[Marcus Rainsford was a well-known British preacher and pastor in the 1800's who partook in the Moody/Sankey evangelistic campaigns in the British Isles. He is the author of "Our Lord Prays for His Own: Thoughts on John 17," which is still published by Kregel Publications. This article is part of a series of 20 lectures given in 1870 to help believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to understand and appreciate our positional and practical relationship with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.]
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." (Romans 6:4-5)
Last day we dwelt particularly on the remarkable expression, "baptized into Jesus Christ." The great lesson conveyed by the expression is union with the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything depends on union with the Lord Jesus Christ. Out of him so far as our salvation is concerned, and so far as our walk in life is concerned, we have nothing, and we are nothing but emptiness and ruin, and when God looks down upon us he can discover nothing but what he must regard with aversion.
But there is laid up in the Lord Jesus Christ all God's desire, all that God wants from us, and all we can possibly want from God, whether for time or for eternity. The title to everlasting life He is; the qualification for the enjoyment of everlasting life is only to be had from him and in him: therefore, union with him is everything.
The Lord has provided that there shall be union between his people and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the law of the Spirit of life, whereby this union is established, is brought about in this way, viz: that when the gospel is preached, and when God's record concerning Christ is proclaimed to sinners, and they, in hearing God's word, believe it, and receive God's gift on the warrant of God's word, then union takes place. I have pointed out that remarkable verse in the Lord's prayer in John 17:20, when he prays not only for his disciples who did believe, but for all who should believe on him through their word, "that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us."
So here you perceive by his own blessed teaching, and from his own divine supplication as mediator, this blessed truth, that " whosoever believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ has union with Him," and henceforth stands before God "accepted in the beloved, complete in him."
The figure of baptism which we had last day teaches how complete the union isit is "baptized into Jesus Christ". The figure is a very full and a very striking one; the sinner believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is swallowed up in Christ, appears no more apart from Christ forever, is lost in him, identified with him, and henceforth always regarded by God as part and parcel of him, baptized into Jesus Christ. Here is union indeed, that there may be communion also. The water signifies the Holy Spirit, who is the agent, and the Word, which is the means whereby the union takes place, and the baptism into the water, the immersion, shows the completeness of our identification with the Lord Jesus Christ. You remember the remarkable passage in 1 Cor. 12:13, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body". Friends, the weakest believer, as much as the greatest and strongest, the feeblest soul that trusts in Jesus as much as the most advanced in faith, is equally baptized by one Spirit into the body of which He is the head, receiving from Him life, salvation, fullness, and all things; and what we want is to have our faith increased, that we may live more upon the fullness which we possess in Him, that we may be more strengthened in Him, more consecrated to Him, and renewed more in the knowledge of Him, thus gathering light from His light, "walking in the light," and being His lightbearersthe blood of Jesus, cleansing us meantime from all sin. When we are said to be "baptized into Jesus Christ," the Spirit of God teaches us that we are identified with all that is His, not merely baptized into Jesus, but into Jesus Christ, identified with Him personally as Jesus the Saviour, and identified with Him in His offices as the Christ.
There is nothing in Him as Jesus which we have not an interest in, and there is nothing He has done or is about to do, in His offices as Christ, which we have not an interest in and benefit from, if we are believers in Him. And the means for effecting this union is faith, and "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Believing we are united to Him, baptized into Him (water baptism is but the figure, not the reality), the Apostle goes on to say that we are buried with Him by baptism into death, that the precious Lord Jesus Christ was buried into death, into that death which exhausted and abolished death, into that death by which the law was vindicated and justice satisfied. He was buried into death, and if I have union with Him, according to His word, and according to His prayerthen I have been buried with Him into death. Therefore it is written, "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
I have been already buried into death with the Lord Jesus. Death has no claim upon me, judgment has no claim upon me, law has no claim upon me. When Jesus was buried into death I was buried into death; the sentence of death passed upon me; judgment was visited upon me; death was executed upon me, when my substitute was buried into death. Oh! The liberty we have when we realize this! No one can tell it, no language can describe it. I am buried with my Lord and Saviour into death; then there is an end of me as a natural man. I have passed out of God's sight forever as a natural man since Jesus was buried. Do we believe this? The all-seeing God never sees me again as a natural man from the day when I was baptized into the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be a dishonour to him if I was ever again so regarded by that Holy God who gave the Lord Jesus to be buried into death, that the natural man, the poor lost sinner who believes on Him might be buried into death too.
