“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Rom. 6:3-6)
Now we will touch on a deeper doctrinal truth of the New Birth. Deeper doesn’t mean harder to understand, to put it simply, it’s like peeling an onion – The death of the old man is necessary for the birth of the new man. This is what Christ was saying with, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24) The New Birth experience begins with hearing the Word of God, and is followed by faith, which leads to repentance. Christ declares that this person presently has everlasting life, and in fact has already passed from death unto life. Jesus is saying in a different way what He said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again”
The reality of “Ye must be born again”, is pictured when we follow the Lord in believer’s baptism. We are showing the world that we are indeed born again, and have passed from death (the old man) to life (the new man). Water baptism shows that we became identified with the Savior. (Gal. 3:27) This is not baptismal regeneration. The water cannot save anyone. If you believe that it can, you are deceived, and are lacking knowledge of true salvation. People that advocate such a heresy are trying to use the words of Christ, “Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he can not enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:7) By taking the Scripture verse out of context, they create a pretex.
Many say that this is speaking of a water baptism, but it is not. It is clear that we are not saved by anything we can do. To believe that Christ was speaking of water baptism is to put Christ in direct contradiction with the whole Scripture, that teaches that salvation is not of works. (Eph. 2:8, 9) Christ was either talking about natural birth (the water being the picture of the mother’s womb) which correlates with verse six, or He was speaking of the truth we learned in the previous study – “Born of the Word” where the Word is pictured by water. (Eph.5:26) Christ did not teach baptismal regeneration. Paul, here in Romans, is not only talking about water baptism but is explaining the deeper meaning behind it. He is teaching the truth of it, that what we do in the water is an exact picture of what has literally taken place in us.
We are not going to try to answer every objection that people may have. This is not an attempt to explain every passage concerning this doctrine. We hope that the Lord will use this study to give light by which we may better understand when we reach hard sayings. Realizing that there may be much said that people will disagree with, we hope that we will be able to look past some disagreements so that we may rejoice together in the truth.
We will look at this matter in four areas. First, we will look at water baptism itself, then we will discus the true baptism, then we will look at the three elements of baptism, and finally, we will look at some practical applications of baptism. Prayerfully consider these points.
I. Water Baptism:
Many people are afraid that if they put too strong an emphasis on “water baptism”, that people will take it the wrong way (and promote baptismal regeneration). Sadly too many good Christian churches completely shy away from it. Water baptism has always been a key ingredient of true Christianity. Baptism has nothing to do with saving us – It is the joyous first step of the new convert by which he follows Christ. Christ commands that those that believe the gospel be baptized before any other step is taken. (Matt. 28:19,20) Baptism then becomes an identifying mark. It shows to all, publicly, our faith in Christ. That is why we often see baptism preached right alongside the gospel, even by Christ Himself. (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16)
Note: Baptism follows believing “he that believeth not is damned.” To understand water baptism better we will quickly look at what are the essentials, the four identifying marks for a Scriptural baptism.
The Right Candidate: Our text in Romans chapter six implies that the candidate must be dead before he can be “buried” as pictured in baptism. Only those who are dead to sin as a result of salvation are eligible for water baptism. (Rom. 6:2) Many teach that baptism is a means of making one righteous, they call it a sacrament (a means of grace), by which they may obtain God’s favor. But the Bible says that one must be righteous in the eyes of God first. When Christ was asked why He Himself was being baptized (one would never say that He needed salvation) – He answered by saying that it was “to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matt. 3:15) Baptismal regeneration is a “works” salvation, but Christ didn’t say to ‘make righteous’, He said to ‘fulfill righteousness’, or to manifest it.
“Repent, and be ye baptized . . . for the remission of sins. . . .” (Acts 2:38) This has been the favorite verse of many to try to show that baptism in some way helps your salvation, but we need to examine closely what the verse is really saying. Repentance brings salvation, and upon salvation the Holy Spirit is received. In the middle of the verse is a parenthesis, set apart by two commas, concerning baptism. The word “for” means “because of.” Therefore we see that one is not commanded to be baptized in order to be saved but to be baptized because he is saved, and because he has been forgiven of his sins.
