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Text-Driven Discipleship: Baptism



After finishing the "Text-Driven Soul Winner" series, we are now moving into a new series entitled "Text-Driven Discipleship." After leading someone to Christ, the Text-Driven Soul-Winner has the responsibility of becoming a Text-Driven Disciple-Maker. In this series, we'll be describing the first steps that need to be taken for a new believer to start growing in their faith. This week, we'll be discussing baptism. Baptism is the first act of obedience for a new believer. In a previous series, "Distinctly Baptist," we discussed the nature of baptism (https://www.textdriven.org/post/two-ordinances), so this week, we'll focus more on why a new believer needs to be baptized.


The text-driven disciple-maker leads a new believer to proclaim his salvation through baptism for the good of the new believer's sanctification. Baptism is fuel for a sanctified life. Romans 6 speaks of how baptism is a powerful tool in sanctification.


Romans 6: Remember Your Baptism

In Romans 6, Paul moves out of his discussion about justification and now begins a conversation about sanctification. He asks a rhetorical question in verse 1: "Are we to continue in sin so grace may abound?" in fact, Paul actually asks the Roman believers a series of rhetorical questions about whether grace allows licentious living. Paul answers his question in verse 2, asserting that grace absolutely does not allow for licentious living— “by no means.” Paul begins to make a list of all the reasons why a believer cannot continue in sin after receiving the grace of God. Through another rhetorical question, Paul asserts the first reason: that those “who have died to sin” can live in sin no longer (v.2). Paul begins to speak of the salvation of the believer as a death. Robert Mounce, in his commentary on Romans, writes that Paul is not saying that sin died to the believer but rather that the believer died to sin. Mounce further writes that this death separates the believer from death. Paul asserts that the redeemed man has died to sin. The salvation a man experiences is a death to sin and, therefore, can have nothing to do with sin any longer. This death happens at the moment of salvation, and a believer remembering this is a helpful memory to continue in the process of sanctification. As the believer has not died a literal death but a spiritual death, a symbol helps remember that death.


Paul uses the image of baptism to help the believer remember that death which occurred. He writes that those baptized with reference to Jesus Christ are baptized with reference to Christ's death (v.3). Paul tells Roman believers that baptism was an identification with Christ's life and death. Paul urges the Roman believer to remember that when he was baptized, he was baptized because of what Christ did on the cross. Paul contends that the believer, having identified with Christ's death for sin, cannot logically partake in the sins that Christ died for. In discipling a new believer, the Text-Driven Disciple-Maker leads the new believer to be biblically baptized because baptism is a potent statement to the believer about what Christ has done in his life. While the new believer struggles with the desire to return to his old life, biblical baptism becomes a visible reminder that he has died to sin.


While the new believer struggles with the desire to return to his old life, biblical baptism becomes a visible reminder that he has died to sin.

In verse four, Paul gives another reason for why a believer can no longer live in sin, and he again uses the image of baptism. Paul, in verse 3, uses baptism as a reminder of what the believer has declared to himself. In verse 4, Paul uses baptism as a reminder of what the believer has declared to the saints and the world. Paul tells the Roman believer that through his baptism, he was buried with Christ, with reference to death. Mounce writes that a burial certifies the reality of death. Paul illustrates what baptism is with a funeral. A funeral declares to all people that a person has died, and baptism declares to all people that the believer has died to sin. Paul exhorts the Roman believer to remember he's declared to all people that he has died to sin, so to continue to live in sin would be to make the funeral of baptism confusing. If a person, after the funeral of a loved one, saw that loved one walking down the street would be baffled, the world seeing a believer walk in sin after the funeral of baptism would be confused. The Text-Driven Disciple-Maker leads the new believer to be baptized so that the world knows this new believer is no longer among them. This declaration helps the new believer realize there is no return to his former life.


Conclusion

In Romans 6, Paul uses baptism to bring conviction upon the backslidden believer. Paul argues that baptism declares to the believer, fellow believers, and the world that the believer has died to sin, and the backslidden believer must realize he is living inconsistently with what he declared when he remembers his baptism. The symbol of baptism is a potent memory in the believer's mind that the Holy Spirit will use to convict him when sinning. The act of baptism does not apply any salvific benefit to the believer. The waters neither regenerate the believer nor gift the believer with the Holy Spirit. Baptism has no bearing on a person's eternal destiny and does not apply any salvific benefits that come from being in Christ. Just as a person who goes unburied without a funeral is still dead, a person can go unbaptized and still be saved. Yet, he has lost a powerful and central symbol to spur him on in his sanctification. The unbaptized will never struggle with living inconsistently with their public identification with Christ. The unbaptized can revert to his former way of living without any challenge of inconsistency from fellow believers within his local church and the world. Therefore, neglecting baptism creates great difficulties in sanctification. The Text-Driven Disciple-Maker leads the new believer to be a text-driven disciple by having the believer get baptized in a New Testament church so the believer can succeed in working out his salvation through the process of sanctification. The first act of obedience becomes the fuel for every other act of obedience.


The first act of obedience becomes the fuel for every other act of obedience.



Written by Klayton Carson


The "Text-Driven Discipleship" series is also on the Text-Driven Podcast. You can listen to the Text-Driven Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or at www.textdriven.org/podcasts. New episodes are released every Monday, just in time for your morning commute.



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