Already dead! And buried too

1
Obaka

Nairobi, Kenya

I am so blessed!

Thanks to the person who did this marvelous work!

In 1949, when we were working in Taiwan, we composed a short hymn for baptism: "Already dead! And buried too! / With the old man I am through! /... No longer I! No longer I! / Christ in me I'll testify!" (Hymns, #938). On one occasion we baptized over seven hundred people. We baptized people on Saturday night and continued baptizing on the Lord's Day. On those two days we sang this hymn with every person we baptized; we sang this hymn over seven hundred times. However, according to my observation, the people who were baptized were not "through" after their baptism. Although the hymn says, "I am through!...Christ in me I'll testify," none of them could say, "I am through," nor could they say, "No longer I! Christ in me I'll testify!" Rather, their condition was the opposite. Therefore, on the one hand, I am glad to see so many young people attending this conference and to know that two to three hundred of the young people have been saved for less than half a year. On the other hand, I am concerned that these young people might not live a life that testifies that "it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me."

After baptism, however, many people turn from the Lord's death and do not bear the cross. Not bearing the cross means that we are not living in the death of the cross. If we have seen what it means to be baptized into Christ's death, we will know that we are in the Lord's death, and this death has been wrought into us even after our baptism.

For example, a renowned doctor of chemistry, who had a strong mind having read many books and having studied in Germany, believed in the Lord. Then we told him that he needed to be baptized and that the meaning of baptism was to die and be buried with Christ. The day after his baptism, we saw him again and talked about his believing in the Lord. As we began our conversation, his doctor-of-chemistry mind began to come out again. But immediately after saying, "I think," he stopped himself.

From his fellowship with the brothers he knew that believing in the Lord is to be joined to the Lord and to fellowship with Him, and that being baptized meant to die and be buried. On the day of his baptism, God shined a mysterious light into his being. The next day when he was about to express his opinion, he could not continue. Death was operating in him, saying, "I thought the I in I think was buried. Why are you trying to come out of the tomb?" After this he could only say, "O Lord, what do You think? What will You say? It is no longer I but Christ. It is no longer I that live, but it is Christ who lives in me." The words he sang in his baptism, "Already dead! And buried too! / With the old man I am through!" (Hymns, #938), was not merely a saying but a revelation which was sown into him and was operating in him so that I and I think would no longer be expressed.

He did not live by man's exhortation; he lived by the spiritual reality of death. This is the way of a Christian, and this is the need of a Christian. Asceticism is futile; neither does devotion avail anything. The way of a Christian is the seeing of "death"; the way of a Christian is death. Hence, we need to bear in mind that death is what God accomplished and it is the mark of the Christian life. The Christian life begins with baptism, and the meaning of baptism is that we leave, and Christ comes; we are finished, and Christ begins; we die, and Christ lives. This is not only the case on the day of our baptism; it will be this way to the last day of our life. Only those who know the death of the cross of Christ know the deep mystery of being a Christian.

Stanza 2 of hymn #938 (Hymns), a short song for baptism, says, "No longer I! No longer I! / Christ in me I'll testify!" In our baptism we declared that we were finished. It is no more I, but Christ who lives in me (Gal. 2:20). In our subjective experience, we should be on the cross. We may know this teaching, but in our daily experience we are short. In our daily life, we do not practice being crucified with Christ.