The Tabernacle, its Spiritual Significance, Part 16
The “First Vail”, Consecration and the Real Baptism
“Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His
death?” (Rom 6:3)
“The Apostle is addressing those who are already members of Christ. He says, “Know ye not that so
many of you as were baptized into Jesus Christ” he does not say, so many of us as were sprinkled
with water, nor so many of us as were immersed in water, but, “so many of you as were baptized
(immersed) into Jesus Christ” as members of His body, the Church.
How do we get into the body of Christ?
The Apostle answers that we were baptized into it, and hence are now counted as members of our Lord
not members of one of the various sects. But let us inquire particularly; what was the process by
which we came into membership in Christ Jesus. The Apostle answers the question in his next
statement, “So many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death.” Not
a word about being baptized into Him by being baptized into water. No, no! How evident it is that
if we were baptized a thousand times in water it would not bring us into membership in the body of
Christ! But, accepting the Apostle’s statement, we realize that our union with Christ, our membership in
His Church or Ecclesia, whose names are written in heaven, dated from the time that we were baptized
into the death.
The question is, when and how were we baptized into the Lord's death?
We answer that this baptism into death with the Lord, this overwhelming, or burial of ourselves, our
flesh, which resulted in our incorporation by him as members of his body, as New Creatures, took place
at the moment when we typically tied ourselves at the door of the Tabernacle, and made a full
surrender of our wills to him, consecrating our all, to follow and obey him, even unto death.
The will represents the entire person, and all that he possesses. The will has the control of the body,
hands, feet, eyes and mouth and brain. It has the control, too, of the pocket, the bank account, the real
estate. It controls our time, our talent, our influence. There is not a thing of value that we possess which
does not properly come under the control of the will; and, hence, when we surrender our wills to the
Lord, or, as the Scriptures sometimes represent it, our "hearts," we give him our all, and this burial of
our human will into the will of Christ is our death as human beings.
"Ye are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col 3:3)
This death, this burial, is our baptism into his death. Henceforth, from the divine standpoint, we are
not to count ourselves as human beings, of human nature, of the earth, earthy, and as having earthly
aims, objects and hopes, but as New Creatures in Christ Jesus.
The instant of this burial or immersion of our wills into the will of Christ is followed by our
begetting to newness of life, to a new nature. As our Lord consecrated his human nature unto
death, in the doing of the Father's will, and yet did not remain in death, but was raised from the dead to
a newness of nature, so we who thus in consecration become "dead with him," sharing in his
consecration, are not left in a death state, but may instantly rise through faith to a realization of our
kinship to the Lord as New Creatures. Thus the Apostle declares: "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the
Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of Christ dwell in you." (Rom 8:9)
To the world all this is a "hidden mystery." They do not appreciate our faith-justification in the
Father's sight, but regard us as other men, who are yet in their sins. Likewise, they see no reason why
we should sacrifice or consecrate our wills to the Lord, to be dead as human beings, that we may have a
share with him as New Creatures. Neither do they see our consecration and its acceptance, nor appreciate
our figurative resurrection to newness of life, newness of hopes, newness of ambitions, and newness of
relationship to God through Christ. We trust, indeed, that they may see some fruitage in our lives, but
we cannot hope that it will be such fruitage as will to them appear to be good or wise or profitable under
present conditions. "The world knows us not [as New Creatures] because it knew him not." 1
In all this believers are but following the footsteps of Jesus, taking up their cross to follow him (Rom 12:
1). Being holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from the sinner-race, he needed not to wait for any
sacrifice for sins, for he "knew no sin", but immediately on reaching the age of manhood under the Law
(thirty years) he hastened to make a complete consecration of himself, a full sacrifice of all his earthly
interests, hopes, ambitions and desires, that he might do the Father's will only. The language of his
heart, as he came to John at Jordan, was prophetically foretold, "Lo I come—in the volume of the
book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God. I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy law is
written in my heart." (Psa 40:7, 8; Heb 10:7)
Our Lord, thus consecrating himself to the Father's will, realized that his outward baptism
symbolized the surrender of his earthly life and nature, already immersed, or buried, into the
Father's will, even unto death. His water immersion was merely a symbolical representation of
the baptism, or burial of his will, which had preceded it. From this standpoint his baptism was full of
meaning to him, though NOT to John, who greatly marveled that he who "knew no sin" should be
baptized, whereas the baptism of John was a baptism only for transgressors against the Law Covenant,
for the remission of sins.
