No Regrets: Baptism
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 6:1-4 (Holman) What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.
In our text, Paul responded to a possible misuse of his statement in 5:20, “Where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more.” Someone might perversely say, “ If sin gives grace a chance to show off its full potential, let’s go on sinning and let grace be more conspicuously displayed.”
This twisted reasoning would sabotage the doctrines of justification by faith and eternal security. Be slow to say, “People saved by faith can never be lost again, no matter how they live.” Say instead, “People saved by faith can never be lost again, and will live as believers should.”
To punctuate his point, Paul reminded believers what they pictured in baptism, their first act of obedience. Baptism is a visible, double thrust of truth, viewing salvation from the face-to-face angles of cause and effect. Pivotal life-events are often intersections of cause and effect: hinges connecting yesterday with tomorrow.
(PICTURE OF AUTO ACCIDENT)
At the scene of a car wreck, safety personnel investigate cause. If a chalk drawing of a person is on the pavement, they’re also dealing with effect.
(PICTURE OF GRADUATION)
Graduation honors cause and effect. We celebrate accomplishments that caused the event, and it’s effects. Thus we call it commencement, not conclusion.
Baptism pictures cause, what had to happen to make salvation possible for us, and pictures effect, what has to happen to us as a result of salvation. Cause and effect are graphically portrayed in at least four ways when a person is baptized.
One, when we stand in the water. Cause: We picture Christ on the cross, testifying our belief Jesus paid our sin debt at Calvary. Effect: By identifying with the crucified One, we say we want to be numbered with the crucified Savior, not with those who crucified Him.
Identification is vital to baptism. Through baptism we identify ourselves with Christ and His followers. When Jesus was baptized, He identified Himself with the John the Baptist crowd versus the religious leaders. This was no small matter. A straight line can be drawn from Jesus’ baptism to His crucifixion.
Identification is also important for those witnessing the baptism. It is our way of saying we gladly accept this new believer into our family of faith. When Gentiles became believers, Peter and other Jewish believers were initially skeptical. Peter, forced to deal with the issue, asked, “Can anyone withhold water and prevent these from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47). The current believers identified with the new ones.
Two, when we are lowered into the water. Cause: Burial, the final proof of death, proves life has ended. Jesus truly died for and to sin. No doubt about it. Effect: We identify ourselves with His death, confessing we believe sin’s everlasting consequences can never again be brought against us, and its power over us is broken,
In the grave, Jesus was dead to sin. It could touch Him no longer. Burial seals the deal; all relationships in a previous world are over. Interment certifies a person is really and completely dead. A body in the grave is finished with this world.
When Jesus was buried, He was total separated forevermore from the rule of sin. Even so, when we believed, we were immediately separated from sins’ everlasting penalty, and from its controlling power.
We prove our release from sin by not habitually living in sin. We hate sin due to what it did to Jesus. Sin should grieve believers. If we can sin without remorse, we had best search our heart, Sin with no regret is very dangerous, often bespeaking lostness. To receive Jesus, a person has to be willing to renounce sin. Immersion pictures this renunciation of sin.
Believers are dead to sin, and when people die, they are no longer subject to things which previously held sway over him. Believers have the right to be like a corpse to sin. We do not have to be ruled by it.
Three, when we come up from under the water. Cause: Jesus rose from the dead, proving He had defeated sin. Effect: We now have His resurrection power applied to our lives.
Baptism pictures good news. Jesus who died, and was buried, rose physically; we rise spiritually.
Having received much more than only forgiveness of sin, we have ample power available to us to overcome any temptation we face. Sin has lost its power over us, except to the extent we let it harass us. The only reason believers still sin is we do not through faith claim the power that is rightfully ours.
Four, when we walk out of the water. Cause: Christ’s resurrection was proved by what happened in His body. Effect: We prove we share in His resurrection by what happens in our body.
The resurrection of Jesus was an obvious, visible event. Everyone could see it literally happened. The world should be able to look at our outward conduct and without question see we have been made new, we truly are dead to sin.
We share Jesus’ death that we might partake of His powerful resurrection life. The death to sin we believers experience at our own conversion proves its existence by producing a resurrected day-by-day life, one characterized by newness.
We “walk in a new way of life.” Walking implies habitual behavior, forward progress. Jesus died in order to reveal God’s power through the dispensing of new life into Christ’s body. The same should be true of our death in Christ. The life we now live in the flesh should be demonstrating God’s power to overcome evil.
At conversion, a believer receives a new kind of life. We do not pretend to die, and receive our old life back again. We have a brand new life, springing from a new source. The same power that lifted Jesus from physical death lifts us from spiritual defeat and death.
Christ resurrection was the consequence of His death. A holy resurrected life will be the consequence of our dying with Jesus.
With Jesus’ help, ever be seeking the immediate and complete removal of all our sin. Nothing less should satisfy us.
Out of Jesus’ death, resurrected new life animated His body. As we share His death, new, abundant life energizes us. As our old self continues to die, our new life grows. By repeatedly saying no to ourselves, we more and more say yes to God.
What made it possible for Paul to be stoned to the point of death at Lystra, and then rise up and head to another city for more of the same? This was not activity he enjoyed. He had learned what it means to die to self.
What made Daniel strong in his determination not to defile himself? Surely he loved wine and meat more than vegetables and water. He had died to himself. His egocentric desires and selfish attitudes had been buried.
When we received Jesus, part of us should have climbed an old rugged cross and died there. A missionary once sailed from Liverpool for Africa. As his ship approached the fever-infested spot where he would pour out his life for the Lord, a trader protested, “If you go to that place you will die!” The man of God replied, “I died before I left London.” This conveys what it means to be baptized into Jesus’ death. Baptism pictured our willingness to die to ourselves.
Baptism pictures salvation’s cause and effect. From start to finish, Jesus is the key player in salvation. Cause and effect are both of grace, all of God. Baptism allows us opportunity to demonstrate we believe in this fact.