Saturday, 9 April 2016
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27
Paul just stated, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” This verse now further explains that. He begins with, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ…” Paul is not speaking of water baptism. This is understood from the next words, “…have put on Christ.”
If water baptism is what Paul was speaking of, then anyone who got water baptized would be “in Christ” and would have “put on Christ.” This is not the case as only those who believe in the work of Christ “put on Christ.” It is by an act of faith, not a work, that one unites with Him. The term “put on” gives the idea of being clothed by another. It is what happened to Adam after he exercised faith in the word of the Lord and named his wife Eve. God covered him.
The baptism Paul speaks of is that of a close and intimate relationship which has been established between Christ and the believer. It is what we would call the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” John the Baptist first alluded to it early in the book of Luke –
“John answered, saying to all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.'” Luke 3:16
What faith in Christ would provide was far more than mere externals. Paul writes about it in 1 Corinthians 12 –
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:13
And in a very similar statement, Paul says this in Romans 6:3 –
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?”
Paul was speaking not of water baptism, but of the uniting with Christ in His death through faith in His work. In death, our sins are wiped away, and in this act we are sealed with the Holy Spirit which is our baptism of the Holy Spirit. Paul explains this in Ephesians 1 –
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14
There is no such thing as a second baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is a one-time deal which occurs by faith in the accomplished work of Christ.
This is the glory of the death and resurrection of Jesus for us. What was dead is made alive by a mere act of faith. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-5 we are shown this was actually pictured in Israel’s exodus through the Red Sea. It is quite evident that water baptism is not at all involved in the process. The faith is exercised, the righteousness is granted, the Spirit is given, and then – only then – is the sign received: that of water baptism. This is the exact same pattern as what occurred with Abraham.
Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. The relationship was restored, and only after that did he receive the sign of circumcision. Water baptism has nothing to do with salvation. Instead, it has to do with obedience. When a person is saved, they then make a public demonstration of their new life. They go to the water just as Jesus went to the cross.
They are fully submerged (the Greek word for baptism indicates full submersion and therefore the word was transliterated, not translated, in an attempt to avoid confusion) as a picture of going into the grave, just as Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb. And finally, the person is raised out of the water as a picture of being raised to newness of life through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the intent and purpose of water baptism.
Life application: If you have received Jesus, you are saved. Water baptism has nothing to do with your salvation. However, Jesus gave two ordinances to His followers. The first is the Lord’s Supper and the second is water baptism. In obedience to His directives, don’t you think it’s time to be properly baptized as an open profession of your inward change?
Heavenly Father, give us a proper understanding of Your word and also the willingness to be obedient to it. Keep us from the stubbornness of heart which would cause us to turn away from bringing You the honor that You are due. Jesus was obedient to the point of death, even to death on the cross. Give us that same heart to demonstrate that same kind of obedience if called upon to do so. Amen.