by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2 July 25, 2006 Lincolnton, N.C.
(236)Thesis:Being baptized into Christ has nothing to do with any physical reality and everything to do with the way God deals with us.
Introduction:In our last study we camped on Paul's question as to whether it is legitimate to react to the super-abundance of grace with the conclusion that we can "continue in sin." We saw that his answer was a most emphatic "No" because those who are dead to sin cannot walk any longer in sin. This is a very problematical declaration for one reason: no one, believer or unbeliever, lives a sin-free life. It is a fruitless thing to raise a non-issue -- if one cannot sin, what point would there be to asking if one "could"? On the other hand, Paul indisputably said that we have "died" to sin. So, as we begin our study this evening, it is with some trepidation because the issue is not "simple."
To begin an answer, Paul asks whether, or not, his readers "are ignorant" regarding how they got to be "dead" to sin. And he tells them that they got that way by "baptism".
Thus, this evening we are going to look into this issue of "being baptized into Christ Jesus."
I. The First Issue: the Kinds of "Baptisms" Involved.
A. There is "baptism with water."
1. John initially brought this to high visibility (Luke 3:3).
2. Jesus commanded this to be a practice of his "disciple-making" disciples (Matthew 28:19).
3. Peter made this a "point of understanding" when he baptized the household of Cornelius (Acts 10:47).
4. The issue of water baptism is the visible acceptance of individuals by a group which has a specific "doctrinal position" regarding the question of "how" one gets to be accepted by God.
a. On the one hand, the one receiving the baptism is declaring his/her commitment of faith to the doctrine of the group.
b. On the other hand, the one extending the baptism is declaring the group's willingness to accept that declaration as legitimate (thus John's insistence upon "bringing forth fruit worthy of repentance" and Peter's reaction to seeing the Holy Spirit fall upon the members of Cornelius' household).
B. There is the "baptism of the believer with the Holy Spirit which the Christ was to accomplish."
1. John initially raised the issue of this baptism when he contrasted his baptism with that baptism which was to come by the Christ (Luke 3:16).
2. Jesus identified exactly what was meant by this in Acts 1:5 and 8 where He announced the fulfillment of John's prophetic utterance in direct reference to the issue of "ability."
3. The record of Acts 2 is the historical event when this "baptism" first occurred.
4. Paul explained this "baptism" in multiple places in his writings...
a. 1 Corinthians 6:19 -- your body is the Temple of God.
b. Romans 8:9 -- if any have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.
c. 2 Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 1:13/4:30 -- you were sealed with the Holy Spirit as an "earnest" until the future day of redemption.
C. There is the "baptism of the believer into Christ which the Holy Spirit was to accomplish."
1. 1 Corinthians 12:13 is the most direct declaration that there is such a thing as a "baptism" by the Holy Spirit.
a. In this text, the overriding concern is "the manifestation of the Spirit" for the profit of the Body (12:7), which is very much linked to the "baptism with the Spirit" that Jesus accomplished (it is an "ability" issue).
b. But, the terms of the 12:13 have to do, not with the manifestation of the Spirit, but with the "acceptance into the group" (called the Body) which God, not the group, is bringing into focus.
2. Given the fact that the "baptism of the believer by the Spirit into Christ" is His action of acceptance, it is no accident that Paul, in Romans 6, goes immediately to the believer's baptism into Christ as an inviolable union with Christ that includes everything that He did -- particularly His "death unto sin" (6:10) and his "resurrection unto God" (6:10).
a. This "automatic union" is precisely the issue of Romans 5:12-21 in which we are declared to be so "united" to Adam that his actions were our actions and our actions are merely the extension of his nature, and we are declared to be so "united" to Christ that His actions were our actions and our actions are merely the extension of His nature.
b. The reality of the "union" is Paul's emphasis: how can you who died to sin live in it?
II. The Question: Just How Real is the Union?
A. Obviously, it is not "real" enough to absolutely block sin's eruption in the outward lives of "believers".
1. I use the terminology "outward" to make a distinction between an inner reality that is often not in harmony with the overall outward fact.
a. John says that the one born of God cannot sin.
b. Paul says that when he sins, it is not "him" in at least one sense.
c. The fact is that within the overall reality of the believer, he has an identity that cannot sin and he has an identity that cannot do righteousness.
2. Paul's interest as a teaching apostle was to so teach that believers might be able to learn how to permit that identity that cannot sin to dominate the overall reality and to learn how to prevent that identity that cannot do righteousness from dominating the overall reality.
B. But, just as obviously, it is "real" enough to enable "believers" to triumph over sin.
1. John wrote, "I have written these things to you that you sin not...."
2. Paul wrote, "There is no temptation taken you..." to which you must succumb.
3. Paul also wrote, "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."
III. What is the Focus of the Baptism?
A. It is not upon any inner, physical alteration that makes the believer incapable of sin.
B. It is upon a critical inner spiritual/mental alteration that makes the believer capable of not sinning.
1. Ultimately, all sin has its origins in an antagonistic attitude toward God.
a. It can have its roots in "envy" -- wanting what is His.
b. It can have its roots in "fear" -- despising Him for His "reaction" to sin.
2. Our "baptism into Christ" has, fundamentally, to do with an alteration in the mind and heart of God towards us so that He will never again treat us as "sinners".
a. Romans 4:8 says that God refuses to "reckon" sin to us.
b. Romans 8:1 says that God refuses to "condemn" us.
c. All of the remaining New Testament teaches us that God deals with us as with sons (Hebrews 12:7), which dealings even Christ did not escape (Hebrews 5:8).
3. And, this alteration of God's mind and heart toward us has an answer in our minds and hearts toward Him.
a. If we believe that He is willing to share what is His with us in a magnificent inheritance, and we believe that He will not treat us as sinners, there is no longer any basis for any antagonism toward Him.
b. If there is no antagonism, how can we "live in sin"?