Notes On Romans 6
Truths for the Believer
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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. - Romans 6:3, 4
In my last lecture I endeavoured
to direct your attention to the connection between this chapter, and that immediately
preceding it. In the former chapter, we have God set forth as our Saviour
in Christ from the guilt of sin, and from all manner of condemnation following
upon sin. Do we know that this is a great fact, and that God is revealed
in Christ as saving from all sin, as to its guilt, and as to its condemnation?
Then in this chapter we have God set forth in Christ as a Saviour from the dominion
and from the practical power of sin. We are not yet delivered from the
presence of sin; we are not yet delivered from the worry of sin; "If we
say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."
The resurrection alone will rid us from that body of sin and death we carry
with us, and death alone will rid us of its presence and its worry. "But
if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that
raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his
Spirit that dwelleth in you." In the mean time we have to learn,
and it is blessed to learn, that in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the
cross, we have our everlasting deliverance from its guilt, and our everlasting
security against the condemnation attaching to that guilt, and in the person
of a risen Saviour we have the well of life, the source of power to walk with
God worthy of our high and holy calling in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now the plausible objection which has ever been urged against the doctrine of free grace, and it is a plausible objection, is that this sort of teaching naturally begets in the heart carelessness and indifference as to one's walk and conversation; and the Apostle, in our text, puts the objection. A very important thing to remember is that this objection was brought against the teaching of the Apostle, and to know that therefore he taught free grace. If he did not preach free, everlasting, unconditional salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, he need not have troubled himself to notice the objection, with which the chapter begins: "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?"
We dwelt, in our last lecture, upon the Apostle's complete and triumphant answer to this objection: "How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" He places an emphasis on the two words dead and live. How can a dead man live? How can a man dead to sin live in sin? You see the argument is not that it is unlikely, not that it is unsuitable that we should continue in sin, not that it is improbable, not that it is unreasonable, but that it is impossible. "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?"
We are, if we be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, if, as poor, guilty, lost sinners, we have, on the invitation of our God, come to him by Christ, and taken his great gift, the Lord Jesus Christ, for our life, and righteousness, our title, warrant, ground, and standing before God, we are dead to sin in God's sight. It is not a thing to be bye and bye, it is a present standing. We are dead to sin. This is the Apostle's position, and this is the thesis of which this deep, and full, and all-important chapter is the amplification, and development.
"Know ye not?" There is a certain implication of upbraiding in the Apostle's expression. "Know ye not?" We ought to know a great deal more than we do about Christ, and the work of Christ. Ignorance of God's word, and of Christ's work lies at the root of our sinning and our misery. "Know ye not?" What! after all God has spoken, after all Christ has done, after all the Spirit has taught, after all the length of time you have been listening, after all the profession of Christianity you have made! "Know ye not?" Know ye not the power of the cross of Christ? Know ye not the nature of the victory accomplished by him who hung upon it? Know ye not this fact that every believer in him is identified with him and that when Jesus died reconciliation was made for the iniquity, and everlasting righteousness brought in for the soul that trusts him, and that by virtue of his resurrection, resurrection life takes possession of the soul that trusts him? Know ye not that all who believe on the Lord Jesus are one with him, identified with him, died when he died, rose when he rose, and in the eye of the law, and of righteousness, and of God, stand where he stands, beyond judgment at the right hand of the majesty in the heaven, sitting with him in heavenly places. Know ye not? If you do not know these things, first the true power of his cross, you will call in question your own individual salvation, and well you may; and if you do not know the power of his resurrection you will be entangled in this objection with which the Apostle is dealing, that grace cannot be so free as some would have it to be, salvation cannot be so unconditional as some would proclaim it to be, because the effect of such free grace would be this: men will conclude "we may continue in sin then, we may do as we like - the more we sin the more will grace abound, and God be glorified in blotting out the accumulated transgressions." The Apostle says, "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."
Observe the blessed teaching here. Our justification before God, and our sanctification rest on the same ground, have the same foundation, flow from the same source, viz: the fact that we have union with him who is the righteousness of God, and the holiness of God, and therefore, so far from its being probable, or likely, or possible that the man who has union with the Lord Jesus Christ for justification can live in sin, the contrary is demonstrated, for if he has union with him for justification by his blood, then he must have union with the risen Lord Jesus Christ for sanctification of life. Christ is not divided.
If I stand accepted before God, uncondemned,
uncharged, and unchargeable with sin, if I be dead unto sin, because through
the wondrous grace of God I am identified with Christ, incorporated into Christ,
a member of Christ, in fellowship with Christ, and in the sight of God as it
were a part of Christ, and so justified freely on account of the precious dying
Saviour with whom I am identified, I am also united to the risen, living Lord
as the ground and source of my sanctification. Jesus is not now dead on
the cross. He lives on the throne. If I am united to him at all,
I am as much united to him on the throne, where he now is, without spot, as
I was united to Him when He hung upon the cross, when my sin was imputed to
Him. Do you not know this? It is a great thing to know it.
"Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were
baptized into his death?" "So many of us," As the body
is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body being many,
are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized
into one body, whether we be bond or free, and have all been made to drink into
one Spirit." You see the thought in the Apostle's mind is union between
the believer and the Lord Jesus Christ; and he calls it a baptism into Christ,
shewing how complete and universal the union is. It is illustrated by
immersion, immersion into Jesus Christ. What a position! The soul
that is immersed into Jesus Christ loses its own identity, and becomes part
of Christ, ceases to be anything apart from Christ, and henceforth is regarded
as in union with Him, as identified with Him, as a member of Christ, a child
of God and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven. Oh! what a position.
