Vol.XII No.X Pg.3
December 1975

Baptism For The Dead

Robert F. Turner

Here we conclude our quotes from Archibald McLeans The Commission Given by Jesus Christ to His Apostles first published in 1786. Our sincere thanks to bro. Claude Hewitt, Marion, Indiana; who loaned us his edition, published 1848, by H.P. Gatchell. Vedder (Short History of Baptist) says McLean was founder of the Scotch Baptist churches, but thinks he remained tainted with Sandemanian notions as plurality of elders in every church and weekly... Lords Supper. Seems he had much truth on baptism — also!!

That baptism also signifies the resurrection of the saints from the dead to inherit eternal life with Christ, is plain from 1 Cor. 15:29: Else what shall they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead? Some among the Corinthians denied the resurrection of the dead. This error, the apostle shows, subverts the whole gospel which he had preached unto them; implied that Christ himself was not risen, consequently, that they were yet in their sins; and that they who are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. In the words above quoted, he intimates that by denying the resurrection they set aside the crowning design of their baptism, and rendered it of no consequence, making it merely a baptism for the dead; i.e., for or in the name of Christ, considered only as in the state of the dead, without any reference to his having risen as the first fruits of them that slept, or to their own resurrection in consequence thereof; whereas baptism represents not only Christs death and burial, but also his rising again from the dead, and our resurrection by him.

The resurrection is a regeneration in the most proper sense, and is that to which our baptism and spiritual regeneration ultimately refer; for he saves us by the layer of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost (hina) to the end that we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)

Thus I have endeavored to set forth the import or signification of baptism; and from the various passages of Scripture where it is mentioned, we have seen, that it is the sign of spiritual regeneration, or the new birth, without which we cannot enter into the kingdom of God; of the washing away of sin, both as to its guilt and pollution, or justification and sanctification; and especially that it represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as the ground of hope — the believers union and communion with him therein — his spiritual conformity to him, in dying unto sin and rising to a new life of holiness — and his full and complete conformity to him in the death of his mortal body, and in his resurrection of a heavenly and immortal life from the dead. So that this divine ordinance is pregnant with the richest meaning, and is wisely and graciously appointed as a means for strengthening the faith, confirming the hopes, exciting the love, and promoting the holiness and consolation of believers, for whom only it is intended, and who alone can reap any benefit from it.