LNTW, Chapter 3: A World Under Water
In the third chapter of this book, Nee develops his ideas about baptism, its symbolic meaning and its importance in salvation in Jesus Christ. Here are some of the prominent points in this chapter:
1. Nee points out that at the end of Mark's Gospel, Jesus sequences faith, then baptism, then salvation. Nee believes this sequence is important, and that there is "baptismal salvation."
2. God's gifts to man seem to be given to overcome contrasting evils; for example, justification is given for condemnation, eternal life for death, forgiveness for sinfulness. So the gift of salvation must also be for some opposing evil, but what?
3. The author proposes that there is a triad of "dark forces" which oppose the three divine Persons: flesh vs. the Holy Spirit, Satan vs. Christ, and the "kosmos" (world) vs. God the Creator.
Thus Satan's system "usurped" God's creation, leaving man to face two opposing systems: the order of Christ's dominion, or the order of Satan's.
4. Salvation then is the overcoming of, the exiting from, the whole, God-defiant "kosmos." That "kosmos" includes not only fleshly sins, but the entire system of human activity, even the very best cultural, social and political standards, ways and "ideologies." That also means religions and the worldly Christian "church." These are referred to as powered by natural man at Satan's inspiration.
5. The role of baptism then can never be considered to be "of small concern." Nee refers to 1 Peter 3:20-22 in showing the symbolic role of baptism in moving a believer from the "kosmos" into the domain of Christ.
6. Peter's reference to the Flood of Noah's time is reviewed; the totally corrupt world of that time was completely destroyed under water except for Noah and his family, who were saved out of the water. (Interestingly, the name, Mt. Ararat, where Noah and his family landed, means 'holy ground'!) Similarly, in baptism one goes under the water, taking his own world with him; the person then comes up in Christ, but the world is left under, being cut off from that person forever.
7. Baptism does two things: establishes one on salvation ground in Christ, and buries forever Satan's whole system. Nothing is carried over from the old world into the new.
8. The importance of baptism is critical; Jesus commanded it, and insisted on having it Himself. It is a declaration that one has left behind the old world to claim the new in Christ. It brings a complete change to one's life. One is baptized into two things with Christ: into His death (and the death of the world), and into Jesus Christ Himself, opening up a totally new existence.
9. So instead of being sentenced to the judgment of the world, by faith and baptism we are drawn out of the world to the "lifted up" Christ in salvation. "What a Gospel to preach to the whole creation!"
Comments: Just a few comments and questions will be made here:
a. What a different idea of baptism here, not of a cleansing from sin by God, as in, for example, Psalm 51 and Ezekiel 36, but a drowning of the entire anti-God world in our lives, such that it can never live again! And that fits so well with the "Hebrew Word Picture" for repentance (which is also part of the salvation preached by Jesus and His disciples): "destroy the house (so one can never return to it)" and the comment by Dr. Frank Seekin that in repentance, one moves where he/she lives from one kingdom to another!
b. The concept of baptism here is obviously one of complete immersion. Some Christian denominations still baptize by sprinkling. Does that also symbolically work to drown the world?
If so, can parents by proxy declare the faith needed before baptism for salvation for their young children? Does that ever replace more "conscious" baptism of self-responsible believers?
c. The question might be raised here again: how did Satan "usurp" God's "very good" Creation? In God's omnipotence, there again must have been some aspect of His permissive will involved. Why? Was that all part of God's creative plan before anything was created?
d. How is it possible to live in the world (after baptism) and have it be totally dead? I know that only by the Holy Spirit's power can that happen. Why do we still sin every day? Can the "old man" in us still surface after the "world" has been drowned forever?
This was another very thought-provoking chapter from
10/23/2013 10:29:15 pm
I read through all the NT scripture references to "baptize, baptism, and baptized" this morning (approximately 100 references) and am still struggling with Watchman Nee's definition of "baptismal salvation." I know he states that he is taking it to an extreme to get his point across, but I'm not finding much scriptural context to back up his def. I do love the background of Noah's flood and being saved "through" the water that destroyed the "world" at that time. Also recognize that WN makes it clear that he's redefining the conventional "saved" term so it's not about heaven or hell, it's about being saved out of the world. Maybe I'm just used to the conventional definition.
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Watchman Nee became a Christian in mainland China in 1920 at the age of seventeen and began writing in the same year. Throughout the nearly thirty years of his ministry, Watchman Nee was clearly manifested as a unique gift from the Lord to His Body for His move in this age. In 1952 he was imprisoned for his faith; he remained in prison until his death in 1972. His words remain an abundant source of spiritual revelation and supply to Christians throughout the world.
Love Not The World
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