28 Dec 2009

David Lipscomb, Proper Translation & Rebaptism

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Baptism, Bible, David Lipscomb, Grace, Kingdom, Restoration History, Sectarianism

The following article, “The Revised Testament and Rebaptism,” appeared in the Gospel Advocate near the end of David Lipscomb’s active career. It is significant in showing the consistency of his rejection of sectarian rebaptism throughout his life. I will place in parenthesis () when the text moves onto p. 922. The brackets [] are in the original article. The “Common Version” is the KJV, the Revised Version is the 1881 revision, the American edition is known as the American Standard Version was published in 1901. The American Bible Union was an organization that sought to replace the faulty KJV. Alexander Campbell and many other Stone-Campbell names were deeply involved in this organization. [sic] means that is the way it appears in the article. I have previously shared Lipscomb’s more systematic debunking of the “rebaptist” error here: Rebaptism Reviewed.

DAVID LIPSCOMB, “THE REVISED TESTAMENT AND REBAPTISM,” Gospel Advocate 55 (September 25, 1913): 921-922.

“The expression ‘for the remission of sins’ is used in the Common Version of the Scriptures. Of the cup he said: ‘This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’ (Matt. 26:28). ‘John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.’ (Mark 1:4) Luke 3:3 gives the same. ‘And thou, child [John the Baptist], shalt . . . go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins.’ (Luke 1: 76,77). ‘Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’ (Luke 24:46, 47). ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Chirst [sic] for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’ (Acts 2: 38). ‘Whom [Jesus] God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” (Rom. 3:25). “Without shedding of blood is no remission.’ (Heb. 9:22).

Baptism is said to be ‘for the remission of sins’ in the Common Version. ‘John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.’ (Mark 1:4). Luke 3:3 gives the same. Peter told the people: ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

In the Revised Version, the expression, “Be baptized [or anything else man can do] for the remission of sins,’ is not found. In that version the participles, prepositions, and other secondary words have been more carefully translated, and the American Revised Version is regarded by those competent to judge, the best version or translation [p.922] in the language. The Revised Version translates ‘for the remission of sins,’ in each of these cases, ‘unto the remission of sins.’ The difference in the meaning is, ‘for the remission of sins’ suggests the idea that the baptism is to pay for remitting the sins as a man pays for a horse. It is giving value received; that we are entitled to if for the service rendered. The human heart is prone to run to this extreme. The proneness to run to this extreme has caused God to especially guard against permitting it in any of his dealings with man. Even Moses, the meekest of men, was uplifted with personal pride, took to himself the honor of giving blessings which belonged only to God and forfeited an entrance in the land of Canaan. (Ex. 17:1) In Deut. 9:4, God through Moses, gives the Jews the terrible warning that he does not give them the land of Canaan on account of their merits, but on account of the wickedness of those he drove out. It is such a sin to assume to merit the blessings God bestows that no encouragement to the position in doubtful translation should be given.

To be baptized into Christ, into the name of Christ, teaches plainly and truly that in entering into Christ we come to and enjoy the remission of sins: because of and by virtue of our entrance and union with Christ, we become children of God. This is the expressive declaration that we are saved by the blood of Christ, and not because we have been baptized for the remission of sins — a selfish end. To be baptized into Christ is an expressive declaration that baptism is the step, the last step a man takes in entering Christ. So when he is baptized, he is entitled to all the privileges of a child of God — to all the blessings that oneness with Christ, our Lord, brings. The only sense in which baptism is ‘for the remission of sins’ is, it is the act appointed by God to test our faith, and the act that puts one into Christ, in whom we enjoy all the blessings and favors of the redeeming and purifying Son of God. The English Version of the revised text gives the same translation of the word that the American Revision does. The expression, ‘for the remission of sins,’ as connected with what man does or can do, is not found in the book. The translation made by the Bible Union in 1879 agrees with these. This translation forbids the idea that man pays for or purchases the remission of sins. It harmonizes with and carries out the idea that we come into union with Christ, are made one with him, and in and by him we are justified.

Take it from the standpoint that the leading thought is, we are baptized into Christ and made a member of his body, explains things that need explanation. Our rebaptist friends maintain, rightly, that the belief of the things not true in connection wit h the mission of Christ could not secure the forgiveness of sins. To this we heartily agree, and say the belief of the errors we all (rebaptists and others) hold could not secure the remission of sins. We must be in a state or condition that we will be saved in spite of the evil influences of our many mistakes and errors. What is that state or condition? Our rebaptist brethren practically say, to believe and understand that baptism is for the remission of sins cures the evil of ignorance and doubt.

There is a ground on which we may believe God accepts us and gives us assurance of richest blessings despite the darkness and mistakes of our hearts. That ground is, we become members of the body of Christ and are one with him, enter into Christ, appropriate the blood of Christ, and thankfully receive him, who can cleanse and bless and save us. Our service puts us into a partnership with Jesus, by which he becomes as one of us, and appropriates and cleanses us from all sins, despite a thousand errors that on subsidiary questions we may hold. On the one side, it is Jesus Christ, with his blood covering the many mistakes and errors by us; one with the power on his side of pardon and union and peace with God. On the same side there is the sinner baptized into Jesus Christ, clothed with his name, mistaking the point at which God promises to forgive sins, just as a man going from Kentucky from Tennessee may mistake the time and place of crossing the line. The mistake does not affect his rights after he has entered the State.

There is but one example of rebaptism given to us in the Bible. That was not to teach us baptism is into the remission of sins, but to teach us we must be baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In him is pardon and peace to the sinner. I had much prefer following the example of Paul and rebaptize those who had not understandingly been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. ‘And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.’ (Acts 19:5). When a man is baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, he has a strong Brother and helper in the Lord that can rescue him from man errors and mistakes.”

One Response to “David Lipscomb, Proper Translation & Rebaptism”

  1. Robert Prater Says:

    Hey brother where can I get if possible online archive old Gospel Advocates from when David Lipscomb was the editor. Thanks brother. I always enjoy your blog.

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