In last week’s lesson, I used an example of how God “does His work” at a time when man is abiding in God’s will. Do you remember what it was? It was marriage, the time when God has “joined together” (Matthew 19:5) a man and a woman. History is filled with such examples that show God fulfilling a promise as man acts in obedient faith: the priests who “stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan” as all Israel crossed (Joshua 3), the defeat of Jericho in Joshua 6 as God caused the walls to collapse, the blind man healed by Jesus (John 9) as he “went and washed” in the pool of Siloam. God does some of His most amazing work, during times of seemingly odd and insignificant acts of faith. That being said, I would be remiss not to take a moment and talk about the act of faith driven baptism as it relates further to the amazing work that God at the time of conversion.
Since Christ came to save sinners (1st Timothy 1:15), we will start there. In Acts 2 we find the gospel being preached for the first time after Christ’s resurrection. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the apostles preached the Word causing some to ask, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). The answer was simple, yet life changing, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38). Remission (i.e., forgiveness) would start at repentance and baptism. Or how about what we learn in Galatians 3:27 where Paul talks to Christians saying, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” What does it mean to put on Christ? In part, it has something to do with the “new man” (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:9). Part of that has to do with righteousness; that is, “the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:9). Paul writes, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2nd Corinthians 5:21). When we put on Christ, we put on His righteousness! Finally, there is a bigger picture that is attached to the act of baptism. Up to this point, the things spoken of are personal in nature, but should not be left there. Paul writes, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” (1st Corinthians 12:13). We read in Acts 2:47, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Faith driven baptism not only saves the sinner (1st Peter 3:21), it also places them in the greatest community ever established on earth and it is called the church…the called out!
It is true that man is required to respond to the gospel and that the Lord has revealed in His word what such a response should be, something He has done over and over again. But never, in any of those instances, could man take credit for God’s marvelous work, even though they needed to obey and so it is with faith driven baptism. God does the forgiving! God does the clothing! God gives us new citizenship in His church! It is His work that we should marvel at and praise Him for it.