one side in bold capital letters it reads, WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT INFANT BAPTISM? (see other side). The reverse side is blank. So the answer is: Nothing!
Charles: Say, that is “cute!” But what must we say of that oddity, Reverend?
Rev. Muller: We must reply to that by asking, ‘But where do the Scriptures refer to and warn against the awful evil of Infant Baptism?’ Not one writer against Infant Baptism is brought forward in Scripture! But despite that fact, what sort of attack is made on the doctrine of Infant Baptism, Melvin?
Melvin: The pastors where I formerly attended church said they did not intend to publicly defame the following, but that they did agree with those who did, as namely, Kinghorn: It is “the very precursor of Antichrist, the inlet of almost every abomination.” Dr. Alexander Carson: It is “the fortress of the man of sin—the very spirit of Antichrist.” Dr. Ide: The old upas tree which with its death-distilling branches—Popery, prelacy, and skepticism—has for fourteen centuries shaded and blasted the world.” Dr. Howell: “…an evil which despoils the church…a sin against God…and more disastrous to the cause of truth and salvation than any of the progeny of superstition.” Dr. Fuller: “an antichristian practice, introducing and perpetrating the most glaring inconsistency and mischievous confusion, tarnishing the glory of the atonement, and doing vast injury to our children.”
Rev. M: Are then believers in the doctrine of Infant Baptism a wicked, obscure minority, Melvin?
M: No, sir. Some eminent, godly believers in Infant Baptism were: Huss, Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, Beza, Melancthon, Zwingli, Knox, Zacharius Ursinus, Casper Olevianus, Guido de Bres, the Synod of Dordt, and the following denominations—the Presbyterian churches, Reformed churches, Church of England, Protestant Episcopal Church, Reformed Episcopal, the Lutheran Churches, and the Methodist Churches.
Rev. M: Now, Charles, what will be our approach to this, today’s topic?
C: First, negatively, that Infant Baptism is no sin.
Rev. M: Correct: now open your Psalters to page 55 (old edition, DH) in the back where we have “The Form for the Administration of Baptism.” Melvin, can you show from our Baptism Form that Infant Baptism is no sin?
M: I can: first, in the opening sentence reference is made to the doctrine of holy baptism; and under the paragraph, Secondly, “holy baptism” and “this holy sacrament” are mentioned, while on page 56 it is called “this holy ordinance,” and on page 57, again twice, “holy baptism.”
Rev. M: But in these paragraphs of our baptism form there is no literal mention of infant baptism. How do you account for that?
M: Well, in Scripture there is no case of an adult having been born into a Christian home and baptized as an adult.
Rev. M: According to the Form, what is the meaning of baptism, Charles?
C: Holy baptism signifies purification (paragraph one) and “the washing away of our sins” (twice in paragraph two). No sin here, but rather that “we are freed from all our sins” in His blood.
Rev. M: In holy baptism the Father witnesses and seals to us that He does make an eternal covenant of grace with us and adopts us for His children and heirs. God makes an eternal covenant with us. What does that mean, Melvin?
M: It means He makes a covenant with the parents and their children. God never did make a covenant with parents without including their infant children. There is not one example of this in all the Bible. The Abrahamic covenant always included the youngest children. This is so with every covenant of Scripture.
Rev. M: Under the Thirdly what is our part in the covenant, Charles?
C: Our part in God’s covenant is to trust in the one God, love Him with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our mind, and with all our strength, to forsake the world, to crucify the old nature, and to walk in a new and holy life. There is no sin in this, but, on the contrary it is sin not to do our part in the covenant.
Rev. M: In the word “To infants of believers” what doctrine is implied here? (Both Charles and Melvin raise their hands.) Melvin?
M: The doctrine of imputation, first of Adam’s sin and condemnation without the knowledge of our young children, then of Christ’s righteousness, which, without their knowledge is put to their account.
Rev. M: What can you add to that, Charles?
C: That to object to the condemnation of all men in Adam is to object also to the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to all in Him. The objection really bars the salvation of anyone, and the baptism of anyone. For baptism says no more than what the Gospel says. The Gospel says, “For as in Adam all (All in one universal company) die, even so in Christ shall all (all in one particular company) be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22).
Rev. M: Now that’s the positive side of the subject! Negatively, infant baptism is no sin; but positively infant baptism symbolically declares what the Gospel declares.
C: Yes, and furthermore, Pastor, on the positive side, God’s covenant with Abraham was with him and with his elect seed, Gen. 17:7, including infants of eight days old, and the Apostle Peter testifies that this everlasting covenant still continues according to God’s promise. Acts 2:39.
Rev. M: Melvin, what is the positive doctrine in connection with Christ’s blessing little children, Mark 10?
