by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3 August 1, 2006 Lincolnton, N.C.
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 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.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
1901 ASV Translation:
3 Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection;
I. Blocking the Reign of Sin.
A. Clearly, the first step is to be found in Paul's concept of the believer's "death to sin."
B. Then, there is the issue raised in the question, "Are you ignorant that...?".
C. Then, there is the issue of the nature and reality of our "baptism" into the death of Christ.
D. Following immediately upon that issue is the corollary of being "baptized" into the resurrection of Christ.
II. Developing the Concepts.
A. The "baptism" of the believer into Christ is a "Spirit of God" action (1 Corinthians 12:13).
1. The result of the action is to possess both a "place" in Christ -- in the Body of Christ -- and a "capacity" for the function that the "place" requires (a "finger" in the body must be able to function as a "finger" to be of any use to the Head of the Body).
a. The "place" is not physical/spatial; it is "spiritual" in the sense that it exists in a Body that is not material. In one sense, this "body" exists only in the mind of God in that the "body" concept is a "material" concept that is employed in attempting to enable us to understand something that is not "material". The "bottom line" is that God "reckons" (note Romans 4:3, 6, 8 and 9) us to be participants in His Kingdom and, because He sees us so, He empowers our daily actions so that theytakeplace (note Ephesians 2:10) and theymake the specific impact upon this creation that will move it toward His Kingdom "finale". Now, since "all things" work toward this end in any case (Romans 8:28), we need to understand the difference between those things which God uses in an approving way and those things that He simply bends toward His own ends. The expressed "desires" of God, when fulfilled willingly by men out of love for Him and commitment to His program, are implemented into the progress this creation makes toward the final Kingdom reality in a specific way: they make their impact upon people for good and influence others to do good. On the other hand, the forbidden "behaviors" of men (those driven by their antagonism toward God and their fellow men) are also implemented by God into the progress this creation makes toward the final Kingdom reality in a specific way: they not only "push" the development of the mystery of iniquity further along so that it may come to its final state and be finally destroyed (sin will, one day, be removed from God's Kingdom reality once it has been completely "addressed"); they also "push" the development of the mystery of godliness further along in the lives of those who are heirs of the Kingdom (by having to "address" the problems that sins bring along, God's people become less "sinful" in their own development and become more adept at practicing the mystery of godliness -- even Jesus, we are told, "learned obedience by the things He suffered" [Hebrews 5:8] and "was made perfect" [Hebrews 5:9]). Since, therefore, this reality "exists in the mind of God", it needs to begin to "exist in the mind of His people."
b. The "function", however, "bleeds over" into the material realm. If a person has the "capacity" of "healing", the healing is of physical infirmities. If a person has the "capacity" of "apostle", the content of the doctrine is by the Spirit, but the communication of doctrine is accomplished by speaking and writing (hearing and reading). If the capacity is "interpretation of tongues", the understanding is given "by the Spirit" and explanation of the meaning of the foreign language is done by the "gifted" by means of speech. The ability to do comes from the Spirit; the doing is accomplished by the various members of the material body.
c. The "problem" focuses upon the issue of how one makes the transition from a materially bound mindset (to be carnally minded is death -- Romans 8:6) to a spiritually oriented mindset (to be spiritually minded is life and peace -- ibid.) so that the individual can actually function in the spiritual realm. Paul calls this "transition" issue "faith". His claim is that when one "believes" what God has said, God acts according to what He has said. The "introduction" into the Body includes a Spirit-empowered capacity-orientation at some point afterwards that clarifies the realm of His "stewardship assignment" (1 Peter 4:10). This is not something a person has to "work himself up to". It is, rather, something the Spirit simply does within (a person who, for example, is "gifted" with the "interpretation of tongues" does not have to "do" anything except "listen" -- the words are understood). There are, probably, three fundamental requirements. First, a person must yield to the Spirit-given desire to present his/her body to God according to the reality of the "purchased vessel" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20/Romans 12:1-2) -- this is the only way the actions can be "fulfilled willingly by men out of love for Him and commitment to His program." Second, a person must maintain a clear conscience before God: confessing sin(s) as one becomes "aware" -- this is the only way to keep from being involved in the "shipwreck of faith" (Acts 24:16/1 Timothy 1:19). Third, a person cannot "function by" what he/she does not know or believe; thus, one must be involved in not only learning what God has said, but believing Him. This introduces the issue of "cart" and "horse". Which comes first, man's "putting of himself into the 'way' so that God may bring him to His plan" (Genesis 24:27), or God's initiatory activities so that man might properly respond? But, calling them "initiatory activities" prejudices the issue and answers the question. Paul told the Galatians that "having begun by the Spirit" they would be "so foolish" if they reverted to "being perfected by the flesh" (Galatians 3:3). This, historically, meant that divine initiative (Paul's arrival and proclamation of the Gospel to the Galatians -- both issues of divine initiative toward the Galatians) is the "beginning by the Spirit" and human response (the Galatians' "faith" in the message so proclaimed) followed afterwards. To put human initiative in the fore is the attempt to be perfected by the flesh.
2. The particular issue of such "placement" is "being baptized into His death."
a. This is the issue of blocking the "continuance in sin".
b. As the issue, the question is "how does this work?".
1) If the baptism is fundamentally "in the mind of God", what real sense does it have?
a) Romans 4:8 tells us that God refuses to "reckon" sin to His justified people.
b) But this does not mean that His justified people are no longer guilty of sin. It simply means that He refuses to acknowledge that guilt in the specific realm of "Justice" issues. In other words, He does not "condemn" in the sense of permitting "Justice" to destroy the guilty.
c) Thus, what is in the "mind of God" is not "real" in the sense that it is true to the present circumstances (an integral part of the Abrahamic "faith" which clings to the God who "calls the things that are not as though they are" -- i.e., "you are Abraham" though you are "childless").
2) If the baptism is not "real", what impact can it make?
a) This is an issue of what impact "belief" makes when the "belief" is yet unfulfilled in present history.
b) The fact is, "belief" in the inevitable future reality has a remarkable impact in the undeniable present reality.
i. When a person "believes", the future becomes the present to some, howbeit limited, extent. When Sarah "believed" the promise, she became supernaturally capable of "conceiving seed" (Hebrews 11:11). When Abraham "believed", he was supernaturally enabled to at least begin to be the "father of a multitude" (Romans 4:18).
ii. This is, in a sense, a "time travel" event in which that which is promised for the future becomes a present reality in at least a "seed" form.
iii. 1 John 3:3 explains it thus: "And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." His method is "confession" (1 John 1:9), which in no "real" way "purifies" him, but which does restore him to the enlivening relationship of unhindered fellowship with his Father because the Father reckons him "pure" by way of forgiveness.
3) Thus, believing that I am dead to sin by baptism into Christ's death enables me to be, to some real degree, dead to sin.