You are complete in Him! That was the essence of last week’s lesson as we continued our series of lessons through the letter to the Colossian church. The benefits of being in Christ are numerous; let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of some of them. Paul wrote that “even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1st Cor. 15:22). Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works…” (Ephesians 2:10). We can find hope knowing that we are “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). You may have noticed that these are different from last week. For a matter of fact, I have provided a list of affirming verses that speak of what we have “in Christ” along with many others. The point is simple; that is, without Christ and His sacrifice, we have nothing to lay claim to. He is our everything!
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands,
by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ…
It is important to remind ourselves of those influences they were facing, some being the Jewish/gnostic that sought to distract them from what they confidently had in Christ their Lord. That influence would seek to cause these young Christians to consider the need to be circumcised under the Old Law requirements. Paul’s argument against that is simple, you have already been circumcised! Circumcision involved the removal of something, and in this case, it is the “putting off the body of the sins of the flesh.” The ETRV says, “That is, you were made free from the power of your sinful self.” Because of His work, sinful man can now have “a good conscience toward God” (1st Peter 3:21). Why? Because in Christ Jesus we are “a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2nd Corinthians 5:17). Paul would tell the church in Rome “that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:6). All this hope. All this confidence! All the promises are found only in Him.
…buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him
through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
So much is about being in Him, and rightly so. But for the church in Colosse, Paul reminds them that they are already in Him and here is when He “delivered us [them] from the power of darkness and conveyed us [them] into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). This all happened when you were baptized. It is when “you were raised with Him through faith in the working of God.” In our scripture reading today, we find the apostle Paul reaffirming this teaching, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). It is not the act itself that saves, although it does play a role in salvation. Instead, it is rooted in a faith that believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1st Peter 3:21).
Many in the religious world struggle with water baptism, and I can understand why. In years past, I have sadly emphasized the act of baptism in such a way to overshadow what makes it so important in the first place. What makes it important? The death, burial and resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There is no hope outside of the gospel message. I leave you with this final thought. In Acts 8:26ff we find the gospel being preached to someone in search of hope. Once he saw water, he wanted to be baptized. And when he was, “he went on his way rejoicing” (v39). Why? Not because he was immersed in water, but because he was now IN HIM! The one place all hope is found. The one place Paul sought to remind the Colossian church to remember.