Tuesday, 14 May 2013
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Romans 6:3
The subject of baptism is long, complicated, and more often than not misunderstood. Some denominations claim that water baptism is required in order to be saved, some denominations perform infant baptism, etc. What is being spoken of here is not concerning water baptism. Paul begins this verse with “Or do you not know…”
In using this term, he is expanding on the previous idea which is that we have “died to sin.” Therefore, what Paul is speaking of has nothing to do with an external rite. When we receive Jesus by faith, we die to sin. At this moment, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13,14) and a change takes place; we die to sin and we are thus “baptized into Christ Jesus.” We were, as Paul notes, “baptized into His death.”
This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is a once for all-time occurrence. Being filled with the Spirit is a repeatable event, but the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the regeneration of the spiritually dead soul to eternal life and it happens only once. Paul indicates this elsewhere, such as in Galatians 3:26, 27 –
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Putting on Christ is to be imputed His righteousness. We are now covered, or clothed, in Christ. When God looks at us, He no longer sees our sins, but instead Christ’s righteousness. In Galatians, Paul ties this “faith in Christ Jesus” directly with being “baptized into Christ.” They are one single act. Paul further defines this new relationship in 1 Corinthians 12:13 –
“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.”
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 then did he receive the sign of circumcision. This process is clear and concise and it negates the validity of “infant baptism.” It is an unscriptural rite which in no way replaces circumcision as is claimed by those who practice it. Coming to Christ is an individual act of faith. Only after this act is demonstrated does water baptism serve any purpose. It is an outward demonstration of the inward change.
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 water baptism and the second is the Lord’s Supper. 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 me a proper understanding of Your word and also the willingness to be obedient to it. Keep me from the stubbornness of heart which would cause me 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 me the heart to demonstrate that kind of obedience if called upon to do so. Amen.