May 1, 2011, Romans #14
Romans 7:1, we should remember that Paul is writing to those who know the law, and had placed their trust in the law as they understood it. However, their view of the law was quite corrupt. They mixed traditions with it to make it conform more to their liking. In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ shows us how much the law had been corrupted.
Here in Romans, Paul is confronting the many false ideas concerning the law, as he presents the Christian gospel of grace from the law.
Shall we continue in sin...
The most common objection, as well as the most reasonable, against justification by faith and eternal security is that these doctrines permit the Christian to continue in sin. This argument comes from a lack of knowledge of Scripture. Paul clearly says such a belief is absurd, and he tares it down with logical arguments.
He points out that the believer has a new nature, so that for a Christian to continue in sin is totally inconsistent with Christianity. Not only is it inconsistent, it is like saying that there is such a thing as a living dead man.
Paul closed the preceding chapter with vv. 13-17 & 20, 21, which can be summed up in short order. The law reveals the width and depth of sin. The law shows the control of sin over us and the world. He ended his previous thought saying that though the results of Adam's sin abound, the grace of God through Christ's righteousness abounds much more.
The logical conclusion by those who want to continue in sin
is, Since sin causes God's grace to abound, then let us continue
in sin so grace will abound even more.
V. 1, What shall we say then?
Typical of Paul, he answers objections before they are presented. He is dealing with justification by faith vs. hope in the law. So the logical conclusion that would be drawn by those caught in the trap of any kind of a "works" salvation would be, "If what you are saying is true, then I can continue in sin, and the grace of God will be magnified even more."
V. 2. Dead to sin... Sin is not dead. Sin still works to control the believer. In the next chapter, Paul describes that warfare.
Paul speaks of sin as a law that indwells every person, and it demands obedience. Yet in Christ, the believer is dead to that law. That is, the law of sin has only the power as permitted by the believer.
He will later use the illustration of a husband and wife. The wife is under the laws of marriage, until the death of her husband. She is then free from that law.
In Christ, the believer is dead to sin's hold and control over him. Turning to Christ as our Savior involves death to the power of sin and separation from sin. Salvation not only delivers us from the eternal penalty of sin, but from its power over us. We turn from sin to God in Christ Jesus.
Paul argues that it is a contradiction in terms for those who claim to be holy in Christ to say they can continue in sin. Can light and darkness mix? Can death and life exist together.
There can be no such thing as the living dead.
When one comes to Christ, the power of sin is broken. Sin has lost its power.
Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
He asks in amazement, "How can a Christian live any longer in sin?"
Many very good theologians, including Calvin, have admitted that baptism must mean total emersion. Yet they use many pages of convoluted and contradictory statements to avoid what this passage, and others, teaches. They force many scriptures into their mold.
Paul is speaking to those, us, who had already been baptized.
The wording here makes Paul say that we were brought into union with Christ through water baptism, which is the understanding given to this by the followers of Rome. But that is not at all what he is saying. Paul was not a "sacramentarian". That is, one who believes that a sacrament holds some kind of mystical power in bring God's grace to the individual.
Sacrament: The word originated in 11501200; It is a Latin term meaning mystery or rite.
1. an outward sign combined with a prescribed form of words and regarded as conferring some specific grace upon those who receive it. The Protestant sacraments are baptism and the Lord's Supper. In the Roman Catholic and Eastern Churches they are baptism, penance, confirmation, the Eucharist, holy orders, matrimony, and the anointing of the sick (formerly extreme unction)
Conclusion: Sacramentarians can be defined as those who believe that the "sacraments" have some kind of mystical power, an idea held over from Rome. This is not at all what Paul is saying.
Though the Reformation dismissed 5 of the sacraments, it retained two, baptisminfants especially, and communion.
A good example of how modern Sacramentarians hold to Rome is Charles Hodge (1797-1878). He was one of the greatest theologians of the 19th century, and had a major influence upon the Christian foundation of this nation. I use him a lot.
Here is his convoluted understanding of Romans 6:3-6,
The meaning therefore is, we were baptized in order that we should die with him,' i. e. that we should be united to him in his death, and be partakers of its benefits. Thus, "baptism unto repentance," #Mt 3:11, is baptism in order to repentance; "baptism unto the remission of sins," #Mr 1:4, that remission of sins may be obtained; "baptized unto one body," #1Co 12:13, i. e. that we might become one body, &c. Paul does not design to teach that the sacrament of baptism, from any inherent virtue in the rite, or from any supernatural power in him who administers it, or from any uniformly attending Divine influence, always secures the regeneration of the soul.
