Vol.XII No.IX Pg.6
November 1975

To Live, We Must Die

Robert F. Turner

Since April (Vol. 12, No. 2) we have been quoting from The Commission Given by Jesus Christ to His Apostles, by Archibald McLean, 1786. We believe the material is worthy of study: for its inherent value, and because of McLeans indirect relation to Alexander Campbell and the restoration. We give no unlimited endorsement to his arguments or exegesis — he leans a bit toward cleansing from Adamic sin — but he shows a high degree of scriptural learning and non-sectarian thinking. I deeply regret that limited space has forced me to cut much. Last installment in next issue.

Lastly, baptism ultimately signifies the death of this mortal body, and our resurrection from the dead to inherit eternal life; which is our complete conformity to Christ, who was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Pet. 3:18).

As to the death of the body; it has been already observed that immersion represents a death and burial, which imports an entire extinction of life, and so signifies, not a partial but total destruction of the body of sin; and that not merely as to its reigning power over us, but as to its very being and existence in us. It represents our putting it off, as we put off this earthly tabernacle by death. Now this will never be fully accomplished until we actually put off the body itself, in which it remains as a law in the members warring against the law of the mind; for while believers are in this life, the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that they cannot do the things that they would (Rom. 7:2l; Gal. 5:l7).

Paul, during the whole course of his Christian race and warfare, had to keep under his body, and bring it into subjection, and did not expect. a complete freedom from the law in his members until he should be delivered from the body itself; and, therefore, exclaims: 0 wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death? i.e. from this mortal body (1 Cor. 9:27; Rom. 7:24). He considered sin so inveterately rooted in his flesh that, like the fretting leprosy under the law, it could never be entirely eradicated until the earthly house of this tabernacle was pulled down; and for this, as for other reasons, he groans, being burdened, to be absent from the body. As, therefore, immersion signifies the entire destruction of indwelling sin, it must refer ultimately to the death of the mortal body, when the following words shall be verified, not only in their spiritual, but full and literal sense: He that is dead is freed from sin (Rom. 6:7), he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin (1 Pet. 4:1).

The redemption by Christ does not prevent the execution of this original sentence upon the body (physical death through Adam —- rft), but converts it into a benefit (Rev. 14:13; 1 Cor. 3:21-22); for hereby they are entirely freed from all their remaining connection with, and conformity to the first man in order to their being completely conformed to the second, (1 Cor. 15:47).