1. THE ROAD TO PERFECTION
a. What goes along with preaching the gospel? Mark 16:15, 16.
“Christ came to receive baptism, not with confession of sins to repentance, for He was without the taint of sin. He marked the way for the sinner by His own example in taking the steps the sinner is required to take. He pointed out distinctly the way of salvation for the repenting, believing sinner.”—The Youth’s Instructor, January 1, 1874.
“[Witnessing the beheading of a man for being rebaptized] led [Menno Simons] to study the Bible in regard to infant baptism. He could find no evidence for it in the Scriptures, but saw that repentance and faith are everywhere required as the condition of receiving baptism.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 238, 239.
b. Where does baptism fit in the road to perfection—and what is needed all along this path? Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 6:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Romans 6:1–3.
“Christ has made baptism the sign of entrance to His spiritual kingdom. He has made this a positive condition with which all must comply who wish to be acknowledged as under the authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 91.
a. How does the process of crucifying self begin? Romans 7:4–12; Psalm 19:7; James 1:22–25.
“Our love to Christ will be in proportion to the depth of our conviction of sin, and by the law is the knowledge of sin. But as we see ourselves, let us look away to Jesus, who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity. By faith take hold of the merits of Christ, and the soul-cleansing blood will be applied. . . . The gospel of Christ does not give men license to break the law, for it was through transgression that the floodgates of woe were opened upon our world.” —Faith and Works, p. 96.
b. Why is it necessary to understand the law to its fullest extent and what are we to realize about it? John 1:12, 13; 3:3–5; Romans 7:13; 6:16.
“Baptism is a most solemn renunciation of the world. Those who are baptized in the threefold name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, at the very entrance of their Christian life declare publicly that they have forsaken the service of Satan and have become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. They have obeyed the command: ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate . . . and touch not the unclean thing.’ And to them is fulfilled the promise: ‘I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.’ 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 91.
c. How effective is mere mental assent to the law and how does it affect the soul? Matthew 23:2, 3; 5:20; Romans 7:24.
“The greatest deception of the human mind in Christ’s day was that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness. In all human experience a theoretical knowledge of the truth has been proved to be insufficient for the saving of the soul. It does not bring forth the fruits of righteousness. A jealous regard for what is termed theological truth often accompanies a hatred of genuine truth as made manifest in life.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 309.
“The standard should be elevated, and the preaching should be of the most spiritual character, that the people may be led to see the reason of their weakness and unhappiness. Many are unhappy because they are unholy. Purity of heart, innocence of mind, only can be blessed of God.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 53.
3. CRUCIFYING THE OLD MAN
a. Is there a way to be crucified separate from the Calvary experience? Romans 6:5–8; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:3.
“Many parents have never yet been converted, therefore their old self-indulgent habits have been brought with them into the church. They were not dead to self when they observed the ordinance of baptism. They were buried alive, and they have remained full of murmuring, full of faultfinding, hating the messages that come to them through the Lord’s servants, because of the wickedness of their hearts. They are at enmity with God, and their children breathe in the same atmosphere.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, p. 35.
“There is need of a more thorough preparation on the part of candidates for baptism. They are in need of more faithful instruction than has usually been given them. The principles of the Christian life should be made plain to those who have newly come to the truth. None can depend upon their profession of faith as proof that they have a saving connection with Christ. We are not only to say, ‘I believe,’ but to practice the truth. It is by conformity to the will of God in our words, our deportment, our character, that we prove our connection with Him. Whenever one renounces sin, which is the transgression of the law, his life will be brought into conformity to the law, into perfect obedience. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. The light of the word carefully studied, the voice of conscience, the strivings of the Spirit, produce in the heart genuine love for Christ, who gave Himself a whole sacrifice to redeem the whole person, body, soul, and spirit. And love is manifested in obedience. The line of demarcation will be plain and distinct between those who love God and keep His commandments, and those who love Him not and disregard His precepts.”— Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 91, 92.
b. Why is death to self the beginning of life, how often is it needed, and how do we maintain it? John 12:24; 1 Corinthians 15:31; Colossians 2:6.
