Report from the Meeting at Boone, Iowa,
October 14-19, 1884

Published in Chicago-Bladet
from November 4 to December 23, 1884

Translated by
David M. Gustafson, 2006

This meeting of Free Mission Friends was attended by twenty-two pastors and laymen. While this meeting has been cited often as “the formal beginnings of the Evangelical Free Church of America,” those who attended the meeting decided merely to cooperate in mission work. They actually opposed any formal union. Nevertheless, churches associated with Free Mission Friends incorporated in 1908 as the Swedish Evangelical Free Church of America. The entire transcript of the 1884 meeting follows.

“Referat från mötet i Boone, Ia. d. 14-19 Okt.”
November 4, 1884, Page 1

Tuesday afternoon’s meeting on October 14th opened at the mission house in Boone, Iowa, having been advertised previously as a Bible study on God’s view of the church.

Brother A.N. Sweders, the local pastor, began with the reading of Isa. 55, and reminded us that these were fitting words for all people, especially for those who believe. It is a word for those who suffer from hardships as aliens and for those who are tired since it gives strength and courage; it is a word for the poor since it speaks about buying without money. Yes, it is a word to the foolish who spend their money on that which is not bread. It is the Word of the Lord and shall therefore not return empty, without succeeding and accomplishing what is pleasing to him. Therefore, we know that it is the Lord’s desire to bless us and, of course, we will receive this as we wait upon him. It is important also to discover that the word that accomplishes what he desires, is the word “that goes out from my (God’s) mouth.” We ought to keep this in mind in order to present what the Lord pours out, and to show him as the source of success.

Brother L. Lindquist from Fort Dodge, Iowa, continued by reminding us that this was a meeting not for any particular group of people with great gifts and knowledge, not for any single group of Christian friends; but in purpose for all Christians whether they be weak or strong, whether they see things the same or not. “We are not meeting here on the grounds of looking at things in a similar way but as brothers and sisters, children of the same Father, and members of one body.” He read Eph. 1, and emphasized especially verse 15 and following, where the apostle says that when he heard about their faith and love for all the saints, he thanked God for them and prayed that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in their knowledge, that they might understand the hope to which they were called, the riches of the glorious inheritance among the saints, his incomparably great power in those who believe in the work of his mighty strength. Without faith in Christ and love towards all-- not merely towards one party of saints where the result is a love of party without all saints-- and this then is not to behold God’s unfathomable wisdom and glorious inheritance. But God may give faith and love, and give still more. Someone may ask, “Can a person go beyond believing and living in communion with Jesus?” The apostle seems to think so since he prayed this for believers, and by this he never intended to lessen or diminish the great and blessed life that one has in God’s Son. No, he does not lessen the one in order to understand the other.

We have now assembled together in order to have in the eyes of God and our Savior, a discussion on our precious subject, namely, the church. For this purpose, we need the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God. Concerning this we ask and express our hope for him to hear our prayer. One part may say, “We don’t have enough time to visit such a meeting.” Yet God says well enough that we are to be a part of his church. Yes, it is true, and we thank God that he says so. Therefore, let us not overlook that this for Paul was a particular subject of prayer, that they might come to a fullness of understanding and comprehend the height, depth, breadth, and length of Christ’s love that exceeds all knowledge. One part may imagine having little or no faith at birth, and yes, having taken hold of it come along farther than the apostle. And now they know all they need, though they say this humbly, and along with David prefer to be a doorkeeper. But it does not stand well for someone to say that he should be merely a doorkeeper and at the same time consider himself so wise that he has no need of anything to learn. Then it is important to heed what David himself does not say; he prefers that he should be the doorkeeper in God’s house rather than living long in the den of the ungodly. And therein is a great difference. May we come here with the mind of a disciple, desiring the knowledge of God, and our meeting will not be in vain. The subject is of great importance, of immense scope, and concerns us all-- yes every member. Let us therefore all join in this prayer of Paul!

The meeting on Monday morning began the day’s meetings with Psalm 111 read by Brother C. H. Lundin from Brooklyn, Dakota. After a few short remarks on every verse, he read Romans 12 where we are reminded of our brotherhood with Paul, and not merely with him but also with Christ. We were also reminded to observe the exhortations. (Read the whole chapter.)

L. Lindquist was selected after this as presiding leader for the discussion, and it was decided that this would last as long as time allowed for conversation on the subject which had been proposed in Chicago-Bladet.

It was further decided that every speaker should try to limit himself to 5 minutes, but with freedom to have an additional 5 minutes, if he needed it; that discussion meetings would be held between 9-12 a.m. and 2-5 p.m., and that the sermon begin at 7:30 in the evening. Additional sermons were scheduled a half hour before every discussion meeting.

We are compelled not to include the sermons although they contained much good content that could be cited, but we will merely give the names of the brothers who during the meetings came and presented testimony at the opening of the public sessions. They were, so long as we were able to remember or reported to us, besides the 3 names already given: A.L. Anderson, Ottumwa; P. Nelson, Boone; E. Hedlind, Madrid; N.J. Nelson, Des Moines; S.J. Bengtson, Angus, Iowa; J. Nyström and [P.A.] Peterson, Kansas; J. W. Strömberg, Orleans; N.E. Nelson, Phelps; Ch. Sandquist, Oakland, Nebraska; E. Thorell, Minnesota; K. Erixon, Moline; P. Lanér, Rockford; J.G. Princell and J. Martenson, Chicago; P.E. Dillner, Knoxville; A. Davis, Princeton, Illinois.

No. 1 The program first taken up for discussion and treatment was: The relationship of the Church to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit-- the relationship of the Father, the Son and the Spirit to the Church-- what God does directly and indirectly in the Church.

Peterson pointed out that Christ’s church was established by Christ himself. The Father, the Son and the Spirit are one, but God the Father seems to function as the root, the Son as the vine with the church as the branches in the vine, and the Spirit flowing through it all as the life.

C. H. Lundin reminded everyone of the great fact that God is presented as the Father, and that when he conducts himself in this way, then we are children, and should conduct ourselves as such.

L. Lindquist. The church’s conduct may be such that all is taken as grace from God. From him all of salvation goes forth. He has sent the Son (pay attention) to carry out his will, that is, to select a people for his name, to gather a congregation, and to establish a kingdom. All is from God through the Son, since he is executor of God’s means. But in this work that is carried out, the Son has the Spirit whom he gives his people in order to intercede for them. This Spirit is wholly at the Son’s disposal and he distributes through the Spirit gifts to the members of the church just as he pleases. Hence, it is the Spirit who works in us, and without the Spirit we are not able to think one good thought.

J. Nyström read Romans 8:17, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs-- heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ,” and so on. Therefore, we stand as children to God the Father, and to the Son as brothers or sisters to one another. To the Holy Spirit we stand subject to him since he moves over and beyond us.

P. A. Peterson. Paul says that we are as near to Jesus as the wife is to the husband in a marriage covenant. In Ephesians 5:23 it says that the man is the head of the wife, “as Christ is the head of the church.” The two are consequently one although Jesus occupies the place as head. In this way, I ought to conduct myself as one betrothed ought to conduct herself toward her coming bridegroom. The work of the Spirit relates in this way to the sanctified church.

N. J. Nelson. The behavior of God and Christ toward the church is one full of love. He loved the world so much that he gave his Son. Jesus loved the church so much that he gave himself for her, that he should sanctify her and this he does through the Spirit.

L. Lindquist. It is great to be children of God and called brothers and sisters of Jesus. But our brotherhood among earthly brothers is categorically different than our brotherhood with Jesus. Our relationship with earthly brothers and sisters means that we have a relationship with them. We are able to love them and depend upon them. But it is not exactly the same with Jesus since we are not able to stand with him in right relation, except as we depend on him; He is himself Savior of the body. Consider how he sought, saved, cleansed, healed and sanctified the church so that her relationship with him is much greater than a mere brotherhood.

E. Thorell pointed out that the Spirit himself relates to the church as a teacher to the unlearned, as a comforter to the grieving. Therefore, we ought to pay attention to his voice, not merely praying for things but obeying the Spirit.

J.G. Princell wished first to express some thoughts on the last part of the stated subject, namely, what God does directly and indirectly in the church. This seems to be a difficult and not so easily understood point but nevertheless can be understood when one examines it closely.
The correct answer to this question can be seen in a similar issue related the question about gifts, offices and servants in the church. For it is possible for God to raise up servants and workers in the church, and then prove the assumption of believers here or there entirely wrong that such workers must be selected, commissioned and sent. It is possible and right for God to intervene through a sovereign act. Of course, Jesus says in Matthew 9:37-38, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Here the Lord speaks of directly sending out workers. But when one looks at how things have occurred in Christendom in general, and even among sincere friends of Jesus and his Word, we see a stark contrast to the instruction of Jesus here. Rather than speaking to God and asking him to send or provide a preacher here or there, the practice is to send a representative or a letter to a single person or to a mission board or to a synod board with the request that a preacher be sent. But is Jesus quoted here as saying such a thing? Does he speak of such a round about way? Of course, to do so would be to treat the words, “Ask the Lord of the harvest,” to mean in scoffing terms to talk to the one, rather than Jesus, then turn to another, and send out some disciples or a union of disciples- workers into his harvest. No, this is not written; but how then is it written? How does the Lord work in this situation? Yes, what does God do directly and indirectly in the church? This is the question- a truly important one!
This does not merely suggest God’s role in sending out laborers but speaks to many other questions such as revival of life; what does God do directly himself therein and thereto, all alone? What does he do indirectly through his children, through the Word, through various means, and for what ends? And then there is the question about the care, protection, nourishment, sanctification and so forth of his children. What does he do through means and what does he do apart from means?
Yes, what is the whole church a means for? Here we see a hint at just how wide, great and meaningful this question is! But before I open this question wider, let me say nevertheless with regard to the reference cited above: it says, “Ask.” Also with this--indeed before this, the Lord speaks about sending out laborers. The prayer- again notice the prayer to God, “Ask the Lord of the harvest”!- the prayer is hence a means. Luther says truly: God gives daily bread to all human beings without them asking in prayer, and is active with the production of daily bread. And so he is active even in the same way with many other gifts. Many times God gives spiritual gifts, awakens life, and sustains life without means, without human beings and without prayer by the one for the other, but although he does this one time, without their asking thereby, he does it ten times surely, where it is in answer to prayer. (continued)

“Referat från mötet i Boone, Ia. d. 14-19 Okt.”
November 11, 1884, Page 1

K. Erixon wished to make a brief comment at the introduction. According to the speaker, it seems that God directly determines, gives, and distributes his gifts, and that this activity is indirect only in the sense that his children, or the church, receive these gifts and employ them in the body. Furthermore, God converts his children and finds them righteous. The speaker wished for Brother Princell to continue.

J.G. Princell: First, what are the means that God uses to awaken and produce spiritual life? The Spirit is the one who is indispensable to the spiritual life of the soul, in every phase and step of its existence and development. We see this in Psalm 104:30; Isaiah 37:4-10; Romans 8:6-9; 1 Corinthians 12:3, etc. Nevertheless, sending the Spirit to and upon the church was the direct and immediate work of God. In his farewell discourse to the disciples (John 14-16) and again before his ascension (Acts 1:4-8), Jesus promised that he would send the Holy Spirit as his Helper, “another Counselor,” who would remain with them forever (John 14:16). Thus, the Spirit was sent to the church of Jesus in this age once for all, as we read in Acts 2 when the Spirit came at Pentecost. And the Spirit has never left- never abandoned the church. Similarly, Jesus has never broken his promise: “Behold, I am with you always” etc. Neither has the Holy Spirit failed to keep Jesus’ promise: “He will remain with you forever.”
The activity of the Spirit in the time of the Old Testament was different than now. In those days the Spirit worked and came upon God-fearing people on certain occasions. Nevertheless, those who received the Spirit were able to say: “Take not your Holy Spirit from me!” (Psalm 51:11). Now therefore, (as observed here by the brother who read God’s Word at the midday prayer time) it is not quite correct biblically to ask: “Lord God, send us your Spirit.” God does not send his Spirit now directly from heaven, but the Spirit abides within the church. Yet what God does now in this regard is this: the Spirit brings life, strength, and joy to those who hear the Word, ask him for these things, and in obedience, respond in faith to his Word. He allows the Spirit to work in people, and makes them partakers of his own spiritual life. Thus, through the proclamation and hearing of God’s Word, though faith, prayer and obedience, these are means of God’s gifts by which he awakens, affects, supports, preserves, and strengthens the life of the Spirit in souls. Oh how important it is to use these means, to use them rightly and to expect God certainly to give of his Spirit in this way, both to individuals and to an assembly (a church) of individuals!
But when this does not happen, a form of religion appears as seen everywhere in the churches of the world. This can be compared to a mill: it turns and turns several times; the mill sings its old song but no flour is produced; the people sleep; there is no living grain of God and no one waits and yearns for any either. Like a clock on the wall, it continues on, satisfied to stay where it is, never leaving its spot, just like the young lad on his “hobby horse” who moves back and forth but does not go anywhere. So in the churches, there are means to be used but how should they be used…and why? Yet they are not filled with God and his blessing, and there is not a burning desire concerning this, and so the Lord says, “Woe to them when I turn away from them!”

P. A. Peterson: In Luke 11:13 we read these words: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Here it seems to me to say that God gives his Spirit immediately or directly from heaven, and that it is right to ask God for the Spirit. I would, however, like further clarity on this point.

