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from the history of this case are all vitally important, establishing the unity of the gospel as preached both to Jew and Gentile. Yet the facts are too often improperly used, as the following:
First, the outpouring of the Spirit here described is improperly used as a proof that persons are pardoned by immediate, direct, supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit. There is no evidence that the Gentiles here, or any other persons anywhere, were ever pardoned in this way. In the second place, it is improperly used to prove that these persons were pardoned before baptism. This would prove too much, and, in fact, destroy the whole remedial system, for it would at the same time prove that they were pardoned before they had knowledge of Jesus or faith in Him as the Savior. It will be remembered that the Holy Spirit fell on them as Peter began to speak. And he says, that “God gave them the like gift as he did unto us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.” We can not therefore conclude that they were pardoned by the Holy Spirit before they heard—before they believed. This case, then, so far as hearing, believing, and being baptized, forms no exception to those whose history we have considered. It may be that Cornelius, being a just man, needed no repentance, as repentance is toward God. But faith being toward Christ, he needed knowledge of Jesus and faith and obedience to Him, hence he was commanded to be baptized. But it will be observed that it is only affirmed of Cornelius and his household that they feared God. The
a Acts xx. 21.
others assembled with them needed repentance as well as baptism. In harmony with the cases heretofore observed these people received and obeyed the gospel. Peter says that “God made choice among us that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel and believe.”a The angel says,
” Peter “shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.”b And Peter, concluding his discourse on Jesus, says: “That through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”c Again, he says, that God "put no difference
” between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”d And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.
The history of this case shows conclusively that these Gentiles complied with the established and universal law of pardon which was first given by Christ in the commission enjoined in the beginning at Jerusalem, at Samaria, on the desert road, and required of Paul in Damascus. However contrary it may be to our preconceived notions, or the modern preaching or practise, yet there is no record of
any one being baptized before he had faith or after he was pardoned, and no unbaptized person is ever addressed as a Christian.
a Acts xv. 7. c Acts X. 43:
b Acts xi. 14. d Acts xv. 9.
MISSIONARY WORK OF THE CHURCH
Church of Christ a Divine Organization; Terms of Admission
Uniform as in All Organizations. The Church at Antioch. Paul's First Missionary Journey. Christ's Church Established in Asia Minor.
AFTER the account of the first preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, Peter relates its reception by them to the Jews at Jerusalem. We are then informed “That they who were scattered abroad upon
persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phænicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to none but unto the Jews only: and some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians preaching the Lord Jesus.” The result was that “a great number believed and turned to the Lord.” It is supposed to be about one year after Peter opened the church to the Gentiles before the gospel was preached to the Greeks at Antioch. All that is said in regard to the acceptance of these Gentiles is that "a great number believed and turned to the Lord.” This “turning to the Lord," "added to the Lord," necessarily implies that they complied with the same terms enjoined by Him and His ambassadors upon others. If any historian would once give a full ac
count of how persons became members of any society or institution, and the laws of initiation, and would thereafter continue the history of the growth or development of such an organization, we would not expect him to repeat and re-repeat the full requirements in each and all cases of initiation, but would expect only to be informed of the growth of the society or the number of members added, feeling assured that all complied with the same terms.
All human governments, societies, organizations have positive and definite laws which are imposed upon all who become members. All well-organiz institutions have a uniform mode of admitting members. And when there are a number of terms required in order to admission, no one thinks of becoming a member in violation of the constitution and laws of such organization. If men would observe the same common-sense rule when seeking admission to the Church of Christ, superstition and error would vanish, and Christian people would soon be relieved from the absurd and humiliating position they now occupy
before the world of having all sorts of men preaching all sorts of doctrine and imposing various terms of pardon not taught by Christ or enjoined by His apostles. Christianity is a divine system; it is order, harmony, law; “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the laws of sin and death.” No person
should ever make the mistake or commit the folly of selecting a case as a model of pardon where only one term of pardon is mentioned, such as faith, turning, baptism, for there is no case on record where there is any one of these terms required to the exclusion of the other. In addition to the commission given by Christ, it is remarkable how many cases of pardon we have recorded, and how plainly and fully the terms are stated. Even if we should find a single example of a person having been pardoned by hearing alone, by faith alone, by repentance alone, or baptism alone, we would not be justified in presenting such a case as an example of pardon. All informed persons would consider it an exception to the rule, unless it were stated by divine authority that henceforth the exception was to become the rule. But when we find no exception to the rule, no example of pardon by compliance with one condition alone, what right have persons to teach one of these terms alone as the condition, much less to substitute conditions never imposed in any case of alien pardon, such as baptism of the Holy Spirit or any direct supernatural agency?
In connection with the preaching of the gospel at Antioch we have the third mention of Barnabas, who became a traveling companion of Saul. We are informed that “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem, and they sent forth Barnabas that he should go as far as Antioch, who, when he came and had seen the grace of God, was glad and exhorted them all that with
purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord: for he was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit, and of faith, and much people was added unto the Lord.”a Then Barnabas departed to Tarsus to seek Saul, and
& Acts xi. 22–24.