Building up believers and the New Testament church

The Gospel of Baptism

Our Baptism into His Baptism

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 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. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, 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. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:1-11).

How do we benefit from the work of Christ on the cross? Paul tells us in this scripture that it is by baptism (or immersion) into Christ. When Christ died on the cross, he put "our old man—Adam's race" to death so that the "body of sin—the sin of the whole human race" may be put away from God. He then rose from the dead, proving his mastery over death, and in doing so destroyed him who had the power of death: the devil (see Hebrews 2:14-18).

When He rose from the dead, however, He rose alone as the head of a new creation. In so doing, He opened the door for every man to benefit from His work on the cross, but for us to personally benefit from the work of Christ, we must be baptized with the Spirit into Christ. This is the essential baptism for us that brings us into union with God. As we are united with God through this baptism in the Spirit, we experience death to this world and are resurrected with Christ into a new life with God. Everything that Christ did is now ours because of our union with Him in the Spirit. The first ones to experience this baptism (union) were the hundred and twenty on the day of Pentecost. They were joined to Christ in His resurrection, and then this new family of God began to grow.

On the basis of this new relationship, we can now "reckon" ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in this union with Jesus our Lord. We are baptized into His death and His life, into His baptism that He underwent at Calvary. He died to sin once for all at Calvary, and we die to sin as we are united with Him. We cannot die to sin on our own. If we could, Christ died in vain. But our baptism into union with Christ is the way we benefit from all that Christ did for the whole human race.

This spiritual baptism is when we are made alive to God by being born of the Spirit. "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). Now we can be led by the Spirit in all things and grow up as mature sons of God. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. This brings us into an intimate union with God that has no equal known to man. "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Romans 8:14-17).

This baptism is also when we are baptized into the body of Christ and united with our brothers and sisters in the Spirit. "For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 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" (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). We are made one with God, and thus are one with each other. Our ability to function in the body of Christ is dependent on this baptism. The body of Christ is all spiritual, designed to function under the headship of Christ to express the life of God. To do this, we must be united with Christ in the Spirit and then walk under His authority in all things.

To be led by the Spirit, we must be alive in the Spirit, united with God, and under his authority. "Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:3). God's purpose is that we would be brought near to God in the Spirit, to know Him in an intimate way. Now we can "lay our heads upon His breast" and know Him as our Father in reality. This relationship is only possible in an intimate union with God in the Spirit. The door was opened at Calvary by Jesus, and our place is to enter in by yielding ourselves to God in faith, without reservation. He is the One who will come to abide, and to do in and through us what we cannot do in ourselves as we walk in this relationship by faith.