THE FUNERAL CELEBRATION
BY: LENNY ANTONSSON
As I was interceding for the men at the Baptist Church, the Lord began to give me a fresh look at baptism, and what it really means for our lives.
Gal. 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Do you hear what this says? It says, I am dead. Since I no longer live, I cannot have any faith. Dead people don’t have any faith! So, the faith I have is the faith of Jesus Christ. It is His faith, not mine by which I live! Now, if you are truly dead, if the Adamic nature is dead in you, what do you do? You have a funeral. You invite all your friends and all the people in church to the funeral. You don’t want the old nature to hang around and stink because it is dead. The Apostle Paul asked, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3) So you make plans for a funeral. You nail the coffin shut and you bury the old man with Christ. You bury him in the same grave with Christ and you prove it to the world by being immersed in water. Then when you come up out of the water, you say, “See. This is the proof that my old nature is dead and I have buried it and I have risen with Christ in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:4).
The baptism itself doesn’t do anything to change your spiritual being or your natural being, but it shows to the world and to the congregation that this is what has happened in your very life, in your inner being. Now, you have become, your body has become the temple of the Holy Ghost, the temple of God (I Cor. 3:16; II Cor. 6:16), and you’re showing the congregation in a physical way that this spiritual fact has taken place. Because you are a New Creation in God, because you are a baby, an infant in God, you need to go through these physical experiences to prove to yourself that truly you have given up the old nature and the new nature is at work in you. As an infant in God, you are a spiritual being that has operated in a physical place; the physical memory is still there, and so you take a physical step to prove to yourself again that this miracle of the new birth actually did happen in your life.
This is necessary, especially in the beginning of your spiritual life because you have so many physical habits that are still in your mind. The “old tape” still runs. The truth is, the old nature is dead, but the memory tapes are still there and to convince yourself that this transformation is really true, you have to take physical steps to interfere with the memory. You are going to grow more and more and more spiritually, and after awhile, you will not need these physical steps, the proof that these things have happened, because God will be speaking to you, and revealing himself through the Holy Spirit more and more and more, but this is the beginning of a spiritual walk. First the natural and then the spiritual. (I Cor. 15:46). We have to show in the natural that we are spiritual beings. The same thing happens with many of the other religions. The Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and so on, have a ritual to celebrate a first communion. At that time, the Bishop comes and lays his hands on the people’s heads to impart the Holy Spirit to them. Some may think that they actually get the Holy Spirit this way. They do not, but they have made the laying on of hands into a religious act. It does not convey the Holy Spirit, any more than your salvation occurred at the moment when you were baptized in water. Both rituals are physical, religious acts which serve as a marker, a symbol in your life, that this is the stand which you took at a certain time to prove to your physical self and to the congregation that you are now a New Creation in God, with all the benefits that go with that experience.
The greatest proof in your life that you now are a spiritual being is the force or the power that takes place in you transforming you, changing you into a life giving spirit. Paul wrote, “So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being;” the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.“ (1 Cor. 15:45-47) How do you know that you are a life giving spirit? By the fact that your desires have changed. Now, you want to see all your friends and relatives and everybody you meet, you want to see all of them come to God and be changed into a spiritual being. This is your great longing. You want to see everybody healed. You want to see people with emotional problems restored to wholeness. That is the “New Creation” in you expressing itself, yearning to see these things happen, desiring for these things to take place. This is the life giving Spirit of Christ in you, in operation. This is your greatest witness to yourself. Do you see the difference? Before this change took place, you had no trouble cursing people. You had no trouble thinking bad about them, criticizing them, wishing them punishment for their sins, but now, you want to see them totally restored to God, totally healed, totally saved. You want to see them come into full knowledge of God and experience this whole wonderful revelation of newness of life that you have. Do you see the change in you?
Baptism is not the actual act of burying the old man with Christ. It only symbolizes on earth what was already done in the heavenlies when you accepted Christ. It’s a funeral for the old man. It’s the beginning place for counting ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. (Rom. 6:11). Baptism is a celebration that this is what has happened and you want to show people in a physical way that this has actually happened spiritually in your life. That’s why you are celebrating in the water baptism what happened in the act of salvation. Rick, the Baptist pastor, says all the time, “This water baptism doesn’t save you.” It doesn’t bury the old man either. It’s just that wonderful celebration that you are enjoying with the congregation, the fact that this happened to you spiritually, and you want to show everybody physically that it has happened. When you were born again, something old died and something new came into being that very moment, and that’s what we’re celebrating. We have gone from being dead in trespasses and sins, (Eph. 2:1) to becoming a life giving spirit. This is why we need to celebrate baptism, because it is a funeral for the old man, a symbolic burial, and the beginning of our new life in Christ.
FUNERAL CELEBRATION [Lenny Antonsson] April 1999 1