Friday, November 25, 2011

Baptized Into Christ

Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

So much confusion has been wrought by misapplying the meaning of "baptized" in this and other verses in scripture. A basic rule of interpretation instructs us to give priority to the most basic and obvious meaning of a word rather than to give it a spiritual application. This phrase "baptized into Christ" has been skewed by many religions. One interpretation is that we are baptized in water "into" Christ, meaning that we are saved through the operation of baptism. Another interpretation is that we are baptized "into" Christ in a spiritual way; that is, we are saved by our being baptized (dipped) with Christ, not in a literal way in water, but by being buried with Christ when he was buried and resurrected when he was resurrected. But this not only puts salvation in the wrong place in time, but it uses a Protestant-invented theory that has been used against immersion for baptism [see Graves-Ditzler Debate, et al].

To be "baptized into Christ" means to be baptized in water (which is the basic and obvious meaning of the word baptize) in relationship to Christ; that is, we are baptized in water because Christ died, was buried, and resurrected. Baptism is a wonderful picture, a type, a figure of the very act of the Gospel, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4; 1 Peter 3:21).

This baptism in water is a prerequisite to being a member of a local church, and the churches of Galatia were all local assemblies -- 1 Cor. 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. We are baptized in water in relationship to one body, which is a local church.

Now in being baptized into Christ, we have put on Christ, which means that we have identified ourselves with Christ as our Savior and Lord publicly, as when putting on a uniform. He is the head of each local church, and he instructs us through his word by the work of the Holy Spirit. We should all, then, surrender to his leading and submit to his orders. We put on Christ by being a member of a Bible-centered local church and working through that church to bring honor to God and his Son, Jesus Christ.

So, before thee, Lord, empty hands we bring.
Fill them with your perfect will.
As members of your local church,
Our sullen hearts your Spirit fill.

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