Romans (13): Identity in Christ through Baptism

Date: 9/7/2008
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Topic: Baptism
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Romans 6: An Exposition (13) - United to Christ through Baptism
All Saints * Dr. Gregg Strawbridge * September 7, 2008
How are we to answer therefore [the objection] - Are we to persist in sin in order that grace may abound? 6:2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 6:3 Or are you ignorant that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. (Rom. 6:1-4)

The ____________________ to __________________________
At the end of chapter 5, Paul writes, “But Torah came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more...” (Rom. 5:20-21). This sets up the question which arises in chapter 6. “Are we to persist in sin...” As before, the ghost objector throughout - the Judaistic Pharisee - cannot see that “Torah came in so that the transgression may increase,” regardless of the clear misconduct of exiled Israel (ch. 2). What will become increasingly clear (esp. ch. 8) is that continuing in Adamic identity and sin does not follow as a logical consequence from grace because it is God’s redemptive purpose to create a renewed humanity. This new Adam will fulfill the righteous requirements of God’s Law-Word and reflect His image (Rom. 8). Are we still “in Adam” and slaves to such mannish bondage? No. We are united to Christ in his death (thus we died in Adam) and have His resurrection life. This is hard to believe.
The _____________________ means of _____________________________
It’s even harder for us moderns to believe that the demonstration that we are “in Christ” through a physical, visible rite, baptism. We tend toward denying that any observable event has anything more than symbolic value. Paul is clear that baptism is the objective means of the grace signifying union with Christ. Those that are baptized to consider themselves dead to the world before and alive in Jesus. Elsewhere he writes, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:27; 1Cor. 12:13, Col. 2:11-12). But perhaps there are two baptisms (Spirit and external). On the contrary, Paul writes, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5, see also “orthodoxy” in the Nicene Creed).
The _____________________ to the means of _________________________
Many have stumbled on this point, but consider the “heretical” teaching of the Reformed faith: Heidelberg Cat. (69, 73): “He wants to assure us by this divine pledge and sign that we are as truly cleansed from our sins spiritually as we are bodily washed with water.” Westminster 28:6: “By the right use of this ordinance the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost....” [Alas, that Romanist] John Calvin said, “How do you know yourself to be a son of God in fact as well as in name? The answer is, Because I am baptized...” Geneva Catechism: “Is baptism nothing more than a mere symbol of cleansing? I think it to be such a symbol that the reality is attached to it. For God does not disappoint us when he promises us his gifts. Hence, both pardon of sins and newness of life are certainly offered and received by us in baptism.” Calvin’s Institutes: “. . . In baptism, God, regenerating us, engrafts us into the society of his church and makes us his own by adoption . . .”
Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more