“Why is it so hard to lead a self-denying, humble life? Because professed Christians are not dead to the world. It is easy living after we are dead.”—Ibid., vol. 1, p. 131.
“All who would bring forth fruit as workers together with Christ must first fall into the ground and die. The life must be cast into the furrow of the world’s need. Self-love, self-interest, must perish. But the law of self-sacrifice is the law of self-preservation.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 86.
4. THE MEANING OF BAPTISM
a. How does dying to self and putting on Christ translate into victory? 2 Corinthians 5:21; John 14:30; Romans 6:1, 2; 13:14.
“We must put on Christ; we must be Christlike in every word and action. Thus we shall be partakers of the divine nature.”—Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, p. 197.
b. How does full immersion symbolize the Christian’s experience? Romans 6:4.
“Soon after our return from the camp meeting, I, with several others, was taken into the church on probation. My mind was very much exercised on the subject of baptism. Young as I was, I could see but one mode of baptism authorized by the Scriptures, and that was immersion.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 19.
c. Is there more to Christianity than dying? Galatians 3:27; 2 Corinthians 5:17.
“The seed buried in the ground produces fruit. . . . So in human life, to give is to live. The life that will be preserved is the life that is freely given in service to God and man. Those who for Christ’s sake sacrifice their life in this world, will keep it unto life eternal.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 86, 87.
“All who receive the gospel message into the heart will long to proclaim it. The heaven-born love of Christ must find expression. Those who have put on Christ will relate their experience, tracing step by step the leadings of the Holy Spirit—their hungering and thirsting for the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent, the results of their searching of the Scriptures, their prayers, their soul agony, and the words of Christ to them, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee.’ It is unnatural for any to keep these things secret, and those who are filled with the love of Christ will not do so. In proportion as the Lord has made them the depositaries of sacred truth will be their desire that others shall receive the same blessing. And as they make known the rich treasures of God’s grace, more and still more of the grace of Christ will be imparted to them. They will have the heart of a little child in its simplicity and unreserved obedience. Their souls will pant after holiness, and more and more of the treasures of truth and grace will be revealed to them to be given to the world.”—Ibid., p. 125.
“The knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ expressed in character is the very highest education. It is the key that opens the portals of the heavenly city.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 37.
a. How do we know that there is more than intellectual knowledge to baptismal preparation? Matthew 28:19, 20; 3:7, 8; 1 Peter 3:3, 4.
“Those who become new creatures in Christ Jesus will bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, ‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.’ Galatians 5:22, 23. They will no longer fashion themselves according to the former lusts, but by the faith of the Son of God they will follow in His steps, reflect His character, and purify themselves even as He is pure. The things they once hated they now love, and the things they once loved they hate. The proud and self-assertive become meek and lowly in heart. The vain and supercilious become serious and unobtrusive. The drunken become sober, and the profligate pure. The vain customs and fashions of the world are laid aside. . . .
“There is no evidence of genuine repentance unless it works reformation. If he restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, confess his sins, and love God and his fellow men, the sinner may be sure that he has passed from death unto life.”—Steps to Christ, pp. 58, 59.
b. Why is self-examination an integral part of the life of the redeemed and what should we do at the conclusion of each examination? 2 Corinthians 13:5; 6:2.
“We are to compare our characters with the infallible standard of God’s law. In order to do this, we must search the Scriptures, measuring our attainments by the word of God. Through the grace of Christ, the highest attainments in character are possible; for every soul who comes under the molding influence of the Spirit of God, may be transformed in mind and heart.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 214.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why is baptism a part of the Christian experience?
2. Why is the knowledge of the truth so important in conversion and what is needed besides theoretical knowledge?
3. How is it that death is the beginning of life?
4. Why is baptism by immersion a proper symbol of the Christian life?
5. Explain the daily need for self-evaluation.