None but our Lord Jesus himself understood fully why it thus "behooved" him to fulfill all righteousness.
None but he realized that while such an immersion (figurative cleansing from sin) was not necessary for
him, as though he were a sinner, yet it behooved him who was the prospective Head of the prospective
body, to set an example in himself that would be appropriate as a lesson full of meaning to all of his
followers, not only to those "body" members which were of the house of Israel after the flesh, but to
those members also who were still aliens and strangers and foreigners. It behooved him to symbolize
the full consecration of his will and all that he had, even unto death that we, coming after, might
follow in his steps.
That our Lord did not receive the water immersion at the hands of John as the real immersion,
but merely as its figure, or illustration, can be readily demonstrated. In evidence mark his words
about the time of the last Supper (nearly three years after being immersed in water by the Prophet
"I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened [in difficulty] until it [my death
baptism] be accomplished!" (Luke 12:50)
Here our Lord shows that his baptism was NOT the water baptism, but the death baptism,
baptism into death, in harmony with the divine arrangement, as man's redemption price, or sin-offering.
His baptism was fulfilled very shortly after, when he died on the cross, crying, “It is finished!”
This mystery of our relationship to Christ in sacrifice, in death-baptism now, and the resulting relationship
and union with him in the glory that is to follow, is incomprehensible both to the world and to mere
nominal Christian. It is only appreciated by the Lord's faithful, although it is asseverated repeatedly in the
"IF we suffer with him, we shall reign with him"; "IF we be dead with him, we shall also live
with him." We are "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, if so be that we suffer with
him [IF we experience death-baptism with him as his body members] that we may be also
glorified together." (2 Tim 2:12; Rom 6:8; 8:17) 3H297
“To all who would share the heavenly glory, the question comes as it did to James and John, "Are ye able
to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" (Matt 20:22). And if we have indicated
our willingness, we have the promise that the ability shall be supplied; for our leader is our surety.
After Pentecost, under the leading of the Spirit, the Apostles came gradually to apprehend the deeper
and more forcible significance of baptism when applied to Christians, to those who sought to follow in the
Master's footsteps of self-denial and crucifixion of the flesh to heavenly glory, the first resurrection. That
by any means they “might know him and the power of his resurrection (to spiritual conditions) and
the fellowship (joint participation) of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death"
(Phil 3:10) They came to see that to be baptized with his baptism meant much more than mere water
baptism, more than simply putting away the filth of the flesh; that it now meant a consecration to
sacrifice that which was already justified (tentatively) in God's sight. Hence it is that we find Paul so
ably teaching and exhorting believers, who were already justified from sin by faith in the Redeemer,
(who had already taken the “First Step” of faith, to take the “Second Step” of a full consecration), to
put on Christ by baptism; to become members of the "little flock"--"members of his body"-- by being
immersed into Christ. We quote once again our opening text:
"Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized (immersed)
into his death? Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death (represented in the death of
self, the “old man”, the burying or surrendering of our wills typified by passing beneath or under the
“First Vail”): that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father (so too our
rising from beneath the First Vail into the “Holy” or spirit begotten condition), we also should walk in
newness of life"--walk as those having heavenly, not earthly, hopes and aims.
Water immersion, which typifies the death of the human nature, we regard as being the proper
course, for those only who in heart, have made a full consecration or surrendering of
themselves to the Lord--presenting themselves living sacrifices, in accordance with the Apostles
injunction in Rom 12:1
“I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living
sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service”
The Apostle here was not addressing non-believers, this was not a call to sinners to repentance, nor was
he addressing his fellow countrymen, Jews in particular, but rather the “brethren” for whom he was
addressing were fellow believers in Jesus Christ as their Savior, brethren of the “Household of Faith”,
(typified by those within the courtyard of the Tabernacle) those already reckoned (tentatively) as
restored or justified through their faith, but of whom had yet to had offered themselves in sacrifice to
God (who had yet to had taken the “Second Step”, binding themselves at the door of the Tabernacle).
These he admonished to enter into covenant relationship with God, a “covenant of sacrifice” Psa 50:5,
that they might progress from justification by faith unto full consecration and sanctification,
that they might be joined to the body of Christ, “The Church of the First Born”. R445
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