ONE CHURCH – One Baptism
Romans 6:1-4 (p. 785) July 24, 2016
Jack Cottrell taught at Cincinnati Bible College for 40+ years and he shared this quote on faith and baptism:
“Both faith and baptism are conditions for salvation, but faith is the means and baptism is the time.”
He then shares this illustration to show what he meant:
The MEANS of bringing something about is not the same as the TIME when it happens. My favorite is the simple process of getting light out of a lamp. Here we can distinguish three things, all of which are “conditions.” First, the SOURCE of the light is the electric power that comes through the wiring of the house. Second, the MEANS of transferring this power to the lamp is the insertions of the lamp’s plug into a socket. Third, the TIME when the light actually comes on is when you flip the switch on the wall (or on the lamp). As applied to salvation, the source is grace; the means is faith; and the time is baptism.
Most of us are familiar with Eph. 2:8 which says “We are saved by grace through faith – and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Grace is the source of salvation’s power…faith is how we plug into it, and the time it occurs is our baptism…when we unite ourselves with His death, burial and resurrection. We receive His Spirit.
You have often heard me say, “you cannot be saved until you realize you are lost.”
This has a great deal to do with the means of our salvation. GRACE.
This amazing gift involves us coming to the realization of our need for forgiveness…and that God has provided the resources for that forgiveness.
[For many years I had an understanding of what was right and what was wrong. In a legal sense I knew that stealing was illegal…that driving fast or recklessly was wrong…but I really didn’t care…It really didn’t bother me until I got caught…The consequences of my sin was what I didn’t like…the sin itself wasn’t that big a deal.
That is until God’s Spirit began to do what He was left here on earth to do in my life…and in yours…and in everyone’s.]
The reason there is “one baptism” that saves us and unites us is because of this Spirit influenced conviction.
I. DYING TO OUR SIN REQUIRES A DEATH BURIAL AND RESURRECTION
Jesus said something really important about “the grace” part of every person’s salvation. Remember God’s grace is the source of salvation’s power…Here’s what Jesus said:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:44)
Our salvation requires a heart change when it comes to sin. Sin is what separates every single one of us from a holy and perfect God…It’s a separation that exists for every person. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
It’s not a separation we can close…and because of that…we are dead people walking around in a temporary body. Most of our choices and pursuits are about our comfort…our pursuits are mostly pride and preference driven…This is what we inherited from Adam and Eve…a nature…a heart that seeks selfishness…and that means “Sin.” Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires…the mind governed by the flesh is death…the mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God…and it does not submit to God…nor can it do so…those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8)
So how can God change minds that are selfish…How does God wake us up to our hostility and rebellion? How does God, in His amazing grace enter this realm of the flesh to save people “dead in their sins?”
Jesus says, “I will send my advocate (my representative…it’s a legal term). When He comes He will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.” (Jn. 18:7-8)
The only catalyst powerful enough to wake up dead people…is the same Spirit that raised Jesus to life…and His wake up call has to do with our sin…that we are all unrighteous…and because of that we stand in judgment before a perfect holy God…and the verdict for us all is “guilty.” Separated from God in danger of an eternal separation.
We would never change on our own…In fact its impossible to understand our lostness because of our sin apart from God’s pursuing us…This is grace…it’s His gift…“At just the right time, when we were still powerless…Christ died for the ungodly…God demonstrated His own love for us in this…while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
The perfect God required a perfect payment for all mankind’s sin…So He became flesh…conquered all sin with a perfect life…and then died in payment for every sin…The Lamb of God…taking away the sin of the world…3 days later He rose from the dead proving His authority over death…the last and greatest enemy…That’s the source of grace’s power.
But unless we accept the gift through faith there is no “salvation.” We still remain separated…lost. Faith is how we plug into grace’s power.
Paul says, “Shall we go on sinning so, that grace may increase. By no means! We are those who have died to sin, how can we live in it any longer (Romans 6:1)
When the Holy Spirit brings us to that heartbreaking place that our sin separates us from God…and God Himself paid for it. A faith surrender is called for…Listen to what happens in Acts Chapter 2…Peter preaches:
ACTS 2:22-24; 32-33; 36-41 (p. 759)
Peter shares the message about Jesus…His audience hears it…some believe it…some are “cut to the heart.” The Holy Spirit deals with their sin…It’s a shattering realization that makes them ask “What should we do?”
Peter’s answer “Repent”…which means to turn from sin toward God…and be baptized…literally immersed…completely covered in the name of Jesus…for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit…Grace is the source of salvation…Faith is how we plug into it…baptism is the time.
“Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death…we were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may have a new life.”
Dying to sin requires our death, burial and resurrection…The power of grace moves us to repentance. Faith allows us to plug into this power as we hear the message of Christ…and baptism is the time of decision. It’s when we surrender in faith to be united with Christ’s power!
II. THIS UNION WITH CHRIST SETS US FREE FROM THE SLAVERY OF SIN
What does Paul mean when he says “We know that our old self was crucified with Him, so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with – that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”? (v. 6)
The key word used here is “ruled.” It literally means “owned.” Our old self…in this body was “ruled,” “owned” by sin.
Sin is the master…we are the slaves. Sin owned our thoughts, our attitudes, our words and our actions…sin chained us up…sin beat us…sin required us to work for him…sin required us to work for him…sin is a horrible owner because he always takes you further than you want to go…He always costs you more than you want to pay…and he always promises freedom…but only provides slavery.
But much like the Israelites who had been newly rescued by God, and because slavery to sin is all that were known…we look back and long for it…maybe the pills…the bottle…the pornography…the toys are the answer…They made me feel free for a while!
Did they? Or were they just a momentary distraction? A period of numbness…sin was enjoyable for a “season.” But then came the time when payment was required…and the price was steep…your marriage, your relationship with family, your integrity, your witness. And guilt and shame wrap you up and put you in a fail you never envisioned…over and over again.
Sin is a liar…Sin is a thief…Sin is a murderer. Addictions are tough to break…and all of us were “sin addicts.” Our old selfs needed an intervention…a crucifixion intervention.
This baptism we’re talking about this morning isn’t about washing dirt from the body…It’s a pledge…It’s a faith surrender…It’s the bringing of a spiritually dead old self, owned by sin to Jesus. The time where repentance leads us to our death…out burial…and as Peter says…It saves us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:21)
You see when we are given the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead “We too may live a new life.” You see if we have died with Christ…we also believe that we will live with Christ.
Sin no longer is our owner…sin no longer is a ruler…Christ is now our owner…He rules.
Here’s what God’s Word says happens when we receive God’s Spirit at our baptism into Christ…It’s in the same letter to the Romans…Paul follows baptism with these words:
ROMANS 8:5-16 (p. 786)
There is a huge difference between being a slave and being a son (or daughter).
Its God’s Spirit that makes us His child…He signs the adoption papers with the blood of Jesus. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you…and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all that are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts)
And it is the promised Spirit, living in the born again child of God that allows us to think like sons instead of slaves. To lovingly serve our Father and others instead of being under sin’s chains.
[Grace is the power…Faith plugs us into it…and baptism is the time we turn it on.]
Maybe today is the day…maybe right now is the time you flip the switch.