Buried into death! seen no more, existing no longer in the eye of the law, or in the eye of God as a poor fallen lost one, delivered from condemnation absolutely and entirely, I have my standing in a risen, triumphant, exalted, enthroned Saviour; for if we had union with Him when He was buried into death, we have union with Him now, He is exalted into life, as we read in v.10, "In that he died, He died unto sin once;" so He dieth no more, and the soul that was buried with Him into death dieth no more. "And in that he liveth, He liveth unto God," and the soul that is baptized into His death is baptized into His life, and stands complete in Him. This is the meaning of what the Apostle says in Gal. 2:20, "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." This was what the Lord meant when He said, "Because I live, ye shall live also." And when He said, again, "My strength is made perfect in weakness," "My grace is sufficient for thee," "Lord Jesus say unto my soul I am your salvation."
My dear friends, these are the true sayings of God, and when we realize them by the teaching of His Holy Spirit, and on the ground of His word, we have life, joy, peace, liberty, blessedness, and salvation. Not to have a realized view of them is the result of unbelief of God's word; for unbelief not only cuts us off from all interest in the Lord Jesus Christ, but also in the degree in which it exists from all conscious realization of that interest.
I have often said to you, unbelief is the most unreasonable thing in the world. Really there is no excuse for it. There might be an excuse for not believing me, for it is quite possible that I might be mistaken, or I might intend to deceive or be unable to keep my promise; but there is no such thing as an excuse for not believing God; God can't deceive, and he cannot be deceived, and he can't fail from want of resources in Himself to keep His pledges to poor sinners. And from the momentwhen putting aside all you are and all you have donewhether as saints or sinners, you take God's word concerning Christ, what He is and what He has done, as God's free gift to needy sinners, from that moment you have an interest in Him. And when you know that you have an interest in Him, then you will begin to walk in newness of life, and to hate the things that Christ hates, and to hate yourself for liking them, and you will begin to follow the things that Christ commands, and count them beyond measure more precious than gold and silver.
Then you will begin to realize you have a new standing, that God does not now regard you as you know yourselves, by painful experience, poor and weak and needy ones. Truly God does know us as such, but not to condemn, only to supply strength to meet our difficulties, and to send the Comforter to wipe away our tears.
He only knows His people as tried ones that they may be helped, He only knows them in weakness that they may be strengthened, He only knows them as exposed to danger that they may be sheltered, He only knows them as pilgrims in the wilderness that He may walk the wilderness in them, and with them, and bring them up out of the wilderness leaning on their Beloved.
Here lies the secret motive for consecration of heart. This knowledge it is which enables us to look upon God without fear, to contemplate a deathbed without terror, to anticipate judgment without alarm; and this is the secret by which men learn to live out of self upon the Lord, and make no mention of themselves, only of His wisdom and righteousness, His sanctification and His redemption; not seeking to be justified by the works of the law, which can neither "bless them at all or curse them at all;" but seeing they know that they have been buried into death with Jesus, and are risen into life with Jesus, and that they stand accepted before God, they walk in newness of life. "Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
It is a very remarkable expression that "Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father." It is not even mercy, but glory. What a view that gives us of our Father! You remember Ps. 21:5, where we have this remarkable expression, "His glory is great in thy salvation."
It was not merely the mercy of God that raised Jesus from the dead; it was the glory. Nothing made God more happy than when the salvation work for poor sinners was accomplished. The glory attending the resurrection of Jesus was not paralleled in any other period of His history. You remember Matt. 28:2, "Behold there was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from Heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightening and His raiment white as snow, and for fear of Him the keepers did shake and became as dead men."
Ah, friends! the keepers outside the scene were only emblems of other watchers, death and hell . . . Satan and all his host would try to keep Him in; but as it has been beautifully said, as well might they have tried to roll the stone to the portals of the East to stay the rising of the morning sun, as to stop His rising. Thus, He rose from the dead by the glory of His Father. His work was done gloriously, and gloriously did the Father raise Him. Everything about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was stamped with glory. You remember He said just before His death, "Glorify Thy son that Thy Son also may glorify Thee." What did He mean? Raise me from the dead, burst my bonds, and the chains and trammels of law and judgment, and death and hell, give liberty from all condemnation; let me conquer and rifle the tomb in the power of the Resurrection. Glorify Me that I may glorify Thee in bringing all the redeemed to the throne which I ascend. You remember in Heb. 5:5, we are told that Christ in His Resurrection entered into the Priesthood. This was His glory. "So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest," but He that said unto Him, "Thou art my Son; today have I begotten Thee." This refers to the morn of the Resurrection, and to the fact that Jehovah glorified Him; and it was the glorifying of Him when He undertook that office of Priesthood in which He ever liveth to make intercession for you, for me, for all those who come unto God by Him.
There is another beautiful passage, (see 1 Peter 1:21) where you will find the reason why God raised Him from the dead. He "was manifested in these last times for you who by Him do believe in God." Oh, if there is one before me who does not believe in God, why should you continue so? But if you do believe, listen to this: "Who by Him do believe in God that raised Him from the dead, and gave Him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God."
