Anabaptist Group Dynamics
Commands of Jesus
Difference between Anabaptists and Evangelicals
Hutterite Sermon Prefaces
Marriage (Ulrich Stadler)
Living Word (Ulrich Stadler)
Modern views of Anabaptists
Mysteries of the Kingdom of God
April 14, 05
Dec 28, 05
Secret of the Strength
Sermons by Eli Hofer
The Writings of Ulrich Stadler
The Church and
the Narrow Path
To Vote or not to Vote
Way of the Lord
True Baptismby Hans Hut
Baptism follows when one hears the gospel and believes it.
Baptism occurs only after the person is ready to accept and suffer all that the
Father through Christ has in store for him. He must have set his heart upon the
Lord and have forsaken the world. He accepts the sign of baptism before the
Christian community as an acceptance of the covenant with God whose power and might have separated him from those things which the heart
desires. For, as Christ said, what is bound on earth will be bound in heaven.
No one can be accepted and taken in by the Christian
community except that he first has heard and learned the gospel, and believes
and agrees with what he has heard. For this covenant is an agreement, a
demonstration of divine love in relation to all brothers and sisters, in
obedience to Christ with love, life, goods and honor, regardless of what evil
the world says about him for it.
And where are these Christians? It is a small group. For if
even only two or three are gathered, Christ is there as witness among them. The
mouths of even two or three are a genuine witness. A person is assured in
baptism that he is accepted as a child of God, a brother or sister of Christ, a
member of the Christian community and the body of Christ, because he has with a
faithful heart desired to come into such unity, according to the will of God.
For God commands his saints to gather together, and holds
this covenant more dear than all sacrifices. God does not desire the sacrifice
of goats, but rather the offering of thanks. He desires that each person offer
his body for justification, as Paul said, and believe that God will not forsake
him, in times of need, but will rescue him from all need if he be led into
tribulation. Such a faith, although it is not yet perfected and is yet unproved,
will be counted to him as righteousness until it is justified and tried, as gold
in the fire.
Water baptism, which follows preaching and believing, does not make a person
Water baptism is a sign only, a covenant, a parable and a
memorial of this desire, which the person can remember daily in expectation of
the true baptism. This baptism is, as Christ said, the waters of
tribulation by which the Lord makes us clean, washes and saves us from all
carnal lusts, sins and unclean works and behavior. Just as we recognize that no
creature can justify itself and come to its true purpose without becoming
subject to humans, so also no person can justify himself and come to his true
purpose, that is, to blessedness, but by accepting the baptism of affliction
which God has shown and worked in the person and to which the person is
subjected as justification. If a person is to be justified by God he must be
still before the Lord his God and allow God to work in him as God wills. For as
David said, trust in the Lord and place your hope in him, for He does all things
Therefore, the water of tribulation is the real essence and power of baptism,
by which the person is swallowed up in the death of Christ.
This baptism was not first instituted in the time of
Christ. It has been from the beginning and is a baptism with which all friends
of God, from Adam to the present, are baptized, as Paul said. Jesus accepted
this covenant with God in the Jordan river. Here he demonstrated love to all
people, in obedience to the Father, even unto death and became an example of one
upon whom the baptism of tribulation was richly poured out by the Father.
That is why the sign and the essence of baptism must be
clearly distinguished from each other. The Christian community administers the
sign or covenant of baptism [water baptism] through one of her true servants,
just as Christ received it from John.
The true baptism then follows. God administers it through the
waters of tribulation and in return He offers the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
God lets no one founder in this baptism, for it is written, "He leads into
hell and out again, He makes dead and then brings to life again". This is
the baptism with which the Lord was baptized. Whoever would be a disciple of the
Lord must be baptized and made pure in the Holy Spirit and be united by the
bonds of peace into one body.
Therefore God makes His own blessed and worthy through the
bonds of the new birth and renewal of the Holy Spirit in faith. God works
according to His great mercifulness, and it is only through this same grace that
we are justified and inherit the hope of eternal life. In this way one is
washed, healed and made pure and reborn into the unblemished community before
That is why beloved David prayed to God to wash him and
cleanse him of sin. And God graciously heeded him and, as we read, placed him in
the waters of tribulation. He cried to the Lord for help. And from this deep
abyss, the sin was slain and he was made alive again in Christ.
Paul also admonished the brothers to suffer, just as they had
seen him suffer. For the kingdom of God consists not in what is spoken or other
external things, but rather in the power of God which God alone can give, which
makes a person wholly new in senses, speech and heart in all actions and
conduct. Therefore it is a false gospel which worldly and haughty preachers in
our time are spreading around. That it brings no betterment of living but only
vexation, I leave you to judge, brothers and sisters.
