Summary: Our common conversion, which is testified to thorugh our baptism, should serve to unite us as the people of God.
In Ephesians 4:3, Paul urges us to “make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Then in verses 4-6, he lists seven things we as believers share in common that we should focus on - a common community - “one body”; a common communion - “one Spirit”; a common confidence - “one hope”; a common commitment - “one Lord”; a common confession - “one faith”; a common conversion - “one baptism”; and a common connection - “one Father.” Today, we want to think together about chord number six - our common conversion, which his testified to through our baptism.
By and large, the New Testament writers spoke of baptism in two ways.
A. Water baptism. In the New Testament, water baptism was the means whereby believers made their conversion publicly known (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 19:5; 1 Corinthians 1:13-16). We’ve lost this understanding today, with the use of the “come forward” invitation to encourage people to publicly declare faith in Christ. Biblically, one’s public profession was their water baptism; and it was an outward expression of an inward reality. That inward reality had to do with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives when we trust Christ - the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
B. Spirit baptism. Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, one is identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Spirit
baptism is the fundamental work of the Spirit of God in one’s salvation.
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body - whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free - and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” - 1 Corinthians 12:13 (NIV)
“For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah] have put on (clothed yourselves with) Christ.” - Galatians 3:27 (Amplified)
“And we who have been baptized into union with Christ are enveloped by him.” - Galatians 3:27 (LB)
When we place our faith in Christ, we are identified with Christ in His death and resurrection, so that what is true of Jesus is true of us. Through this identification with Christ we have victory over sin because what is true of Christ is now true of me.
If I were to take my sermon notes and place them within my Bible, then whatever is true of my Bible is true of my sermon notes. If I place my Bible in my hand, then my sermon notes are also in my hand. If I lay my Bible on the pulpit, then my sermon notes are also on the pulpit. This is also the nature of my identification with Christ. As one who have trusted in Him as my Savior and Lord, whatever is true of Christ is now true of me.
By coming to earth, Jesus identified with me and my sin; by my coming to Jesus, I am identified with Him and His victory.
Now, when New Testament writers use the word, “baptism,” they sometimes refer only to water baptism; and sometimes refer only to Spirit baptism. Then on other occasions, they possibly refer to both. When Paul refers to baptism here, I believe he is referring to both, with his primary emphasis being on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit is something that has occurred in the life of every child of God, which is testified to when we are baptized in water.
1. We testify that our old life is dead – vs. 1-3
Paul anticipates a question, which is, “If I am saved by grace, then doesn’t that mean that I can now sin all I want? I mean, if God’s grace is sufficient, then I’m free to sin as much as possible, because there will always be enough grace, right?”
This, of course, reveals a misunderstanding of grace. The grace of God not only provides forgiveness of sin, but power over sin. Grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. And part of what grace has provided for us is identification with our Savior’s death on the cross.
Grace doesn’t provide us with license to sin; but with liberation from sin. Salvation doesn’t just mean we can be declared righteous before God; but we can live righteously for God. Because I have died with Christ (v. 3) and I am dead to sin (v. 2).
Before Christ was in my life, self was very much in control of everything, which is why sin was in control, for sin is simply going my own way instead of going God’s way. Before Christ, self was unchallenged. But through our identification with Christ, that old way of living - living for self, under the control of sin has been put is dead.