Now this act whereby the sinner is baptized into Christ is not our own act, - no man can baptize himself into Christ, it is God's act. He it is who baptizes us into Christ. And beautifully the figure of baptism illustrates this wonderful truth! It is an easy thing to trust in the figure, and to overlook the thing signified. From the time of the brazen serpent, which the Israelites worshipped, men have worshipped the emblems of the things of God, and they do so now, even in the days in which we are living. Men now make baptism to mean the thing signified in baptism. Baptism is a wonderful illustration of a glorious truth. It is not the truth, but the picture of it, the figure of it..
In old times, on a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, men were baptized, and the descent and rising again out of the water represented union with Christ, in his death and resurrection. "Know ye not" that all who believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ have union with Him, are baptized into His death and life. They are henceforth never regarded by God apart from Jesus; He is their life, their righteousness, their standing ground, their portion. Christ is all in all to them. God never for a single instant looks at them apart from the position in which His grace has placed them. Oh, what a potent motive such knowledge is and must be, and ever will be to the man who realizes such things. And if you don't know these things, you don't know the truth as it is in Jesus.
Water is a cleansing thing, a life-giving thing. Water represents the Holy Spirit, the bond of union between Christ and His people, and the word of God, the means by which he effects that union (see Titus 3:5-6, Eph. 5:25-26).
We are not only baptized into Himself, but baptized into His death, immersed into the death of Christ, what a death was that! That death abolished death, and exhausted death, that death met the full penalty of the law, drank in the wrath of God to the very last drop, put an end to the reign of death. And now every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ being buried into the death of Christ, death has had its full sway and demand upon him. Law and justice have no more claim. The cross of Christ exhausted death and destroyed him that had the power of death, and the soul in union with Christ is thus, "dead to sin." "How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" It is impossible--we are buried with Him by baptism into death. This is a very strong figure, a most precious and a most instructive one. The death of Christ is declared to be the grave in which we are buried. We are buried with Jesus into death, and baptism is the figure, and illustration of it. What has the law to say? I am buried with Jesus into death--I went down into the grave as a natural man and I can never appear again before God, or man, or angel. If you are not buried with Jesus into death, you will have to suffer the pains and penalties of an outraged law yourselves, you will have to render your own account at the judgment bar of God. But if by God's grace you have taken God's gift, the Lord Jesus Christ, if you have come as poor sinners to God by Him, if giving up your own merit, your own claim on God, you have taken Christ's merit, and Christ's righteousness and claim, if you have taken the cross of Christ as your warrant, the blood of Jesus as your plea, the promise of God in Christ as your security, then God is pledged to you. When Christ went down into the death of death, you were buried into His death and there was an end of you as a natural man, as a man to be judged. God himself can't find you in that character; it would be dishonour to the finished work of Christ if He were to look for you. Christ rose out of death but sin did not rise with Him, God never quickened that. Christ rose not as the representative of natural men. On the cross He was the representative of natural men, and He was buried as the representative of natural men, but there was as end of them in the tomb. He rose the representative of accepted men, and the men He represents are baptized into His life now as they were before baptized into His death. They have union with Him in resurrection power. He is their life, their strength, their fullness, their resurrection, and God never looks at His ransomed people out of Him and never will.
Know ye not this? If you don't know it, then you are but poor students of God's word, and slow to learn how to take in what He has laid down in it, line upon line, precept upon precept, from the earliest record of God's truth, to the closing record of His revelation.
In the latter part of the preceding chapter we have the statement, that as standing in Adam death passed upon all men for that all have sinned, here now as standing in Christ death passes on us all, the death of death, and there is no more figure in the one case than in the other. We know by experience that in Adam all die, that death hath passed upon all men, for that all have sinned, but we don't know by experience that the death Christ suffered passed upon all men standing in Him, yet God's word states it, and those who believe God's word live by faith and not by sight. There is our standing ground, and a glorious standing ground it is.
V.4. "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." Here we see the power for living with God is union with Christ, who was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father that we also should walk in newness of life.
The apostle Peter says in 1 Peter
3:21, speaking of Noah who was saved in the Ark: "The like figure, whereunto
even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the
flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God) by the resurrection
of Jesus Christ." The Ark is Christ, and Noah entered into the Ark
on earth, before the floods came, before one single fountain of the great deep
was broken up and God shut him in, so that bye and bye when the floods come,
he is in the Ark, borne up in it and though surrounded by great waters, shut
in safely and borne on the waters to the highest mountain tops, the dove bringing
messages of peace, the only window, a window above, shewing him the haven to
which he is going. Thus we have a beautiful picture of the believer in
Christ, baptized into Christ, the waters surrounding him on every side, he rises
on the very floods to Heaven, death and desolation without, earth and earthliness
beneath, he rises in that Saviour into whom he is shut in, above the billows,
above the storm, to where God is all and in all.
"Know ye not...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." It is a fact that every believer in Jesus Christ stands before God in newness of life, his natural man buried into Christ's death and himself forever united to the risen Lord. This is a fact whether we realize it or not. Every believer in Jesus Christ, one as much as another, is complete before God; He sees no spot or stain. If he did, he must condemn. He sees him dead and buried in Christ, and risen in Christ. What we want is to realize these things, that by the power of the Holy Ghost we may be "sanctified through the truth," and that the knowledge of what God in Christ is to us, may have influence on our walk and conversation, as we realize these things, and live by faith, we shall walk worthy of our high and holy calling practically and before men. Our Gospel liberty is that we are no longer regarded by God as natural men, and that in Christ we are complete as Christ himself is, accepted in the beloved and that notwithstanding all our weaknesses, infirmities, and failures which, alas, we too sadly are conscious of. As we live upon these truths, and draw upon them, there is a potency in them to separate practically from anything that would grieve the Holy Spirit, who has baptized us into Christ Jesus, identified us with his risen glory, and sealed us unto the day of redemption.
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