M: It is emphasized in the passage parallel to this, Luke 18:15ff. ‘And they brought unto Him also infants…Jesus…said, Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.’ ‘Of such’ means ‘theirs’ is the kingdom, and according to Lk. 18:17 they receive the kingdom! Then they should be permitted to receive the badge of the kingdom, baptism.
Rev. M: Excellent! Now tell us, Melvin, on what further ground are infants to be baptized?
M: On the ground that baptism has come in the place of circumcision. There is only one covenant with different dispensations of the covenant. In the old dispensation the sacrament was circumcision. Now in the new dispensation the sacrament is baptism. “Therefore infants are to be baptized as heirs of the kingdom of God and of His covenant.”
Rev. M: Charles, briefly explain Col. 2:11-13 upon which this truth is based.
Here all turn in their Bibles to the passage, and Charles speaks: ‘In whom (in Him, Christ) also ye were (literally) circumcised…” by the circumcision of Christ! This is not the ritual circumcision, but the real circumcision, the Cross. “Having been buried together with Him in the baptism” (not the ritual baptism, but the real baptism, i.e. the Cross), wherein ye were risen together with Him through the faith of the operation of God raising Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins (in your heathen unregeneracy) hath He made alive together with Him…” Here is our objective incorporation into the fellowship of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. This doctrine of “Incorporation Into Christ” is objectively true of all God’s elect, of the infant children of the church, first of all without their knowledge. But we do pray, “look upon these children and (in their conscious perception) incorporate them by Thy Holy Spirit into Thy Son Jesus Christ that they (in their educated perceptive understanding of the doctrine) may be buried with Him into His death, and be raised with Him in newness of life…”
Rev. M: Let’s all say ‘Amen’ to that! (All heartily say, ‘Amen!’) Good! The doctrine of incorporation into Christ is the Gospel, and there is no incorporation into Christ without infants; and holy baptism says nothing different from the holy Gospel! Amen? Zusammen – Amen!
Note: This is Article III is the Series: I. Immersion in the Baptism Form, II. Incorporation Into Christ. A discussion follows between Pastor Johann Muller, Charles Fessler, a catechumen, and Melvin Rausch, Charles’ Baptist friend.
Charles: Pastor Muller, today I’ve brought with me my friend Melvin, who is a member of Berachah Church. He has some questions and problems centering around the teaching of the lexicons on the Greek words bapto and baptizo.
Pastor M: Welcome aboard, Melvin. Good to have you here. Tell us about some of those lexicon problems of yours.
M.R.: Pastor Muller, I’ve brought along for each of us this little four-page tract, put out by our Berachah Church, where about once a month a sermon is preached on the mode of baptism from the immersionist point of view.
Pastor M: All right, go ahead. Oh, I see that this tract deals with the immersionist mode of Baptism as allegedly supported by the lexicons. Now, what’s your problem in this connection?
M.R.: Well, sir, we can all see from this tract that the contention is that the Greek word baptizo according to the lexicographers means “to be submerged, or immersed.” The first lexicographer mentioned is “Donnegan—Baptizo: submerge.”
Pastor: Let me list these lexicographers on the blackboard, Melvin, in a left-hand column, and then on the right additional quotations which should be included. Okay?
Here we go: “Donnegan—Baptizo: submerge.” But this lexicographer also has, which the tract does not include, “Bapto: to dip, to plunge, to wash, to dye, to color, to draw water.”
M.R.: Really? That’s all in Donnegan’s lexicon?
Pastor: Oh, yes, certainly. Next your tract has “Robinson—Baptizo: to dip, to sink, to immerse.” But Robinson also adds, which your church does not take cognizance of, “to wash, to lave, to cleanse by washing.”
Now let’s just go on to the third. “Greenfield—Baptizo: to immerse.” What your church’s tract neglects to tell us is that Greenfield also adds the lexicographical meaning, “to cleanse, to wash.”
M.R.: Oh! Well then, what is found in the lexicons is not by any means given fully?
Pastor: Not by a long shot! Here, let’s each have a copy of this sheet I’ve prepared and check out a list of the eminent lexicographers your church could have listed.
1. Scapula, a Greek lexicographer of almost 200 years ago. He defined baptizo: “to dip, to immerse, to submerge, to overwhelm with water, to cleanse, to wash.”
2. Henry Stephens (d. 1598) has, “Baptizo: to dip, to immerse, to submerge, to overwhelm with water, to cleanse, to wash.”
3. Shrevelius (d. 1667): Baptizo: to dip, to cleanse, to wash.
4. Robertson’s Thesaurus, one of the most accurate of dictionaries, printed 1676, Baptizo: has only the two meanings, to dip, to wash.