(C. Hodge Commentary on Romans 6:3, Online Bible.)
According to Hodge, the sacrament of baptism is:
1. in order that we should die with him, implying that the
time of our death with Christ is at baptism.
2. a means of repentance
3. a means of remission of sin
4. the means of becoming one body with other believers
5. A means of regeneration, but not every one is regenerated at baptism.
But in order to get these understandings out of baptism, one must completely ignore the first 5 chapters of Romans, as well as a multitude of other scriptures throughout the entire bible.
I am always amazed that men like Hodge who strongly hold to the 5 points of the reformation. Yet they can completely ignore the clear truth of Scripture in this area of baptism. The honest ones, including Hodge, will admit that scripture demands total immersion, and requires a profession of faith. A good example is Hodge. In his Systematic Theology, he admits the truths about baptism, yet then spends 14 pages justifying infant baptism and sprinkling.
Also, in his Theology, he certainly does not teach the 5 things above. But, like so many other theologians, when it comes to baptism, he loses all since of reality, and contradicts himself many times over.
Ordinances: The non-Romanist call baptism and the Lord's Supper ordinances, which generally means that which was ordered by God for his people to observe. This is also applied to human laws.
Let me give a very short Baptist history lesson here:
A man named Zwingli took the lead in the Swiss Reformation in 1523. Zwingli was debating Dr. Faber before 600 Catholic dignitaries. Zwingli, in his debate, continued to say, "show me the place in the Scripture where it is written..." He had been invited to go to the Catholic universities, but the invitation was withdrawn when Zwingli would not back down from Scripture.
Many who heard Zwingli had strong Baptist tendencies, and accepted his radical doctrine as he stood against Rome. Though Zwingli was the most advanced of all reformers biblically, the Baptist refused to go along with Zwingli's demand for infant baptism. Zwingli admitted he could not defend infant baptism from Scripture as he demanded of the Romanists to defend their doctrines, so he turned to the civil magistrates of Zurich, Switzerland to enforce infant baptism.
Sometimes he encouraged the practice, sometimes not, always denying the regenerating efficacy of baptism; but finally he concluded to continue infant baptism on the ground that if it ceased the people would clamor for circumcision, as they must have a bond of visible union.... Zwingli feared a division in the Reformed ranks and resorted to these expedients to prevent this, until Pedobaptist pressure forced him to turn over the question to the civil power. As Dr. Dorner says: He saw the setting aside of infant baptism was the same as setting aside the national Church, exchanging a hitherto national reformation of the Church for one more or less Donatist. For, if infant baptism were given up, because faith was not yet, there only remained as the right time for it the moment when living faith and regeneration were certain. And then baptism would become the sign of fellowship of the regenerate, the saints, who bind themselves together as atoms out of the world.' [Hist. of Prot. Theology, S. 294.] (A History of the Baptist, Thomas Armitage, in Two Volumes, published by Bryan, Taylor & Co., 1890. 1988 reprint Baptist Heritage Press, P.O. Box 366, Watertown, Wisconsin. I.330, 331.)
[The Donatists refused to accept the sacraments and spiritual authority of the priests and bishops who had fallen away from the faith during the persecution [under the Roman emperor Diocletian (3035)] During the persecution some Church leaders had gone so far as to turn Christians over to Roman authorities and had handed over religious texts to authorities to be publicly burned. These people were called traditores ("people who had handed over"). These traditors had returned to positions of authority under Constantine I, and the Donatists proclaimed that any sacraments celebrated by these priests and bishops were invalid.]
The Baptist of Zurich began to assail infant baptism in 1523 one of their pastors calling it a useless thing. One might as well baptize a cow or a calf,' he said. Then Grebel writes: Those who understand the teaching of the Scriptures in reference to baptism refuse to allow their children to be baptized.' Reublin rejected the practice and held a public discussion with the pastors of Zurich, the only result of which was, that the Council arrested two men of his congregation and three from the village of Zollikon near by for refusing to bring their children for baptism, fining them each one silver mark and thrusting them into prison. (I cover the complete history if the conflict between the Reformers and the Baptist in my book, Paedobaptism, The Word of God & Infant Baptism, chapter 3.)
The conflict between the followers of half-reformed and of full-reformed was bloody, as Zwingli and his followers used every means at their disposal, including physical torture, to force the Baptist and the Anti-Baptist to baptize their infants. They did not, however, use Scripture, because there were none to support their practice.
