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                    Baptism In The Teaching Of Paul


1. In our first lesson we saw where baptism played a prominent role in
   apostolic preaching...
   a. In every case of conversion described in the book of Acts,
      baptism is mentioned
   b. As G. R. Beasley-Murray, a Baptist scholar, observed:  "Baptism
      is...a part of the proclamation of Christ. In an Apostolic sermon
      it comes as its logical conclusion." - G. R. Beasley-Murray,
      Baptism In The New Testament, Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans
      Publishing Co., 1962, p. 393)

2. And what did the apostles proclaim regarding baptism?  We noticed
   a. It was commanded "for the remission of sins" - Ac 2:38
   b. It was done to "wash away sins" - Ac 22:16
   c. It involved "water" - Ac 8:36-38; 10:48
   d. It was done "immediately", with no delay even if after midnight
      - Ac 16:25-33

3. This would certainly suggest that baptism is necessary for 
   a. But is this a fair conclusion drawn from the "preaching" of the
   b. Is this conclusion consistent with the "teaching" of the
      apostles, as found in their epistles?

[In this lesson, we will examine what Paul taught in his epistles
regarding baptism.  Let's start with by noticing what he said about


      1. It is a baptism into the death of Christ - Ro 6:3
      2. It is a burial with Christ into death (His death, we are 
         crucified with Him!) - Ro 6:4
      3. It is done in order that we might walk in newness of life 
         - Ro 6:4-5
      4. It involves crucifying the old man, that the body of sin may
         be destroyed - Ro 6:6
      6. It thereby frees us from sin as we die to sin, that we might
         live with Christ - Ro 6:7-11

      1. Paul does not say that baptism "symbolizes things which had
         already occurred"
         a. Many say this is the purpose or design of baptism, often
            quoting this passage
         b. But read the passage carefully;  Paul says no such thing!
      2. But rather, Paul describes baptism into Christ as WHEN such
         things occur
         a. We were buried with Him "through baptism into death" -
            Ro 6:4
         b. It is in baptism we are buried with Christ into death (His
            death); we thereby die to sin in baptism
         c. We were buried with Him, why?  "That just as Christ was
            raised...even so we also should walk in newness of life" 
            - Ro 6:4
         d. We are baptized in order to rise to walk in newness of life
            just as Christ did!
      3. Note also Paul's preface to these remarks: "as many as were 
         baptized into Christ Jesus were..."
         a. What blessings he describes pertain only to those who had
            been baptized!
         b. What of those not baptized?  The blessings described would
            not apply!

[In his commentary on Romans, Martin Luther wrote:  "Baptism has been
instituted that it should lead us to the blessings (of this death) and
through such death to eternal life.  Therefore IT IS NECESSARY that we
should be baptized into Jesus Christ and His death."  (Commentary On
Romans, Kregel Publications, p.101).

Though believing that we are justified by grace through faith (and he
would say "by faith alone"), Luther understood that salvation by faith
did not preclude the necessity of baptism!  Why, we shall see shortly;
but let's go on to consider what Paul wrote of baptism...]


      1. From Ga 3:26-27 we learn that baptism is involved in the
         process of becoming sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus
      2. The "for" beginning verse 27 begins an explanation as to HOW
         we become sons of God through faith
      3. Baptism is therefore the means by which we "put on Christ",
         and become sons of God!

      1. Paul wrote:  "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ
         have put on..."
         a. "For as many" means no more or no less
         b. Only those who have been baptized into Christ have really
            received Christ into their lives!
      2. Many teach "receive Jesus Christ by saying the sinner's
         a. But the Bible nowhere teaches that this is how one 
            "receives Christ"
         b. Rather, one "puts on" (or receives) Christ when they are
            baptized into Christ!

[In his commentary on this verse, Luther concluded:  "Wherefore baptism
is a thing of great force and efficacy." (Commentary On Galatians, 
Kregel Publications, p.222).  How true, if in baptism we "put on 

How this is possible without being a form of works-salvation becomes
clearer as we consider what Paul taught concerning baptism...]


