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Q1. Baptism and Union with Christ

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On 8/16/2008 at 1:09 AM, Pastor Ralph said:

Q1. (Romans 6:3-5) In what sense does baptism bring about our union with Christ? In what sense does baptism symbolize our union with Christ?

First of all, Christ's death denotes a universal law of union where the consequences of one party's actions are borne by the other party (parties) in the union. This "union" was evident as a physical one between Adam and all his descendants (inheriting a sinful nature and the punishment of the original sin). Some would argue that God became flesh in order to take advantage of this universal law of union and change mankind's spiritual destiny, as even though Christ himself did not sin, physical death was inevitable for him because he was born of a woman and inherited the consequences of Adam's sin (Romans 6:23).  And so He died, but couldn't be "remanded" in Hades because He knew no sin", thereby conquering death ( couldn't be held prisoner by death) and establishing a new lineage (different from Adam's - since the natural consequence of His Adamic nature had taken its course). We can show that we "believe in" our union with the One who died and rose again (Christ) by baptism - an act of faith. The father was audibly heard saying "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased" at Christ's baptism and Paul says for without faith, it is impossible to please Him. His baptism foretold an act of faith that his spiritual descendants would partake in.

The different phases of baptism represent the processes of our union with Christ. Immersion signifies our participation in his death while His resurrection is represented by emergence from the water. 

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Q1. (Romans 6:3-5) In what sense does baptism bring about our union with Christ? In what sense does baptism symbolize our union with Christ?

Baptism unites us with Christ in the sense that we become one with Him in the symbolic sense of being buried with Him and also being made alive with Him. Our sins being buried in the water and we coming up from it anew. 

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Q1. (Romans 6:3-5) In what sense does baptism bring about our union with Christ? In what sense does baptism symbolize our union with Christ?

This is truly deep stuff and I wish there was a round table where a real, live conversation could take place…questions asked and answers offered. Thinking about these things has caused such awe and gratitude for all I have received in Christ. 
If I’m understanding the first question correctly as having to do with water baptism, I’m having difficulty answering it. Because NT believers upon salvation were often baptized immediately (in general) both the act of believing on the Lord Jesus and water baptism were considered as perhaps inseparable. I believe, however, the baptism referred to in v. 3 has to do with our spiritual identification with Christ as our substitute and representative. This inward reality is pictured powerfully, though not accomplished, through water baptism. If this were not the case, baptism would be necessary in order to be joined with Christ in his death and resurrection. A spiritual reality of union with Christ is accomplished only by the cross and received by a contrite, believing heart. Baptism, although not required for salvation, should be the invariable sign of it. 


That being said, baptism by immersion symbolizes what has occurred spiritually in the believer.…that he/she has been included in Christ’s death as if he died. God now views what he once was (a guilty sinner and alienated) as dead and freed from sin’s stain and power. God’s sees Christ in my stead. Rising up from the watery grave pictures Christ’s resurrection affecting new life, a new creation in the believer and enabling him to walk in the power of the Spirit. Amazing realities to live out confidently as a believer!


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Baptism is such a beautiful picture. When we are prepared to take this step to go into the water and be fully immersed (dead) laying aside our old 'me' /nature and coming back out of that water (resurrected) no longer my old nature but Christ living in me. 

It is not necessarily at the time of baptism when that happened. Some are baptised yrs after being Born Again. The baptism is the outward show that the step has been taken. 

My Gran went through waters of baptism when she was deep in her 70's already. But she loved the Lord with all her heart yrs before that already. She was definately one where Christ was living in her life ...  It was not her living but Christ Living in her. 


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I'm not spiritually mature enough to answer these questions. I feel I should write something, though, so here are some unbaked and immature thoughts:

First, what changes when a Christian is baptized? If I accepted Christ as my savior but was not baptised, would my faith be lessened. How would baptism make a difference? What does baptism do for me that salvation hasn't already accomplished? I can only ask this question, not answer it.

Second, I understand the point of obeying scriptural commands, which baptism seems to be. We are baptised because we are commanded to be baptised. It's an act of obedience. But there are other commands such as honouring the Sabbath that we (mostly) shove to the side as post-dated or not important. So, what makes baptism important enough to obey?

Third, if baptism brings about our union with Jesus, what does salvation do? Don't we get the indwelling Spirit at the moment we submit to Christ? What is it, then, we're getting with baptism?

Fourth, behaviors that symbolize truths can be important, but not anywhere near as important as the truth that undergirds that symbolic behavior. We take the eucharist, for example, knowing that the bread and wine are not literally Christ -- we are not eating Jesus. Similarly, we are baptised knowing that the old self being washed away and a unity with Christ has occurred. Yet, this union with Christ happens other ways.


I didn't grow up in the church so have to think through every behavior and command unlike "cradle Christians." Please don't be offended. I'm just trying to figure it out.

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