The history of the Baptist is a bloody history, with the persecution mainly from others who claimed to be Christians, and it was over infant-baptism.
The Presbyterians, and others who hold to Rome's sacrament of Baptism, give these three verses in Romans 6 a very lengthy and convoluted understanding in order to support their unbiblical practices, with many passages pulled out of their proper context.
According to Robertson's NT Word Pictures, the meaning is quite simple.
Baptism is the public proclamation of one's inward spiritual relation to Christ, and that relationship was obtained before baptism.
Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Baptism is compared to putting on an outward garment or uniform that identifies us as a follower of Christ.
Examples: Law enforcement uniforms identifies the person as a law enforcement officer. The same goes for a military uniform.
First, he put it on willingly.
Second, upon putting it on, he agreed to uphold all that uniform stands for.
Third, it should be a serious offence if he violates what that uniform stands for.
At our baptism, we put on the clothing of a follower of Christ.
First, we put it on willingly.
Second, upon putting it on, we agreed to uphold all Christ stands for.
Third, we are told that there are serious consequences if we fail in the responsibilities required of that uniform.
Fourth, unlike a law enforcement or military uniform, we cannot take off the uniform we put on at baptism. It is a 24/7 requirement.
(Many Christians are like undercover or plain clothes policemen.)
V. 4, Into his death, or in relation to his death. Paul goes on to explain that relationship.
Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
Baptism shows our identification with the death, burial and resurrection with Christ.
V. 4. Newness of life. Our resurrection, as pictured in water baptism, is to a new life in Christ. That new life took place at our conversion, not at our baptism. Our new life was imparted to us by the glory of the Father the same as was the resurrection of Christ. We discussed our new life compared with Christ's new life last week.
The picture in baptism points three ways:
First, v. 1, it points backwards to Christ's death and
burial and to our death to sin.
Second, it points forwards to Christ's resurrection from the dead which empowers our new life. We publically pledged to that new life coming out of the watery grave to walk on the other side of the baptismal grave.
Third, it looks forward to our own resurrection from the grave.
Paul's explains the symbol with a picture we can easily understand. It is a picture of the reality that took place at our conversion by faith alone.
V. 5, Paul continues by presenting water-baptism as a picture of death and burial which symbolizes our likeness to Christ in his death.
We shall be also united in the likeness of his resurrection.
Baptism is a picture of the past and of the present and is a prophecy of the future. Water baptism is the unmatched preacher of the new life in Christ.
V. 6 is best explained by,
Colossians 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Paul was clear in the first 5 chapters of Romans, as well as throughout all his letters. The putting off of old man and his manner of life, and the putting on of the new took place at conversion, not at baptism. The change from the old to the new is pictured by baptism. The change is not caused by baptism, regardless of what great theologians have said down through history.
I have heard it many times, "Remind them of their baptism", but that baptism took place before they knew anything, and outside of their own desire. There was clearly no profession of faith in Christ.
In addition, if that profession of faith did not bring a new life in Christ, then it was as useless as the water baptism is to that infant. As our godly Baptist forefathers said, "One might as well baptize a cow or a calf."
Paul is so clear that I fail to understand how those who have been trained in the scriptures can turn their backs on "by faith alone and scripture alone". They exhibit marvelous works of inconsistency.
Galatians 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, [that is, the law of Christ says I am dead to the law of sin and death] that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Romans 6:7. Baptism is a clear symbol that we are dead to the power of sin over us in Christ, and raised in the Father's new power to live a new, God-pleasing life.
As Paul said in vv. 1, 2, we are dead to the power of sin over us, and therefore we are free from that bondage to sin. He certainly does not teach freed from sin in the sense of sinless perfection.
Vv. 8-11, Paul sums up what he has been saying concerning the symbolism of water baptism. Those who hold to infant baptism and sprinkling must work to make Paul say things here that he simply does not say.
Dead with Christ, live with Christ took place at conversion. It is publically shown by a picture that is easily understood, water baptism.
Vv. 9, 10. Not once, but twice Paul tells us that Christ died only one time, and cannot die again.
Hebrews 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Through death, Christ destroyed the power of death, not only the power of death over him, but the power of death from over his people:
Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
V. 11. Reckon ye also yourselves... This is complete proof that Paul does not mean that baptism makes one dead to sin and alive to God. Dead to sin and alive to God is a spiritual operation that takes place "through Christ Jesus". It is only pictured by baptism.
Romans chapter 6 is Paul's plea for God's people to live up to the ideal of what they publically professed at their baptism.