When it comes to the plan of salvation, there are so many things we should understand so we can be effective in sharing that plan with others concerning the hope that is found in Christ our Lord and Savior. Over the last few Sundays, we have consider things like faith, repentance and of course water baptism. In the weeks to come, we will also consider the role of the Holy Spirit when it comes to salvation. I find great comfort in the words of the apostle Paul, who reveals to us that we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the GUARANTEE of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14). Then there is Titus 3:5, “He saved us because of His mercy, not because of any good things we did. He saved us through the washing that made us new people. He saved us by making us new through the Holy Spirit” (ETRV). These, and many others that speak of the beautiful gift of salvation, we will endeavor to cover soon.
I am compelled though, to present at least one more lesson on biblical water baptism. Last week, our focus was on two areas of thought concerning water baptism: first, what was the difference between John’s baptism and that which Peter was guided by the Holy Spirit to exhort his listeners to do in Acts 2:38. Also, since forgiveness is at the core of the gospel, when does it begin. According to the words of the Holy Spirit, it is at faith driven baptism. But did you know that there are other things going on in this faithful act of submissive obedience that also reveal to us how important Christ centered water baptism is to the believer? So let’s journey together and be reminded and encouraged by what God is doing when we faithfully abide in this command.
“In Him you were also…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.” (Colossians 2:11-12)
The act of faith driven baptism is a symbol; that is, something that stands for…by reason of relationship. What does it symbolize? The death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and subsequently, ours as well in a spiritual form. As the apostle Paul sought to reason with some in Rome who thought this gospel of grace only promoted sin, he asked, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:2). These are rhetorical questions of which he provides insight by saying, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3). Now listen to what he says next, “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). When a believer acknowledges their sin, they also acknowledge their spiritual death, a death Jesus bore in our place on the cross (1st Peter 2:24). When a believer is baptized, they too, like Jesus, are buried. He in a tomb and the believer in the watery grave of baptism. And when one is lifted up out of the watery grave, they, like Jesus when He was resurrected from the dead, experience a new life! What a beautiful picture, don’t you think? There is more still.
“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.” (Galatians 3:26-27)
The NIV says we have “clothed yourselves with Christ.” The NLT renders v27 this way, “And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.” The Greek word translated “clothed” or “put on” means to invest with clothing. This idea of being “baptized into Christ” is significant according to one commentator, because “it implies the contracting of a very close and intimate relation, the nature of which is expressed in the phrase which follows.” That “phrase” he refers to are the words “put on Christ.” One commentator writes, “This proves that baptism, where it answers to its ideal, is not a mere empty sign, but a means of spiritual transference from the state of legal condemnation to that of living union with Christ, and of sonship through Him in relation to God.” Something has changed when one is baptized! We may look in the mirror and see no difference, but that is the physical world. Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2nd Corinthians 5:17). Once again, I like the ETRV of this verse, “When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world. The old things are gone; suddenly, everything is new!” And one of the things that is new is the believer’s relationship with Christ. It, if you will, has been resurrected.
There is so much more to consider, but that will need to be for another day down the road. Right now, as members of the body of Christ, we should not sway from the critical role water baptism plays in God’s redemptive work. Remember, He is doing the heavy lifting so to speak. We, by putting faith in the cross of Christ, merely trust in His command to be baptized. When we do, we actually participate on a spiritual level with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ while simultaneously find ourselves being clothed with Christ. This is what God is doing in that moment! That moment is faith driven baptism. Our faith is in the finished work of the cross. Together, they paint a beautiful picture.