Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?…
1. Paul does not say that all unbelievers and hypocrites, etc., who are baptized, are baptized into our Lord's death. He intends such as come to it with their hearts in a right state.
2. Nor does he intend to say that those who were rightly baptized have all of them entered into the fulness of its spiritual meaning; for he asks, "Know ye not?" Some perhaps saw in it only a washing, but had never discerned the burial. I question if any of us yet know the fulness of the meaning of either of Christ's ordinances. Baptism sets forth the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and our participation therein. Its teaching is two fold. Consider —
I. OUR REPRESENTATIVE UNION WITH CHRIST AS A TRUTH TO BE BELIEVED. Baptism as a burial with Christ signifies —
1. Acceptance of the death and burial of Christ as being for us. We are not baptized into His example, or His life, but into His death. We hereby confess that all our salvation lies in that which we accept as having been incurred on our account.
2. An acknowledgment of our own death in Christ. My burial with Christ means not only that He died for me, but that I died in Him, so that my death with Him needs a burial with Him. Suppose that a man has actually died for a certain crime, and now, by some wonderful work of God, he has been made to live again. Will he commit that crime again? But you reply, "We never did die so." But that which Christ did for you comes to, and the Lord looks upon it as, the same thing. You have died in Christ's death, and now by grace you are brought up again into newness of life. Can you, after that, turn back to the accursed thing which God hates?
3. Burial with a view to rising. If you are one with Christ at all, you must be one with Him all through. Since I am one with Christ I am what Christ is: as He is a living Christ, I am a living spirit. So far the doctrine: is it not a precious one? Shall the members of a generous, gracious Head be covetous and grasping? Shall the members of a glorious, pure, and perfect Head be defiled with the lusts of the flesh and the follies of a vain life? If believers are indeed so identified with Christ that they are His fulness, should they not be holiness itself?
II. OUR REALISED UNION WITH CHRIST as a matter of experience. There is —
1. Death —
(1) To the dominion of sin. If sin commands us we will not obey, for we are dead to its authority. Sin cannot reign over us, though it may assail us and work us harm.
(2) To the desire of any such power. The law in the members would fain urge to sin, but the life of the heart constrains to holiness.
(3) To the pursuits and aims of the sinning life. We are in the world, and have to live as other men do, carrying on our ordinary business; but all this is subordinate, and held in as with bit and bridle.
(4) To the guidance of sin. Our text must have had a very forcible meaning in Paul's time. An average Roman of that period was a man accustomed to the amphitheatre. Taught in such a school, he was cruel to the last degree, and ferocious in the indulgence of his passions. A depraved man was not regarded as being at all degraded; not only nobles and emperors, but the public teachers were impure. When those who were regarded as moral were corrupt, you may imagine what the immortal were. See here a Roman converted by the grace of God! What a change is in him! His neighbours say, "You were not at the amphitheatre this morning." "No," he says, "I am totally dead to it. If you were to force me to be there, I must shut my eyes, for I could not look on murder committed in sport!" The Christian did not resort to places of licentiousness; he was dead to such filthiness. The fashions of the age were such that Christians could not consent to them, and so they became dead to society.
2. Burial. This is —
(1) The seal of death, the certificate of decease. There have been instances of persons being buried alive, and I am afraid that the thing happens with sad frequency in baptism, but it is unnatural, and by no means the rule. But if I can say in very truth, "I was buried with Christ thirty years ago," I must surely be dead.
(2) The displaying of death. When a funeral takes place, everybody knows of death. That is what baptism ought to be. The believer's death to sin is at first a secret, but by an open confession he bids all men know that he is dead with Christ.
(3) The separateness of death. The dead man no longer remains in the house. A corpse is not welcome company. Such is the believer: he is poor company for worldlings, and they shun him as a damper upon their revelry.
(4) The settledness of death; for when a man is dead and buried you never expect to see him come home again. They tell me that spirits walk the earth; I have my doubts on the subject. In spiritual things, however, I am afraid that some are not so buried with Christ but that they walk a great deal among the tombs. The man in Christ cannot walk as a ghost, because he is alive somewhere else; he has received a new being, and therefore he cannot mutter and peep among the dead hypocrites around him.
(1) This is a special work. All the dead are not raised, but our Lord Himself is "the first fruits of them that slept." He is the First-begotten from among the dead. As to our soul and spirit, the resurrection has begun upon us, and will be complete as to our body at the appointed day.
(2) By Divine power. Christ is brought again "from the dead by the glory of the Father." Why did it not say, "by the power of the Father"? Ah, glory is a grander word; for all the attributes of God are displayed here. There was the Lord's faithfulness; for He had declared that His Holy One should not see corruption. His love. I am sure it was a delight to the heart of God to bring back life to the body of His dear Son. And so, when you and I are raised out of our death in sin, it is not merely God's power, or God's wisdom that is seen, it is "the glory of the Father." If the tiniest spark of spiritual life has to be created by "the glory of the Father," what will be the glory of that life when it comes into its full perfection, and we shall be like Christ, and see Him as He is!
(3) This resurrection life is —
(a) Entirely new. We are to "walk in newness of life."(b) Active. The Lord does not allow us to sit down contented with the mere fact that we live, nor allow us to spend our time in examining whether we are alive or no; but He gives us His battle to fight, His house to build, His farm to till, His children to nurse, and His sheep to feed.
(c) Unending. "Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more."(d) Not under the law or under sin. Christ came under the law when He was here, and He had our sin laid on Him, and therefore died; but after He rose again there was no sin laid on Him. In His resurrection both the sinner and the Surety are free. What had Christ to do after His rising? To bear any more sin? No, but just to live unto God. That is where you and I are.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?