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Baptism - Raised to Newness of Life

September 13, 2022 Preacher: Kevin Godin Series: Various Messages

Topic: Baptism Scripture: Romans 6:1-11

Sermon Text

A story is told that back in the mid 5th century as Saint Patrick was passing through the southwest part of Ireland a certain king named Aengus wanted to meet with him to discuss the Christian faith. After much discussion and many questions, the king expressed a desire to follow Jesus and be baptized. So, a ceremony was planned and a baptistry was prepared outside. The king and many guests gathered around the baptistry where Patrick was to preach and baptize him.

Patrick traveled a lot and always carried a staff with him. It was sharpened on the bottom so it could be used to ward off wild animals and robbers and it was his habit to stick it in the ground next to him when he preached. As Patrick was finishing his sermon and praying passionately, he lifted his staff and brought it down forcefully, except this time he sent the spike through the king’s foot. The king bit his lip and didn’t interrupt the prayer. Not noticing what happened, Patrick finished and went into the water inviting Aengus to join him.

It was only then Patrick realized what had he had done. He quickly baptized the king, asked for his forgiveness, and then asked the king why he didn’t say anything. Aengus replied that he thought it was part of the ceremony.

I suppose that shows how important it is to know what you are getting into before making commitments. It is especially important when making spiritual commitments that have eternal consequences that we understand what we are doing.

Today we are taking a break from our series in 1 Corinthians, and we are going to instead focus on what the Bible says about baptism as we prepare to celebrate the baptism of our brother Curtis later this morning.

Baptism is mentioned throughout the New Testament, but the foundational passage touching on what it is and how it functions in the life of a believer in Romans chapter 6. If you have your Bible, please turn with me to Romans chapter 6 beginning in verse 1. If you are using the blue Bible we provide, it is on page 1087. If you do not own a Bible or have need of one, please take that one as our gift to you.

As chapter 5 ends, the apostle Paul has been explaining that there is more grace in Christ than sin in us. That no matter how much sin was in the life of a person, if they trust in Jesus, God will forgive them, and the more sin is forgiven the more God’s grace is demonstrated.

Then he picks up here in Chapter 6 and says,

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?


Paul makes it clear that salvation by grace does not result in true believers taking sin lightly. When asking if we should sin so that more grace can be shown, his exclamation “by no means!” is extremely strong. His answer is “no way, absolutely not”. The logic of faith does not respond to grace by seeking how much we can get away with, but by thanking God for his mercy. Grace frees us from sin, but it does not free us to sin.


Paul proves his argument by pointing to baptism. That is helpful because it allows us to gain a deeper understanding of baptism and its relationship to faith. He says,


Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.


We can see from what Paul says, WHO should be baptized. The letter to the Romans was written to believers. Paul says in chapter 1 verse 7 that he is writing To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.” Then in chapter 5 verse 1 he says, “we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The flow from chapter 5 through 6 makes it clear he is talking about believers. There are no examples in the Bible of any infants or anyone who does not express faith in Jesus being baptized. There are references to households and groups being baptized but, in every case, where we have details, it is always believers who are baptized in the name of Jesus. Baptism is for those who possess faith in Jesus.

Baptism is a testimony. It is an external symbol of an internal reality. Baptism is for those who clearly understand they were sinners without hope, who are trusting in Jesus entirely and as the only hope of being forgiven. It is for those who have been born again and are being transformed by the grace of God. Baptism itself doesn’t change people but being baptized is a public claim that we have received a new life and a new identity by the Spirit of God.

Paul says that we are baptized into Christ’s death, but he does not mean that it is the water that unites us to Jesus. He is talking about the faith, expressed in baptism as is clear to anyone reading through Romans as a whole. What he means is that baptism is the testimony and dramatic portrayal of what happened spiritually when we received Jesus. Our old self of unbelief, rebellion, and idolatry died, and a new person who loves God, truth, and holiness was born. Baptism is therefore a proclamation in symbol about a deeper spiritual reality.

It is sort of like a wedding ring. During the traditional marriage ceremony, the bride and the groom place a ring on each other’s fingers and say “with this ring I thee wed”. From then on, the ring identifies them as being married. Of course, it is not really the ring that makes them married. The ring isn’t the actual commitment and has no legal significance.  

But the ring is a symbol of the union that communicates the commitment to others. It is a symbol so closely connected to the event that we speak of them interchangeably. This is how it is with faith and baptism. It is a symbol of faith.

Mark 16:16 says,

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

The one who has faith expresses it by identifying with Jesus in baptism. But notice that it is the faith and not the proclamation that makes the ultimate difference. The one with obedient faith is saved, but the one without faith is condemned. That is why the apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 3:21,

Baptism, … now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

He says baptism saves us but quickly clarifies what he means. It is almost like Peter realized that his words might be misunderstood and so he immediately says that it isn’t anything about the water, but rather the faith of the person in Christ that saves. Baptism is an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus. Another way to say that is that baptism is an expression of faith in the promises of God to save us based on the work of Jesus.

Religious ceremonies, including baptism, cannot save. It is only Jesus who saves, and we come to receive his benefits through faith. Therefore, baptism which is a symbol and profession of salvation should only be done by those who have faith in Jesus for salvation.

Paul also gives us a clue as to WHEN believers should be baptized. I say that because he speaks as though those who believe and those who have been baptized are the same group. That is also the assumption we find throughout the New Testament. The pattern is that people believe and then seek baptism.


Jesus says baptism is the first step in being a disciple in Matthew 28:19. He says,

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit


In Acts 2:38 when Peter preaches his famous sermon at Pentecost he says, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ and in verse 41 we are told, those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

 Three thousand believed, and three thousand were baptized. We could list many other examples such as Cornelius, Crispus, the Philippian jailer, the Ethiopian eunuch, and others but I think you get the idea. Once people believed, they were baptized.


Baptism is the front door to the fellowship of believers. If someone claims to be a follower of Jesus but refuses baptism, there is something wrong. It would be like someone joining the army and refusing to put on the uniform. Baptism doesn’t make someone a Christian any more than a uniform makes someone a soldier, but both are markers that identify someone as part of a distinct community.


There are no examples of long delays between conversion and baptism in the Bible. Baptism is the way the Bible says people are to publicly profess they have been born again as followers of Jesus. Baptism is the point at which other Christians are called to recognize you as a brother or sister in the faith. A person should be baptized as soon as they have a credible testimony of conversion and wish to identify as a follower of Jesus.


Paul also provides us with a hint as to HOW a person should be baptized. Paul says in baptism believers have died, been buried, and been raised with Jesus. It is a symbol of our union with Jesus and our participation in his life. We will talk more about the spiritual reality in a few minutes, but for now I want you to see that the symbolism of baptism corresponds to death, burial, and resurrection.


When someone is baptized, they are being symbolically buried and then are raised from that symbolic grave as a person with a new life and a new identity. Baptism by immersion is the best illustration of this.


The Greek word for baptize is βαπτίζω and the word means to dip or immerse. I think a lot of confusion could have been avoided if the translators would have just translated the word that way rather than bringing the Greek word into English. The plain meaning of the word is simply to dip or dunk something.


And that is the pattern we see throughout the New Testament. In every place where we are given details the plain reading leads to the conclusion that baptisms in the New Testament were by immersion or dunking. For example, John 3:23 says,

23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized


That place was selected for baptisms because there was a lot of water there. That wouldn’t be necessary if they were sprinkling people. Similarly, in Acts 8:38 when Philip baptizes the Ethiopian it says,


And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.


Notice, that they went down into the water which would again not be necessary for sprinkling. These are typical of the examples we see in the New Testament. So, the meaning of the word, the pattern we see in the New Testament, and the symbolism of being buried and resurrected all point to immersion as the ordinary way or mode of baptizing.


Going down into the water represents us as sinners going into the grave and coming up from the water represents us being raised again, having been washed clean of all our sin. That is why the ordinary practice of our church is to completely submerge or immerse when we baptize.


That brings us to the critical question of WHAT baptism is. I have already touched on this a bit but let’s look a bit deeper. Paul says,


Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.


At its most fundamental level, baptism is a proclamation and symbol of our union with Jesus Christ. It is a proclamation and illustration of key gospel truths. It is a way of saying, “let me show you with my body what has happened in my Spirit.”


God created us to love him and serve him forever. Sadly, rather than doing this we have rejected his love and rebelled against his laws. We have pursued our own selfish desire, which the Bible calls sin. Because of this sin we are separated from fellowship with God.


Because we have hardened our hearts in sin, we are spiritually dead. As a result, we are incapable of helping ourselves. The sin in our lives is like oil on our hands, we spread it to everything we touch. The solution to our sin cannot come from us and that is a problem because one day each of us will stand in judgment before God.


None of us will be able to claim any righteousness of our own. Left to ourselves, we would stand condemned and without hope.

But God is rich in mercy and sent his son Jesus to provide hope where there was none. Jesus came and lived a perfectly holy life, remaining faithful at every point we failed. He kept the law perfectly and he loved perfectly.


Then, without any guilt of His own, he was crucified on a cross to pay the penalty for the sins of all who would put their faith in Him. He suffered what we should have suffered. He died the death we should have died. But amazingly, three days later He rose again and then ascended into heaven proving that payment for sins had been accepted. Jesus satisfied the wrath of God in his own body on the cross so that those who believe in him as their savior will not have to satisfy it in hell.


