THOU ART IN CHRIST —AND CHRIST IN THEE!
One of my earliest Christian memories goes back to the year 1935 when I was five years old and was standing on the edge of Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida. Our congregation, Little Flock Church, was holding a baptismal service and I was watching my mother and father wade into the water. A dozen others were with them. It was early Sunday morning, the sky was blue, the bay calm as glass, and mocking birds were singing in the coconut palms. While I possessed only the grace of childhood I was touched with a sense of sacredness. I still remember the congregation gathered at the water’s edge, singing,
"On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand and cast a wishful eye,
To Canaan’s fair and happy land where my possessions lie,
I am bound for the Promised Land, I am bound for the Promised Land,
Oh who will come and go with me, I am bound for the Promised Land!"
Years afterward, I remember my mother saying of that event, "When the pastor put me under the water I thought I would sink out of sight — but when he raised me up I felt like I would soar into the heavens." She said it well. A glorious resurrection awaits our burial with Christ. We normally think of Baptism and Communion as being separate Christian events. In reality, they are dual-expressions of one perfect experience of the believers’ identification with Christ. We should not receive one sacrament and
neglect the other. Hear me carefully: In Baptism we are visibly put into the Body of Christ; in Communion, the Body of Christ is visibly put into us. This public-identification with Christ acknowledges us as being "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ." Romans 8:17.
One of the medieval Christian fathers described the duality of this relationship with God in this way: He said, "Thou art in Christ and Christ in thee, knit together inseparably, so that one cannot be parted
from the other ..." There is a unification of Old and New Testament truths in this Baptism/Communion example which we have rarely fathomed. The revelation is clearly laid before us in illustrations both of
Moses and Christ. We have a parallel of this in salvation when the Holy Spirit puts Christ into us–and in spiritual-baptism when Jesus puts us into the Holy Spirit. Some may object to this language but careful Bible study will show it to be true.
Romans 6:3-4. Galatians 3:26-29. Acts 1:5. In an identical way, Israel was baptized unto Moses in the
cloud and in the sea. In the first, the water of the cloud descended upon them; in the second, they descended into the water of the sea. I Corinthians 10:2. This dual-baptism is the ideal portrayal of Baptism in the Spirit and baptism in water. One is visible, the other invisible, but both are available to us. Peter carefully explain that water-baptism does not result in the "removal of the filth of
the flesh," or being born-again, but is the "answer of a good conscience towards God,"
1 Peter 3:21.
David Rhea, the young man from Tennessee who has traveled with me since 2000, was
water- baptized during the revival at the Brownsville Outpouring in Pensacola, Florida, 1995-2000. Two pastors accompanied him into the pool but in the moment he was immersed, the power of God
hit the water like a lightening-bolt, knocked the pastors to the sides of the tank, left David electrified, comatose, floating on the surface of the pool. Men watching from the sideline raced into the baptistry and carried him out. What happened? God attested the validity of the Baptism to the congregation
and filled David afresh with the Holy Spirit. Such events should be commonplace when believers are "buried with Christ". If it isn’t happening it is because the modern Church is giving converts less than Jesus provided.
At Christ The Rock Church where Laurie and I worshiped in Boca Raton, Florida, years ago, worship was frequently attested by the miraculous presence of God. Perry Comas was pastor. Regarding our identification with Christ in baptism, Paul explained in Romans 6:1-15, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any
longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
"For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall
be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not resent your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." The Apostle enlarges this concept when he wrote the Galatians, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." 3:26.
Of Communion, Paul said, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes." 1 Corinthians 11:26. In "proclaiming the Lord’s death," we formally declare that we now share in the death He died for us. That is, we have been "crucified with Christ," have expired to this life, been buried with Him in the grave of baptism, and raised again to "walk in newness of life." What He did in actuality, we receive in surrogate-adoption. In this understanding it is impossible to separate the unity of Baptism and Communion. Paul’s writings regarding Communion fortify the statement of Jesus who said of the bread and wine, "Take, eat, this is My body." Matthew 26:26. That is, in the
analogy of His being the "Bread of Life", He is entering us. In Baptism we are entering Him. Baptism and Communion are both outward expressions of one inward experience. When combined, they provide a
complete identification of the believer in his relationship of "Christ in him and he in Christ".
JESUS AND THE DISCIPLES
Luke 22:14-22. When the hour had come, Jesus sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it
to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in *remembrance of Me." Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for
you. But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!" (The Greek translation says, "Do this in remembrance of Me." anámnesis = To "recall" = to "recollect" in the sense to "call back"; "ana" = repeat, return, do again, more than mere remembrance but to "re-experience". To remind; reflexively to
recollect: - call to mind, bring to, call to, put in, remember. "Memorial" recreates the event. Much more than mental recall. Luke 22:19).
The careless attitude typifying much of the Evangelical Church regarding both Baptism
and Communion is staggering. We have demoted these holy observances to casual formalities. How dare we! How dare we make anything God provided in tribute to His Son as our perfunctory ceremony! How dare we insult the Cross and the grace that flows from it! We Protestants criticize Catholics for their ritual--while, instead–we should approach the Lord’s Table in the same fervent desire of which Jesus spoke– covering our faces, groaning in the awareness of our sin, and at the same time bursting into inexpressible joy and celebration for His grace! An incredible chaos of emotions? Yes.
Baptism in water is our public declaration, that, like the grain of wheat falling into the ground, its outer shell dying but its inner-life being freed to come forth, so we also have died to the self-life and its carnal ambitions, have been literally buried with Christ in a grave of water, and been raised with Him to walk in newness of life. Above all else, baptism is a proclamation of our total surrender and submission to Jesus Christ. With Paul we may then say that "We have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live, yet not ourselves, but Christ lives in us, and the life which we now live in the flesh, we live by the faith of the Son of God who loves us and gave Himself for us." Philippians 2:5-16: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus ..." Baptism in water should be attended with miraculous signs, exorcisms of demons,
fillings of the Holy Spirit, and other holy attestations. Tertullian, a.d.160-225, the greatest theologian of his day, in instructing new believers said they should rise from the water of baptism, praying, and expecting the charismatic gifts of the Spirit to come upon them.
On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan’s fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.
I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.
O the transporting, rapturous scene,
That rises to my sight!
Sweet fields arrayed in living green,
And rivers of delight!
O’er all those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day;
There God the Son forever reigns,
And scatters night away.
No chilling winds nor poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore;
Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
Are felt and feared no more.
When I shall reach that happy place,
I’ll be forever blest,
For I shall see my Father’s face,
And in His bosom rest
I am bound for the Promised Land ...