Saturday, July 17, 2010

Romans 3:23-25, Romans 6:1-4, and Baptism

Baptist, and to some extent Presbyterian Protestants, argue that because we are saved by grace alone, that this means that baptism can be no more than a symbol: an outward representation of an inward washing. Orthodox Christians believe that Baptism IS the inward washing, that is, we believe that the Holy Spirit works through the waters of Baptism to effect regeneration.

I believe that when Paul mentions justification by grace through faith, he refers to the justification accomplished in the waters of Baptism. It is then this faith which we continue to wear throughout our lives as the badge of the New Covenant of Grace. In order to demonstrate that justification by grace through faith refers to Baptism, we must compare Paul's discussion of Christ's sacrifice in Romans 3:23-25 to Paul's discussion of Baptism in Romans 6:1-4.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a mercy seat by his blood, to be participated in by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (Romans 3:23-25)

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1)

Focus on the grace here.

By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:2)

St. Paul here makes the result of grace "death to sin". Why can't we sin so that grace may abound? Because grace is death to sin. Connect to Romans 3 where we are "justified by His grace as a gift".

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:3)

Paul noted in verse two that we are dead to sin because of grace. And what is death to sin? Death to sin is Baptism. Therefore, the justification by grace that Paul mentions in Romans 3 takes place IN BAPTISM, because grace=death to sin and death to sin=baptism.

Connect to:

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)

Note the language in Romans 3, we participate in the mercy seat through faith. And Romans 6:4 says that we participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus through Baptism. Thus, the participation by faith in the mercy seat mentions in Romans 3 connects to the Baptism of Romans 6. What is seen? Connect the dots: We are justified by grace through faith in Baptism.

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