In his book, Hell’s Best Kept Secret, Ray Comfort relates a tragic story about a woman who was once walking along a riverbank with her child.
Suddenly the child slipped into the river. The mother screamed in terror. She couldn’t swim, plus she was in the latter stages of pregnancy. Finally, somebody heard her screaming and rushed down to the riverbank.
The utter tragedy was, when they stepped into those murky waters to retrieve that now dead child, they found that the water was only waist-deep! That mother could have easily saved her child but didn’t because of a lack of knowledge.
As heartbreaking as that story is, how much more tragic is it to see those drowning in sin when knowledge of God’s life-saving Truth is within their grasp.
In Romans 6, the apostle Paul emphatically states some things he knows, that we too can know. Unfortunately, many folks have failed to wade into the text and have drawn some incorrect conclusions as they stand on the bank.
#1 I know that Jesus was raised from the Dead.
The basis of Paul’s argument from this chapter is predicated on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul affirms that the resurrection of Jesus was at the heart of the gospel message.
The tomb was empty. Critics couldn’t deny it. Witnesses saw the resurrected Christ. And Paul staked his mission and ministry on the undeniable evidence.
#2 I know God does not want me to be enslaved to sin.
Jesus came to set me free from sin’s bondage, burden, and blame. His victory over sin, death, and the devil provides a means to know the truth and be free from sin. Furthermore, God’s grace does not continue in sin.
#3 I know baptism connects me to the death of Christ.
The text says we are “baptized into his death.” Jesus’ blood was shed in his death. Revelation 1:5 says we are “washed in his blood.” When we are baptized, God, by His grace, applies the cleansing blood of Jesus to wash away our sins. Paul experienced this when he obeyed the command of the preacher Ananias “Arise be baptized and wash away your sins” (Ax 22:16).
#4 I know that baptism, therefore, puts me into Christ.
Being “in Christ” speaks to the relationship we enjoy with Him. The expression “in Christ” is used 84 times in Paul’s epistles. “In Christ” we experience all spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3). And it is the only way to become a child of God (Gal. 3:26-27).
And how does one get “into Christ”? The text tells me. Through baptism.
It’s somewhat ironic that many commentators and preachers and pastors try to explain away this force of this text, denying the importance of baptism in salvation.
Jack Cottrell, formerly a professor of theology at Cincinnati Christian University, once wrote, “Both faith and baptism are conditions for salvation, but faith is the means and baptism is the time.” Then he offered this illustration.
The MEANS of bringing something about are 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 are 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.”
#5 I know that baptism is a burial.
Some English dictionaries define “baptism” as sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. But this is common usage. Not the actual meaning of the word, as defined by the Bible. Paul clearly states that “we were buried with him through baptism.”
In fact, this is a transliterated Greek word baptismatos, which literally means “to immerse.” But a knowledge of the original language is not necessary because Paul defines the meaning of baptism.
Paradoxically, many Protestant groups teach the one is saved before he’s baptized. They say, accept Christ as your personal savior. Then you’re saved. Then later be baptized.
Such theology contradicts Paul’s analogy to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. You bury a dead man. The one dead in sin is buried with Christ, then raised to walk in newness of life.
If you’re saved before baptism, making the one dead in sin, alive in Christ, then you’re burying someone alive. This confounds both common sense, as well as Scripture.
#6 I know that baptism issues itself in a new life.
Baptism is not a mere rite or ritual with no consequence. This “washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5) calls and compels us to “walk in newness of life.” The new birth brings about a new life (2 Cor 5;17) A changed life. A life that “walks by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).
God has provided both the source and means for your salvation. The time is up to you.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman