Life-Study of Galatiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 3:27-29. In 3:26 Paul tells us that we “are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Verse 27 opens with the word for, which connects these verses and indicates that verse 27 gives an explanation of how we are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. We are sons of God because we are in Christ, and we are in Christ because we have been baptized into Christ. Verse 27 says, “For as many as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” To be baptized into Christ is the way to be in Christ. Based upon the fact that we have been baptized into Christ, we can say that we have put on Christ.
In verse 28 Paul continues, “There cannot be Jew nor Greek, there cannot be slave nor free man, there cannot be male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Here we see that we are one in Christ with His resurrection life and His divine nature to be the one new man, as mentioned in Ephesians 2:15. This new man is absolutely in Christ. There is no room for our natural being, our natural disposition, or our natural character. In this one new man Christ is all and in all (Col. 3:10-11).
In Romans 6:3 Paul says, “Or are you ignorant that as many as have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” Here we see that when we were baptized into Christ Jesus, we were also baptized into the death of Christ. On the one hand, we have been baptized into Christ’s person; on the other hand, we have been baptized into Christ’s death.
In Matthew 28:19 the Lord Jesus gave a charge to His disciples: “Go therefore and disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” According to this verse, the believers are baptized into the name of the Triune God, into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Later we shall consider what it means to baptize, to immerse, someone into the name of the Triune God.
In 1 Corinthians 12:13 we see yet another aspect of baptism: “For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and were all made to drink of one Spirit” (Gk.). According to this verse, we have also been baptized into the Body.
In Ephesians 2:15 and 16 Paul says, “Having abolished in His flesh the law of the commandments in ordinances, that He might create the two in Himself into one new man, making peace, and might reconcile both in one Body to God through the cross, slaying the enmity by it.” In these verses we have the thought that all believers, Jews and Gentiles alike, have been reconciled to God in one Body and in Christ have been created into one new man. In Colossians 3:10 and 11 Paul says, “And having put on the new man, who is being renewed unto full knowledge according to the image of Him Who created him; where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all and in all.”
We have seen that at the end of Galatians 3 Paul tells us that we have all been baptized into Christ. This is the main factor in our being the sons of God and the sons of Abraham. It is also the factor by which we are included in the seed of Abraham, and in addition the factor which brings us into the enjoyment of the blessing of God’s promise through faith. Because we have been baptized into Christ, we now enjoy an organic union with Him.
Concerning baptism, the New Testament reveals that we have been baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19), into Christ (Gal. 3:27), into the death of Christ (Rom. 6:3), and into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). We need to exercise our entire being in order to have a proper understanding of such a wonderful baptism. Regrettably, many Christians today do not have an adequate view of baptism. Some Christians argue about the method of baptism or about the kind of water used. Some reduce baptism to a dead ritual. Other Christians go to another extreme and associate baptism with speaking in tongues. Rarely among today’s Christians do we see baptism practiced in a proper, genuine, and living way, with the believers baptized into the name of the Triune God, into Christ, into the death of Christ, and into the Body of Christ. Such a baptism, a baptism into the divine name, a living Person, an effective death, and a living organism, puts the believers into a position where they can experience an organic union with Christ.
Commenting on Matthew 28:19 in his Word Studies in the New Testament, M. R. Vincent says, “Baptizing into the name of the Holy Trinity implies a spiritual and mystical union with him.” The Greek preposition rendered “into” is crucial, for it points to this spiritual, mystical union. Moreover, Vincent says that the word “name” here “is the expression of the sum total of the divine Being....It is equivalent to his person.” Therefore, to baptize believers into the name of the Triune God means to baptize them into the very being, the Person, of the Triune God. The name denotes the Person, and the Person is the all-inclusive, processed Triune God as the life-giving Spirit. When we baptize people into the name of the Triune God, we baptize them into such a divine Person. To baptize anyone into the name of the Trinity is to immerse that one into all the Triune God is.
