The Fundamental Doctrines
Jesus Christ is the
Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the
last. He will give to him who is thirsty the fountain of the water of
life — eternal salvation — freely (Rev. 1:8; 21:6; 22:13).
Jesus begins and ends
even Christian's eternal salvation. But it is axiomatic that eveything
God begins spiritually, through human instruments, must start the
You were not separated
from your mother's womb as a full-grown. mature human being. It took
anywhere from thirteen to twenty years for you to attain maximum growth
in the physical sphere,
But the point is. you
had to start somewhere. And that start was when your mother conceived.
At that precise moment you were no bigger than a pinpoint or the period
at the end of this sentence.
And it is,
figuratively, the same in the spiritual sphere. There was a time in the
life of each true follower of Christ when he or she began to be a
Christian. All start out as spiritual infants.
And if you are not yet
a Christian, but do want to become one you must begin as a babe in
Christ - not as a fullgrown mature Christian.
The First Principles
In the first grade a
small child does not begin his study of mathematics by solving higher
equations. He starts with 1+1=2.
In like manner one
must commence his Christian life by learning the first principles of
the oracles of God - the first principles of the doctrine of Christ
(Heb. 5:12: 6:1).
The newly begotten
Christian must first be thoroughly grounded in the basics.
Every Christian, when
first converted, is likened to one that uses milk, being unskillful in
the word of righteousness because he is a babe in Christ (Heb. 5:13).
But what are the first
principles of the doctrine of Christ? What is this "milk" of the word'
What specific doctrines should you begin to understand even in "boot
camp," that preliminary period just before you become a Christian (and
during your early conversion period)? Where are they found in the
Paul lists the
following in Hebrews (6:1-2).
explanation of each one of these fundamental doctrines is contained in
the following pages. (Editor's Note: Each of these Doctrines will be
presented starting this week and contnuing for a total of seven weeks.)
"The Doctrine of
unpretentious rite of baptism is meant to mark a miraculous change in
you. It is to testify that you have embarked on a new, clean, right way
of life that will end in complete satisfaction, unrestricted reward,
total success and happiness unending. God wants you to realize this and
take full advantage of His generous offer.
Most of Christendom
understands in part that baptism is a fundamental doctrine of God's
religion. But too few capture the overwhelming concept which its
symbolism is meant to instill. Let's look back into the past, and come
to understand more perfectly what God is revealing.
From the beginning God
has wanted men to be clean — physically, mentally and spiritually. He
designed an elaborate ritualistic system for His Old Testament Church
to impress this grand lesson. He meant for you and me to find in the
New Testament the brimming spiritual fulfillment which comes through
Jesus the Christ (Gal. 3:24).
Paul wrote the book of
Hebrews to Jewish Christians to help make this plain. He shows how Old
Testament ritual finds full spiritual expression in Christ. These
Jewish people knew about the washings (baptisms) of the ritual (Heb.
9:10). They knew about the prescribed cleansing of clothes, people,
priests (Ex. 19:10-14; Lev. 8:6).
But most people today
have not understood the facts concerning the pre-Christian baptism of
John. Recall that John the Baptizer was accepted by his community. This
was not some new and unusual action. Pharisees and Sadducees would have
had no dealings with anyone contradicting the traditions of the elders
(Matt. 15:1-2). Why, they even rejected Jesus because they could not
fathom the spiritual application which He made of Old Testament
But they did accept
John's teaching about baptism. Sadducees and Pharisees — perhaps not
yet having heard of Jesus — flocked to John wanting to be baptized.
Evidently the unrepentant ones wanted only to receive a mark of
religious distinction. They wanted to advertise their "righteousness" —
to prate and brag about their acceptance by this recognized, rustic,
prophet of God (Matt. 3:1-7; Mark 1:4-7).
But John was doing
God's Work. He was calling his countrymen to repentance — change. He
wanted proof that they were doing something to change their miserable
and evil lives. He culled out those who were not turning to God in
heartrending contrition and obedience.
He would have no part
in baptizing those who clung to their old evil ways — sins — dead
works. His baptism was for the purpose of
symbolizing spiritually clean people — those who had changed so much
that they could take advantage of the Messiah's upcoming sacrifice for
the remission — forgiveness — of their sins.
John was busily
preaching and baptizing when Jesus came on the scene. Jesus set His
seal of approval on John's baptism by undergoing the very same rite as
the people who were sick of their sins and longed enough for
forgiveness that they "brought forth fruit" proved by changed,
righteous, obedient-to-God lives. Jesus said His baptism "...
fulfilled] all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15).
Later, after His death
and resurrection, He expressly commanded His disciples to follow this
very same procedure when they found people who would really accept,
believe and do what He taught. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy
Spirit" (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:16).
Baptism is the
symbolic door to righteousness. You must go through that door if you
are going to enter into eternal life. There is no other way.
can clean pots, pans, clothes and skin. But water can do nothing to
cleanse the mind of man — it cannot reach him spiritually.