May you not trust that God, who gave Jesus to be buried into death for you, and to be raised out of death, that your faith and hope might follow Him, that your desires and expectations might follow Him, and that realizing your interest in Him, you might walk in newness of life, no longer deriving your existence from, or leaning for strength on creature resources, but on Him in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodilyfrom that fulness, the believer draws grace for grace, grace for pardon, instruction, comfort, grace for living, for dying, for resurrection, for judgment, for glory. Oh! we want vessels not a few to draw with; the well is deep, and the supply is limited only by the littleness of our faith; our souls are occupied with other things, our minds full of worldliness and vanity, instead of being filled with Jesus, occupied with the things that perish with the using, with the cares and worries of this life, and there is no room for the Lord Jesus Christ; the Lord increase our faith, that we may live more upon His fulness, and as we live on Him, we shall walk in newness of life.
In v.5, we have another figure. It is very remarkable how the Lord multiplies figures to teach us the same wonderful truths. We have had water baptism to picture our union with Him by the Spirit, that we are immersed into Him, incorporated into Him, shut up into Him, and our natural selves gone. The figure of baptism teaches us that we have gone down into death and come up into life, and that we are identified with Him evermore. Truly a wonderful picture of union with Christ. But here we have again, v.5, "If we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection."
Here union with Christ is illustrated by another figure, but equally beautiful and equally instructive. "Planted together"the idea is not of two or three plants all put into the same ground, though that would to a certain extent express blessednessto be near Him is blessed, to have walked the same earth is blessed, to have a similar nature is blessed, to live in the same atmosphere is blessed; but this is far deeper. The idea is of one plant with various branches, as the Lord puts it in John 15, "I am the vine, ye are the branches." One plant made up of one root and many branches; the root is Christ; the branches are such as you and I grafted in. And how are we grafted? when we believe. The plant out of the dry ground had no form or comeliness; He came down and emptied Himself of all His glory, and became a withered plant, and went down into death that we might be planted in the same ground and in the same grave. You have seen it done in winter in your gardens, the plant put down into the ground, and it has not the appearance of lifeno buds, no blossoms, no fruit there; but if it were not put into the ground there would never be any buds, or blossoms, or fruit. So, he was crucified in weakness. You remember His own words, "but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Here we have the planting of the Tree of Life, which, springing up in the Resurrection, bears twelve manner of fruit, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations; we are planted in union with Him, in the likeness of His death; but when the Spring comes, and the light of God, and the dews of God operate upon the plant, we know what the consequences are; it puts forth buds, and leaves, and blossoms, and fruit. And what a beautiful thing it is. The branches that are planted with the root in winter are the very branches which contain its fragrance and beauty in the summer time. It was winter time with Jesus when He was put down into the ground; but Spring time and Summer are coming, when the Tree of Life shall put forth its fruit, and we shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. Even God himself shall delight to rest under its shade, and eat His pleasant fruit.
The great thing is to have union with Christ. He is root, the life, and all the fulness, the supply and the grace and the glory are in Him. If we are believers in Him, we have an interest in all. But still there is nothing in us. Now there is a great mistake into which believers often fall; they stagger at the amount of barrenness they experience in themselves; they wonder to find themselves so poor, so empty, so helpless! Do you suppose that Christ has transferred His fulness into you, and that you able to be the root instead of the branches? Nay, but he puts His fulness into our empty vessels; and even after we have come to Christ, we are but poor empty vessels receiving His fulness. You know that in winter time the sap goes down into the root, and the branches seem dead and dry, and thus it is with us now. The life is all in the root, the sap and the fulness are all in the root. I do believe that if God were to put out His fulness into us while we are in this body, we should take all the honour and credit to ourselves, and we should become full-bloomed Pharisees.
No; He keeps the life at His own disposal. He keeps the grace and the strength in Himself, and He gives it out by little and little, and bye-and-bye, when we get rid of this body of sin and death, partakers not only of the spiritual but of the literal resurrection; then there will be no hindrances to the full outflow of the grace and glory that are in the Lord Jesus Christ; and then we shall not be spoiled by the supply, and we shall not desire to put the crown on our own heads, but on the head of the Lord, where alone His crown can flourish.
In the meantime, dear friends, let us seek to live, learning that all our springs are in Him, and content to leave them there. Let us draw on Him daily for the supply of our need, and learn to live the life we now live in the flesh "by faith of the Son of God," who loved us and gave Himself for us.
And, then, whether we walk in darkness and have no light, let us trust in the name of the Lord, and when the light shines and the leaves are fair, and the blossoms sweet, let us give Him credit for the supply and blessing; and "though the fig tree does not blossom, neither fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olive fails, and the fields yield no meat, the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet will we rejoice in the Lord, we will joy in the God of our salvation."
Let us still realize that our springs are in Him, and though the poor branches may seem withering, yet the root is full; and "if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection."