Burying The Dead
I read about a preacher who decided not to baptize a young girl on a Sunday because it was October 31. He was concerned because Halloween is a day that focuses on ghosts and goblins. It’s a day that many people celebrate death. Now most people don’t mean anything evil by it, but the fact is… Halloween celebrates death.
So, this preacher was concerned that if he baptized her on Halloween, a day that celebrates death, that it might make the wrong impression upon her. Well, I can understand his dilemma. But I think he’s lost his focus. You see, baptism IS all about death. Paul makes that very clear in our scripture (Romans 6:1-7).
Last Sunday, we explained how Biblical Christians are “justified by faith.” Meaning they’re saved by God’s grace as a result of their faith and not by their works or deeds. Well, Paul is faced with a false teaching that is now going around in the church. As we’ve said, Rome was the center for the intellectual community. So they reasoned if you receive God’s grace for the forgiveness of sin and if grace is good, then the more you sin…the more good grace you’ll receive. So go and sin…a lot!
But Paul confronts the false teachers asking, “Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply?” And he answers it by saying, “Absolutely not!” So the question of day is, “Can a justified person live the same way as they did before justification?” Remember, a simple definition for ‘justification’ is “JUST as if I never sinned.” You have been justified, forgiven, saved by the grace of God.
So, can a saved person continue to live the same sinful life once Christ moves into their heart? Let me quote Paul, “Absolutely not!” Why? Because true believers have “died to sin.” Verses 3-4 tells us, “.. don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
In order to become a Christian… you have to die. Isn’t that what Galatians tells us, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” You have to die to the past. You have to die to your old way of life.
That’s why Paul wrote, “…We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” And v6 says “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin”
A Biblical scholar once said, “Christ’s death for sin…becomes our death to sin.” Beloved, we were once ‘alive to sin and dead to Christ.’ But now we’ve been justified…been made right by God’s grace. We’re no longer ‘alive to sin and dead to Christ’ but instead we are ‘dead to sin and alive in Christ!’
Throughout the NT we’re told that to belong to Jesus we have to die. We have to die to our old life…to our old way of living. And what do you do with dead people? You bury them. And baptism is God’s way of showing us that our sinful past is gone…it doesn’t exist anymore…it’s been buried.
Next Sunday, we’ll be baptizing a couple. We’ll baptize them into Christ by lowering them into the water as we would a grave. But do I leave them there? “Absolutely not.” We’ll raise them up. You might say that we raise you up from the dead. And that’s part of the genius of God.
He designed your baptism not only to represent your death but also to reassure you that one day you will rise from the dead and be with Him. That’s His promise. That’s what v4 means when it says, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” So, that preacher was wrong about baptizing on Halloween. Baptism IS all about death and burial and resurrection.
And even though baptism doesn’t give us salvation, it is an expression of our faith. The Bible says, “Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12)
To be baptized without faith, without repentance and without confessing Jesus as your Lord and Savior is just taking a bath…all you did was get wet. Faith and baptism make up the salvation package.
This morning, let me ask you to close your eyes and think back to your time of salvation. The time when Jesus Christ came to live within you. Can you see it? Now fast forward to today. Has your life changed? Has Jesus made a difference?
This morning, God has a gift that He ‘bought’ for you. A gift that’s very precious and dear to Him. Because it cost Him the life of His Son. But you can’t buy this gift… because it’s free. All you have to do is accept it. All you have to do is:
- Admit that you’re a sinner.
- Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God.
- Confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior.