King's Business - 1913-10



case the thought would be that every one to enter the kingdom of God must be cleansed by the power of the Holy -Spirit, and also quickened by the power of the Holy Spirit. Elsewhere in the Scriptures the new birth is at­ tributed to the Word of God as the in­ strument used in man’s regeneration. Thus we are told in James 1 :18 “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits. of his creatures.” And again in 1 Peter 1 :23 we; are told that we, are begotten again “through the Word of God.” And Paul in the passage already referred to (1 Cor. 4:15) says, “I begat you through the Gospel.” The , natural thought then is that the “water” here refers to “the word.” But the ques­ tion at once arises, “Is the Word of God ever spoken of as water in the New Testament?” In this same Gqs^ pel our Lord is recorded as saying in John 15:3, “But ye are clean through (rather, because of) the word which I have spoken unto you.” ■Here the Word is spoken of as the instrument of the regeneration of the early 'disciples/ and also spoken of as being that by ■which they were cleansed. In Ephesians 5:26 the Apostle Paul speaks of Christ having cleansed the church ■ “by the washing of water by (rather, in) the Word.” The thought both in the preposition used with “the word” and by the Greek word used for washing is that of a bath in the Word, and the Greek word translated “Word” in this pas­ sage is precisely the one translated word in 1 Peter 1 :25, and “the word of the Lord” in that passage is in close connection with 1 Peter 1 :23 .where we are told that we are re­ generated through the Word. ' This has led many to think that the word “water” in the passage John 3 :5 re­ fers'to the water of .the Word. It does not greatly matter; for if the term “water” refers to the cleansing work

are added, which would show if the water did mean baptism that baptism is not enough, but that there must, also be birth by the power of the Spirit. But that the “water” refers principally to baptism is not at all likely; for the Gospel /of John is the one Gospel of all that makes the least reference to outward ceremonials, either baptism or the Lord’s- Supper. Indeed, there is no mention whatever-of the Lord’s Supper in the whole Gospel. (If John 6:53-56 refers to the Lord’s Supper at all, it is only in the most remote way). John does refer to John the Baptist baptizing in water and to-the disciples of Jesus baptizing in water, but distinctly tells us that Jesus Him­ self baptized not (ch. 4:2). If the “water” here refers to baptism at all, the passage certainly does not teach that water baptism is such an essen­ tial in the new birth that one cannot be born again without i t ; for the Apostle Paul distinctly declares in writing to the believers in Corinth (1 Cor. 4:15) “In Christ Jesus I be­ gat you through the Gospel.” This plainly tells us that Paul was the hu­ man agent in the ne;w birth of the be­ lievers in Corinth, and so, if water baptism is an essential element in the new birth, then Paul must have baptized them, but he himself declares in the first chapter of the same Epistle that he had not baptized them (ch. 1:14-17). But to what can the “water” refer if it does not refer to the water of baptism? The answer to this question will be more simple (and that the water does not refer to the water of baptism will also be more clear) if we translate our Lord’s words literally, “Except any one be born of water and wind.” We have here two elements mentioned, “water” a cleansing element, and “wind” a quickening element. “Water” then may refer to the cleansing power of the Spirit and the “wind” to the quick­ ening power of the Spirit, and in that

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