J. M. Frost - 1916
As seen in the Ordinances, Baptism and the Supper.
The Doctrine - I Thes. 4:16, 17.
The Ordinances - Col. 2:12; Col. 3:I, 4; I Cor. 11: 26; Matt. 26:29.
IN these several passages we have a statement of the doctrine of the future according to the Scriptures-stated in word and symbol. Baptism and the Lord's Supper have a prophetic voice, and their voice is for life and immortality. As monument and memorial they shine in the glory of the far-away past, and for the future they have a word of no uncertain meaning. They catch the foregleam of coming glory.
This lecture brings us to the crown and glory of all that has been said. Is this life all ? Does death end all? Is there anything beyond the dead - beyond the grave? These mightiest of all questions - what answer do they have in these two ordinances of the New Testament? What is the meaning of these two simple, beautiful ceremonies which you find in the faith and practice of every church of Jesus Christ-concerning the great future?
They are now what they were at the first in spirit, form and purpose. They are without change like their great Author who set them in the fullness of their meaning. For instruction and comfort, for encouragement and inspiration. Their record has been unbroken for the past, what is their word for the future? They are New Testament ordinances with New Testament meaning. They cannot teach any doctrine which is not first taught in the Scriptures, but they stand for well-nigh everything that God has made of record concerning the redeemed of the Lord.
The symbolic word cannot go beyond the written Word, but may illuminate the record by appeal to the eye and through the eye to the heart. The symbol and the word are one in their voice for the future. The one is promise with the dec- laration of power, the other is foretoken, shining in the foregleam of the future, the one is prophetic, the other pledge - but all combining at the one glorious center and consummation of the work of grace in human redemption.
The ordinances can hardly be misread in their testimony, wonderful token and meaning concerning this mighty doctrine. In every baptism there is resurrection forecast; in every observance of the Supper the memorial is sunlit with that wonderful word, "Till he comes," - casting its glory upon the far-away horizon. The voice of the Supper is, the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, etc.; the voice of Baptism, "The hour is coming when all that are in the grave shall hear his voice," etc.
These ordinances so simple in form balk not at the gravest difficulty or at presenting in themselves the mightiest of all paradoxes - the Lord born as announced to the shepherds, the Lord buried and risen as spoken from the empty sepulchre, the Lord dead and now alive again - enthroned and to return in power and great glory.
The words of Dr. Sanday, as applied to Jesus himself, has wonderful significance concerning those who are his: "Immersion equals death; Submersion equals burial (ratification of death); Emergence equals resurrection." The empty sepulchre becomes forever the victory and the victor's crown.
Baptism and the Lord's Supper, as a mirror turned on the past, show his death and resurrection; turned on the present, they show him at the right hand of God ministering as our intercessor in the Holy of holies, and active in working out human redemption; turned on the future, the mirror catches the glory of his return and reflects its splendor full on our face and heart. Christ the first fruits, then they that are Christ at his coming - as the engagement ring promises the wedding ring - as the crown promises the coronation.
What beyond the resurrection? What beyond the judgment? There is a difference between men here in their relation to Christ, also when they stand before the judgment. Those that confess him - those that deny him.
In every baptism there is in certain sense a judgment, or a badge of distinction-those who do the will of his Father; every memorial Supper is a separation between believer and unbeliever in their relation to Christ as Saviour, Sovereign and Lord. The separation here and there is based upon relation to Christ and this relation to Christ has wonderful manifestation in the ordinances which he has left with us.
Like a rainbow overarching the centuries, these ordinances reach from cross and empty sepulchre in the past to throne and coronation in the future.
They have no curative or procurative power in themselves, and yet are intended for a class and serve as badge for class distinction. Their voice always and everywhere is for the impending truth, that the righteous and unrighteous shall not live together in the kingdom of God, do not share his favor alike, shall not walk the heavenly fields together. Separation is a large and ominous word, and yet with fearful meaning shows the significance of these ordinances as we observe them and contemplate the future. But what beyond the separation.
"I will not drink of this cup until that day I drink it new with you." The words show (1) heaven a place, (2) identity and recognition, (3) companionship, fellowship with Christ. Like a long distance telescope these ordinances carry our eyes and hearts right into the heavenly places. We see the saints and the King of saints - the Lamb and those washed in the blood of the Lamb - the glorious assembly of the redeemed who sing the song of redemption.
We do not rightly measure or magnify the companionship of saints as set forth in the ordinances-the brotherhood of believers, their fellowship in baptism-their fellowship in the Lord's Supper. These are symbols indeed of what has been done but symbols also of what" is yet to be when the King shall come in his glory and all his holy angels with him.
This the final word of baptism and the Supper. This has been their word from the first until now, and shall be until the work of grace is done. They bespeak the reversal of all that death has wrought in the world's history. They hold in joyous contemplation the life everlasting, the new city where there shall be no more dying.
This is their word. They stop not at difficulties or oppositions or impossible things. They appeal to our faith as when Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus.
When bidding his disciples farewell, and while speaking of coming kingdoms and crowns, the Lord knew that already the mob was gathering on the outside for tomorrow's work. But he spoke his word - set his meaning in symbol, and these symbols have never faltered in their testimony. Their word is more certain about nothing than this final word for the future - the heavenly future of the saints of God. "As oft as ye eat this bread and drink this cup," as often also as ye baptize, "ye do show the Lord's death till he come."