A passage of Scripture which makes this abundantly clear is found in the story of the Ethiopian eunuch. (Acts 10:36-38) Philip was led to take the gospel to the eunuch in the desert. After he received the gospel he asked an important question, “What doth hinder me to be baptized?” This is where we find the truth when the Bible declares that the only thing that hinders men from the ordinance is a complete salvation. Philip replied to the eunuch, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest?” The “Christian” world thought so much of that verse (vs. 37) that it has been removed from many of the modern “translations.” If you are reading this, and all you have is baptism, you need to heed the words of this verse from the undeluted translation. Only if you have believed on Christ (Acts 16:31) are you eligible for scriptural baptism. Without Christ – baptism is meaningless and useless.
The Right Mode: Water baptism is administered for the purpose of picturing the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is important then that we do not ruin the picture that God intended. Such sin kept Moses out of the promised land, and such sin will take blessings from us as well. When Moses struck the Rock (I Cor.10:4, Ex. 17:1-7), it was a picture of the Lord – Christ suffering once, and for all our sins. (Heb. 9:26) The next time when people needed water, the Lord desired that Moses speak to the Rock not striking it again to show us that now we may come boldly before His throne of grace. (Heb. 4:16) Instead of obeying God, and showing this beautiful picture of grace (Num. 20:1-12). Moses became a picture of one which would “crucify the Son of Man afresh”, and put Him to an open shame. (Heb. 6:4-6) The Lord has used a specific picture to convey the specific message. Baptism is such a picture. We are saved on the merits of the gospel, Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, and baptism is to be a picture of this.
The word “baptize” itself means immersion. Any other method distorts the great picture the Lord conveyed to man. Sprinkling water on the candidate, or pouring water upon the head breaks the very picture of baptism. Verse 4, in Romans, pictures baptism to be a burial. Just as we do not take a dead body, prop it up against a tree, and throw a handful of dirt upon it, and consider it buried – So too does any baptism except by immersion fall short of God’s picture to man.
Others agree with immersion, but add that the body must be immersed three times in the water, for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We must hold fast to the oneness of the Godhead, the Trinity, but not to the point that we lose the distinction of the three persons, and their ministries. Neither the Father nor the Spirit died on the cross, was buried, or rose again from the dead, only the Son. While Scripture does not give a specific set of words to be spoken or a particular body of water to administer the ordinance in, the Word does teach the proper mode of baptism.
The Right Purpose: The third part of Scriptural baptism is the right purpose. This goes back to baptismal regeneration. If the baptism is to be Scriptural, it must have the proper candidate to be completely immersed once in water. (Matt. 3:11, Acts 8:38,39) The administrator, the candidate, and those present should know the purpose of the ordinance. Baptism is not administered for the purpose of saving the soul, or in any way takes part in the saving of the soul. If the one who administers, or the candidate who is being baptized does so for this purpose, then salvation is not understood, and there is no true salvation, therefore the baptism is not proper. The purpose of the baptism must be known.
First, baptism is to be administered for the purpose of obedience. Peter tells us that the picture of baptism is not the washing of the flesh, but is “the answer of a good conscience toward God.” (I Peter 3:21) Christ commanded that those who are saved are to be baptized. (Matt. 28:19) It is the first step in obedience to Christ, therefore, it is the answer of a good conscience, for we begin our new life in Christ by obeying Him. How can one say he is saved and a disciple of Christ, and be disobedient in His first command?
Secondly, it is done for the purpose of open demonstration of how Christ saves us. This was discussed when we talked about the mode. He saved us by dying on the cross for our sins, being buried, and rising again. This is the full work of salvation, and it may be seen in a beautiful way in the ordinance.
Thirdly, it should be done for the purpose of open confession. Baptism communicates to the world that we are saved by what Christ did for us on the cross. In early Biblical times it was a big step for one to be openly baptized. By making such an open confession they opened themselves to persecution. That is why I believe the gospel in the early days of Christianity was so closely tied to baptism.
The Bible tells us that an open confession is a great part of salvation. (Rom. 10:9, 10) While baptism cannot save anyone, I do believe in the necessity to openly confess Christ. We may doubt the sincerity of one that claims salvation, but will not submit to water baptism.
Lastly, baptism is for the purpose of identifying us with Christ. This is similar to open confession but we will mention it separately. When Christ allowed Himself to be baptized, one of His great purposes (other than to picture His future death) was to identify with us. (Is. 53:12) We are baptized for the same purpose. Baptism has been compared to putting on a uniform in the army, which identifies men as soldiers under a command. This in a sense, is what we do in baptism. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27) When we get baptized we openly declare our allegiance to Christ. This is the true purpose of baptism.