But blessed are those who hear the word and heed it. For a
lamb of Christ hears the voice of the Lord and fears it. But whoever hears and
does nothing is a fool and will never be righteous. Whoever, as the whole world
now does, wants to come to God without the justification which is worthy before
God (which is the suffering or cross of Christ) is throwing away the very means
of justification, yes, Christ the crucified one himself. But they will not
escape suffering, for no one comes to the Father without the Son, who is given
in strict discipline.
Whoever would rule with God must be ruled by God. Whoever
would do the will of God must give up his own will. Whoever would find
something in God must lose much in Him as well.
The world talks much now about freedom, yet remains in total
slavery to the flesh. They will not give anything up, but only want to have more
given to them. Oh, how masterfully they can fool themselves! So now everyone is
saying that each should "remain in his occupation." If that is so, why
did not Peter remain a fisherman or Matthew a tax collector? Why did Christ tell
the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and give to the poor? If it is
right that our preachers want to have so much wealth, then it must be right for
their followers! 0 Zacchaeus! Why did you so foolishly give away your wealth?
You could have followed the example of our preachers and still be a good
Christian! 0 beloved company, how easy it is to see who the scoundrels are! But
this one thing is true, there is a Lord who will judge them.
A true and faithful friend of God, who daily places his hope
and trust in the Lord, will have his heart strengthened so that he will be able
to carry the cross of Christ. All that such a person suffers is Christ's
suffering and not our own. For we are one body in Christ in many members, united
and bound together by the bond of love. Christ accepts such a person as part
of his own body. He witnessed to this when he said that "whoever
touches you touches the apple of my eye." And elsewhere, "whatever you
do to the least of these my own, you do to me."
The affliction of Christ must be fulfilled in every member
until the suffering Christ is brought to completion. Just as Christ is the lamb
who was slain since the beginning of the world, so he will also be crucified
until the end of the world. In this way the body is perfected in length, width,
depth and height in the love of Christ. This passes all understanding, for in
this Christ will be filled with all the fullness of God.
A person will prove his faith under the suffering and cross
of the true baptism, justified and tried as gold in the fire. Through this a
truly grounded faith of the kindness and mercifulness of God will be revealed.
When a person is comforted by the Holy Spirit through all suffering and
tribulation, he is then ready for the Lord and for doing good works. There is no
other path than this for people.
The faith that comes by hearing will be counted to the person as
justification until the time comes when that person is justified and made pure
through the cross.
Then the person's faith will be conformed to the faith of
God and united with Christ. And it is from this faith that a righteous man
lives. Therefore, a great distinction must be made between this faith and the
beginning faith. God's own faith is absolutely true, righteous and enduring, as
He promised. Our faith in the beginning is like silver that is still embedded in
the ore, fall of spots and impurities. But still it is counted as genuine silver
until the smelting, in which the impurities are taken out. That is why the
apostles said, we believe, help our unbelief! So it is possible to compare our
beginning faith to unbelief. As the person finds himself in the fires of trial,
he finds much in himself that is neither faith nor trust. He feels himself cast
totally into unbelief and thinks that he has been cast out from before the eyes
of the Lord. Nothing can comfort him, no creature at all. It is as David said,
"my soul will not be comforted". And elsewhere also he said, "I
am cast out from before Your eyes".
In this way, in what Christ called the "Sign of
Jonah," the person is cast into the abyss of hell. Then, when absolutely
nothing can bring him joy, he must simply wait until the comfort of the Holy
Spirit comes upon him. Then he will be filled with joyousness as he forgets all
worldly desire, joys and honor and counts them all as dung. Then the person
returns from the pit of hell and wins joy and courage in the Holy Spirit.
The justification which really counts before God does not come from an
An untried faith only lasts until the time of
justification, where it must be prepared and justified. Of course the whole
world fears this justification like the devil and would rather pay with an
artificial faith and indeed not go on to justification. Such righteousness is
not preached by the world's preachers, for they themselves are enemies of the
cross of Christ and of righteousness. They seek only their own honors and only
whatever of God will serve their bellies!
God works his righteousness in us through the suffering of the holy cross
which is laid upon each person.
According to His promise, this reveals God's faith in our
faith, so that we are able to believe that God is sure and His faith in our
faith is demonstrated. Then all creaturely desires are rooted out and smashed.
This is how the world's yoke of sin will be lifted, for then Christ governs and
not the world. Then will the Law of the Father be perfected in us through Christ
in all his members. Then there is the desire and love to do the will of God in
To such a person His burden is light and His yoke sweet, and
all that was impossible is made possible! Then may a person truly say,
"Christ has blotted out my sin." But whoever does not submit himself
to this discipline of the Lord, but rather remains attached to worldly desires,
will be overcome and surrounded by a much greater shame and suffering. For then,
even if in the midst of this suffering he cries out to God, God will not hear
him but will scorn him in the same measure as he scorned. Therefore all who fear
God should seek their comfort in the Lord and he will rescue them from all
tribulation, so help us God through the bath of the new birth.
