Summary: A sermon baptism from Romans 6 (Material adapted from Dr. Jack Cottrell, especially his book "Baptism: A Biblical Study' chapter 7)
Supposedly, it was constructed around 1828; sometime between then and about 1930 it was forgotten and unused till discovered in May of 2002. No one knows for certain when the open air baptistry of Mt. Gilead Baptist Church in Fort Gaines, Georgia, was last used. In fact, it took weeks to locate anyone who even remembered it. Only a few people could recall the church ever having a place to baptize outside. But one member (who said he was “practically born and raised in this church”), remembers playing in the baptistry with his friends in 1932. The baptistry was discovered when volunteers gathered to clear land for a parking lot in the woods across from the church. A deacon operating a backhoe hit something that attracted attention; the heavy equipment strained but couldn’t move whatever it was. Two additional deacons were called to bring hand tools to help clear the decades old accumulation of pine mulch covering the 600 gallon structure. These deacons didn’t know they had uncovered a century old baptistry, they initially thought it might be a grave or a septic tank. No one was as surprised about the find as were members of Mt. Gilead. The bottom line of this is that it was found and is now in use once again. Once the baptismal was found to be functional, the congregation restored the tradition of holding baptisms in it.
500 years ago something was lost that needs to be found and put into use again. It is a biblical teaching of baptism. In this New Testament age, God has appointed the act of baptism as the time when he works the double cure of grace in the believing, repentant sinner.
C. Some claim that the passages that link baptism with salvation are talking about Holy Spirit baptism, not water baptism. But Ephesians 4:5 teaches that there is only ONE BAPTISM
D. This one baptism includes both an inward aspect (application of the blood of Christ, regeneration by the Spirit) and an outward aspect (immersion into water).
E. This view of the meaning of baptism was consistently taught and practiced in Christendom for 1500 years, from the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38) up to and including Martin Luther in the early 16th century. The first person to completely separate baptism and salvation was the Swiss reformer Huldreich Zwingli in 1523-1525. Since that time, most have followed Zwingli.
In Romans 6 we have Paul talking, not to unbelievers, but mainly to Christians. Paul talks about baptism as if it was a given that all of them were baptized, immersed into Christ. The NT knows nothing of unbaptized Christians.
Thesis: What is the Apostle Paul telling us here about the meaning of baptism?
Union with Christ
We are baptized into a saving union with Christ.
What does it mean to say that we have a union with Christ? These statements are meant to describe the closeness of our relationship to our Savior. Our relationship with Christ is so close that all the power and life that spring from His redeeming work belong to us and flow into our lives. All the benefits of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection are ours. Paul says that we are united with Him specifically in His death and in His resurrection. vs. 5
What are the results of our being united with Christ in his death and resurrection? No less than the double cure. Jesus died for the purpose of taking our guilt upon Himself and paying the eternal penalty for our sins, when we are united with Him in his death our guilt is removed and our status before God is such that our penalty is considered paid.
Remember the second part of the double cure. Our union with Christ also provides us with regeneration or rebirth to new life. This is the main point here in Romans 6. Being united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection means that we experience a death, burial, and resurrection of our own. Just as Christ died for the sins of the whole world, in our union with Him we die to our own sin, Romans 6:10-11.
Just as Jesus arose from the dead, in our union with Him we too experience an actual resurrection from spiritual death and begin to live a new life. Romans 6:4-5
This is the same ideas as 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Baptized into Christ
Our union with Christ is important. Exactly when does our death to sin occur, and exactly when do we receive “newness to life”? How does Romans 6 answer this question?