The Right Authority: This is closely tied with the right purpose, but deals solely with the administrator. It is important who the administrator is because it affects what the candidate is picturing. For example if a church believes, and teaches, that one can lose his salvation, then a salvation by works is believed. Demonstrating an incomplete salvation. This is the same as saying that what Christ did on the cross was not complete or sufficient. Therefore, the baptism is not scriptural. It does not matter what the candidate intends to show in his baptism, if the church that administrates it has a different picture in mind. There must be a proper authority. From the very beginning of water baptism, God has always given a proper authority to administer it. God gave John the Baptist the authority to baptize. (John 1:28) After John, Christ baptized in His own authority. (John 4:1,2) And now Christ has passed that authority solely to His church, the local assembly. (Matt. 28:19 see also 16:18, 18:17) The only true authority to administer baptism are those to whom the local church ordains to do so.
If a church does not believe, and teach the truth concerning salvation they are not a true New Testament church, and do not have the authority to baptize. That is why, to protect the church from false doctrine, a church should be careful not to accept those with an alien baptism into their fellowship. Baptism is the only prerequisite to a church membership – it is the duty of the local assembly to make sure that those who come into their fellowship are scripturally baptized. (Acts 2:41, I Cor. 12:13) There is not one example in the Word of God that any candidate was baptized without a proper authority. People like to cite Phillip and the eunuch but forget that the church at Jerusalem ordained Phillip. (Acts 6:3-6, 8:38) We do not believe in renegade baptizers. Therefore in order for one to be properly baptized he must be saved, and immersed one time in water by the proper authority, and for the right purposes. Anything less than this is not Scriptural.
II. The True Baptism:
The fact is what we do in a water baptism is only a picture. There is a true baptism. Before we examine what this true baptism is we should deal with a misconception concerning the Spiritual baptism. Spiritual baptism is not that every believer is being placed together into some universal, invisible, mystical body known as the Church. This is one of the great misconceptions of our time. Recently, in our local newspaper, there was a story about eleven churches in the community who got together for a revival meeting. There were, what we had thought, three good Baptist churches on this list, along with Pentecostals and the Church of God. It went on to talk about how they set aside their denominational differences, and rejoiced in what they had in common. The photo showed all eleven churches taking communion together.
The problem, these churches had nothing in common. They all believe differently concerning the salvation of the souls. The only thing that each did have in common was the belief that all who are saved, are all part of one body. Recently in our town a church sign read “Salvation makes you a member.” It is this belief that drives ecumenicalism – and the believer who loves the truth should taken very seriously this trick to weaken the church. For the idea that we all need to get together is dangerous to the preservation of the truth.
This belief stems from one verse of Scripture. The Bible warns us that no scripture is of any private interpretation. (II Pet. 1:20) The Scripture that they use says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free: and have all made to drink into one Spirit.” (I Cor. 12:13) Every advocate of a universal church uses this verse repeatedly, and almost exclusively. Admittedly everyone who is saved will one day be a part of the universal church in heaven made up of just men made perfect, but this will still be local, and visible. (Eph. 5:27, Heb. 12:23) For this is what a church is, an assembly, local and visible. Churches need to be reminded of this meaning.
The King James Bible supplies us with a built in dictionary, and it defines a church as a congregation. (compare Heb. 2:12 with Ps. 22:22) If we keep the definition of the word ‘church’ in mind, and try not to spiritualize it we come to the conclusion that this glorious assembly does not presently exist. One day Christ will gather together all His elect but that is our blessed hope. (Tit. 2:13, Matt. 24:31) There are only three ways then which we can interpret the word “church.” One is to apply it to the local church or congregation, as 95% of the times that the word is used in the Bible does. Secondly, it may be used generically, refers to every local church just as we would speak of the family or the home. And thirdly, it can be used prophetically, to talk about an assembly yet to assemble, such as in the book of Ephesians which speaks of the eternal riches of Christ. The New Birth makes us part of the family of God, and even the kingdom (as heirs) of God, but it does not assemble us with “other saints”, at least not on this side of Heaven.
This brings us back to I Cor. 12:13, the controversial verse. Let us quickly look at some reasons why this is not a description of the Spiritual baptism.
