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STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
—INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS—
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL
THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
III. QUAR., LESSON VI., AUG. 5, MARK 1:1-11
Golden Text—”Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”—Mark 1:11
This lesson presents the subject of baptism in two different aspects—(1) a baptism unto repentance; and (2) a baptism unto entire consecration to the will of God, even unto death. The first was the baptism which John preached: the second was that which our Lord instituted and exemplified. Both are distinctly referred to in Acts 19:3-5.
The preaching and baptism of John were
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a special call to God’s covenant people, Israel after the flesh, to repent of their sins and their failure as a nation and as individuals to live up to their early covenant with the Lord. (Exod. 19:8.) The stirring theme of this last and greatest (most honored) prophet was that the Messiah, the King, had come; that his Kingdom was at hand; and that Israel, the chosen people, whose privilege it was to be the heirs of Kingdom, should at once prepare their minds and hearts, repent of their sins and be fully consecrated to God, that so they might be counted worthy to inherit the covenant blessings.
John came to that people in the spirit and power of Elias—i.e., with the same disposition, zeal, energy and power of eloquent persuasion, that characterized the ancient prophet. Even his dress and abstemious mode of life were marks of similarity; and so striking was the resemblance that the priests and Levites inquired, “Art thou Elias? Art thou that prophet?” (Mal. 4:5; Deut. 18:15,18; John 1:21.) But John replied, “No … I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Esaias.”—Isa. 40:3; John 1:23-27.
Though John came in the spirit and power of Elias, and would have fully answered as the antitype of Elias had he been received by the Jewish people (Matt. 11:14), yet he was not the Elias, the Great Prophet, referred to by the Prophet Malachi (4:5,6); for the Lord, foreseeing Israel’s rejection of John’s testimony concerning Christ, had in mind another antitypical Elias, viz., the true Gospel Church in the flesh, which, in the spirit and power of Elias, is the forerunner of the spiritual Christ complete, Head and body.—See M. DAWN, VOL. II., Chap. viii.
That the Kingdom of Heaven was “at hand” in John’s day, was true, regarding that Kingdom and its formative or embryo state—the state in which during the entire Gospel age it has suffered humiliation and
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violence (Matt. 11:12);—but it was reserved for the Elias (the Church) of to-day to declare “the Kingdom at hand” in its glory and power.
John’s preaching drew great multitudes of all classes who confessed their sins and were baptized; but when later they failed to see either the King or the Kingdom in earthly glory, as they had anticipated, they lapsed into unbelief, only a small remnant heeding the prophecies of the humiliation of the Kingdom prior to its exaltation. Hence but few accepted Christ and became identified with his cause as prospective heirs with him of the Kingdom.
With the baptism of Jesus that ordinance received a new significance. He had no sins whereof to repent or to symbolically wash away, but as a perfect man he had something to offer as a living sacrifice to God. He had a human nature which he desired should be completely submitted to the will of God, even unto death; which complete subjection was symbolized by his baptism, or immersion, in water. The baptism in water was the symbol of his consecration, and the subsequent anointing with the holy spirit, outwardly testified by the opening heavens, the descending dove and the approving voice, was God’s recognition and acceptance of his sacrifice. (Verses 10,11.) And the same anointing, the same baptism, is promised to all who follow in his footprints. (See Verse 8; 1 John 2:27.) As in the type (Lev. 8:12; Psa. 133:2), the anointing came first upon the Head, the High Priest of our profession, and from him it descends upon all the members of his body, the Church.—See THE TABERNACLE SHADOWS, page 32.
— August 1, 1894 —