But how does the perfection of Jesus and His death and resurrection help us? How do we get the benefits of his life and his sacrifice? The answer the Bible gives is that by faith we are spiritually joined to Jesus. Faith is trusting God’s promises to forgive us and transform us in Christ. Through faith, we are united to Jesus Christ so that the life we live is the life that comes from him.


The gospel message is not just a message about what someone else has done. Through our faith-union with Jesus, his life is part of our story and ours his. That is That is why Paul can say in Galatians 2:20,


20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.


As believers we are crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20), buried with Christ (Col. 2:12), baptized into Christ and his death (Rom. 6:3); Christ is formed in us (Gal. 4:19) and dwells in our hearts (Eph. 3:17); Christ is in us (2 Cor. 13:5) and we are in Him (1 Cor. 1:30).


His life is now part of ours, and ours His. We have been given a new identity. Paul says[1] we were buried with Christ in our baptism in order that we may walk with him in newness of life. This is the hope of the gospel. Our union with Christ transforms us as we mature to increasingly walk as he walked. We are forgiven and raised by God’s power to a new life.


Listen to what Paul says in Colossians 2:12–14,


12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.


By our faith wrought union with Jesus, our debts are cancelled, and we have been made new creatures. Believers, our sins really were paid for on the cross because we are in Christ. We truly possess righteousness before God because we possess Christ. It is not a righteousness that originated in us, but it is really ours through faith. The apostle Paul describes it this way in Philippians 3:8-9,


“For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”


In him we have true freedom. There is nothing the world can take from us because we have already died with Christ. There is nothing we can be threatened with because our most valued treasures are secure in Christ. What could we possibly fear who have been raised with Christ? We have already overcome death and our treasure is in heaven.

In him we have true peace. We already have victory. Our sins are already forgiven. We are already conquerors. In those moments of darkness and discouragement when the enemy whispers in your ears, remember your baptism and that you have already been judged in Christ, you have already overcome by faith, you are already accepted and loved.

When the devil throws your sins in your face and threatens you, remind him that they have been paid for on the cross and you have already died. When he points to your weakness, remind him that your hope is not in your own strength. When he tells you that you are worthless, remind him that even so, you are loved.

Friends, baptism is the proclamation that there is more grace in Christ than sin in us. It is the gospel made visible. It is a testimony of the grace and power of God to take broken rebellious sinners and transform them into children of God.

Since baptism is a symbol of our union with Jesus, it is also a symbol of our union with the others who comprise the body of Christ. In Christ, we are brought together in a single family and a new people set apart for God.

Galatians 3:27–28 says,

27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.


We are adopted into a family of brothers and sisters of every ethnicity, language, and background. Our love for each other should be a contrast to the divisions in the world. Ephesians 4:5 says there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism


So, baptism illustrates that we are new people, born again by the Spirit, united with Christ, and being drawn together into a community of faith called to glorify God together. As such, we pursue holiness and godliness because God has prepared us to do so. Not because our good works contribute anything to our acceptance by God, but because in Christ, we have been freed from our slavery to sin and freed to serve him.


Paul says,


For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.


There are only two kinds of people in this world and the distinction is not between rich and poor or male and female. It isn’t between black and white or Republican and Democrat. The two kinds of people in the world are those who are dead in sin and those who are dead to sin.

Baptism is a claim that by the power of Christ in us, our relationship to sin has changed. Jesus isn’t divided. He comes as a whole savior, and he saves no person from hell that he does not also save from sin. It is like a coin, if you have heads then you also have tails… they don’t come separately, they come together. To claim Christ and to continue to love sin is to deny his power.


Paul calls believers to live according to the new identity we have been given rather than the distorted and sinful identities that previously enslaved us. Many Christians struggle because they do not have a solid grasp of who they really are in Christ. They don’t have enough of the word in them to stand firm on the promises given to them.


We must never let the devil convince us that we are condemned if we stumble as if our salvation depended upon us. Our acceptance is based upon the perfect obedience of Jesus. We must also not let him convince us that we cannot overcome sin as if we do not have the Spirit of Christ. The penalty for our sins has already been paid in Christ and we have also been raised to walk in newness through the power of the Spirit. Paul says in verse 8,


 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.


Baptism marks an end and a beginning. It marks the hope of the believer and his or her commitment to follow Jesus Christ for the rest of their life. It marks a confession that the life we now live is not lived by our own strength. It marks a new identity as a child of God, and it marks faith and trust in the promises of God to complete the good work that he has begun in us.

It is an awesome privilege to witness a baptism. I pray this morning those who were baptized some time ago are still thrilled by the grace we have received. I pray if you profess faith in Jesus but have not yet been baptized, that you will. Most of all, it is my hope that if you do not yet know Jesus Christ as your lord and savior that you will come to him and receive the new life he offers. It is no accident you are hearing this message and I would be happy to talk with you if you have questions about anything I have said.


I think at this point the best thing we can do is to celebrate what we have been talking about this morning.


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