First, we should notice that the Spirit is not the true baptizer. In previous Scriptures dealing with Spirit baptism, Christ is identified as the One who baptizes and the Spirit is the medium into which one is baptized. (Matt. 3:11, Acts 1:5) Once again, we must not try to mix the ministries of Christ and of the Holy Spirit together. In this verse the Spirit is not the baptizer who places us in Christ, but rather the Spirit is the common denominator of all who are scripturally baptized, and enter into church fellowship.
Secondly, instead of this verse standing alone, as a proof of a universal church, it stands as another witness of the fact that only those who are baptized are eligible for church fellowship. (see Acts 2:41,42) The baptism in First Corinthians is a water baptism.
Thirdly, the body is the church (Eph 1:22,23), and is not meant to change its definition. Paul is not attempting to spiritualize the church but to allegorize it (speaking symbolically) as a functioning entity. The word ‘body’, even today, is used in the similar way when speaking of functioning assemblies of people, such as a student body or a congressional body. Many today want to spiritualize this verse. In fact in this same chapter, Paul refers back to his audience (the local church at Corinth, I Cor.1:2) and calls them specifically the body of Christ. (I Cor. 12:27, as noted by the word ‘ye’ the church at Corinth, and not ‘we’ the broader audience of all who are sanctified, I Cor. 1:2, note this also concerning closed communion, found in I Cor. 11, for its repeated use of the exclusive pronoun ‘ye’)
Some say, that Christ has many different bodies all around the world. No problem, until they spiritualize the verse, and begin picturing one big, universal, and mystical body. The word body is only an allegory, as it is used in our speech today. They point to Paul uses of the word ‘we’ – But Paul is referring to all the local churches (as he did in Romans 12:5) – the subject is still the local church. Finally, here in Corinthians, this verse if interpreted as being about a universal church would make no since with the rest of the text. For the entire twelfth chapter is devoted to the idea of church unity. Paul was telling the Corinthians to use the gifts that God gave them through the Spirit to edify one another, to have no schisms within their body. This could not possibly apply to a universal, invisible body made up of all the saints, and all age. This could only apply to the local church. This verse has nothing at all to do with salvation, and everything to do with church fellowship.
This brings us back to the question, what is the true baptism? The Bible tells us there is “one baptism.” (Eph. 4:5) There are two acceptable ways to look at that statement. One way is to say that it means one type of baptism, such as a water baptism. The other way to look at it, and what I believe to be the correct view, is that it is speaking of one single act – the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (the gospel). It is perfectly logical to believe that the one true baptism would be the same thing that water baptism is meant to picture. Just as the lamb of the Old Testament was a type of the true Lamb of God in the New Testament, so water baptism is a type of the gospel – the death, burial, and resurrection.
Let us consider the Scriptures. Christ had a baptism to be baptized with. (Luke 12:50) We should note that in this particular verse the baptism is spoken of in a future tense. He was not speaking of His water baptism by John, which occurred nine chapters earlier, but rather He is speaking of His coming crucifixion. Only the cross divides the earth as such. (Luke 12:51-53) This is the same baptism that Christ told His disciples that they would partake in. (Matt. 20:23) We should also note this throughout the rest of this study, for we too became partakers. The medium for all this is the Holy Spirit. John told us that Christ would “baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 3:11) We can quickly reference this with John chapter three where Christ says that a man must be “born . . . of the Spirit” So it is obvious, according to the Scriptures, that this true baptism is a work that Christ preformed (the death, burial, and resurrection) of which we become partakers through the Holy Spirit.
Let us consider the Holy Spirit’s presence in the gospel. While we know that no man took Christ’s life from Him but that He laid it down, it is also true that when He offered Himself up, He did it “through the eternal Spirit.” (Heb. 9:14) Then we see that when Christ rose from the grave, the Spirit raised Him. (Rom. 8:11) Therefore everything that Christ did was done through the Spirit. (see also Luke 4:1, 14) The Spirit was not given to the believer until after Christ finished His work. (John 7:39, 20:22) At this point we should recall the unity of Christ and the Spirit, they are both God. This is that same Spirit who performs the drawing work we discussed. It is this self same Spirit who does the work of regeneration in salvation. (Titus 3:5) It is this same Spirit who enters into the believer upon the new birth. (I Cor. 6:19, 20) It is this same Spirit that is the seal of salvation, and dwells within the Christian until the coming of Christ. (Eph. 1:13,14) And it is through this Spirit that we, one day, will rise again. (Rom. 8:11)
Our natural birth brought us into the family of man, and it is through this birth that we are condemned. ( Romans 5:12-19) This is the sad condition of all the sons of Adam, “in Adam all die.” (I Cor. 15:22) Christ is known as the “last Adam” (I Cor. 15:45) because in Him Adam was put to death and buried. He was the last Adam of that cursed race. For those of us that are saved Adam was judged, and died on the cross, and was buried with Christ. Not only is Christ the “last Adam” but He is also the “second man.” (I Cor. 15:47) Under this title He is the head of a new family, and a new race. After Christ rose from the grave and ascended to the Father He completed all that was necessary for salvation and the New Birth. And we, that are saved through the Holy Spirit, were raised up with him. We are born again into His family, and are new creatures in Him. (II Cor. 5:17) Therefore, we see that our old man, Adam, was crucified and buried, and our new man was raised in Christ. For the Scriptures say “in Christ all shall be made alive.” (I Cor. 15:22) Now, the words of John can be looked at with a new understanding; we are “passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24) This is the true baptism.
Peter gives an analogy of water baptism which he calls a “like figure” which is pictured in the resurrection of Christ. (I Pet. 3:18-22) He compares water baptism with an Old Testament passage, the story of Noah and the ark. The picture is seen in the two separate groups, those in Christ and those without Christ. We see first, those that are in Christ pictured by the eight souls that were saved in the ark. The ark being a picture of Christ. The second group are those that are without Christ. They did not believe that God was going to judge their sin, and refused to seek shelter in the ark. These even went so far as to mock those eight souls that were going to be saved. They went about their usual activities eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, completely ignoring the coming judgment.
Baptism With Fire: In the book of Matthew we see what appears to be two baptisms being performed by Christ. “He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” (Matt. 3:11) This is not two separate baptisms for they are referred to be one and the same – An analogy would be a coin’s two sides. This baptism is still pointing to His death, burial, and resurrection. We know a little more about what the Holy Spirit’s part is, He is the medium to which all that are in Christ partake of the gospel – But what is the fire? The fire is a reference to eternal judgment. If we simply go on to verse twelve (Matt. 3:12) we learn that those that are without Christ are heirs of Hell and the Lake of fire. What Christ did on the cross not only saved but it also condemned. The one sin that the world will be judged for is rejecting the Savior. (John 3:18) That is the Picture which Peter shows us of the ark. The Ark is Christ, the flood is the wrath of God upon sin, and those that are saved are judged in Christ because Christ was judged for our sins. (I Pet. 2:24) Those in Christ are carried through the judgment into the new world. (see Rev. 20:14,15 to 21:1-4) Those outside the Ark, without Christ, (Eph. 2:12, in Adam) are subject to the full judgment and wrath of God. The true baptism, (the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ), saves all those who are in Christ, and condemns all who are without Him.
III. The Elements of Baptism:
We understand little of the doctrine, if we do not scratch the surface of our position in Christ, which is so intertwined throughout the Scriptures. As we shall see later, its importance to eternal security, salvation, the New Birth, and all of these precious doctrines are not completely understood without knowing we are in Christ. For instance, we could study Romans 8:29 and 30, and we would not understand it without understanding our union with Christ. God the Father foreknew me in Christ, He predestined me in Christ, He called me in Christ, He justified me in Christ, and He glorified me in Christ. There is no other way to understand the possibilities and depths of these doctrines without understanding the unity with Christ. Some may be thinking that this seems to be a little hyper-Calvinistic, but it is not because it touches on our very understanding of the doctrine of eternal election. For those that hold to unconditional election have to ignore the one condition, being “in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12)
There has never been anyone who has been elected without Christ. Through the Spirit that now indwells me I am in Christ. I was therefore in Christ when He died, was buried, rose again, and ascended to the Father. My life is completely, and only, in Him. (Heb. 7:9) But even further than that, in Christ (who was elected by the Father) I was elected before the foundation of the world because I was in Him when he was elected of the Father.
The misunderstanding comes for some who believe that they have always been in Christ, but we have not always been in Christ. We are only in Christ when we receive His Spirit. I have not always been a son of God or one of His sheep, but I was made one in Him. And then I can say I was in Him from the foundation of the world. Those that hold to an unconditional election must only read the second chapter of Ephesians to find that before the Holy Spirit came we were dead in our sins. “That at that time ye were without Christ. . . .” (Eph. 2:1, 12)
And it is only in the next verse that we learn that “. . . in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off (that’s us) are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:13) This is all said so that we can see the depth of the doctrine of unity with Christ. Let us now look quickly and solely at the particular elements of the true baptism.
Death: We have already seen the problem of the nature of man. Man was born with a wicked nature which is contrary to God, and alienated from Him. We are born in our father Adam’s likeness and are condemned to death in him. (Gen. 5:1, Rom. 5:12, I Cor.15:22) This is what we call the sin nature. This nature is the master that drives us to serve sin. And it is this master that Christ freed us from when we were born again. (Rom. 6:16-18) In order for the Father to judge sin He had to judge the sin nature, Adam. Therefore we see that Adam (our sin nature) was judged in Christ, it was crucified with Him. This is what Paul meant when he said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Paul was not saying that he personally was crucified with Christ but rather that his old man, (Adam) the nature of sin, was crucified, and died with Christ. Paul further clarifies this by saying, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh. . . .” (Gal. 5:25) The flesh is referring to the old nature.
Notice that Paul speaks of an act as already complete. It was complete the day the Spirit moved in, it was complete when Christ died on the cross. (see also Rom. 6:6, Col. 3:10) In Colossians 3:10, it speaks of the old man as already being dealt with. This does not contradict Ephesians 4:22, for the exhortation is not to put off the old nature but rather to put off his former conversation or way of life. Though the old nature is dead and we are under a new master, we still know our old ways, and are still subject to temptations from without as long as we are in these dying bodies, and on this sin cursed earth. (Gal.5:17) The Scripture is plain we who are saved, are completely new creatures. For us, through the Holy Spirit and our new position in Christ, Adam was judged and put to death on the cross of Jesus Christ. We are no longer in Adam where all die.
Burial: The next element of baptism is the burial. Now we find that our old man (Adam, the old nature) was buried with Christ. This is the dividing line when one goes through the great picture of water baptism. He comes into the water to show that he came to Christ, and then he is submerged into the water to show the burial of that sinner who came to Christ. This is done to show that he is raised again as a new creature in Christ. Our old nature was not only crucified but was taken off of its cross, and put completely out of sight, it was buried. Thence the Bible says that God remembers our sins no more. (Heb. 10:17) They have been cast behind His back and buried in the deepest sea. Thus then we understand the Scriptures when they say that we were “buried with him by baptism.” (Rom. 6:4, Col. 2:12) We were buried with Christ through His Holy Spirit.
Resurrection: I am glad that Christ was not only crucified, and buried, but that He rose from the grave by His own power. This proved to all His critics that He is who He said He is God Himself. If Christ did not rise from the grave we would still be dead in our sins, and of all men most miserable. (I Cor. 15:12-19) But Christ is risen, Praise God!!! And this is the essence of the New Birth. The Bible says that we have passed from death unto life. Our new life is found in the risen Christ. “Because I (Christ) live, ye shall live also.” (John 15:19) This is security to know that my new birth, my new life, is not based upon me or anything that I can do in my power but on the fact that Christ rose from the grave. Oh, what a glorious thought to know that through the Holy Spirit, who now indwells us who are saved, we were raised with Him. After Jesus Christ rose from the dead He ascended into Heaven to appear before God. (John 20:9-17) I was in Christ when He arose and ascended to God. “. . . And that raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:6 see also Rom. 6:5) This is why the Spirit was not given until after the resurrection. (John 7:39, 20:22) Therefore, in Him, we who have received the Holy Spirit at the time of salvation are born again. (Eph. 1:13) Being then in Him dead, buried, and risen again to new life we stand complete in Christ, and free from sin. (Rom. 6:17,18)
“For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” (Col 2:9-12)
IV. Practical Steps of Application:
Let us return to our original text in Romans chapter six. We have seen in he first few verses the truth about baptism, how we have been crucified with Him, buried with Him, and risen again. Paul spends the rest of the chapter telling us how we may effectively apply this to our lives. Every great doctrine in the Scriptures has practical application to our present life, and baptism is no different. As we have already said despite the death of the old nature, and the rise of the new, we are still susceptible to sin in our lives. We may only go to the next chapter to hear Paul’s lamentation over his battle with his sinful flesh. (Rom. 7:15-25) Our mortal bodies have not yet been redeemed, and we still struggle with it, and groan, till Christ comes, and gives us perfect bodies. (Rom. 8:23) Our bodies are still corruptible, and decaying, and therefore are still open to attacks from without by the enemies of our Lord. We live in a wicked world, and the devil, with his angels are trying to defeat Christians. Paul gives us three ways (in our text) that we can be victorious against sin, in this present world: knowing, reckoning, and yielding.
