and new relationships.
A. We have a new basis for relating to God.
1. The core of the gospel is that Jesus became our personal
representative and substitute in all his doing and dying, so
that God views us now in Christ and not in ourselves apart
from him (Isa. 42:6; 49:8; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:15-16;
1 Cor. 1:30-31; Phil. 3:3-11).
2. Jesus publicly accepted this representative role as Lamb of
God at his baptism, symbolically taking up the sins of the
people to carry them to the cross (Lk. 12:49-50; Mk. 10:38;
see I John 5:6).
3. As risen Messiah of the end-time with universal sovereignty
granted by God himself, Jesus commissioned the Twelve to bring
all nations into discipleship to him (Matt. 28:18-20;
Mk. 16:15-18; Lk. 24:45-47).
B. We have a new nature.
1. God regenerates us by his Spirit, enabling us to obey God to
his glory, in view of his coming Kingdom (Ezek. 36:22-28;
John 3:1-7; Titus 3:3-8).
2. God washes and cleans us, both objectively (in God’s sight —
Rev. 1:5; 1 Cor. 6:11; Titus 3:5; John 15:3; Eph. 5:25-26) and
subjectively (in our own conscience — Heb. 11:22; Acts 22:16;
1 Pet. 3:21).
3. Jesus himself baptizes us in God’s Spirit and the Holy Spirit
lives within us as God’s personal, powerful presence, enabling
holy living and Christian service (Matt. 3:11; Acts 1:1-8;
Acts 2:38; Titus 3:3-7; Isaiah 32:14-18; 43:25-44:5;
Ezek. 36:22-27; John 7:37-39; 14:16-21; 16:16; 1 Cor. 12:4-11).
C. We have new relationships.
1. To Jesus. To be baptized in/into Jesus “name” means
surrendering to Jesus based upon who Jesus is and what he has
done (epi; Acts 2:38), coming into relation to him as the
powerful Lord who conquers Satan and brings God’s messianic
Kingdom (eis; Acts 8:12-16), and obeying him by whom God
forgives believers and will judge the world (Acts 10:34-48).
2. To the unbelieving world. To be baptized is to take a stand
with those who trust God’s faithfulness as seen in Jesus’
resurrection. The person baptized pledges to imitate Jesus’
obedience even under persecution. For all these reasons,
baptism “saves” believers when they are called to suffer for
God’s sake (1 Pet. 3:18-22).
3. To sin, law, and evil forces. To be baptized into union with
Jesus means: we live in newness of life, free from Satan’s
effective power (Rom. 6:1-4); we live by faith, although we
never perfectly keep God’s law (Galatians 3:26-28); we live
complete in Jesus without fearing any hostile powers of the
universe (Col. 2:10-15).
II. Baptism binds believers together in one body in a unity we should
acknowledge and diligently maintain.
A. 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.
Only Jesus was crucified for us, we were baptized in his name,
and he is not divided. Therefore we should all maintain a
common (noncompetitive) allegiance, shouting a common slogan
under a common banner.
B. Galatians 3:26-29.
Jesus is Abraham’s descendant through whom God is blessing the
entire world and we have divine blessing only by identification
with Jesus. Therefore we should recognize the oneness of all
who are baptized into Christ even as God does.
C. Ephesians 4:4-6.
There is but one body, animated by one Spirit. Those in it
share one hope and calling. They all relate to one Lord by one
faith expressed by one baptism. We are to diligently preserve
this unity in bonds of peace.