L. Lindquist. Well, it is proper to ask God to give us his Spirit in any case since it is he who gives the Spirit whether it happens directly or indirectly. He can surely take of his Spirit who has once and for all been sent to the church, and give them the Spirit. “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” (John 3:27)

Princell. Yes, this giving mentioned here is one of the things that the Lord does indirectly since he once sent the Spirit directly from heaven. Of course, this is altogether how God works in nature. He gives water and causes the earth to bear fruit through means of the soil, rain, etc. Furthermore, notice that Jesus gave his promise to his disciples before sending the Holy Spirit. The disciples then gathered together as it is clearly written in Act 1:4 and 2:1. But after the Spirit came, we see further that he was given indirectly through the apostles and other believers (Acts 8:14-17; 9:17ff.). One particular case was with the first Gentiles who were converted in Cornelius’s house: “The Holy Spirit fell on them, as he had come on us at the beginning,” says Peter (Acts 11:15, 16; 10:44, 45), i.e. the church’s first-fruits of Jews and the church’s first-fruits of Gentiles were equally made by God. Through this work of the Spirit, the two people became one new people (Eph. 2:14-16). This single body-the church- that received the Spirit is not living in a dead body but is a living being, made alive by the Holy Spirit. And as such God does not need to make her alive again. She is sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, a seal that is not broken. Praise be to God! But none of this adds or subtracts from the blessed promise: “The Heavenly Father shall give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” And this is always worth examining and putting into practice. God will more than sufficiently find a way to fulfill his promise that is mentioned here, namely, to give his Spirit whether directly or indirectly (if it is needed).

A. Davis. What God does directly and indirectly is not hard to comprehend but only for those who are able to comprehend it. How blessed it is that God works in both ways. God looked and saw the world in need, and so he sent his own Son as the Savior. Some were soon saved and thus the Savior sent them as witnesses to proclaim the message of salvation but he also sent them his Spirit in order to equip them for this work. The Lord Christ says in his farewell discourse: “When the Comforter comes who I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who goes out from the Father, he will bear witness of me,” and the disciples did not know [they had so much to know (the reporter)] exactly what Jesus meant but had faith in him nonetheless. They did not ask about how this might happen; they believed, and as Jesus said it would happen, it happened.

Many people certainly claim that they are members of Christ’s body, as well as partakers of his life and Spirit. But when it comes to living out God’s Word, their brothers and sisters of the faith say they are not righteous. But I believe they do not have any spiritual life; they do not have the Spirit of Christ. Peter was of another mind and spirit, e.g. when he sinned. He was brought back to a right condition when Jesus looked at him with a glance. It is the character of the Spirit to determine if a person has the Spirit himself. Some people say: “We wait on the Spirit, but we shriek and do not make a dreadful noise.” They say this in order to revile others. But this is neither the mind nor the character of the Spirit that is typical of God’s holy, gentle Spirit. Prayer is certainly a means through which God works, but some in ignorance offer poor advice about prayer. While some suggest that standing is the right position, others suggest that kneeling is the right way to pray. However, is it not marvelous that when the Spirit came upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, they were sitting! (Acts 2:2) But when the Spirit came upon them, they did not sit for long; there was soon a revival. The Spirit is not a feeling or an emotion of the mind but he is an unexplainable Divine Person who humankind has difficulty resisting when he really begins to move. The church and individuals depend upon his presence and ministry. This can be observed in a couple of congregations that both call themselves Christian, even if the churches are situated in the same city, or just outside the city limits (a block away). From the one, sinners are saved and God’s children are edified; from the other, people are busy with activity working on the sermon, praying, singing, etc. but there is no fruit. What is the reason for the difference? In the former, God is working through the Spirit, and the Spirit of God has room and freedom, and he is received there. In the latter, the church is not receptive to the work of God since there is no room for God’s Spirit, no freedom, and so on.

Princell. When in all seriousness we ask about the means through which God works, it is not a matter of indifference but on the contrary of extraordinary importance to consider the means that God uses; yes it is even important to consider how God uses them. Surely a congregation often fails to experience God’s blessing since there is a lack of openness to the means through which such blessing comes. If there is, for example, wrong motives that lead to disobedience (as in the case of Achan according to Joshua 7), the effect in the church can be one that leads to dead forms, and so God does not work there. If the spiritual soil is rock, sand, or marsh so that God’s seed does not fall on good soil and take root, he must perform another work first.

As it was in Israel during the time of the prophet Haggai, so it is generally in Christendom now. The Lord says through the prophet (Hag. 1): “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much”-much has been preached, many meetings have been held, the scriptures have been delivered, etc.-“but you have harvested little-yes, in truth there is little fruit for eternity!” The churches have a sufficient number of members, but in many places, why is there such lack of urgency to see people converted? “You eat but never have enough”-a person hears and reads what is intended, and is taught to believe God’s Word by faith, but nevertheless remains like a dead man, weak in prayer, and “fast-less” when facing trials in life. “You drink but never have your fill”-one pretends to enjoy salvation in the Lord’s Supper, and in one’s own churchly or religious institution, but is inwardly empty, unsatisfied and discontent. “You put on clothes but are not warm,”-one clothes himself in his theological confession, in his supposedly pure doctrine, in his virtues, but is not warm in the heart through love. “You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it”-there is no blessing in the revenues, commissions, priestly compensation, etc. “Give careful thought to your ways! Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much but look, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Because of my house that remains a ruin while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields.” Yes, drought, drought, spiritual drought is occurring in many places. This is happening in some instances because many people- although they confess the name of Christ- actually speak disgracefully against the Holy Spirit and his ministry. Of course, we are able to understand in a little way how such talk must grieve the Spirit of peace and goodness, and hinder his work. Even in religious circles, expressions such as these are common: “The Spirit shouts and shrieks within them.” By this expression they mean that they are so “full of the Spirit” that they are able “to burst with the Spirit.” Another sad expression is: “Yes, is it not a beautiful Spirit of God that those people have!” It is sufficient to say that many ascribe to the Holy Spirit’s work some things that he has nothing to do with, whether those things are quiet or noisy. But from my perspective, although much in the spiritual realm seems strange to me, even contrary and wrong in light of God’s Word, I will, nevertheless, not express any scornful or stern condemnation of this. I know that the devil counterfeits God’s work and can distort images of what God is doing, and I want to be on guard so as not to intermingle, even in speech, the work of my dear and true Spirit of God with the foolish tricks of the devil. What is calm and peaceful can become with his foolish tricks turbulent and stormy. In Jude 9 when the archangel Michael was driven to express some words of judgment over the devil, he did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him. Similarly as God’s children, we should not scoff at various spiritual movements in our day, movements that intermingle much of what is both good and evil. Furthermore, God cannot use as means for his work either people or congregations that hold on to narrow-minded forms and ways of thinking. Thoughts of many could now be expressed in pure Swedish in this way: “We have pure doctrine, the right forms and surely the best way of doing things, yet since we will not allow God to work through us, in order to save sinners, they may go to Hell.” With such thinking as this, how God can use or bless such people or congregations?

P. Lanér. About spiritual gifts, the apostle says in 1 Cor. 12 that they are diverse but the same Spirit. Consequently, God can work through many different gifts but it is he who works, namely, the same Spirit who carries out the whole ministry. It is God who works all in all. Every person may serve with his gifts, and in so doing he himself can benefit, as well as others. But God cannot use those who will not be used or refuse to be a benefit to others. At the end of the chapter mentioned earlier, the apostle suggests “a more excellent way” than, for instance, “the greater gifts,” and what he is speaking about is love-the way of love. This is God’s very best means. May we draw near to Jesus who himself is love. Indeed, receiving his love and putting love into practice is the best way for us to be useful to God.

L. Lindquist. Many great and blessed truths have now been pointed out. However, the discussion of this great subject is wide, like a great plain that stretches out over a region of land. One sees a hill here and there, but there is a lot of space between the valleys that has not been seen before. And so, on this subject there is yet a lot to be discovered that is worth seeking after.

K. Erixon. At the end of one of the previous brother’s remarks, he touched upon a condition to be used by God, namely, the need for an upright attitude if God will bless the works and use someone as his instrument. It was mentioned, thereby, that where some evil entered or once entered and never cleaned out, that it must first be removed. I think that this is the first thing that God will do as a condition for his blessing and wider use. It is through individuals that God works indirectly in the church, why he blesses some rather than others, especially those who demonstrate kindness and speaking lovingly, in contrast to those characterized by much coldness, cutting down persons and societies by their remarks. Oh, how partisan attitudes can lead to talk about parties and partisanship. May we think kindly and speak kindly of others.

A. Davis then wished to move on from the question in its entirety to the next. He suggested that points 6,7 and 8 in the program (that deal with gifts, edification, and ministry in and through the church) be discussed or developed on this subject in detail. He went on to say that often a brother says that God will make a believer more and more holy, useful, and prepared as one of God’s instruments or vessels. So why cannot God do this all at once? It doesn’t take a woman more than five minutes to make a vessel clean enough to be used. It does not take God several months to make the heart clean enough so that he can dwell within it. With respect to the sinful conduct that the previous speaker pointed out, saying that it hinders God from carrying out his work in and through people and congregations, we therefore would like to address this, and recommend means according the Word of the Lord.
Malachi 3:10-12 states: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.” Applying this statement requires doing God’s will, living out God’s Word, doing this in obedience to him. “Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty,” speaks of us trusting in and persevering in his work, giving all to God-“if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have enough room for it.” Oh, yet there are pests in the church: jealousy, slander, gossip, arrogance, partisan attitudes, and everything else named, for it is “legion,” i.e. many! God promises to discipline the pests, ah, to take them away, etc. “I will prevent the pests from devouring your crops,” and “And all the people will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

A brother mentioned something earlier about space between the valleys that has not been seen before. Isaiah 58 is a remarkable chapter on the subject dealing with “false and true fasting.” However, it is an appropriate text for every case on the matter of doing God’s will, and it pertains, of course, to “the church’s conduct toward God,” etc., and God’s conduct toward the church, as our topic of discussion addresses. (He takes up and reads verses 1 to 11 of the chapter). The passage speaks in the first five verses about what Israel says and does, and what the nation seems to seek, and as God’s Word says, “they want to know God’s ways.” They seem as if they were “a nation that does what is right and have not forsaken God’s law.” However, the Lord says, “Behold, your fasting ends in quarrelling and strife, and in striking each other with the wicked fist”-as though someone might confess and defend Christianity! But the Lord says further: “Is not this the kind of fast that I have chosen: to loose the shackles of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? - even those shackles that humanism and human-confessions form- “that you share your bread with the hungry and provide the poor alien with shelter, and when of course you see the naked, to clothe him and not turn away from your own flesh.” About doing away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing of the finger, how sad it is that many still point at others and say despicably: “Look at them there! They are such people! I am not like them!” Someone says this rather than extending his hand to help the person whom he considers to be just a poor soul. God’s Word call us here in this passage to do away with all “finger pointing and all malicious talk”-yes, Lord God, may it happen! We need to observe the Word carefully, and offer food to the hungry and to clothe the naked. I recently learned this lesson in a practical way at my house. When my wife and I were to travel to Missouri, my wife decided not to take a certain dress with her since she did not think she needed it, and did not feel that there would be an occasion to wear it. She said she would give it to some needy person but the opportunity to give it away never came. Before we left she hung the dress out of the way, and when we came home we discovered that the dress had been eaten by moths, and looked like someone had cut it with a knife into several little pieces. Just like this, God allows those things that are not used for some useful purpose to be destroyed. “Do not store up treasures on earth!” is what those pieces of clothing shouted to us. Well then, may God deal with us now as he in his Word states-whether it is directly by what he does or indirectly through his ways. “Your light shall break forth,” and so on. “Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I- the Lord shall lead you continually and “satisfy your hunger,” etc.

Princell. The church’s relationship to God is this: she belongs to God, is God’s possession, and is thereby called the church of God (Acts 20:28), God’s flock (1 Pet. 5:2), God’s house, God’s dwelling, God’s temple, God’s field, and God’s building (1 Tim. 3:15; Eph. 2:19,22; 1 Cor. 3:9,16,17). Consider the fact that first and foremost a Christian as a member of the church belongs to God. Therefore, a Christian cannot “belong” to someone else. Think also how dreadful it would be to lay claim to what belongs to some else, namely, to God! The church is the body of which Christ is the head (Eph. 1:22,23); she is a bride betrothed to the bridegroom (Eph. 5:23-32), a building that stands in relation to its foundation and cornerstone (1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20). The church shall therefore conduct herself in this way, namely, subject to him in order to live righteously after his will, and so on. Note that the church is never called in her constitution to be clerical priests, and to observe religious regulations, i.e. such subservience.
The church stands in relation to the Holy Spirit as his instrument, members, temple, disciples, witnesses, etc. (Rom. 6:13-16; 1 Cor. 6:19; Matt. 10:19,20; John 14:16,17; 15:26; 16:13). In Eph. 3:10 we see that through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, i.e. to angels themselves. The church shall appear as God’s great work of wisdom, God’s panorama, setting forth his counsel of salvation in the atonement, holiness, redemption, in grace, righteousness and glory. The Father’s conduct toward the church is loving, nurturing, protecting, etc. The Son’s conduct toward the church is set forth in Eph. 5:23-32 as sevenfold, namely, loving, giving himself up for her, purifying, cleansing, nourishing, cherishing, and finally presenting her to himself as glorious, etc. The Holy Spirit’s behavior toward the church is set forth best by the Lord Jesus himself in his farewell discourse to the disciples, and even his actions are sevenfold: indwelling, teaching, reminding, testifying, leading into all the truth, speaking what he hears, and proclaiming what is to come. In 1 Cor. 3:5-9 we have the most thorough presentation and illustration of what God does directly and indirectly in the church. One of the servants plants, the other waters, “but God makes it grow.” We are God’s fellow-workers, you are God’s field.”

At this time in the meeting, it was decided to leave this subject, and on the following day begin with another one. )

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The sixth point was now taken up for discussion, and is recorded in the following words:
How are the church’s spiritual gifts discovered and offices of service appointed-what is the right manner with respect to calling, maintenance and length of time for service at one place-and what about a chairman, secretary, treasure, and so on?

Princell: There are mainly three passages in the New Testament that speak about the church’s gifts. The first is Rom. 12:6-8. The first gift mentioned there is the gift of prophecy: “If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.” Next comes service: “If it is serving, let him serve.” Service is also a gift. The word is diakonia = diakon (deacon), and denotes service in a higher sense than bond-slave or slave. When it is an issue about our relationship to God, then it is another word, denoting slave, bondman, servant- the higher meaning. When it pertains to service toward one another, to the congregation, the word ‘slave’ is never used since that word expresses servant in the higher sense. Here the meaning is ‘service’ in general, or also the specific deacon-service. The third gift in this text is teaching, “if it is teaching, let him teach.” The apostle makes a distinction between diakon and teacher, yet these words are combined in the case of Stephen. The deacon-servant was used to describe a woman-deaconess-as in the case of Phoebe who served in the church at Cenchrea (“a servant of the church.”) The fourth gift mentioned in this passage is encouragement, “if it is encouraging, let him encourage.” The fifth is giving, “if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously”; the sixth is leadership, “if it is leadership, let him lead diligently.” The seventh: “if it is showing mercy, let him do so cheerfully.” There are seven different gifts numbered here, and all are according to the grace that has been given us.
The next passage is 1 Cor. 12:4ff. which reads: “There are various kinds of gifts but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service but the same Lord.” The word for service here is the same as the word for servants. It can be thought to be equal in meaning but it is different. A person can perform a service without having an official position. One can heal someone and carry out a service without having the position of a doctor; he can save a life without having the office. In one case, it is the role of a servant, in the other it speaks exclusively of the position. Here in speaking about gifts, offices and workings, the church can have gifts without having offices. Sadly, there are many that have the offices but do not have the gifts, and this makes it all the worse. When God set believers into an office, he first gives them gifts.
How these gifts come and are applied in ministry are mentioned: “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit.” We notice here that the apostle distinguishes between wisdom and knowledge. The person who has knowledge is not always wise. The Jewish teachings of the scriptures contained much knowledge but the Jewish leaders were not always wise! They had knowledge about where the Messiah was to be born, but if they had been wise, they would have gone there. To be wise is to attain to the highest standard with the best and simplest means. It is a spiritual gift to speak wisdom, and a greater gift than merely to speak knowledge, no matter how good it is. We read, “to another faith through the same Spirit.” Here ‘faith’ means a particular sense, for otherwise it would not say, “to another,” since all of God’s children have faith in a general sense. “To another, gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another, miraculous powers.” It is a gift to heal the sick, and to have power over evil spirits. This is discovered, as with his presence, in exercising the powerful work over the evil spirits, as Jesus did. I know of one brother in the East who had such an effect, only with Jesus’ presence, when he entered the workshop that machines would stop.
Furthermore, prophecy is mentioned here, as well as discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. In all, there are nine gifts mentioned here. And then it says in verse 28: “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having the gift of healing, those who are able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those who speak in different kinds of tongues.” Certainly God does not set these gifts in every part of the church, for example, at Chicago, Antioch, or Boone, but in the church as a whole. The particular gifts shall be found, and they have always been found, although during the church’s periods of “sickness” these gifts have been “paralyzed.”
Now the third passage, Eph. 4:11ff. says: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare the saints for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith, and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Notice this here. One sometimes puts the wagon before the horse, wanting to create unity based on preaching works. What we find here is this: only believers who work with what they have, and so unity is found in the opposite order-to work and keep on until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God.

K. Erixon. It is clear that God has given these gifts to the church in its entirety and by this to every group. Also, since the local church is so small, they will not have all the gifts mentioned here because they do not have as many members.

A. Davis pointed out how people often choose and take the noble and highly exalted positions even though perhaps God has chosen the poor with their spiritual gifts. Such a distinction in rank in used, and it was used in the apostles’ time when it was said to the well-dressed, “Sit up here,” and to the poor, “sit down there.” When this happens, the gifts that are given to us are hindered.

A.L. Anderson eagerly wished to have a fuller answer to the question on how someone can discover and practice the gifts.

P.A. Peterson. I see the gift of healing coming into use in a way that if any in the congregation are sick, then he shall first call for the elders.

A.N. Sweders remarked that it is not necessary that all the elders have the gift in order to heal the sick.

J. Martenson. God gives the gifts and he is the one who works them all. Since he is the one who gives a gift, he will also use it; this is the reason the gift has been given. If you have the gift to heal the sick, then heal those who need healing. If you have the gift to exhort, then exhort the one who needs exhortation. If you have the gift to give, then give to those who are in need. If you have the gift to speak knowledge, then with your gift inform someone. I think it is quite simple: God gives gifts-all for benefit and service-and so he obliges us by his love to serve others who are in need. Now it is true, of course, that Christian discernment is needed in order to use the gifts correctly. As in the spiritual so in the physical realm, I should employ my gifts more to the benefit of others, e.g., if I have money and serve those who have little or no resources, or if I have strength and use it to take a stand in order to defend the weak. So it is in the spiritual realm. For the person who teaches, he should use his gifts as God works through his Spirit to benefit others, as we read, “to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” May we therefore pay attention to the Spirit’s exhortation in the Word and in the heart.
Concerning the gift of healing the sick, it is a misconception to believe that every elder has this gift since a person when he is sick should call the elders according to God’s Word, as James says. While this should happen, it does not imply that the elders need to have the gift of healing. The promise there is not in connection with the gift of healing but with the service of an elder and the prayer of faith. And an elder according to God’s Word must be one who has confidence in God. The person with the gift of healing is not commanded to anoint him with oil. It is possible to do as Peter did at the temple gate called Beautiful when he said: “What I have I give you. Stand up and walk.”

A. Davis. God gives gifts and he also gives the intelligence to select leaders. We see this in Exodus 18 where Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, gives Moses advice, namely, “to select capable men who shun dishonest gain, and to appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.” Here was merely one person who made this selection. In Acts 6 we see that there were several when a selection was made. In Acts 13 Paul and Barnabas selected some prophets and teachers in Antioch in accordance with God’s command.

A.L. Anderson Now I have received some answers. However, I would also like to know if there are only 9 gifts that have been talked about in the church, or are there more that may be used to edify the body of Christ?

Princell. I believe that the total number is given in what was read. I cannot think of any gifts that do not fall under these that are named here. It is important to distinguish gifts and offices. In the world’s churches, they do not make this distinction. In those churches they say: “You do not have the office to preach and so do not go walking into houses and engage in a spiritual work.” Others offer advice crying: “Gifts, gifts!” but they do not have any offices. Both are extremes. A congregation of God is merely one part of his entire body, and they should therefore conduct themselves in this way, seeing themselves as forming a part of the whole. Has the local church any common goods that do not belong to the church in its entirety? If not, then it is not one of God’s congregations. He has the same requirement for membership in all his congregations. Some local churches, whether named Baptist, Lutheran, etc., have certain requirements of doctrine and discipline in order for a believer to become a member. But this is not a church of God although it may certainly have children of God as members-a church of God within a church. But God does not require this in order to become a member of his church. A drip of water has the same qualities as its source. One can clearly take a cup of water from Lake Michigan, and offer someone a drink, saying: “This is water from Lake Michigan.” No, he ought to say that this cup has supplements added to make it entirely different from the water in Lake Michigan, and the flecks satisfy one’s thirst. The point is that qualities of God’s church must be the same with one part as that of all God’s churches. The distinction lies simply in its scope and numbers.
Gifts are solely abilities. Many are able to have gifts without having the office, but in the church of God there ought to be freedom for both as well. When a gift is discovered and in a particular way appears, then the church ought to set the person with the gift apart, and place him into the office. So how does the community do this, and in what way? Oh yes, it first must prepare and make room for the gifts. First, one observes the gifts, and then follows the calling and being set apart to use the gift.
But how does one discover the gifts? Yes, how did Jesus discover them? How did he observe gifts in his disciples in ministry? Oh yes, he first spoke with them and asked them to follow him, and then he began to see them going to others saying, “We have found the Messiah.” Of course, the gifts were revealed moreover as they continued their work, doing the work that the Messiah had done. And so it ought always to happen in the life of a congregation in order that the gifts might be exercised and known. This is only the beginning, and discovering gifts comes with speaking, teaching, and setting apart.
I do not wish now to expound the point about ‘calling’ but simply to touch on the matter lightly. Let’s take for example a person who preaches. He receives the address to one location or another. Upon arriving he is asked: “Are you called?” “No!” he replies, and so no one knows what to do. Another person may sincerely doubt if he ought to go out and preach if he has not been called or sent. Much misunderstanding prevails, and it would have been better if the question had not been asked.

K Erixon. There was a remark earlier that the drop has the same qualities as the source. This is true. Wherever one of God’s children is found, he has the same qualities as a whole group of believers, like a sheep. If a sheep separates, it nevertheless has the same qualities the whole flock. Where two or three are gathered together in the Lord’s name, there he is in the midst of them, is also true for all the church of God. However, employing spiritual gifts is different. In one part of the God’s church, there can be gifts that are more pronounced than in another part. For example, I have heard about a brother in Sweden who was thought to have the gift of healing more than others. I received a letter from a district I know, that an ungodly captain heard about this brother, went to him, was healed both in body and soul, then built a mission house in gratitude to the Lord, and began to minister in the Lord’s work. I mean to say that gifts exercised at one local church are able to have a greater impact than in another local church. And they may manifest there, even though they are not visible to the eye. And there the less honorable parts are treated with honor and not despised or hindered.

A.L. Anderson. When one speaks about the church’s gifts, the language is often too limited, and what comes to mind is those who can preach-those who can speak- and it is as though all the gifts are reduced to one. I would therefore like to emphasize what Brother Princell mentioned when he cited at least 9 spiritual gifts. The preaching gift is only one gift and we should not overlook all the others. Preaching-yes- is valuable as has been stated but one should not elevate it at the expense of the others that are just as beneficial. All God’s gifts are good and well worth being employed. All the gifts are given by the Spirit. Please understand that I do not want to speak disgracefully or negatively about any of the gifts. With regard to the gift of preaching, it is often set aside by a great oratorical ability so that a person who has the natural talent to preach is thought to have the gift of preaching- as though it were given by the Spirit. We should not place little weight on examining this in light of God’s Word. The gifts that come by the Spirit should be sufficiently characterized by this, namely, that their use serves to advance Christ’s kingdom, which natural talents and mere abilities do not do.

Princell. It is apparent that the church of God in one place or another can be without some of the gifts distributed to the whole church. In the letter to the Romans, written at least 7 or 8 years after the letter to the Corinthians, only 7 gifts are numbered, two less than at Corinth. The scriptures speak about speaking in tongues only in two places. It is spoken about at Cornelius’s conversion, and in the letter to the Corinthians. In Corinth, since the gift was widely used they did not ask for it. But the apostle was not afraid to keep it in perspective. He says, “Earnestly seek the greater gifts!” If they had this gift then why would they earnestly seek to get it? He does not say for me to seek what I already have. Do we seek an evangelist if we do not have a need for one? No, I seek after the gifts that I need! And so he comes to the more excellent way-and here may we notice and not strike out the word ‘love.’ Then the apostle returns to the idea of seeking after spiritual gifts, but most of all prophecy. He wishes for the congregation to speak five words with understanding than ten thousand in tongues. He does not want to discourage speaking in tongues, but he lays a cold compress on the practice.
In regards to how the gifts should be discovered and practiced in ministry, no definite rule can be given. In order to discover them-one needs to lay hold of them! But how does one lay hold of them in ministry? The answer is to put them on through ministry. It is not as though there is a patent on them like on sewing machines. No, you have a right to practice the gifts in ministry. God has not given an exclusive “license” on employing the gifts in ministry, and to make a claim on such a right, and to give them so that only some have this right before others; that is humbug.
Now moving on to our discussion of calling, we are reminded of how for 20 years it was generally thought that no preacher was able to go out to preach without being sent by a mission society. If a colporteur in Sweden had not received a call or was not of age and sent out, he was viewed as a vagabond. Yes, even as late as 1873 such an idea was generally held, as it was also here in America. Even when the free work began outside of Augustana, it was also looked down upon when someone went out in the field without a calling. People said that no one could preach or distribute the sacraments without a “proper calling.” No, the question became: “Is it right to determine such a calling?” If you examine the Bible, you will not find a word about calling in the sense that the churches have used it, or called as Luther says after vitus = manner of life. And yet, the Lord says, “Go.” And as this is true, it is true for all the Lord’s ambassadors. This command was not limited merely to the apostles whom the Lord personally sent out, those with whom he went out with and later commissioned with this word to “go” and evangelize. It is true that a man from Macedonia called Paul to preach to them but this was in a vision. As it generally stands, “they went out.”
But then, is there not any indication early on about the disciples being set apart and being sent out? Oh yes, obviously so. The apostles would stay in Jerusalem until they received power from on high. In the apostolic church they were sufficiently prepared with what they had received. This is obviously shown by the message about the letters of recommendation. The church evidently waited for those who came as strangers who would have been sent out on some kind of mission. Some have said that false prophets come and true prophets are sent, and in most cases this is true. Concerning this, the scriptures describe the true prophets as coming, but this is often found to be the case of the false prophets as well, and so it is a flimsy point, both for preachers and churches. It is not customary to ask about the apostles going to places where Jesus was not known. Of course, in that case they cannot readily think about going somewhere, passing the offering plate, and receiving an offering. They simply go to the place where Christ is not known, and bear the marks of one sent by God.
But circumstances are different when an unknown and unsolicited preacher comes to a believing congregation. It must be unpleasant for a conscientious preacher to come to a congregation without being solicited. I think it would be equally difficult for the circle of friends. It seems quite fitting to me that congregations should ask for a letter of recommendation when a stranger comes claiming to be a preacher. (continued) )

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Alf Zandell: How shall a person test the spirits? A person often hears it said that this or that dear brother has a little flaw because he so readily wishes to preach. How is it determined whether a person is motivated to preach because of a preaching-mania or if it is the leading of the Spirit?

A. Davis: Brother Princell spoke earlier about calling, and I will simply add that Peter was called to visit Cornelius. In reference to material support, God’s Word speaks about the worker and the ox and advises us not to muzzle the ox while he is threshing. This is written for our sake. The worker deserves his wages, and thus when Jesus sent out his disciples he told them not to take anything in their hands. The man who labors in the Word, as well as teaches is worthy of double honor. In regards to the length of service at a particular location, there is no certain length of time to report. Of course, it may be that one’s gifts might become more beneficial the longer he stays, yet others only know the experience of serving at a place for a little amount of time.