      1. A "spiritual circumcision" in which sins are "cut away" 
         - Col 2:11
      2. A burial with Christ, and also a resurrection with Him 
         - Col 2:12
      3. Made effective "through faith in the working of God" - Col 2:12
      4. In which GOD makes us "alive together with Him, having
         forgiven you all trespasses" - Col 2:13

      1. Here we learn that baptism is a work of God, not man
         a. Just as it was God who raised Jesus, so it is He who makes
            us alive, having forgiven our sins! - Col 2:13
         b. Our part is "faith in the working of God" as we are buried
            with Christ in baptism - Col 2:12
      2. God is the "Great Physician", who is cutting away our sins
         (through the blood of Christ)
         a. We are simply the patient, who humbly submits in faith to
            the surgeon's scalpel
         b. He is the One who makes us alive, that we might rise to 
            walk in newness of life

[Again, this is something Martin Luther clearly recognized, when he
responded to those who would call this a kind of works-salvation:  

   "Yes, it is true that our works are of no use for salvation.  
   Baptism, however, is not our work but God's."  (as quoted by 
   Jack W. Cottrell in Baptism And The Remission of Sins, College
   Press, 1990, p. 32-34)

Finally, let's consider what Paul taught concerning baptism...]


      1. Is Paul talking about baptism in Tit 3:5?
         a. The figure "washing" certainly alludes to the baptismal 
         b. We have already seen where in baptism we are:
            1) Raised to walk in newness of life - Ro 6:4
            2) Made alive by God - Col 2:12-13
            -- Does this not suggest a "washing of regeneration..."?
         c. Martin Luther and many others understood this verse to 
            refer to baptism
      2. Thus God saves us in baptism:
         a. It is a "washing of regeneration" - a washing in we are 
         b. It is a "renewing of the Holy Spirit" - a renewal in which
            the Spirit is at work
         -- Just as Jesus said:  "...unless one is born of water and
            the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." - Jn 3:5

      1. This "washing" and "regeneration" does not occur because we 
         have earned it!
         a. Baptism is not a work of righteousness by virtue of which
            we merit salvation!
         b. We are saved by the kindness, love, and mercy of God! 
            - Tit 3:4-5
      2. It is by God's mercy that HE (not we) saves us!
         a. Which HE does through the washing of regeneration and 
            renewing of the Holy Spirit!
         b. Which HE does when we are baptized into Christ!
      3. Through such mercy in Christ Jesus, we are truly "justified by
         His grace" - Tit 3:6-7


1. Paul taught that baptism is...
   a. A burial into the death of Christ
   b. How we die to sin as we are crucified with Him
   c. A resurrection with Christ so we can rise to walk in newness of
   d. A putting on Christ, thereby becoming a child of God
   e. A spiritual circumcision in which sins are cut away
   f. The working of God, whereby we are buried with Christ, made alive
      as our sins are forgiven, and then raised with Him
   g. An act of God's grace and mercy, in which we experience a washing
      of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit
   -- If all these things when one is baptized, how can anyone say that
      it is not necessary?

2. Sadly, many who say it is NOT necessary...
   a. Misunderstand those who say it is necessary
      1) Thinking that they believe in salvation by works
      2) When they truly believe in salvation by grace through faith!
   b. Misunderstand Martin Luther
      1) Whose coined phrased "saved by faith only" they themselves use
         so often
      2) When he differs with them on the necessity of baptism
   c. Misunderstand the apostle Paul
      1) Having him say things about the purpose of baptism he does not
      2) Failing to appreciate what he clearly teaches about baptism
   -- All this, in their zeal to oppose what they mistakenly view as

In his commentary on Ga 3:27, Luther wrote:

   "This is diligently to be noted, because of the fond and 
   fantastical spirits, who go about to deface the majesty of 
   baptism, and speak wickedly of it. Paul, contrariwise, 
   commendeth it, and setteth it forth with honorable titles,
   calling it, 'the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the
   Holy Ghost'.  And here also he saith, that 'all ye that are
   baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.' Wherefore baptism
   is a thing of great force and efficacy." (Commentary On 
   Galatians, Kregel Publications, p. 222)

Do we deface the majesty of baptism, in our mistaken zeal to oppose 
what we perceive to be a form of works-salvation?

Or do we, like Paul, commend it by noting his own teaching regarding
baptism, and like Luther, appreciate how that by the working of God it
can be a thing of great force and efficacy?
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