But John's baptism
added more color to the picture of God's plan of salvation. It pointed
to the Jewish need to improve in keeping the letter of God's eternal
law. It insisted that they should accept the government of that law.
John recognized their mental approach to life must be in accord with
People must develop
the discipline and volition to live by every word of God (Matt. 4:4;
Deut. 8:3). John knew that even more than this would be required if
people were going to finally enter into the Kingdom of God. He said: "I
indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he [Jesus] that
cometh after me ... shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with
fire" (Matt. 3:11).
Baptism with the Holy
Spirit is the ultimate baptism toward which we press. This is the
highest form of baptism. (If you wish to learn more about the baptism
with fire — which is an entirely different subject — please write for
our article about it.)
The only way that sin
— which is the result of distorted mental action — can be remitted,
scrubbed out, paid for, is through death (Rom. 6:23). If we were left
to pay for our own sins, death would descend upon us and there could be
no hope for the future. Only black oblivion! But God is merciful.
Even while we were yet
in our sins Christ died for us. He paid the entire debt which encumbers
us. We are free when we accept His payment in our stead and so can live
But that is not to say
we just use the sacrifice of Christ and blithely pursue our own way. A
complete change is demanded when such a great price has been paid so
that we can live — for we would have died without this payment.
Since Christ has been
willing to die for us, then we must be willing to die for Him. When we
are baptized we picture our willingness to participate in death, just
as He did, in order that goodness, godliness (god-like-ness), will
prevail in our fives (Rom. 6:3). We will imitate the way He lived. He
didn't break the law of God in one little particle (Matt. 5:18-20).
Neither should we!
He died horribly,
ignominiously in order that people who recognize their shortcomings
could be washed clean and given a new life — a changed, repentant,
spiritual way of living.
Baptism pictures the
burial of our old ways. A willingness to let our old ways go down into
the grave to moulder away to nothing — the putrescence of our own ways
covered and eaten up by death. Read Romans 6:4-6 with these
thoughts in mind:
"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: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him,
that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not
We, because we are
sinners, die in baptism from a spiritual point of view. We no longer
allow the inordinate desires of our fleshly, sensual existence to
dictate. Christ became sin so we could live righteously — without sin —
without breaking the law (II Cor. 5:21).
You and I are to be
spiritually crucified with Christ. Then His mind — spirit — enters us.
We live as Christ would live. He gave Himself for us to that purpose
(Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:6-7). The Christian is dead to the old ways of the
natural man (Rom. 6:11-12). He no longer conforms to the way in which
people naturally respond to life. His mind is renewed. He proves what
God wants and does it (Rom. 12:2).
This way is entirely
different. The spiritual immersion which accompanies water baptism
cleanses the man's mind. Materialistic, egotistical, vain, worldly,
carnal, sensual stimuli no longer prevail. All ways that are contrary
to the spirit are now abhorrent.
immersion — baptism — is promised to all repentant people. On the day
the New Testament Christian Church was founded, conscience-stricken
converts implored the .apostles to tell them what they needed to do to
get right with God. Peter gave them the authoritative, simple answer:
"Repent, and be baptized... and you shall receive the gift of the Holy
Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
Those people, and all
truly baptized Christians since, were baptized (immersed) into one body
and have all been infused with the Holy Spirit — the holy mind of
To have that spiritual
mind means that the filth of naturalness is washed out. The man now
thinks, acts and does what God wants him to. He is a begotten spiritual
son of God. One day he will be born into the very family of God to be
with the Father and the Son forever.
together, in symbolic grandeur, three wonderful gifts from God: 1) the
precious redeeming blood of Christ, 2) the water of regeneration, and
3) the Holy Spirit.
Baptism pictures the
complete covering of a dead body, placing it in a watery grave. But as
we have seen, much more is pictured in this illustration.
Even as the old, dead
body of the convert is entombed in baptism, it is literally washed and
cleansed. This complete immersion and washing of the exterior
symbolizes the internal — mental — moral — washing and regeneration of
the mind. A man is what his mind thinks.
The baptized Christian
comes up out of his watery grave with an altogether different mind — a
different way of thinking about life and the way to solve its problems.
It is as if he, like Christ, had been resurrected. The restrictions of
the flesh no longer predominate and encumber.
New values exist. A
new life is begun. The old life — way — the old man — is left dead in
the grave. Spiritual values take precedence. Every effort is made to
Not many people
understand how God has intended, from the beginning, that all men
should be baptized. You now know about this glorious fundamental truth
of the Christian religion.
We have a free booklet
which explains in greater detail. It is entitled All About Water
Baptism. The very next thing you should do — to please God and help
yourself — is to send for it. Also request another free booklet titled.
What Is a Real Christian? The third chapter is captioned "Should You Be
Even if you are
already baptized, there is probably much more that you need to know and
do if you truly desire to serve God as He says.
Clint C. Zimmerman GOOD
NEWS February 1974