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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

George Muller And Baptism

In reading the biography about George Muller I came across an interesting story about his views on baptism. Although Muller was not a Baptist it is interesting that he ultimately came to embrace the Baptist (and I might add Scriptural) view of baptism as it relates to the proper subject and mode of baptism. I fully understand that in adopting the positions he does not confirm the truth of the positions. They would have been true whether he adopted them or not. The means by which he came to the conclusions I found interesting and I thought others might find it equally interesting.

"While at Sidmouth, preaching, in April, 1830, three believing sisters held in his presence a conversation about believer's baptism, which proved the suggestion of another important step in his life, which has a wider bearing than at first is apparent.

They naturally asked his opinion on the subject about which they were talking, and he replied that , having been baptized as a child, he saw no need of being baptized again. Being further asked if he had ever yet prayerfully searched the word of God as to its testimony in this matter, he frankly confessed that he had not.

At once, with unmistakable plainness of speech and with true fidelity, one of these sisters in Christ promptly said: "I entreat you, then, never again to speak any more about it till you have done so."

Such a reply George Muller was not the man either to resent or to resist. He was too honest and conscientious to dismiss without due reflection any challenge to search the oracles of God for the witness upon any given question. Moreover, if, at that very time, his preaching was emphatic in any direction, it was in the boldness with which he insisted that all pulpit teaching and Christian practice must be subjected to one great test, namely, the touchstone of the word of God. Already an Elijah in spirit, his great aim was to repair the broken-down altar of the Lord, to expose and rebuke all that hindered a thoroughly scriptural worship and service, and, if possible, to restore apostolic simplicity of doctrine and life.

As he thought and prayed about this matter, he was forced to admit to himself that he had never yet earnestly examined the Scriptures for their teaching as to the position and relation of baptism in the believer's life, nor had he even prayed for light upon it. He had nevertheless repeatedly spoken against believer's baptism, and so he saw it to be possible that he might himself have been opposing the teaching of the Word. He therefore determined to study the subject until he should reach a final, satisfactory, and scriptural conclusion; and thenceforth, whether led to defend infant baptism or believer's baptism, to do it only on Scriptural grounds.

The mode of study which he followed was characteristically simple, thorough, and business-like, and was always pursued afterward. He first sought from God the Spirit's teaching that his eyes might be opened to the Word's witness, and his mind illumined; then he set about a systematic examination of the New testament from beginning to end. So far as possible he sought absolutely to rid himself of all bias of previous opinion or practice, prepossession or prejudice; he prayed and endeavoured to be free from the influence of human tradition, popular custom, and churchly sanction, or that more subtle hindrance, personal pride in his own consistency. He was humble enough to be willing to retract any erroneous teaching and renounce any false position, and to espouse that wise maxim: ' Don't be consistent, but simply be true.' Whatever may have been the case with others who claim to have examined the same question for themselves, the result in his case was that he came to the conclusion, and, as he believed, from the word of God and the Spirit of God, that none but believer's are the proper subject of baptism, and that only immersion is its proper mode."

He was subsequently immersed as a believer.

The account goes on discussing his view of baptism years later:

"Years after, in reviewing his course, he records the solemn conviction that 'of all revealed truths, not one is more clearly revealed in the Scriptures - not even the doctrine of justification by faith - and that the subject has only become obscured by men not having been willing to take the Scriptures alone to decide the point.'"
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