L. Linquist: In reference to material support, the Lord has been very clear in his instructions to us. Paul both worked with his hands and preached. And if someone does this we are greatly thankful to God for such devotion. However, a whole host of God’s children who do not participate in this way in the Lord’s work lose something by not taking part. There was one church that Paul had to ask for support, but in this case they also forfeited the blessing that comes with sharing in the work.

J. Martenson: The elders who work hard at teaching ought to receive their support from this work according to 1 Tim. 5:18. But merely to preach one or two times a week is considered part-time in this work of teaching and preaching the Word, and therefore ought likewise to receive a little support for the week just as another worker receives a comparable amount for a couple hours of work. An elder-and it is written elders and not priests, in 1 Tim. 5:17- are to take care of and tend to the flock, and more is needed to shepherd than to merely stand in the pulpit before the flock once or twice a week.- Concerning “preaching mania,” you can find those who suffer from this sickness. The person who never talks about Jesus and fails to bear his name outside of the pulpit certainly suffers from a “preaching mania.”

P.A. Peterson: In regards to the letter of recommendation, I find that Jesus had no such thing. He traveled from town to town without any such letter. If someone depends on a letter of recommendation then perhaps he will never be able to minister outside of a particular circle of Christians. Once I belonged to a denomination, and they even sent me to their school, but when I decided not to hold the view of the atonement that Christ died in my stead, they did not want me to preach then either. I wasn’t able to get a letter of recommendation from them. I then traveled to Kansas without a letter of recommendation, preached there, and souls were saved. This was a living letter.

E. Thorell: I do not understand much about this subject but according to what I do understand from the Scriptures, a letter of recommendation should not be necessary in order to preach the gospel.

J.G. Princell: Concerning the length of calling, we see from Acts 11:26 that Paul and Barnabas remained in the church at Antioch for a whole year. In Acts 18:11 we know that Paul on his first visit to Corinth stayed there for 18 months, working with his hands. According to what is written in Acts 19:10, Paul stayed for two years in Ephesus. Therefore, the length of time is different according to various circumstances. - With respect to offices, there are three: elders or bishops-which are one and the same. The Jews had elders, and those who exercised oversight were called after the Hebrew practice ‘elders,’ and after the Greek, ‘bishops.’ Then there were deacons who were to administrate, to care for members, to help the sick, etc. The third were evangelists. Timothy was an evangelist, and Paul exhorted him, “Do the work of an evangelist.” Theologians have not always viewed Timothy as an evangelist since he did not write any of the Gospels, holding to the idea that unless one writes a Gospel, he is not an evangelist. Thus, they do not think that evangelists can be chosen or set apart.
In Acts 14:23, it mentions that the elders were chosen, or as it actually states, were appointed by the laying on of hands. Of course, it was not only the apostles who laid hands on them but also the congregation. There is little basis here though for establishing any particular type of church government, for example, episcopal. And there is little support for saying that Paul prescribed to Timothy to appoint elders. Titus would not appoint elders at Crete but was quick to acknowledge that the elders would be chosen by the congregations. It is dangerous to establish any form of church government on a statement that can have several interpretations. But many have done this and therefore have often put all the authority into one person’s hands, as in the case of the pope when he appoints and discharges.
A preacher is not the same as the presiding elder. It is not according to the Word of God that the preacher should be the presiding elder. The presiding elder in the congregation is the actual bishop or overseer, not the preacher. The elder or bishop can even be an evangelist, teacher, etc. and so much the better. An elder can be the one who exclusively devotes himself to teaching, and the care of the flock, and therefore ought to receive his financial support for this, but he can also be an elder and merely devote a part of his time to serve the congregation. Concerning the calling to go out in the world and preach the gospel, it is not further necessary than to go, yes, even if some might be against this. Consider Börresen and Stressrud. They can be compared to John the Baptist who was not highly thought of in Jerusalem when he was out in the desert. Look, the work of these brothers’ has also had the stamp of success, and I think it is more than strange that they on their visit in Europe after 12 or 13 years of work among the heathen wished to become ordained. But the old leaven hangs on from the outside. This was also the case with Missionary Taylor. When he decided to go to Australia, the Methodists did not want to support him. He went despite their lack of support and first labored there, and then he worked in Africa for 25 years with great blessing. When he was recently here on a visit, they consecrated him “bishop of Africa.” Just as it is right for a person to go to a house, specifically to a family that needs to hear the gospel but to wait for this calling, it is also right without a calling to go to a town, or to a country with several cities. The gospel is not bound and cannot be bound. It is good news, and to bring good news to wretched people, nobody has a monopoly on this.

L. Lindquist reminded the conference about a practice in the world’s churches. A person gets a letter declaring his right to pastoral ministry, similar to how the state issues a deed for real estate. When the person gets the letter, he thinks that he then has the right to preach the gospel. I believe also that a person has the right to proclaim the good news of Jesus without such a letter or deed, but for the one who devotes himself exclusively to this task, I believe a written or verbal recommendation is fitting.

A. Davis: I know well that it can be both good and not-so-good to have a letter of recommendation. When there is no more than one group, then it is good, but now, of course, there are so many groups that if someone is recommended, the letter may not apply to him preaching to another group, and thus perhaps he is not received. In John’s third letter, I see that it was not merely the humble brothers who were not received but John himself was not received. In Matt. 10, it is written how the disciples should respond when they are not received: “Shake the dust off your feet.” I know a congregation where a brother was eager to rescue the perishing, but they were offended and were of the opinion that he should move on from there. He shook the dust off his feet, and ever since then I have heard the preacher bemoan the fact that none were saved.

J. Martenson: If we examine Acts 18:27, we discover that Apollos was to go from Ephesus to Achaia- “the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to receive him.” In Rom. 16:1-2 we read the recommendation that the sister Phoebe was to be received by the church at Rome. Several examples can be cited. Therefore, such a recommendation is neither unique to the Word of God nor was it looked down on during the days of the apostles. This was also the case in Acts 9:2 where Paul asked for letters of recommendation to the priests of the synagogues. We should not think that we are such great men that we consider it below our dignity to be recommended by other brothers.
I do not recommend an annual “license” that provides proof that a person should be received as the Lord’s servant. A person can certainly be the Lord’s co-laborer when he obtains a license, but during that period of time he can become the most eager factionist and evil worker, before the license expires. Therefore, I recommend that a congregation neither receive nor promote any outsider in public ministry, if in fact he does not have a good testimony from God’s children where he last visited. In addition, I think that it is totally foolish to ask that a congregation believe me simply on my own word when I come as an outsider and ask to use the local meeting hall to preach. Of course, it was in view of deceivers that Jesus spoke about his own testimony, not to accept his claims as valid without a recommendation. He did not desire that they believe him merely because of his words, but as he said earlier, because of the work that he did, the very work given him to finish-this testified of him.
As a preacher, I cannot expect people to receive me based on my statement of a divine call when I want a church to receive and promote my ministry. If an ambassador of Jesus is permitted to do this without a recommendation then this opens the way for thieves, deceivers, and scoundrels. Suppose that a God-sent preacher comes to a place where he is not known. He wishes to preach and when asked about a letter of recommendation he answers: “Here I have my letter of recommendation,” pointing to the Bible. They dispute about what they ought to do but are caught up with having a preacher among them, who they would like to hear, and so they open their meeting hall or house and advertise the meeting. Souls are saved, God’s children are encouraged, and they thank God that they received this dear brother. However, shortly after this, a deceiver comes in and claims to be a preacher. He has no other recommendation than the Bible. If his previous experience in the church is strong, then it is not as risky to receive him as those who do come without a recommendation from other people. But if you promote the deceiver, soon he will bring discredit upon the Lord’s name, and he will do more injury than what an entire year of work can heal.
We have seen such fakes in Chicago. For example, one man came and claimed to have preached in Sweden and wanted the opportunity to preach in the pulpit here. A couple of brothers approached me about him and his great gift of speaking, wishing to give him the opportunity to express himself briefly during one of our free meetings where the Word was preached. I could not do this since I did not know the man. These brothers became upset with me, reminding me about the danger of opposing God’s Spirit. The man appeared rather successful on several occasions when he had the opportunity to preach the Word, as well as during longer messages, and of course, many people were taken in by his great natural gift. He spoke like a flowing stream, and many people thought that his speaking ability was according to the unction of the Spirit. The words came out so straight and rapid that he barely had time to take a breath. Of course, all this became yet clearer to me-that he had a more lively tongue than the living Spirit. I also told this to the two brothers who, after his message, asked if I did not think that it was blessed. Surely it had aroused people’s emotions as he shared in this way. But then one day, we discovered that the man’s wife and children were in Sweden, and that he was living here in dissipation and drunkenness. He then traveled to a different place and was urged to preach there, and then he came again to Chicago and another congregation received him as one of God’s angels until all became apparent to them as well. By then, however, he had already preached in three places.
Another man joined us and wished to be able to preach. He sought every opportunity to speak before the congregation. It soon became obvious that he was simply appearing to be a Christian. He proved this by borrowing money from one person and then another, and finally he took off when he was discovered. Therefore, since things can happen like this, we should not be so free that we do not pay attention in this respect to our obligation. For by the free work we do not mean, of course, to work independent of one another, for that would be a sad understanding of freedom. No, true freedom is to separate from that which is not true, and as one moves farther from what is not true, certainly the more free he is. Concerning the matter of recommendation, naturally this does not apply when someone wishes to go to the heathen and to testify about Jesus to the ungodly. They receive someone without a recommendation, but what we are talking about here applies to someone who wishes to go and preach to a congregation of believers.
Moving to the question about the treasurer and secretary, I am reminded that Jesus had someone to look after the money. I also think that a secretary is needed when there are things to store away in the mind, and for this reason it is necessary to use a pen and paper. With respect to discovering congregational gifts and how they should be deployed in ministry, I would like to remind everyone that the first step in ministry is not to preach to a congregation. You often meet people in a church who think they have this gift and are called by God to preach, but complain about the fact that they do not have the opportunity to do so since a congregation has not called them. During the meantime they do nothing to save souls. Who will summon someone to preach and speak to hundreds of souls when he has neither shown any sense of urgency nor has the capacity to speak to a single soul? On the other hand, the person who begins to work in humility and witness to individuals, this person soon becomes invaluable to the congregation.
It has been observed that those who are not received should shake the dust off their feet. I would like to say that this is not necessarily a bad thing for a congregation either, especially when she does not receive a preacher who is not affirmed by God’s children. Anyhow, the question pertains to being sent, and shaking the dust off their feet, if they are not received. The passage also mentions going to the lost house of Israel, and that they should not go among the Gentiles or enter any Samaritan town. Now things are different, and it applies to going to all people and compelling them to come to Jesus. And those who listen to Jesus have a charge to be on guard against evil workers. I have seen a shaking-off-the-dust when the fruit was not even one night old, when there was an incident by a brother who was reproved because of his severe and unmerciful criticism and unbecoming behavior. We may find that a division occurs when a congregation does not promote a preacher because of his misbehavior, being cloaked in error, etc., or when she will not have anything to do with him because of his partisan-attitude and enmity toward the truth. In this case, if she does not take a stand, it will result in her downfall and doom, but if she does, her salvation will be more certain. Therefore, may both the preacher and the congregation hereafter be more careful in having and requiring a recommendation, especially when they do not know each other, and by this avoid any pitfalls when a deceiver presents himself as one of Jesus’ apostles. Naturally, a recommendation applies no longer than for what it was recommended, but of course, a recommendation is in itself good.

K. Erixon: It is altogether true that a recommendation is valid only as long as there is confidence in the person recommended. It is also true that this does not apply among the heathen but to those ministering to a congregation of believers, and of course, there may be reason at times for them not to open their houses and churches. Now a word of advice is in order about living graciously in Jesus. It is common for young souls to want to witness well about the Lord through words and deeds, and that is certainly a reason to rejoice, especially if they have for a long time witnessed poorly for him. But they need to listen and be wise, and not merely focus on the preaching aspect of ministry. Furthermore, they should be compelled both by the love of the Lord and the wellbeing of souls, and have this confidence as they greet one another. If one brother does not have the confidence of another brother who knows him well, then it would not be good for others to accept him either. In regards to a recommendation, it is of course, a means to protect oneself from a deceiver. Yet, it may be that the person is not actually a deceiver but merely lacking in spiritual sense-a matter that one should still protect himself against. It is not that these people want to be deceivers but are merely so untaught in the truth that their teaching and preaching leads to error. In their case, they ought to remain quiet, and better yet they should first seek God’s will before they go out. We ought to heed what the Scriptures say: “Many ought not be teachers, for they will receive a stricter judgment.” While we should observe this warning, it is also important to endure in our love for others, and if we make a mistake in this regard, it is something that we should not overlook for long.

J. Martenson: Concerning the matter of mistakes, I would also like to add that it is important to distinguish a preacher’s mistakes from deceit. A preacher may in one way or another make a mistake and nevertheless it ends in a blessing. It is important that by his making a mistake that he should not be declared a false prophet since this is a quite serious accusation. Rather, correct him in love. And if he is of the mind of Jesus, let him declare this to be so. Another matter is when a person imposes something as his A and O that is not right. In this case, it is not merely a mistake but promoting a strange doctrine and this ought to be dealt with accordingly.

J.G. Princell: When asked about ‘calling,’ I have used four points with my students that I would now like to consider:
1) About the heart: it is important that a person have a burning desire in his heart to go out, and at the same time he should have a conviction about darkness and destitution and God’s will.
2) The motive: When I become aware of the first point then I must analyze my motive, and by this observe two things: first, my character. If I have a defiled nature from my former way of life which would give scoffers a weapon against me, or if I am reckless, then I should not seek to enter public ministry. For when a person like this goes out, the devil will destroy him, and the person will bring criticism upon himself and others. A defiled name attached to a preacher is like a dog bound to the back of a swan. In his own locality, he can possibly minister publicly with blessing, since in that situation people will see more and more that his behavior is not the same as before. He should probably stay there until all of the old marks are removed, and not raise any more doubts as to his integrity. The second thing to observe is what is motivating him. If it is idleness, fame, greed, or even an insatiable love for reading, then I am not called. In all respects, it is important to consider the personal character and motive before someone goes out.
3) The harmony that exists between me and the believers at a particular place: if there are no believers there, then that is one thing. In that case, I would begin to work among those living there who are not believers. But where there are other children of God, I should let them know of my desire. If they are of the same opinion as I am, then by that, I have a testimony to my calling. May they advise me when I should receive this calling from God, and not expect them to bring the matter up when the Spirit prompts me. A man once came to Spurgeon and said that he had received a revelation from the Spirit to preach at the Tabernacle. Spurgeon replied: “The Spirit is not partial, and so he will also let me know about this.” Yes it is so. When the calling is from God, he works in his children so that they too are of the same opinion.
4) About resources: If God calls me he will provide the resources for me to go. If I perceive there is a wall in front of me, God will open a door if he wills that I go out. In this situation, I should at least wait until I see the door ajar.
As for the term ‘chairman,’ which is the same as elder, overseer or bishop and conveys the same idea as the Latin word ‘president,’ it would be valuable to use the two Biblical terms-elder and bishop-in order to bring down the high prelates. If it became merely a little more popular to call the chairman, “bishop,” then it would not be considered such a great thing to be one of the bishops of the state church, since every congregation would have at least one bishop. In Ephesus there were several bishops, and they were engaged in striking the devil.
At the meeting in Jerusalem, there was a secretary, for example, who wrote down the council’s decision, and by this showed that a secretary was necessary, and that somebody must perform the task. Of course, in any size of meeting, it is necessary to record what needs to be remembered. This is actually better than having a constitution. A high churchman once said to me that the constitution is merely a dead document, and what is of more value at the meeting is for those present to come to a common understanding. In most cases, no one knows what a constitution is anyway. It is only a scarecrow.
When we consider material support, there are many duties that are done for nothing. The chairman, treasurer, and secretary in many cases receive nothing. It is also true that there are those who preach without having any remuneration. The Lord’s recommendation to his apostles in found in Matt. 10:9-10, and Luke 10:1ff. These passages state that the apostles should depend on their brothers of the faith and not on the Gentiles. Then in 1 Cor. 9:3ff. we see that this is the apostles’ defense toward those who sit in judgment over them. Paul asks: “Do we not have the right to food and drink? Do we not have the right to take a believing wife along with us, and to be free from labor with our hands?” Those who raise objections are good at confusing a Gabriel or a Michael for a preacher, since they are able to live without meat and bread.
Paul had the right here also, “as the other apostles” who were recognized as having the right. Yet, Paul set this privilege aside in order to preach without receiving payment. Nonetheless, he supported those who deserved food and shelter. How Paul did not receive payment at Corinth in order not to be burden to them, we see in 2 Cor. 11:7-12, that he received support from other churches. He let his opponents likewise know this when they said, “Look, Paul is not a true apostle-he works with his hands and he has no wage, he knows he has no right to receive payment as we see that with true apostles. Peter and James and several others do.” It was perhaps as with some “super apostles”-not true, but Jewish-minded ones-and so he commended himself to have seen Peter and several others.
These “apostles of Jesus” seem to have sought to become powerful, as well as to reduce Paul on grounds that he was not in the least like Peter. To this he writes his powerful response, saying, “I have robbed other churches,” i.e. received payment without having given them labor in return- “by receiving support from them in order to serve you.” He says this not out arrogance but in order to intercept the prophets that he calls false. In Phil. 4:10ff. we discover how he received payment. All depends on circumstances. In order to work for nothing, Paul presented his need to those in Greece, and by them giving to his need, they were blessed in return. By those being able do this, it helps much to disarm the enemy.
I will be glad, if as I hope, hereafter to have the occasion to preach without payment since it is more blessed to give than to receive. Thus, the first way is to serve without payment, the second way that the Lord ordained is to receive payment through what the Lord offers through his friends. The third way is to receive a certain agreed upon payment, and is a Philippian act-see chapter 4:15. When I came from the Augustana Synod I learned what it was to labor without certain wage. When I ministered in Augustana, I had 1,000 dollars a year, and added to that perhaps a couple hundred more. That is how it went. Then I served a little fellowship where I sometimes received 50 dollars per month, sometimes less, but nevertheless it covered our needs, and we marveled. At the school we had free housing, but the income per year was not more than 300 dollars. However, it also covered our needs. Let us not place blame, but I believe that it is most blessed to receive as God gives. I have also spoken with brothers who have a certain wage but they do not always get it. Moreover, I know of churches in debt and the preacher was dissatisfied until they left the “certain” for the “uncertain,” and the same congregation has actually given more. )

“Referat från mötet i Boone, Ia. d. 14-19 Okt.”
December 2, 1884, Page 1

The edification of the church-What is edification? How is it promoted? What is the purpose for the meetings? What is the purpose of the Word, baptism, and communion, and it is right to use songs and music in the church? The seventh point was now taken up for discussion.

A. Davis reminded everyone that edification is not the same as conversion, and that it is important that congregations nurture converts in faith, love, etc. Jude 20 states: “But you dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith, and pray in the Holy Spirit.” This is spoken to God’s children. So also Col. 2:6,7 reads, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith, as you have been taught, overflowing with thankfulness.”

Ch. Sandquist. A person should not build on the sand, but on solid ground. There are many members but one body, and the Lord is the one who works in all. Edification comes about by the work of his Spirit. Let me read 1 Pet. 2:4,5: “As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house, to a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ!”

J. Martenson. The Scriptures have much to say about edification, and the term is used in various ways, such as the building of Babel, the prophets building aggravation, building houses, the temple, and the church. If we take a house, or the temple as an image of God’s church, we are reminded of all that goes into building this structure, and then it is perhaps not as difficult for us to understand. Of course, a building such as this begins with stones that form the foundation and support the structure. These foundation stones must be carried and set in place, where each stone is set stone-to-stone. Both the stone setter and his helper build the building. When we examine the meaning of edification in God’s church, I believe that it demands more than the spiritual growth of believers. It also requires an increase in the flock. How pitiful it is for a house that has been built, for the workers to think that it is sufficiently large enough, and then they only add ornaments. The one aspect of edification is as necessary as the other. Every one of us in this regard should work for the edification of the church. Even if you serve only as a helper and carry stones to the foundation-and labor diligently, you will not be without payment, for every worker will receive payment for his labor.
The foundation upon which God’s church is built is Christ, and the means are God’s Word and his Spirit. Paul said to the elders at Ephesus, “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32) In Eph. 2:21-22 it says that Christ is the chief cornerstone “on which the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” From this it is clear that when encouraged, the church is edified, but when it is hindered, there is division. If you sever a branch or a limb from the body, then it no longer exists as it did. If you cut off a finger from the hand, it soon decomposes, even if it had been near the other fingers that formed the hand. A building is formed by its pieces being joined together. We should not forget this. And the only “mortar” that can sufficiently join together living stones is love through the one Spirit who streams through them all. We would do well to pay attention and avoid the “cement” that hinders the stones from sharing in the Spirit. We read in 1 Thess. 5:11: “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing,” as Jesus does too. Thus, the church is built up when God’s children encourage one another. “But everyone who prophesies … edifies the church.” (1 Cor. 14:3-4) All of God’s children are able to contribute to the edification of the church. God has set some as “apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers so that the saints should be prepared for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (Eph. 4:11-12) Yes, may God prepare us all for this work, and may it be clear to us, who as a body of believers in Jesus, when a soul comes to Christ, that we be prepared to encourage this brother or sister, help him or her to do something to become mature, and by this God will build up and lead the person forward, so that we will have even more reason to declare that Jesus is the chief cornerstone. And when someone gazes at the stones set in every position including the walls, the temple will radiate with beauty and will be an admiration to God’s architecture in both purity and greatness.

K. Erixon. Brother Davis read Jude 20, and I would like to point out that this division stands in contrast to edification. The apostle says: “In the latter times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith.” It seems that division as expressed here is a great hindrance to edification. Furthermore, preaching strange doctrines, devotion to myths, and endless genealogies are hindrances. “These promote controversies rather than God’s work-which is by faith.” (1 Tim. 1:4) In addition, inappropriate speech hinders the church’s edification. “Do not let any unwholesome speech come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.” (Eph. 4:29) In Rom. 14 we are warned about judging one another in the matter of eating. It speaks of a man who considers one day more sacred than another, and admonishes us to stop passing judgment on one another, and instead, “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” The edification described here stands in contrast to the loveless and offensive judgment that does not promote peace, but rather strife. Where there is strife, edification is not there. Please note that I do not mean a type of peace that a person finds upon some false premise. I do not mean a peace in the midst of a spirit of death that prevails in many places such as in a church where the priest conducts worship regularly, and some may think everything is fine even though both the priest and listeners are ungodly. This type of “peace” or “calm that should not be interrupted” is not was it meant here. Certainly it is better that before such “peace” is spread that the truth comes. But the peace that should not be interrupted is the kind that is established on mutual love among God’s children. This, for example, can happen within an assembly of believers. They love one another and teach the need for good behavior, and long to come to the truth, and in various ways are able to accept wrongs. But then someone comes professing greater insight and begins to judge them, and clawing like a bear, says: “You call yourselves Christians; and yet I find here things that are not right with you- no, you are hypocrites; do not be deceived.” Then comes strife, and not edification. Therefore, it is important to consider and see accurately those things that can either promote or hinder edification.

J.G. Princell. Eph. 4 has already been read. It says that Jesus has appointed some as apostles, evangelists, etc. in order for the saints to be built up. Let us look at the meaning of edification, namely, that the saints should become mature, that they should become a building- not merely stones laid on the foundation. The church is to be seen in terms broader than a gathering of stones. “Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God,” etc. Unity is important; but it is not simply a question about unity but the kind of unity that comes through the truth. Of course, the better the knowledge we acquire about the Lord, the more faith and unity we confess.
When I come and ask someone about this or that person, saying, “How do you know him?” and the person answers: “I know him as a good man,” then I get some sense of confidence about the person. But when another person comes, and then a third, and a fourth, and a fifth, and say the same thing, then my confidence rises even higher. When I hear various testimonies about a person, then I can at least form some opinion as to what I should believe about him. Therefore, a goal of edification is unity in faith and knowledge, and we should not forget this. We should also consider that there will not be unity if I do not work, for God has appointed gifts in the church in order to prepare for works of service until we all reach unity, though many have the order wrong: first unity, then service. And as we have said, truth is an important element-not merely some truth but truth in all things- truth about the prophetical and historical, about the atonement, justification, sanctification, mission, and so on. A person may be edified by a message, and someone else by something else. The principal means for edification are the Word, the Spirit, gifts, and fellowship. Discipline and cleansing in the church also serve as means of edification. But as for the mortar between the stones, love stands the highest.

A.L. Anderson believed, according to Heb. 6 that a point is made about the church’s edification and constructing a building. We are not to lay a foundation again but to go on toward maturity. The edification that takes place in the church builds upon salvation-repentance and faith in God. In regards to salvation, this is the foundation- the groundwork that is just a couple feet off the ground-but edification is higher.

L. Lindquist cited 1 Pet. 2:4,5: “As you come to him, the living stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house,” etc. Edification first begins by coming to Jesus, the living stone. If a fewer number of stones come to the foundation, then the building is smaller. Moreover, a building requires both walls and ornaments. The Spirit, the Word, gifts and prayer are important for edification.

L.A. Kruse. To prepare God’s children is something that we need to take a hold of. If this is not encouraged, the church will merely became a partially prepared building without works of service, and will soon become a haunt of vice. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness, and he wills that we should make use of this, and thus build up the church. The apostle says to encourage one another and build each other up. It does not say to abdicate this role to some other person, and somehow imagine that we are free from this responsibility since we are each to some extent responsible to one another. For the law was given through Moses-given for edification-grace and truth comes through Jesus, and through him we are built up.

E. Thorell. Edification is necessary. But who will promote it? Yes, I believe that edification comes from overseers, elders, and the whole congregation, and by “congregation” I mean individual members. The individual has much to do with the church being edified. The meeting serves to edify the church; yes, these include the preaching-, discussion- and prayer-meetings. This is true of this meeting today here too, and I am glad to take part and listen to all these truths. Nevertheless, it is also important not to regard it as an error or evil when some people feel the need to call a meeting in order to read, pray, and sing. I remember how in Sweden I was edified, when the elders arranged a meeting. Some of us youths did not always speak so wisely, and yet we dared to open our mouths and did not always say the right things. Rather than push us aside, however, they corrected us instead in the fullness of love.

P. Lanér. I remember a story from Sweden that told of a housewife who had her maidservant clean the house three times, each time after the other. Yet, the maidservant did not discover or figure out the reason for doing this; the housewife had to point it out. Sometimes we too fail to see things and overlook much. I merely want to bring to our attention here Eph. 2:21 and Col. 3:12-13.

A. Davis. The question here pertains to edification, not to building the church. Jesus himself chisels the stones loose from the quarry, and then builds it. We can take Solomon’s temple as an example. As long as the stones were still in the rock, they could not be chiseled or trimmed. But when they are chiseled, then the edifice of stone is built, as a finished building not far from the quarry. We are saved when we are chosen; but consider how ignorant we are about this. Look at Col. 1:9, especially how Paul prays for the Christians, that they might be “filled with the knowledge of his will.” Since the church exists today, it is the same way with her edification. To carry one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ pertains to edification. This is especially important for the elders as they care for the younger members. We see in Col. 2 where Paul says that he himself struggled in order to encourage them, that they “may be united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding in order that they may know the mystery of God,” both the Father and Christ. Surely, they were not as well informed as those who had preached for 20 to 30 years or so.

Ch. Sandquist. Edification happens wherever Jesus is precious to someone’s heart. The priests in Jerusalem would always keep a fire burning by the altar. So too, we ought to see that the Spirit’s fire is not extinguished, but burns in us, and when that happens there is edification.

P.E. Dillner. Someone mentioned earlier that there are three kinds of meetings that promote edification: the preaching-, discussion-, and prayer-meetings. However, many disregard the preaching meeting, and say, “I will not preach but simply read.” Yet this is not right because the one activity is as necessary as the other. I see in Acts 19:8 that Paul entered the synagogue in Ephesus and spoke boldly there for three months, teaching and arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. In 1 Cor. 14, it mentions how a meeting should be conducted in order for believers to be edified: “When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the edification of the church!” What blessing the prayer meeting brings, and we see an example of this in Acts 12. In that passage, Peter comes out of prison as a result of the prayer meeting. Nevertheless, such prayer required the unity of the Spirit for such a thing to happen.

A.L. Anderson. When some image appears we ought to pay attention to it as far as it goes. In Eph. 2, it says that believers are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets- Christ. But it says here also: “And in him you too are being built in which God lives by his Spirit.” I believe that the edification of the church is something that happens when a person is built upon the foundation.

J.G. Princell. In 1 Cor. 14:3, it says, “Everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort,” and in verse 4: “he who prophesies edifies the church.” Many take “edification” only to mean becoming high in spirits, or lifted up in spirits, referring to the emotions. But this is a mistake. The emotions are “the music” in the family but they do not provide bread, satisfy hunger, and bring strength. Emotions can bring a degree of pleasure but a person who was satisfied before becomes hungry again, with an empty stomach as before. And so too with the soul’s emotions, they can be a kind of spiritual humor (not spiritual joking) and bring life to the moment but you will hunger again afterwards. Yes, souls can be lifted emotionally but afterwards they do not have any more power to resist sin and temptation than an empty sack. The soul can be propped up with sticks or something else but this will not help. It becomes like bodies that are filled with gas and they always go up and down. This is commonly the situation after someone plays an “Æolian harp.” He anxiously sits there, longing to listen again to the same music. But when no more is played, he becomes quite disheartened, sighing with regret, and this can perhaps become a hindrance to edification.
However, edification is something different- it is the church’s living out of faith, love, wisdom, good works, etc. And this is the reason for employing spiritual gifts in service. But they serve with the Word. What edification shall be then is very important because it is based on the Word that edifies, and this becomes for the soul and for the will-something sustainable. We are not saying to reject emotions but that a person who can, should feel them. But on the other hand, the Word can sustain us unlike emotions, and we are invited to hold on to the Word.
Church discipline also serves as a means of edification. Paul speaks in 2 Cor. 10:8 about “the authority the Lord gave us for building you up.” What this speaks about becomes clearer in chapter 13:10 where it says, “This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority-the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.” The congregation that does not receive correction is not edified. Remember Achan. Because of him Israel could not win the victory- By observing Heb. 10:24-25, edification can further be promoted. In these verses, God’s children are admonished not to neglect gathering together. It says, “Let us not give up meeting together,” but it does not mean gathering as a social group but it has an entirely different sense, speaking about God’s children gathering together. This should not be neglected since such fellowship means a believer is edified, as well as his sisters and brothers. (Continued) )

“Referat från mötet i Boone, Ia. d. 14-19 Okt.”
December 9, 1884, Page 1

A. Davis. We can rejoice over the fact that souls are chosen, but this is not the same as the congregation’s edification. When God’s children mature-go from infancy to adulthood- there is growth. Yet no one ever becomes so mature that he is exempt from continual growth. Like Job, a child does not thank God when everything goes against him. However, when the child becomes mature he comes closer to doing this. We are gathered here for a little while now, and so we ought to use this time to eat, grow up, and become satisfied rather than merely sitting around and talking about bread.

K. Erixon. Yes, what he said about eating is good, and at the same time it helps us speak about edification. I also believe that edification can be promoted a lot more if we take seriously encouraging one another- not in the way the youths complained to the elders or quite the opposite. Let us all ask ourselves this question: Have I done everything that I should have done for my brother?- In regards to not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the apostle admonishes, this is something other than gathering for the regular so-called worship services where a preacher gives a sermon and everybody meets in order to hear. The public worship service is geared more for mission in the community, while the assembling together of God’s children is geared more to their spiritual maturity.

J. Nyström. If edification is not the same as a sermon but God’s children coming together for exhortation, comfort and encouragement, then I believe there is no edification when driven by intentional greediness. It must come from a mind filled with love.

J. Martenson. Someone said that this was a question about the edification of the church, not about building the church. Someone remarked that it was a question about edification of a house, not about building the house. Of course, this is merely speaking about different sides of the same issue. The scriptures use both expressions. Jesus builds the church but the scriptures also say that the one who prophesies edifies the church. If the church’s edification is increased through maturity, then it is promoted not only through maturity- obedience of living in faith and holiness- but also through growth in numbers. When a local church grows in numbers, then someone says that it matured. This is also true of God’s church. Thus, edification refers both to the salvation of souls and being rooted in the truth. In addition, I believe that the mission meeting, as well as individual meetings of God’s children promote the edification of the church.

J.G. Princell. Yes, it is obvious that the mission meeting serves to build up the church since it promotes maturity. Someone can certainly say that the church is edified when it grows and increases in faith, love, gifts, etc. This can also be said about the individual believer’s edification. It is truly important that a person pays attention to this matter of edification in order to avoid building only one side of the house. For instance, a person can become one-sided, and put on a happy face even though he is not a child of God. Happiness may be a façade- it appears good, but if someone only has a front wall and no side walls, the whole thing will soon fall. Certainly there are other walls that are necessary such as humility, patience, trust, and so on, and since God wants to build the whole character, he may even bring suffering and sorrow in addition to happiness. There may even be bare walls, but they are necessary for holding in the flock. We should not despise difficult things since it is true as someone has expressed: “God has had one Son without sin, but not without sorrow.”
The preaching meeting is necessary for edification- it is the large, general battlefield. It is especially needed for God’s children to meet together. If they are to mature in love, then they should have communion with one another, as well as come together to wash each others’ feet, or for discipline and confession of sin. If this is neglected, then it speaks poorly of the church’s opportunity for edification.

K. Erixon. This question encompasses the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and even song and music. What are the correct uses of these? Concerning song and music, we need to become clear on their correct use by considering their misuse. Luther said that for no price he wished to be without the teaching he had on this subject. Music and song are powerful mediums in order to lift up opposition, sorrow, etc., and that they should by no means be cast away, and neither should they be despised. Satan knows how to use them, and he even wants to have the Word in his service, even if he burns himself on his fingers. Most pieces of music are secular and not Christian songs, and it ought to be the other way around. A choir should be able to use a lively tune, and if it fails to do so, it misses an opportunity to promote life in God, and forfeits it to the evil one. It is not as important with musicians in the church as with the song, but nevertheless it is best played by an awakened player who can pray: “Lord God, bless my fingers; bless my playing.” I do not know if someone can do anything better than to become awakened, and then be used in the name of the Lord. If a church has a choir that does not know the Lord, then it is best for the members to sit and listen until someone becomes a believer.

Ch. Sandquist. With respect to the act of being baptized and the time for practicing this, it is my conviction that a person must hear the gospel, as well as believe, and then he or she may be baptized. I find nothing written in the scriptures to support infant baptism. Matt. 19:14 as well as Mark 10:14 which are ordinarily used as the principal proof texts for infant baptism seem to apply neither to Christian baptism nor in the church but appropriately to God’s kingdom. Both the Lord Christ himself, and John before him, preached about the kingdom of God, this kingdom which the Jews according to God’s promises anticipated. They expected the Messiah, the King, and with him the kingdom. But when they rejected the King Christ, and crucified him, by doing that act the kingdom was set aside, and then the Jews were further dispersed.
Immediately after Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension, we have Christian baptism whereby a person is baptized into the likeness of Christ’s death and resurrection, and this is what concerns the church as Christ’s body. But when the time of the church and gospel end, then the kingdom of God will come, a kingdom that “was preached from the days of John the Baptist,” but as Christ’s death set this to the side, then the Lord Christ shall reign as King over the earth, and then he will receive the little children and they will enjoy the blessings of the kingdom, for the kingdom belongs to such as them, as the biblical texts cited indicate. During this time of bliss everyone will know the Lord, from the least to the greatest, and I think that the little children will then fulfill the promise of Matt. 21:16 and Psa. 8:2. God’s church remains in the few who are chosen for this great hope and gathered to the Lord through the preaching of the gospel, and baptism is for edification and blessing when it is done by faith in the Lord, for those who put on Christ and then walk in him. During the church age, this kingdom is hidden. But when the Lord Christ comes as the Son of Man in his majesty, then the kingdom will be revealed in its glory.
Pertaining to the question about the Lord’s Holy Communion, it seems that the Holy Scriptures reveal that in order for someone to experience real edification and blessing, then those who take part in this holy meal should be one in the Lord-one body- as it is one bread that is broken. Moreover, they should be gathered together in the Lord Jesus’ name, led by the Holy Spirit in view of Jesus’ death and love, which reveals to us his blood that was shed and our salvation. By this meal, a person does not have to experience one thing or another after the flesh, but in the Lord to look away from one’s own interests, standing before the Lord Jesus in order to enjoy blessing from him as members of his body, of which he is the head.
And now concerning songs and music and how they might serve to edify the church, even though I am a lover of them, I seriously doubt that the more skillfully composed songs and music, in most cases, serve to honor God and truly serve as a means of edification in the Lord. For those who perform music and serve as members of a choir, these songs certainly work to captivate the heart and mind; they are pleasing to the listeners and win their approval, but the listener more often fixes on the skillfully written song and music than on admiring it as one of the Lord’s gifts, giving him the honor. Thereby, a listener often gives praise to the musician for her skillfulness, and in so doing forgets the Lord. I know of large “so-called churches” that claim to be genuine Christian congregations but the music and songs performed by their choirs at the regular church services, while most praiseworthy-yes, for more than the gospel itself which is the power of God unto salvation and happiness for all who believe in the Lord- but all the while in their everyday lives, these people are on par with the world and delight in the world’s entertainment. But in the other direction when the song and music are played to honor God, then they can be a true and real source of edification, and this can happen only in those for whom Jesus is the life, and in whom all his actions has the Lord Jesus and his honor as the object of his heart.

J.G. Princell. The question pertaining to the uses of the Word, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper as means of edification is rather limited-“Are they able to serve as means of edification, and so be used in the church?” The fact that they are to be used for edification is sufficiently revealed. Concerning the Word, Paul says to the overseers at Ephesus, “I commit you to God and the word of his grace, which can edify you all.” We see that God is united with and in the Word. Therefore, when someone drinks in the Word, he is edified since he drinks in that which is of God’s nature, God’s mind, thoughts, emotions, etc. In regards to the use of the Word, it can be read and heard publicly and privately. Where it is read in private or in the home, it should not be limited there but also read publicly so that blessing follows. Yet, since many of the instructions in God’s Word never come out in public gatherings, then private reading is needed. Good Christian books and newspapers are able to help here much also, and they should not be disregarded. Occasionally both preachers and laymen speak with contempt toward Christian books and newspapers, claiming that “they are human.” But is this not ironic since a preacher has the right to preach, and in so doing he practices what he despises? He cannot rightly expect people to obey his message when he despises reading what his brothers and sisters say. To do so is to show contempt for himself. The Word can be set forth on paper, and in many cases it reads more smoothly than when it comes from lips, and it is often heavier on the scale of truth. For me, I need and am anxious to read a sermon by some brother every week. I also recommend that people read testimonies of men of God. When you read a testimony and humbly consider the story, you begin to think the same about the man himself who is presented. Furthermore, it is good to read a piece everyday from a devotional treasury, especially when you prefer such reading. This is helpful for insight into a word of scripture which can be a source of encouragement for the whole day. Let us not think that the sermon is enough for us all. The Word is for our enrichment. I heard in Sweden that they had a meeting there purely for the purpose of reading and not preaching God’s Word, and the Lord blessed it. We need to have such times of reading in the home.
Concerning baptism, it can surely be posed in a question whether it has significance as means of edification. Yet, to be certain this happens whether it is by sprinkling or immersion, and whether the edification is public or private. God’s Word seems to leave without comment both the age of the baptism candidate and the mode of baptism- it merely happens to Christ. The word ‘baptism’ originally meant to immerse in dye. ‘Baptizo’ was the word that was used of imerserer, equivalent in meaning with dye. When one therefore builds on the meaning of the word and says that it necessarily means to immerse (neddoppa), it is out of ignorance. In Dia glott, a book with Greek and English translators, the publisher is entirely and absolutely certain about “immerse,” and this authoritative work builds many fine and convincing statements. In the argument for the theory just mentioned, it emphasizes this meaning, and so if we wish to use it in the school, we will have to shift some details in the book. The apostolic congregations did not make much ado over whether a person could be baptized or not. They did not even practice a time of testing. If someone said that he wished to believe in the Lord, then he was baptized. This happened to some like Simon the magician who was baptized.
I baptize either by sprinkling or in a baptistery, whether the room is decorated or not. I know that for my own baptism, I was dyed to the Lord, and this was sufficient merely by sprinkling. We should not despise the word ‘baptize.’ It identifies people with the Lord, even by sprinkling. When Israel was sprinkled, they took on the name of the Lord, and it was therefore appropriately said to them, “You shall not bear the Lord’s name in vain.” So now this is true of baptism; the person who is baptized receives in this act the name ‘Christian,’ and why can he not now come to bear the Lord’s name through sprinkling as well as before? I believe that he can, and so it even applies to him: “You shall not bear the Lord’s name in vain.” If he bears but disregards it, nonetheless it will not be meaningless since it still brings (places) on him much responsibility.
In a similar vein, the baptism question ought to be taken up for discussion at a future time, but in a different direction than we have discussed up to now, since there is a question as to whether water baptism is even Christian baptism. From my perspective, if I may say so, I see many interpretations where is it is not as clearly established as some may think. For example, Rom. 6 says: “We were buried with him through baptism into death.” In this statement there is not a word mentioned about water. Heb. 10:22 says, “…having our bodies washed with pure water.” In this phrase, someone may be absolutely certain that it speaks about water baptism, but this mentions pure water, and in many cases pure water is not used, but perhaps even unclean water. In this case, many use a gutta-percha, an India-rubber suit, in order to get as little water on the body as possible.
With regards to the Lord’s Supper, we clearly have the Lord’s word that is for our edification. We read in 1 Cor. 10 that when we partake of this meal in a worthy manner, it edifies and brings blessing. In this we ought, however, to be more Lutheran, for Luther says that Holy Communion is not a covenant of time, room and people. Why cannot we come together in a home and consecrate bread and wine for this meal? In which church did the apostles have a regularly scheduled time of communion? It is certainly good to have this meal in the church but someone can equally have it in the home. Yes, this question could not be more right since in a home they all knew one another. Nevertheless, it is best that we put no restriction on this but may freedom reign. (Continued) )

“Referat från mötet i Boone, Ia. d. 14-19 Okt.”
December 16, 1884, Page 4

A. Davis. From my point of view, I believe that we ought to be thankful for all of God’s Word. I cannot believe that God has given us his Word without it being useful since everything he has given to his church-the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper-is for edification. Concerning the Word, we have too little love for its use; we need more love for God’s Word. When it comes to reading of the scriptures written by men of God, this is good, and we ought to apply the principle of examining the scriptures daily to see what is true. God has given us-his children- much that is good, and these things should not be despised. I have seen some older brothers show disregard for the Christian scriptures, but I thank God for his Word written by the hand of brothers and sisters.
Concerning baptism, it is of course this use for edification that is the same as the Word. God’s Word gives us clear examples, and I will follow them. With regards to small children, they are surely God’s children in another sense than those who become believers. Yes, if I might express myself, they are children of a greater reconciliation. What power and blessing baptism brings, and I can say this since I have experienced it. When I read God’s Word, I see the need to be baptized. When I was baptized I experienced great blessing, both then and ever since. But what blessing is found in baptizing infants, I do not exactly know. If the baptism is performed properly, then it is joined together with much edification. As for the Lord’s Supper, I have recently experienced much blessing. I do not understand this matter completely but I know that when we are gathered in Jesus’ name, we must consider him present, for he is not in the grave.

P.A. Peterson. From Eph. 4:5 we know that we have one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. Can we somehow justify children’s baptism as right when the scriptures say: “whoever believes and is baptized” etc.? Can a person believe without someone preaching? I do not see how this can happen. I am not insisting that someone should go and exclusively preach baptism, but neither do I think that we should neglect this part of God’s Word. Baptism certainly does not remove dirt from the body but as Peter says, “it is the pledge of a good conscience.”

J.W. Strömberg. The Lord’s Supper is an important means of edification. The apostle speaks of the blessing of the communion cup: Is not the cup a participation in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread a participation in the body of Christ? It is meaningful that God’s children become one. We who are many are one body for we all partake of the one loaf. Therefore, God’s children ought to be aware of eating with the world, for when they do this knowingly, they are defiled by the world. On the other hand, a brother ought never refuse another brother the privilege to eat this meal with him, for if he does, he pushes away of member of Christ.

E. Thorell. I am glad for the day when the truth comes forth, and I thank God for what has already come to light. I wish not to share from my own life about baptism or to make any other points, but merely to offer a proverb from a wise man, namely, Solomon. He has counsel for both young and old, and says: If you receive understanding, you shall keep your way straight and avoid folly. I will ask you, who are wise, not to cut the cord.

J. Martenson. It has already been noted that the baptism question is a delicate subject. However, I am glad that in brotherly love we are able to speak to this subject as brothers, as we have done. Now, I do not hold either to infant or adult baptism since this merely ignites a strange fire in a minor area. Instead, I would like to say something on this subject that might possibly work to cool down one or another and their enthusiasm and zeal over modes of baptism. And what I now have to say is not flippant or casual but something that I have thought about for more than a year. In my fervent study of the Bible I have asked, what would Jesus think and say to this question?
If after all the talk and strife and arguing points about modes of baptism in water, what if upon closer inspection we found that we do not even have explicit evidence for this baptism? Brother Princell has already alluded to this in his statement on baptism and the question about whether water baptism is the baptism of the New Testament. Yes, it can certainly be put to a question, and this can be done on the basis that there is not a single place in all of the New Testament where God explicitly commands anyone to be baptized in water. I realize that many are now sitting there with Bible citations ready to refute this assertion, but nevertheless I want to pose it, and if anyone can show me a single place that gives an explicit command, then I would be happy to receive correction. In recent conversations I have become less zealous for one single mode of baptism, but have felt obliged to ask questions in order to discover an answer. We all believe that there are various views about the modes, and are still certain that the New Testament commands water baptism, since to a great degree, many understand the word ‘baptize’ to be equivalent with water baptism. But who has given us the right to do this? The Scriptures speak of several baptisms-baptism in water, baptism in the Spirit, baptism in fire, baptism in death, and so on. In Matt. 20:22-23, the Lord asks his disciples: “Are you able to drink the cup that I am going to drink, and be baptized with the baptism with which I will be baptized?” In 1 Cor. 10:2 it says that the forefathers all passed through the sea, and “were all baptized into Moses in the cloud.” Of course, here is the issue about various baptisms, and yet in every place the same word for baptism is found in the original language. The word ‘baptize,’ ‘baptized,’ ‘baptism,’ etc. appears often in the scriptures, but it does not always refer to laying someone in water, wherever such words appear.

(One brother wished to ask a question: Was not Jesus baptized in water, and it was when he was an adult? Did he not say to his disciples: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and was not the centurion Cornelius and others baptized in water?)

Yes, Jesus was baptized in water, but why? Should we be exactly like him in this respect and not be baptized before we are 30 years of age? We must remember that Jesus was born under the covenant of the Law, and therefore he had to observe all of the Law’s commandments. Why was he circumcised on the eighth day? Yes, the Law of Moses commanded it. Why was he as a child presented in the temple? Yes, this was according to “what the custom of the Law required.” (Luke 2:27) This was the case with his baptism too. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, but Jesus did not need to repent. We read in the Old Testament (see, for example Numbers, chap. 4) and see clearly why Jesus was baptized at 30 years of age; it was commanded in the Law. At 30 years of age-and not before-the priests of the Old Covenant were chosen for service, and at their consecration they were brought forward to the entrance to the tent of meeting in order to be cleansed with water, and then they were anointed with the holy consecrated oil (see Exodus 29:4: 30:30). Of course, this was fulfilled in Jesus when he was set apart when the Holy Spirit came upon him instead of oil-something the people understood.
It is true that in Matt. 28 Jesus commanded his disciples to go and baptize all nations in his name, and by this to make them disciples. But it does not state there that they should baptize with water. It is possible that it means water but I must assume this, and this is based on my judgment. As pointed out, it says to baptize but it does not say with what they should baptize. It is important to note that the apostles baptized with water after Jesus’ ascension. But bear in mind that the example of the apostles is not always the same as a command of God. We have examples where the apostles were at odds with each other, and some attempted to take their example and make it equal with God’s command.
There is room for the thought that water baptism belonged only to the Old Covenant and was a shadow of Spirit baptism, so that later this is the only New Testament baptism. It states in Heb. 9, describing the tabernacle of the Old Covenant: “This was an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings (baptisms) -external regulations applying until the time of the new order.” John also said that he baptized with water so that Jesus might be revealed to Israel (John 1:31), but the one who comes after him would baptize with the Holy Spirit. If Jesus then baptized with the Holy Spirit, then it is likely also that he sent out his disciples with the same baptism, and this so much more, that he says “as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” With the disciples, the time of water baptism still continued, and by this it is clear, but by no means does it prove that they did it according to divine command, as one often assumes. We should realize that the Lord’s first disciples were also capable of misunderstanding, and this perhaps continued with them until they were baptized with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. They had been nurtured and were accustomed to the practices and manners of the Jewish assemblies carried out at that time. Peter preached powerfully on the day of Pentecost, and yet he adhered to the Jewish interpretation about outer cleansing and what was defiled so that he did not wish to go the Gentiles.
And yet still far in the future, when Paul visited Jerusalem for the last time, Jewish believers showed a dependence on the Law, so that the elders could say to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the Law.” (Acts. 21:20) Therefore, the elders advised him to observe some of the Jewish purification ceremonies, showing a respect for the Law, even though Paul taught Jews to turn away from Moses, and told them not to circumcise their children or live according to its regulations. Therefore, when it mentions in Acts that they were baptized in water, it illustrates how they were zealous for the Law. Since many continued with the Mosaic circumcision after the Spirit’s circumcision began, so too might some continue with the Mosaic baptism after the baptism of the Spirit began. It did not always state that the shadows had to disappear when the substance entered.

(One brother remarked: Are we to believe that Jesus would not correct them if indeed they held this view?)

Surely he corrected them, although not always immediately. He demanded spiritual obedience before he could tell them everything. “I have much to say to you,” Jesus said, “but you are not yet able to bear it.” Of course, this is still true today and we shall touch upon some church ceremonies. For example, when someone is converted in the state church in Sweden, he can for a rather long time hold onto the church’s old rituals and customs before he attempts in all respects to dedicate himself to the Word. How many still long for a church that serves as a place to observe the Lord’s Supper, and for baptizing? That was the case here too. If at first the Lord had begun to stand against all their ceremonies, then they would have become so frightened that no one would have been able to reach them with the most important news that Jesus was the Messiah. And also, when the disciples might have perhaps become so preoccupied with reforming the outer customs, then they may have forgotten to preach Jesus Christ. But nevertheless in the beginning he explained to the apostles that Moses’ office would not remain, and by no means did they dare go and strive for any Jewish ceremonies, even though at times they practiced several of them.

(One brother wished to know what we should make of such language that says that we through baptism are clothed in Christ, receive a good conscience, and so on.)

We should read and believe these words just as they stand. It really states that we are clothed in Christ through baptism. And those who say that baptism saves do not overstate matter. But what they are mistaken about is when they make baptism equivalent in meaning to water baptism. In Rom. 6, it states that we all who are baptized into Christ are baptized into his death. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” It mentions here that through baptism we are buried with Christ into death but not a word is spoken about water. Of course, baptism is synonymous with becoming united in Christ, and not to be united with Christ through water. We read this also in Col. 2:11,12 where it is perhaps more clear on this question of Spirit baptism: “In Jesus you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him” in baptism, etc. Here the baptism is surely “a circumcision without human hands.” Rom. 9:29 declares, “circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit!”
In Galatians 3:27 it says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Baptism is mentioned here but there is not a word about whether it was water or Spirit baptism. Someone may ask, “But then how can we know which baptism is meant?” The answer is: let the scriptures speak. It is Christ’s body, and it is a question about baptism to him. 1 Cor. 12:13 answers whether this happens in water or Spirit: “In one Spirit, we are all baptized into one body, whether we are Jews or Greeks, slaves or free.” This describes it quite plainly.
In Heb. 10:22 we are clearly exhorted to have “our bodies washed with pure water.” It is more likely that this should be taken spiritually rather than mean water baptism. The epistle is written to believing Jews who were familiar with such language as “pure water.” The Lord, of course, had promised though the prophets that there would come a time when they would, “with joy draw water from the wells of salvation,” (Isa. 12:3) when he would make something new, “make a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland,” (Isa. 43:19) and through Ezekiel he proclaims: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.” (Isa. 36:25)
By comparing such witnesses, we are able to grasp what the Lord means here. No one would dare say that the Lord, speaking through Ezekiel, meant water baptism, and likewise no one can be absolutely sure about interpreting the same word in the epistle to the Hebrews. The gospel is surely what is in view here since this is the “water” that cleanses, as Jesus plainly shows to his disciples in John 15:3 when he says: “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” This same water is surely in view in John 3:5 when Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, “a teacher of Israel” who would surely understand this language. He had well enough been baptized in water, and so there would have been no reason to ask about baptism, but rather about being born again, and for this type of water that was required was like a divine seed and could give life. Peter spoke about this seed from which we are born: “born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living Word of God.” Notice that this is the pure, cleansing and birthing water.

(One brother remarks: In 1 Pet. 3:21, it speaks, however, about water baptism as saving and giving a good conscience).

Yes, I believed so too until I began to read this verse more accurately. It states that Jesus “went to a place and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves us also,” etc. This is far from stating water baptism, but on the contrary, it says that baptism is the anti-type of water. Of course, the anti-type is never the same as the type. The brazen serpent, offerings, and ceremonial purifications were all types. But the anti-types are something other, and so too is the case here. Therefore, I believe that what is meant here is Spirit baptism. And it further states that what saves us is not removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a good conscience. Outward cleansing may deal with cleansing the flesh but here it speaks of baptism as much more: “the pledge of a good conscience toward God.” This happens when a person partakes of, or is baptized with, the Spirit of God.
One may object here and ask: “How could the apostles go out and baptize with the Spirit?” To this question it is best that we get our answer from the Word of God. When Peter preached God’s Word in the house of Cornelius, the Spirit fell on all who heard his message. Peter makes it clear that this is a baptism of the Spirit, saying: “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said, ‘John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ (Acts. 11:15-16) It then certainly states that these believers were baptized in water on Peter’s command. However, as was mentioned before, there is room for the idea that Peter is following after Jewish custom, and not after God’s command. And the idea that this was not after a command can be plainly understood when he asks: “Can anyone deny these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” Surely this could have happened without Peter directing them much like Paul who had baptized some people without any divine commission. For Paul says when he writes to the Corinthians that he is thankful to God that he did not baptize more among them than he had, since the Lord did not send him to baptize but to preach the gospel. (1 Cor. 1:14-17)
And these words of Paul are seen to interpret the Lord’s words in Matt.28, a commission that held true for Paul which he saw as not explicitly stating water baptism since he said that Christ had not sent him to baptize. Should we suppose that the other apostles would go and make disciples of Jesus among all peoples by baptizing them in water while Paul would make disciples in some other way because he was not sent to baptize in water? And yet, Paul made many people disciples of Jesus. And if Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, was not sent to baptize in water and did not regard Jesus’ commission in Matt. 28 as commanding this, then it may well be asked: Which of us is sent to baptize with water? This may startle us somewhat, and we may not be as zealous for one particular mode of water baptism when it is discovered that the strongest view to believe is that water baptism is not at all the New Testament baptism.
Some people cite various customs of the church regarding how people should be baptized in water, and needless to say often read between the lines in order to justify their interpretation. I have seen how someone cites what Justin Martyr says in his apology to Caesar when he speaks about the practices of Christians and how they were baptized in water, but I have yet to see cited what Justin Martyr taught about water baptism, namely that we who are baptized by the Spirit do not need the same. (See Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho) Now, I have not have said this in order to dissuade some from baptizing in water; for I am not so certain that I want to attempt that. But what I do see is a lot of weak evidence for modes of water baptism, and with this I become less zealous and certain about the mode of baptism in water. And it may be wrong for me to cool this zeal. Nevertheless, until God gives me more insight and certainty, I will continue to baptize- even small children- because I think that even in this there is a blessing connected with water baptism, and that the little ones should not be overlooked-and although it may be merely a Jewish ceremony, there is no sin in practicing it. However, a person must not look to water baptism as a mean to be justified.