According to the Gospel of Matthew, baptism brings repentant people out of their old state into a new one, by terminating their old life and germinating them with the new life of Christ that they may become the kingdom people. John the Baptist’s recommending ministry began with a preliminary baptism by water only. Now, after the heavenly King accomplished His ministry on earth, passed through the process of death and resurrection, and became the life-giving Spirit, He charged His disciples to baptize the ones they discipled into the Triune God. This baptism has two aspects: the visible aspect by water, and the invisible aspect by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38, 41; 10:44-48). The visible aspect is the expression, the testimony, of the invisible aspect; whereas the invisible aspect is the reality of the visible aspect. Without the invisible aspect by the Spirit, the visible aspect by water is vain; and without the visible aspect by water, the invisible aspect by the Spirit is abstract and impractical. Both are needed. Not long after the Lord charged the disciples with this baptism, He baptized them and the entire church in the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13) on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:5; 2:4) and in the house of Cornelius (Acts 11:15-17). Then, based upon this, the disciples baptized the new converts (Acts 2:38), not only visibly into water, but also invisibly into the death of Christ (Rom. 6:3-4), into Christ Himself (Gal. 3:27), into the Triune God (Matt. 28:19), and into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). The water, signifying the death of Christ with His burial, may be considered a tomb to terminate the old history of the one being baptized. Since the death of Christ is included in Christ, and since Christ is the very embodiment of the Triune God, and the Triune God is eventually one with the Body of Christ, so to baptize new believers into the death of Christ, into Christ Himself, into the Triune God, and into the Body of Christ is to terminate their old life, on the negative side, and, on the positive side, to germinate them with new life, the eternal life of the Triune God, for the Body of Christ. Hence, the baptism ordained by the Lord in Matthew 28:19 is one that baptizes people out of their life into the Body life for the kingdom of the heavens.
We have pointed out that the Greek word rendered “into” indicates union, as in Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27; and 1 Corinthians 12:13. The same Greek word is used in Acts 8:16; 19:3, 5; and 1 Corinthians 1:13, 15. To baptize people into the name of the Triune God is to bring them into spiritual and mystical union with Him.
Matthew and John are the two books in which the Trinity is more fully revealed, for the participation and enjoyment of God’s chosen people, than in all other books of Scripture. John unveils the mystery of the Godhead in the Father, Son, and Spirit, especially in chapters fourteen through sixteen, for our experience of life; whereas Matthew makes known the reality of the Trinity in the one name for all Three, for the constitution of the kingdom. In the opening chapter of Matthew, the Holy Spirit (v. 18), Christ (the Son—v. 18), and God (the Father—v. 23) are all on the scene for the producing of the man Jesus (v. 21), who, as Jehovah the Savior and God with us, is the very embodiment of the Triune God. In chapter three Matthew presents a picture of the Son standing in the water of baptism under the opened heaven, the Spirit as a dove descending upon the Son, and the Father out of the heavens speaking to the Son (vv. 16-17). In chapter twelve, the Son, in the person of man, cast out demons by the Spirit to bring in the kingdom of God the Father (v. 28). In chapter sixteen, the Son is revealed by the Father to the disciples for the building of the church, which is the life-pulse of the kingdom (vv. 16-19). In chapter seventeen, the Son entered into transfiguration (v. 2) and was confirmed by the Father’s word of delight (v. 5) for a miniature display of the manifestation of the kingdom (16:28). Eventually, in the closing chapter, after Christ, as the last Adam, had passed through the process of crucifixion, entered into the realm of resurrection, and become the life-giving Spirit, He came back to His disciples, in the atmosphere and reality of His resurrection, to charge them to cause the heathen to become the kingdom people by baptizing them into the name, the Person, the reality, of the Trinity. Later, in the Acts and in the Epistles, it is indicated that to baptize people into the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit is to baptize them into the name of Christ (Acts 8:16; 19:5, Gk.), and to baptize them into the name of Christ is to baptize them into Christ the Person (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3), for Christ is the embodiment of the Triune God, and He, as the life-giving Spirit, is available any time and any place for people to be baptized into Him. Such a baptism into the reality of the Father, Son, and Spirit, according to Matthew, is for the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens. The heavenly kingdom cannot be organized with human beings of flesh and blood (1 Cor. 15:50) as an earthly society. It can only be constituted with people who are immersed into the union with the Triune God and who are established and built up with the Triune God who is wrought into them.
Whenever we are about to baptize people, we should give them a rich, living message on the meaning of baptism. By hearing such a message, their faith will be stirred up, and they will have a proper appreciation of baptism. We should never baptize believers in a ritualistic way, regarding baptism as a mere act of putting people into the water according to the Bible. Such a baptism is void of the reality of the organic union. But if people hear a rich word on the meaning of baptism and have the hearing of faith, they will earnestly desire to be baptized. Then, as we baptize them, we should exercise our faith to realize that we are not only baptizing them into the water, but baptizing them into a spiritual reality. As we immerse them into the water, we immerse them into the Triune God as the all-inclusive Spirit. When a person is baptized into the Triune God, he enters into an organic union, which is able to transform his whole being. By means of our organic union with the Triune God, we are one with the Triune God, and the Triune God is one with us.
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