Now Follows the Essence of True Baptism.
Now we want to say more about the baptism of the new
birth. Christ showed this is not an external symbol but rather a bath of the
soul which washes and cleanses the heart of all lust and carnal appetites. It is
the killing and stilling of all desires and disobedience in us which sets us
against God. Just as in the time of Noah, God killed the whole world through the
flood, drowning all evil and washing it away; just as happened with Pharaoh and
the Egyptians in the baptismal bath of the Red Sea, where they sank to the
bottom like lead. Noah and his family went into the bath right along with the
rest of the world, just as Pharaoh and his men went into the bath along with the
people of Israel.
But the results were very different. The evil go in but do
not come back out. Because they are sunk in carnal lusts, neither the creaturely
part nor themselves could be freed. Rather they gladly lived continually in the
lust and love of the carnal. That is why they persecuted the elect, who unlike
them are not mired down but rather strive to swim out. Like Peter, they work
without ceasing to reach the shore and come out of the turbulent sea of this
world and out of the waters of tribulation and adversity, to come to solid
ground. They see that God reaches out His hand to help them out of it.
So for those who seek renewal of their life, baptism is not a dunking and
drowning, but rather a joyous rescue from the whirlpool or undulations or
stirrings of our own desires.
Our life is stormy, a turbulence caused by the battle
between the spirit and the flesh which is in all people. If, in this battle
against the flesh, we are to still, free and defeat our greed, lusts, stirrings,
demandings and rebelliousness, then the sweet water of carnal lust and greed
must in the same measure be countered by the stirrings of divine righteousness,
which in this contest will be acrid and bitter. For what was before in the
creature was sweet, however it was not from God but from himself, which is why
he turned toward it.
Then a great turbulence arises in the conscience between
spirit and flesh. The way to life is narrow if one is to come to new life in God
and the new birth in baptism by the perishing of the old man. For then fear,
trembling and trepidation falls upon the person, just like the fear of a woman
in the labors of birth.
When God passes such waters through the soul, there must be
patience until one gains understanding and teaching. And finally peace in our
world will be born from this assault on the flesh. Then, in due time, in the
patient hands of God, we will be made into a finished dwelling place of God.
Now as the cloudy water clears, the bitter becomes sweet, the
turbulence becomes still and quiet. The Son of God appears upon the water, God
stretches his hand and rescues the person from the whirlpool and lets that
person see that it was through his truth that he illuminated our darkness and
the living water which is hidden within us, and from the kingdom of the
physical, earthly man we are made pure in eternal life. The water which pierces
the soul is temptation, consternation, fear, trembling and affliction. It is the
baptism of suffering. That is why Christ went trembling into this baptism,
before it was brought to perfection in his death.
True baptism is nothing other than the struggle against sin throughout one's
The water of adversity washes the soul of all vestiges and
traces of indolence and carnality. The baptism of John in water is incomplete
and cannot free one from sin. For it is a prefiguring, a preparation and model
of the true baptism in Christ. Therefore they must be baptized again in Christ.
For Christ was also baptized with this figurative baptism, which in true essence
began in him. That is why Christ was baptized, as an example to us that in him
all was as it should be.
In the death of Christ we also perish as members of his body.
We give consent to this death with the symbol of water baptism. As Paul said to
the Romans, you are baptized into the baptism of Christ, that is, into the death
of Christ. And since we are now buried with Christ, we receive the baptism of
truth from the Father.
Christ accepted the baptism of John so as to humble himself
before all men. He took our prideful nature, which is departed from God, upon
himself and through baptism brought it again under God. In this he showed how a
person must be baptized as a new creature in the slaying of our evil,
disobedient, insolent nature, for the washing away of all sin and human
characteristics. As Paul said, since you have been baptized in Christ, you have
put on Christ. So all that was dead in Adam will be made alive in Christ.
But whoever will not be so baptized remains dead in Adam.
Therefore, baptism is a struggle to conquer sin throughout one's whole life.
Whoever now finds behind him the Pharaoh (that is, persecution, tribulation,
fear and need) and in front of him the sea (that is, the helplessness of all
creatures) and concludes that he has been abandoned by God and sees nothing
other than death, stands in the true baptism to which he consented before God
and his community of people by the symbol of baptism.
The world most certainly does not desire this baptism. That
is why the baptism of the contemporary world is a terrible villainy by which the
world is deceived and Christ is denied. They will not let Christ work in them,
to have the place cleaned where Christ should be living. That is why everything
is backward and there is no true judgment on earth concerning the mystery of
Of course we would be happy if everyone found Christ and
bragged to us about it. But nobody is willing to suffer with him. If the Spirit
of God were given in the uproar and debauchery of this world, then the world
would be full of Christians. But Christ is hidden and concealed to the flesh. He
does not let himself be seen, as we notice, except in suffering the highest
resignation, by which he shows himself to all his brothers.
