You also have to be baptized. To be baptized means to be buried. After you believe in the Lord Jesus, right away you have to be buried, because you realize that you are so sinful, good for nothing but death. You realize that you have been crucified with Christ on the cross, so you are dead already. You have been dead for two thousand years. Since you realize that you are dead, you must be willing for the church to give you a funeral, to bury you. This is very necessary.
From my youth I was raised in a semi-Christian home. I heard many stories of the gospel, and I was educated and brought up in a Christian school. However, it was not until I was nineteen years old that I was saved. Before that day I knew many things about Christianity. I knew almost all the stories about Jesus in the four Gospels. We were taught these things in the Sunday schools. Sometimes we would even make jokes about those stories. However, when I was nineteen years old, I experienced a real salvation. On that day I realized that I was sinful and that with me there was no good thing. Within me, every bit was evil. I did not like myself; I hated myself. I realized that this man was good for nothing and that he must truly be buried.
As a member of a so-called church, however, I already had been baptized by sprinkling. At that time I had not repented, and I had not believed or prayed. I had not realized that I was a sinner, and I had not truly known that Christ was my Savior. I only knew something about Christ. Nevertheless, the pastor told me I had to be sprinkled. He told the congregation, “This young man is a member of a Christian family, with a very nice mother and sister. Therefore, we have to sprinkle him.” This kind of sprinkling did not mean anything. Later, when I was saved, I realized that I was a dead person, good for nothing, and that I had to be buried. I was anxious to be buried, so I went to some Christians who loved the Lord. I asked them, “Is it right that I have to be baptized? I have already been sprinkled.” They told me that it was one hundred percent right for me to be baptized. I said, “Then we had better do it right away. Bury me!” After you believe in the Lord Jesus, if you seek the Lord within you, there will be the desire to be baptized, to be buried.
In a certain place a small native boy became a member of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church did not allow people to eat meat on Friday, but they allowed people to eat fish. One Friday the little boy went out to hunt, brought home a deer, and began to cook it. While it was cooking, a priest passed the house and smelled the meat, so he came to the door and scolded the boy. That little boy had been given the name of Johnny. He said, “A few years ago I was not named Johnny. I had a native name, but one day you brought me to your church and sprinkled me. From that time you told me, ‘That is no longer your name; now you are Johnny.’ This morning I went out and tried to catch fish. I could not catch any, but I took a deer, sprinkled it, and said, ‘You are no longer a deer; you are now a fish.’ I believed what you told me, so why do you not believe what I am telling you?” We do not baptize people in this false way by putting some water on them and changing their name. Rather, to be baptized means that you realize that you are dead with Christ and in Christ. Now you are allowing the church to bury you by putting you into the water. Friends, after you believe in Christ, you need to be baptized. You cannot baptize yourself; you must be baptized.
BEING FILLED AND BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
You must also receive the Holy Spirit, be filled with the Spirit, and be baptized in the Spirit. As the third person of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit is the very transmission of God to you. In order to receive Christ, to receive God, you have to receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is nothing less than Christ Himself. Today the Holy Spirit is waiting for you, so you have to open yourself. After you thoroughly repent, make a thorough confession of sins, make a prevailing confession of Christ before men, and are willing to be baptized, you have the ground to claim the infilling and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When we preach the gospel, we have to preach to such an extent that we tell people, “You are entitled to receive the Holy Spirit.” Simply take my word and put it into practice. I believe the Holy Spirit will honor you and honor your practice.
Acts 2:38 says, “Peter said to them, Repent and each one of you be baptized upon the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This verse says first to repent, second to be baptized, and third to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. These are three of the five practices that we have mentioned in this chapter. In addition, following repentance and before being baptized you need two confessions: the confession of sins before God and the confession of the Lord Jesus before men. To be baptized is also a kind of confession, a silent but public confession not only to men but also to the entire universe, to the heavens and to the earth, that today you are in Christ and buried with Christ. Then you are entitled, you have the ground to claim, the gift of the Holy Spirit.
All that God is and all that Christ has done—all this goodness, all the blessings, and all the items of the salvation of God—are in the Holy Spirit. Through a process the Holy Spirit now includes God, Christ, salvation, and all the goodness of salvation. You have to be filled with this Holy Spirit. After you repent, confess your sins before God, confess Christ as your Lord before men, and are baptized, right away you are entitled to, you are on the ground to claim, the gift of the Holy Spirit. When you are going to be baptized, you have to say, “Lord, today is the very day that I claim the fullness of the Holy Spirit.” Claim it and take it. If you have not been baptized yet, but you have the desire to be baptized, in the eyes of God it is as if you have been baptized already. Now you can stand on this ground and claim the Holy Spirit, telling the Lord, “Lord, You have to fill me with the Holy Spirit, and You have to pour out the Holy Spirit upon me. This is my entitlement, and this is my portion.” You have to claim this.
In our preaching we have to help people to realize these five steps: to repent thoroughly, to confess their sins before God, to make a confession publicly before men, to be baptized, and to realize that after they do this, they are entitled to the fullness of the Holy Spirit. I say again, we are not here telling people to receive a certain kind of religion. We are here learning how to help people to realize this living Christ. This living Christ today is the Spirit. He is not a religion; He is a living person. It is not Christianity; it is Christ Himself as the Spirit. How can you receive the Spirit with this living Christ? It is by repenting, confessing your sins, confessing Christ as the Lord, and being baptized. If you are willing to do these four things, you are on the ground and entitled to claim the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is wonderful! Then you will be a living Christian. We do ask the Lord to reveal Himself to the dear new ones, that they all will have a living contact, a living touch, with the Lord and that the Lord will reveal Himself to them that they may know Christ within them in a living way.
(Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)