Vol.XII No.VI Pg.6
August 1975

Two-Fold Cleansing

Robert F. Turner

We present the fifth in a series of quotes from Christs Commission to His Apostles by Archibald McLean; 1786. This Scotch Baptist preacher preceded the Campbells and may have furnished grist for restoration thinking. These historic quotes do not imply unlimited endorsement, but we find the material worth reading. This is the second part of his study on Import and Design of Baptism.


2. It represents to the repenting believer the remission or washing away of his sins in the blood of Christ. Accordingly, Peter exhorts the convicted Jews, Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins. Ananias, in his address to Paul, expresses this still stronger: And now, why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 2:38; 22:16)

This manner of speaking will appear very extravagant to many now-a-days, who look upon baptism as a mere empty rite, or arbitrary precept. To be baptized for the remission or washing away of sins plainly imports that in baptism the remission of sins is represented as really conferred upon the believer. The gospel promise in general is, that through Christs name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins. Baptism applies this promise, and represents its actual accomplishment to an individual believer; assuring him that all his past sins are now as really washed away in the blood of Christ, as his body is washed in water Baptism also represents the washing away of the filth or pollution or sin, both from the heart and future life of a Christian. Hence the apostle connects with it the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh; the destruction of the body of sin, that henceforth we should not serve it. (Col. 2:11 Rom. 6:6) That baptism imports this twofold cleansing is clear from Eph. 5:25-26: Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify it. having cleansed it in the laver of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Three things are here mentioned in sanctifying and cleansing the church. (1.) Christs giving himself for her, that he might sanctify or cleanse her by his own blood (Heb. 10:10; 13:12). (2.) This twofold cleansing here said to be in the laver of water, i.e., in baptism; because it is outward sign of it, whereby it is visibly represented as actually taking place upon the believer. (3) Lastly, this sanctification or cleansing of the church is also by the i.e., the word of truth of the gospel To be sanctified by the word, through the truth, is the same as to be sanctified by the Spirit; for Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and exerts his enlightening and sanctifying influence, not separate from, but by means of the truth. Hence the same effects are ascribed sometimes to the word, and at other times to the Spirit, though both must always be understood.