BECOMING "HIS PEOPLE" BY BAPTISM
- Christ is now our high priest and intercedes for his people before God. He does not intercede for the whole world. What then, must we do, to become "his people."
- JOH 17:9-10 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
- In order to become his people, we must become "Christ's." To become Christ's we must be baptized, with a full knowledge and understanding of God's plan of salvation. The command given by Jesus was:
- MAR 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
- In order to "believe" and be baptized, the first condition is that we must know. We cannot believe in what we do not know. We must know the truth, in order to believe it, and be baptized into it. Some will think the Christadelphians presumptuous in thinking they have "the truth." But Jesus testified:
- JOH 8:31-32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
- There is such a thing as the truth, and there is such a thing as error. John counseled:
- 1JO 4:6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
Only those who believe the truth and who oppose the teachings of error can truly be baptized into the truth. And only through baptism can we become Jesus' people for whom he mediates as the high priest.
Baptism is the great symbol given to us to represent
- the destruction and death of sinful flesh, and
- the coming into a position to receive the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Christ.
- In explaining to us that baptism is symbolically our death to this world, the destroying of our sinful nature and our commitment to live only to Christ, the Apostle Paul wrote:
- ROM 6:3-7 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Our old man, or sinful flesh, is symbolically destroyed in baptism, the same way it was actually done in Christ by his crucifixion. We ceremonially participate in its destruction through the act of baptism.
- Again Paul wrote of our relationship to Christ in baptism:
- COL 2:10-12 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
That which Christ literally did in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh in his death, we do symbolically through baptism. It is not real. It is not actual. When we come out of the waters of baptism, we are the same sinful flesh nature that we had going into the water. It is a symbolical expression of what we desire to ultimately be done in our bodies: that the law of sin and death would eventually be destroyed in these bodies, and that we might live only in Christ.
- The second aspect of baptism is our relationship to the promises of God. The apostle Paul wrote:
- GAL 3:27-29 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
- The promises which we have already discussed were made to Abraham and his seed. Paul said:
- GAL 3:16-17 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
Neither the law, nor any other event could disannul the promises that God had made to Abraham. These promises which we have already observed (see Statement of Faith: VII), were unconditional. Nothing could affect this. These promises were made to Abraham and to his seed, to be their inheritance for ever. That seed was Christ. We become heirs of the promise through Christ, when we are baptized into Christ.