Knowing: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. . . . Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over him.” (Rom. 6:6, 9) The first step of applying the true baptism to our present life in Christ is knowledge. If we know that we are born again and in Christ, we have no reason to live in defeat. The devil has lied to so many Christians by telling them that their old master, the old man or nature, is still in control. The dual nature, which we call the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” theory, has men and women convinced that their sin nature is still in control, and still just as powerful as it was before salvation. Paul tells us that we need to come to the understanding that our old man was crucified, and died in Christ. The devil tries to counter by showing us our corruption. Be assured of the truth of the doctrine we are crucified in Christ, and new life is presently ours. If we are in Christ, and death has no dominion over Him, then death, and sin now has no more dominion over us as well. (Rom. 6:14) Search the Scriptures, and go to God the Father in prayer, and ask Him to convince you of this truth, that ye may know that you are now free from sin. (Rom. 6:22) If a Christian does not know his new position in Christ he is open to attacks, and defeats, from without. So Paul pleads with us to know the truth.
Reckoning: “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:11) Reckoning is an accounting term. If I have ten dollars in my pocket I can with absolute assurance mark it down in my books that I do indeed have ten dollars. This is what it means to reckon. It is this very thing which Paul now exhorts us to do. This goes beyond the acknowledgement of the truth where he asked us to know, but now he asks us to mark it down as a fact. If I have ten dollars but I never reckon myself to have it, what good does it do me for my present need? Some are saved, and dead to sin through Christ but Satan has them fooled into believing that they are still very much alive to sin. As we struggle with sin in this present evil world, the devil shows us our sins, and tells us, “see, there is movement, there is life.” Do not listen to the lie of the devil but believe the Lord! He has told us in His word that our old man was crucified, and buried in Christ, now we need not only know this, but reckon it to be so. We should not just put it in our minds as doctrinal truth but put it into our actions.
Yielding: “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (Rom.6:14,19) We have established the fact that the old master is dead, and buried, and that now we have a new nature which rules us. (II Pet. 1:4) In the fourteenth verse we read that “sin shall not have dominion over you.” So we see that while our mortal bodies are not yet completely redeemed, they had been freed from the old dominion which sin had upon us in Adam. Therefore it says “ye were the servants of sin” but “ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Rom. 6:17,18) It is like a slave who worked under a cruel master during his entire life, and then was sold to a new master. It was common for the slaves under new ownership to behave as if they were still under the old master.
The Bible says, “What know ye not that your body is the temple temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (I Cor. 6:19,20) This is where the battleground is, within our bodies. Paul refers to them as our “members” – It is regarding these members which Paul laments over in his own struggle with sin. (Rom. 7:23) Therefore Paul exhorts us to yield our members to God now. To yield simply means to “give the right of way” as any car driver would know. So, Paul tells us to give God (the new master) the right to control the property that now belong to Him, your flesh, and bones, your members on earth.
We are not to stop at knowing the truth of this doctrine, nor are we to stop at reckoning it to be so but we must now yield ourselves completely to the new life that has been begotten of God. May we say with the song, “Take my life, and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee. Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet, and let them be swift, and beautiful for Thee. Take my voice, and let it sing always only for my King. Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages for Thee. Take my silver, and my gold not a mite would I withhold. Take my love my God I pour at Thy feet its treasure store. Take myself and I will be ever only all for Thee.”
Happy is the Christian that learns to yield to the God that owns him. Happy is the church that has such members. If we could only learn the lessons that Paul teaches here in the sixth chapter of Romans. While we may not live perfectly we would be used greatly of God. We would not be constantly defeated by sin for we would know that sin has no more has dominion. Praise God that we have been born again, and that through the Holy Spirit Christ has baptized us on Calvary. Praise God that He has given us that great picture in the water baptism where we come to identify ourselves with Him. Praise God that we have passed from death unto life in Christ Jesus.
“Living He loved me, dying He saved me, buried He carried my sins far away, rising He justified freely forever, one day He’s coming, O, glorious day.”