(One brother wished to know if it was not a sin when someone baptized with such uncertainty).

If I were uncertain about it being a sin or not and yet baptized, then it would be a sin to me. But I am not uncertain about this. If it were a sin, the apostles of the Lord would not have practiced it. However, I am merely uncertain about whether it has any blessing in itself, and what blessing it is. Surely we attempt many things where we are uncertain about the blessings they will bring. When I traveled to this meeting, I did not know what blessing it would bring, but I yielded myself to God and traveled anyway, and in so doing I did not sin. Sin becomes sin when I do not do something in faith, but it is not sin when I attempt something. (Cont.)

“Referat från mötet i Boone, Ia. d. 14-19 Okt.”
December 23, 1884, Page 1

J. Martenson. (cont.) Now in regards to communion, it is necessary for us to gather together if this meal is to serve as a means of edification. And to this subject, 1 Cor. 11 speaks clearly enough. The apostle says: “In coming together, your meetings do more harm than good,” and why? Yes, listen to the reasons: “In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you.” This greatly hinders the Lord’s Supper from being a means of edification. Yes, it is such a great hindrance that the apostle adds: “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat.” Furthermore, he mentions as a hindrance their partaking of this meal in an unworthy manner, when one remains hungry and another gets drunk. Another hindrance to edification related to the Lord’s Supper is when it is taken together with unbelievers. The apostle says in chapter 10, “The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God,” and adds, “and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.”
And what follows pertains to the Lord’s Supper during which there are some in Corinth claiming to be of Paul and of Apollos, as well as some behaving in an improper manner of behavior, and we see the consequences at the end of chapter 11: “This is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” The apostle says that we are not under condemnation of the Lord but discipline, “so that we will not be condemned with the world.” We often see how Christians become sick and die way too early according to our thinking. Perhaps, if we could see as God sees, we would discover that the death of many was caused by the improper observance of the Lord’s Supper. May God help us to prove his will, and for him to correct us. We ought to give him much thanks for his merciful patience which he has shown us, for we have sufficiently in this and in other ways missed the mark. His love is great, and it is the reason that he has not disciplined us with the rod, so that we would be lying in the grave.
What is the correct use of song and music? I cannot illuminate this question much. However, I have done a little observation and I know that both song and music are able to edify others. There are some pieces that if chosen to be sung, I do not think they would be very beneficial. Yet, since there are many in the church who have trained voices and are able to sing in time, to have them sit in the front pews of the church sanctuary and lead the song would be good. In this way, the entire congregation can practice singing and become better little by little. Something that can hinder edification is when there is too much freedom in suggesting songs in the church. When someone suggests a song, although he may like the words, he fails to consider that he and the rest of the people do not know the melody and cannot sing it. When the congregation begins to sing the song, with one person singing one way, and another person in another way, many can become annoyed. Someone may not be able to sing a song and not know if there are others present who are able to sing it. In this case it is best either to ask the congregation if someone can sing the melody, or in some special way to let the desire be known, and to have a leader sing the song. If someone is familiar with the melody, then the person gets his wish satisfied, otherwise it can lead to the congregation making a poor attempt at it, and that is discouraging. To sing with somber voices and long boring songs is not good either. This often puts people to sleep and then boredom splashes over the entire congregation just before the sermon begins. However, a brisk cheerful song can lift the soul so that the preacher’s sermon becomes even more uplifting, but this too must be without somber and boring speech. During all of this everyone must have their eyes on God and sing from the heart.

J.G. Princell. We are disciples and so we are all learning. During this past year I have been able to learn much, and I have even learned something in this way of looking at baptism. During recent years I have thought on the matter that Christian baptism is truly Spirit baptism, and I have noticed that brothers in other places have begun to look at this in the same way. Several weeks ago a letter came to Chicago-Bladet in which a Baptist spoke about how he came to the same conclusion. In the east, thousands of Christians can be found who do not baptize with water since they do not consider this to be Christian baptism. Thus, this view is not new, not even in history, although it has often been characterized as heretical-naturally!-and perhaps has been characterized by some here. And it is, well enough, that even views here are held with certainty.
I find the words that John spoke remarkable: “I baptize with water but he who comes after me is greater; he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” In this statement John plainly distinguished his and Christ’s baptism. And when Jesus was ready to go to heaven, he said while he was with the disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about, for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Jesus here makes a distinction between John’s baptism and the one with which they would be baptized. And the fact that this baptism was not merely for the apostles or Jewish Christians, we see from what happened at Cornelius’s house.
It is rather difficult to read the apostle’s words that we have only one baptism when in reality we must insist on several. It is surely true that there is a baptism of suffering which actually becomes several. But notice that it is a baptism of enemies. The baptism of the Lord is only one. When Jesus sent out his disciples, he sent them out to baptize, but as it has already been said, we are not able to show that this was a question of water baptism since it is not stated there. The person who believes and is baptized will be blessed, speaks of the Christian. But it does not explicitly say water. And we must let it lie there. For what was promised so well about Spirit baptism? Yes indeed, when Jesus spoke about the living streams, he spoke this about the Spirit to those who believed in him would receive. We must keep in mind that the word ‘baptize’ does not in and of itself imply water, or something else. It can mean to baptize in water, to baptize in the Spirit, to baptize in suffering, but ‘to baptize’ does not describe into what one is baptized. This should really cause us to think when we look at what Paul says: “I was not sent to baptize”-and he says this plainly about water baptism. Jesus’ commission was: “Go and make disciples, baptizing,” - and this commission was equally held by Paul. Another reason that tends to argue against water baptism is that baptism overall in the scriptures is given vastly different meanings. By baptism the believers were clothed in Christ, united in him, circumcised, yes, even saved.
Either we must ascribe to water baptism one great work, or we must ask about another baptism. The fact that water baptism does not accomplish all of this, of course, is revealed to our natural eyes. We must recognize, however, that the baptism of the Spirit accomplishes this work, and think about it; many people are baptized in water to Christ who are not members, but enemies of his body. And the apostle says: “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body.” Someone cannot become part of the body before he becomes a partaker of the one Spirit. Regardless of what a person wishes to make the New Testament’s baptism, one thing is certain; the scriptures set it forth as the means of salvation. Now the examples of the apostles who baptized some in water, of course, is something that no one denies. But it is certainly apparent that there is not a single place where it can be shown in the New Testament with explicit words that they or anyone else were commanded to do this. Neither can it be shown in a single place in the epistles of the apostles that water baptism was in view when it speaks about the effects of baptism. The example of the apostles is all that one has to stand on for the practice of water baptism.
Therefore, it is not a sin or wrong if I wish to follow their example, even if I cannot be perfectly certain about what blessing it will bring. Nonetheless, I practice water baptism. However, any explicit and unequivocal commission to that end, I like a few others can point out that the example of the apostles was, as perhaps Bro. M. has said, a remnant of Judaism. Justin Martyr was believed to view water baptism in the same way, and he wrote to Jewish Christians who defended its practice, stating that they did not understand the substance of God’s Word but held to the shadow.
Much has been spoken and written about this subject during the ages and also recently. This a leading question of the day, though less among us Swedes than Christians of other nationalities. And now that we come to setting the matter aside, this does not make it any less important for consideration. Although our intent has not been to do away with water baptism, it is best that we first become informed so that we are not taken by storm, and so that we do not become so absolutely sure about our position and the importance of the mode of baptism, when it cannot be clearly shown to be commanded.

A.N. Sweders. This was an altogether new matter that I have just heard with my ears. If it is really so, then the boundaries should fall! For whom has this not been a subject of contention? But it is important to hold on to God’s Word here, and not to men. I should think this, if it were so, as was pointed out, but for me I am still far from clear that it is so. I do not want to say that from so and so, I will have it, but I will have it made clear by the Word of God before I attempt to receive it wholeheartedly. It was said that we do not have any certainty to practice water baptism from God’s Word. However, do we think that the apostles, clothed with power from on high, could have been so led astray that they baptized in water without it being the Lord’s will? I cannot see that the scriptures state that John baptized in water, but Jesus with another. Yes, it states: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit,” not that others should do it. When we look at what is written in Rom. 6, we do not read that it was the baptism in the Holy Spirit either. However, I do not wish to deny that it may be the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, I do not wish to deny that it may suggest water baptism either. I do not think that we should have any preconceived interpretations, but rather search the scriptures for the same way the disciples understood the Word.

At this point the discussion concluded and a committee of L. Lindquist, K. Erixon, J.G. Princell, and J. Martenson was selected, and if God’s will, at an appropriate time and place next year the committee would arrange a similar week of meetings.

After this, the meeting adopted the following resolutions: Without wanting by this to write a confession that should for us or others be binding in any way, or express otherwise what we have found the Divine Word to teach in some matters of great importance to all Christians, we wish to present here as concisely as possible and to make known some of the results that we have come to, after a careful examination of God’s Word according to the grace and insight we received from God:

1) God’s or Christ’s church on earth, or in every particular place, is a whole assembly of converted, born again believers who are baptized in Christ, and who reside and live on this earth, and in particular places.

2) Every so-called local church or number of believers at a particular location must have in their order and conduct, and as a church take on a form in this manner: that she may have the same qualities as the church at large, so that she is in her order of mission, requirements, obligations for membership, etc. neither more nor less than this.

3) With regard to denominations after men, or doctrines, customs and rituals, and with confessions that bind pastors together as members of a particular sect of the church, and thereby establishing itself by the detestable name “party”-a name that characterizes its spirit and attitude, and thus sets itself in the place of God’s Word, along with harlotry, murder, theft, blasphemy and so on, and what Christians should do with respect to a party is exactly the same as with all sin, namely, they should repent and forsake it.

4) When Christians do not belong to any church party, do not work to support and maintain any such party, and do not possess this attitude, then they will not be the cause for any schism among believers, and they will not be unjustly accused of any sectarian activity or partisan attitude.

5) The particular assemblies of believers here and there have the right and duty to work for the salvation of souls and for their own edification in faith, love, unity, etc. employing all spiritual means such as the various gifts and ministries of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12), God’s Word, and Christian discipline, as well as pursuing these activities as simply as possible- using only the most necessary church machinery (or so-called church polity) such as rules, officials, church protocols, and so on, keeping in mind that Christ’s church here on earth is merely a band of pilgrims who work, strive, and move forward to their final home-the heavenly city. The church of God’s glaring need is to spend less effort on organizing and more on spreading God’s Word and saving souls.

6) Always remembering that the church is one in Christ, that he is the head of the church, and the Holy Spirit is her infallible leader into all truth, and that all of God’s Word, especially the New Testament, is her “constitution” or unchanging rule-every assembly of believers must remain steadfast in the freedom with which Christ has made us free (Gal.5:1), i.e. both individually and collectively, and that together we have the right and duty to remain independent of all types of church authorities, as well as to resist all bonds which deprive us of our rights and perfect freedom; but individuals and congregations ought and are able to cooperate together through meetings and through individuals, and societies with whom they have confidence. Every free church has according to God’s Word and the laws of this country, all rights to ordain one or another person for biblical Christian service, and the church may make use of these rights in the fear of the Lord.

7) A good opportunity is now given to us-a wide open door for mission activity among the heathen in India. Brother L.E. Ungert and his wife who have resided and worked there for 6 years, are now living in Sweden, and are available to return to India. Thus, some of our brothers and sisters of the faith in this country have recommended, and we believe that it is God’s will, that Brother Ungert be welcomed here, in order to become more well known in this country, and then, if God leads him to return to the mission field, he can be supported by our prayers and contributions. A committee of three brothers was established at this meeting in order to correspond with Bro. Ungert in this regard.

8) As members of God’s people in this country, we desire, like ancient Israel, blessing upon this country in which we build and live, as well as actively to seek what is best, and therefore we state our desire to work most definitely against all dishonesty, vice and crime, knowing that sin is the ruin of people. We particularly express our disgust toward the barbaric and degrading vices of drunkenness and polygamy-the latter flourishing among the half-pagan sect of Mormonism; the former standing everywhere as a grievous hindrance to the success of the gospel and to the salvation of humankind. We will gladly promote and participate in all activities against these abominations by using every open, honest, and lawful means; and in being so convinced particularly in regard to the temperance issue that should be addressed as a special question without mixing it with other social and political questions here in the city, state and nation. Since the greatest form of success would come in the form of a permanent prohibition on the production, sale and use of intoxicating drinks, hopefully soon God will graciously grant us this success!”

To correspond with Bro. Ungert the following brothers were selected: K. Erixon, Princell and Martenson. “Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.” Eph. 6:23-24

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