5. John G. Suicer, Thesaurus published 1683, Baptizo: immerse, submerge, overwhelm with water; to cleanse, to wash,
But (Pastor speaking) before we go any further, (and there are many more lexicographers available for our consideration), let me tell you of the time I had the privilege of being present at a Dunker baptism. I asked an elder there, “When you take in members from another church, do you insist that they must be baptized again?” “No,” he replied, “not if they’ve been baptized by trine immersion forward! But if they’ve been immersed once forward, and twice backward, say—or merely backward—or by any other method—then we do!” I asked, Why? Why do you immerse forward, while other churches do it backward? He smiled, “The only reason I can think of for immersing backward is that people usually are buried on their backs, and baptism is supposed to be the burial of sin. However, when a person’s drowned, he lies face forward in the water, doesn’t he?” I nodded. “Well, we don’t want the devil Sin to rise again, and so we drown him by immersing forward!”
Charles and Melvin, looking at one another, snickered, then cracked up in uproarious laughter.
Pastor (laughing): Now let’s get back to the lexicographers.
6. Hedericus, published in 1722—Baptizo: to dip, to immerse, overwhelm with water, to cleanse, to wash, to baptize…
7. Schoetgen’s Lexicon, 1765, to dip, to immerse…to cleanse, to wash, to pour profusely upon.
8. Bretschneider – Baptizo: often “to dip into,” often “to wash,” simply “to cleanse.”
9. Schleusner – Baptizo: to immerse as to dye, to dip into water. However, it is never used in the New Testament but in the sense, “to cleanse, to wash, to purify with water.”
Melvin: Then the lexicons really do not support the immersionists, do they?
Pastor: No, that’s correct. They do not.
10. (Going on!) Parkhurst has “dip,” and “immerse” among his definitions of baptizo: but also has “to wash with water in token of purification.”
11. Robinson gives baptizo’s classic use as dip, immerse: but in the New Testament it is never so used. The sense of the New Testament usage he confines to washing, cleansing, bathing.
Charles: Pastor, by “the classic use” is meant the secular Greek classics, such as the Greek writings of Polybius, Plutarch, et.al?
Pastor: That’s right. The next is,
12. Parkhurst – Baptizo, to dip, to immerse, to wash, to purify.
13. Pickering – Baptizo: to dip, to immerse, to wet, to wash, to cleanse.
Pastor: Hold on now! Just two more!
14. Dunbar – Baptizo: to dip, to immerse, to sink, to soak, to wash.
15. Liddell and Scott – to dip repeatedly, to dip under, to bathe, to wet, to pour upon, to drench, to overwhelm. Well, this is not all, as far as the lexicons are concerned; but surely this is enough.
Charles: Well, I should say so! Pastor, here in the lexicons is a great body of true, accurate definitions.
Melvin: And to think that this Berachah Church tract quotes only partially from three lexicons!
Pastor: Well, you can see that the lexicons do not support the idea that baptizo means “I dip”, and that it always means “to dip all over.” One cannot understand Classical Greek usage by limiting the meaning to only one word. Dip cannot be meant where wet is meant. For example, in Dan. 4:33, Septuagint version, written in Greek, Scripture says, “his (Nebuchadnezzar’s) body was wet (baptized with the dew of heaven.”) His body was not dipped in dew, but wet with dew.
Melvin R: Wow! Then how dare the ministers in Berachah Church claim, as they do in their tract, that “all the early defenders of Christianity taught that nothing but immersion was baptism”?
Pastor: Not even the Baptist authority, Carson, would go that far. He stated the truth when he wrote, “I have all the lexicographers and commentators against me in this opinion”—that baptizo means nothing but a modal and total immersion!
Pastor: You are grown up young people, but even children can understand that the lexicons do not limit the meaning of the word baptizo to “immerse and to nothing else.”
Melvin: But our Berachah Church teaches that “every child knows that immerse has but one literal meaning, and that no sophistry can blind his understanding.”
Pastor: Then listen to a parent who says, “Child, you are entering on your education, so I tell you to be immersed in your books.” Later the parent checking on the child’s study progress finds the child answering from under a pile of books, “Here I am, Father!” “What are you doing under there?” he is asked. He replies out from under his inundation in books, “You told me to be immersed in my books; so here I am, under a pile of them!” “But child, don’t you know that ‘immersed in books’ means to be thoroughly engaged in their study?” “Oh, no, sir! Every child knows that ‘immerse’ means put down in and under, and nothing else. I read it in the Baptist Herald. No sophistry can blind my understanding.”
Pastor: So, my young friends, though baptizo in the lexicons has the meaning of immerse in the Classics, yet is also has many other meanings, as to cleanse, purify, wash, etc. But in Scripture ‘baptizo’ NEVER means to immerse; and though there are in Scripture words for the idea of immersion, they do not refer to ‘baptism’!…Like some proof for that? Then do a little homework and read in John Owen’s Works, Vol. 16, page 267 on Matt. 3:1, 6, 11, 14, 16.
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