Here one finds the graciousness of God, the highest stage of
divine righteousness and the beginning of divine mercy. Here a person becomes
one with the person of Christ, the crucified son of God, purified and wholly
united into one body. The person lives no more but rather Christ lives within
him. Therefore Christ said that whoever would be his disciple and learn the will
and way of God must accept the Father's discipline for disobedience and carry
the cross on his back like Christ, and accomplish the will of the Father in the
sense of suffering (so long as he remains under suffering) and accomplish God's
will in the sense of actions.
There is no other way that Christ will accept someone as his brother or the
Father as a son.
Christ, the crucified one, has many members in his body.
And yet there is no member which does not bear the work, the suffering or the
acceptance of suffering after the example of the head. Only by this means can
one know Christ and no other. This is the power of God, who makes us pleasing to
This suffering is the baptism in which he would let no
brother or sister sink and be lost. Rather they should be made pure from it and
cleansed from all stain and able to receive the graciousness of God. And he will
be healed after this through the recognition of God's will.
The weakness of Christ angers and vexes the world, and yet no
one may accept the sweet Son of God except he first taste the bitterness of
justification. For Christ's life is so bitter, his teaching so high, his person
so grim and foolish that indeed it may be said, "Blessed is the man who
takes no offence in Christ."
If there is little carnal desire, one will not remain long in the waters of
Rather the waters become clean, pure, joyous and pleasing,
clear, so that one may can accept the Spirit of God in all fullness, to fulfill
the will of God. We stand, like him, under obedience to the Father. It is
proper, therefore, that we put our sin onto him. For the sin does not touch him
for his own person's sake but rather he is afflicted above all for the sake of
our sin and his soul was most horribly troubled.
Matthew and Luke spoke of baptism in terms of fire and
spirit; John in terms of water and spirit; Mark speaks neither of fire nor
water. Matthew and Luke call the Spirit of God "fire," while John
speaks of the Holy Spirit as "water." Yet they are all in agreement.
Fire and water cleanse all things. In the time of the
Scriptures, these were cleaning agents. Any cleaning to be done had to be done
with water or fire. Whatever was delicate and could not stand the fire was
cleansed from impurities by water. What was hard, like gold, silver, copper,
iron or tin, was smelted in fire and cleansed of impurities.
The Spirit of God is portrayed for us as a contrast of water
and fire in which the reason of creaturely work agrees with the obedience of
Christ; water, which takes away uncleanliness, and fire, which consumes all
dirt, cleansing and purifying from all impurities. The power of God does this as
well in its working toward truth through the suffering of tribulation. And
whoever does not hear the voice of God in the water must hear it in the fire.
God thrusts us into various temptations to root out carnal
desires in us, and God works in us the renunciation of the whole world in order
that He may help us and use us for His work. It is like an impure piece of gold,
which cannot be used by a goldsmith until it is smelted in fire and the grime is
burned away and consumed. And what passes through the test of fire is pure and
Therefore God puts all disobedience into the fire and changes
the spirit in the flames. He likes fire and gives His commands from the fire. He
calls Himself a consuming fire which consumes all things and burns in Himself.
That is why He will have no foreign fire in His house for His offerings and
All living creatures display the judgment of water and
spirit. For all are conceived and born in water. But if they remain in the
water, they will drown and rot. Therefore, baptism has its time and end, just as
the first birth has its time and end. All creatures are born in essence through
water, until their perfection. And without baptism none can achieve a fulfilled
life and be blessed.
But this infant baptism of the contemporary world is a pure
invention of men, without God's word or command. It is a silly betrayal and
insidious shame of all Christianity, an arch-rogue's cloak of the godless. For
in the whole of Scripture not a single sentence can be brought forward to defend
it. It is so groundless that, however much they try to hide it, they all are
brought to silence.
According to the word of Christ and all of scripture, one
should baptize no one except the one who gives an ardent and trustworthy account
of his faith. Where this sign of baptism is accepted, it symbolizes the coming
baptism of suffering. It is in this sense that one may say, "without
baptism there is no salvation." But infant baptism is not only
unnecessary, it is the greatest hindrance of truth.
(Hans Hut was an Anabaptist leader in South Germany
and Austria. He was baptized by Hans Denck in 1526 and died in prison the
(Wes Harrison, Bible professor at Ohio Valley College, has an excellent report
on water baptism modes in the Vol. 43 issue of the Restoration Quarterly and
published on the web at
www.centerce.org/BAPTISM/RQHarrison.htm. The title is "THE
RENEWAL OF THE PRACTICE OF ADULT BAPTISM BY IMMERSION DURING THE REFORMATION
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