Evangelism and Baptism

I will be preaching on the subject of baptism this coming Sunday and so I thought now would be a good time to finish up a project I began last year. I have just placed another public domain work online; “Evangelism and Baptism: The New Testament Model,” by J. M. Frost (1916). The book consists of two parts. The second part gives his notes from 5 lectures delivered at a State Workers Institute in Arkadelphia, Ark., Feb. 20-25, 1912. The first contains 15 articles by Frost that previously appeared in various publications. All the articles center around the theme of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper serving as evangelistic tools. Baptism, rightly administered, pictures and proclaims the heart of the gospel. Frost urges his readers to see baptism, not only as something done after evangelism has taken effect in the life of a believer, but as a beautiful means by which the gospel can be communicated to the onlooking lost through incarnational symbolic action.

He challenges the readers of his day to follow the New Testament model of evangelism which included, as an integral part, the demonstration of the gospel through the picture of baptism. He wrote:

“See how word and symbol combine in the apostolic ministry. They made large and noble use of the symbolic import and worth of baptism to illumine and enforce the most momentous matters ever presented for human consideration.

They preached Christ crucified but risen from the dead with the fullness of saving power, while baptism showed in figure and picture his resurrection and the empty sepulchre left behind in the garden-with the oft repeated word, ”He is not here. He is risen as he said; come see the place where the Lord lay.”

They preached the believer’s union with Christ, his spiritual resurrection and his being a new creature, his prior need of a new heart within and a new life without as one risen from the dead; and while baptism cannot work the change within, cannot make the heart new or help to make one clean of sin, cannot save or help to save, yet in marvelous fashion this wonderful ordinance gives an outward expression of these inner changes, demands a new heart of all who would be baptized, sets a line between the old life and the new, and requires newness of walk in all who wear its badge of distinction and honor.

They preached that we do not belong to ourselves but to him who hath washed us in his own precious blood, to whom we owe all allegiance and loyalty – while baptism is the obedience of one saved through faith in Christ, and whose baptismal vows are his pledge to honor and serve the King.

They preached triumph for this life with the final resurrection of the dead to follow-while baptism in a figure, clear and bold, is a forecast for the fulfillment of the promise, when the voice of the Son of man shall speak the word and the dead shall come from their graves.

This New Testament ordinance holds all these great truths in symbol, and sets them out with something like dramatic effect in the immersion of a believer upon profession of faith in Christ Jesus as his Saviour and Lord.

Today, as we seek to reform our evangelistic methods, I believe this biblical insight needs to be heard afresh. Let us not view baptism as little more than a perfunctory ritual tacked onto the end of a worship service. Instead, let us hear the challenge of J. M. Frost to recapture the New Testament evangelistic model of proclaiming the gospel of grace visually through the Christ exalting picture of water baptism.

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