One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Romans 6. I particularly love the beautiful portrait it paints of baptism. There, the apostle Paul presents baptism (immersion in water, as defined by the Greek term that’s used in Romans 6, for the purification from sin) as…
Participation in the Gospel of Christ – just as Christ died, was buried, and was raised to life, in baptism we die to sin and self, are buried in water, and raised to live a new life that is inspired by the spiritual nature as opposed to our sinful nature.
Initiation into a New Life – in baptism, we put off our old selves, our old life, our old habits, our old motivations and put on a new self, one that is “controlled” by our love for Christ. We are no longer defined by our past mistakes or by our flaws and weaknesses. When our sins are washed away in the waters of baptism, we receive a clean slate and have the opportunity to write a new story.
Emancipation from the Slavery of Sin – through the forgiveness that Christ offers and that we receive by surrendering our lives to Christ, we are set free from the shackles of sin so that sin no longer holds us hostage. We can experience freedom from the dead-end ways of sin through the power of Christ’s grace.
I recently had the opportunity to read this passage with a man who has been visiting our church. He was coming back to Christ after years of “living apart” from Christ. During his time away from the church, he had been drawn into addictions that wreaked havoc in his life. Now, he was finally ready to turn his life over to the care of God and he wanted to be baptized into Christ.
As we read Romans 6, he regularly pumped his fist in the air saying, “Yes, Lord” and “Amen.”
And I was saying the same thing in my mind.
Because here was a man who was keenly aware of what it is like to be enslaved by sin and he was responding to the promise of freedom that was being described in Romans 6.
To him, there was nothing better than the thought of putting the past behind and being washed clean in the waters of baptism.
He needed a do-over, and that’s what Christ offered him.
Romans 6 includes the phrase “new life.” And sitting there with that man, reading Romans 6, I was reminded of just how good the promise of “new life” sounds.
And I was reminded of how many people there are in the world who long to know that “new life” is possible, who long to hear this good news that the story of Christ proclaims.
A few chapters over in Romans 10, Paul makes the point that people will not hear this good news without someone telling them about it. Then, he writes, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
The beautiful portrait of the freedom from sin that Christ brings is matched by the beauty of someone who has experienced that freedom sharing with others how Christ can also set them free from sin.
May we never tire of making Jesus known!