1 1 Baptised into Christ Galatians 3:23-29 In last week s message, we studied Galatians 3:19-26; and as we read through this passage, we saw that the Apostle Paul compared the Law of Moses to a schoolmaster. To people who lived in the firstcentury Roman world, this was a very familiar illustration. In a Roman household, the father would employ an educated servant to be a schoolmaster to his son throughout his growing-up years, until he reached the age of adulthood. During those growing-up years, the son was considered to be no different from a household servant, even though he was the family heir. Yes, the boy s father was his father; but the schoolmaster was the one who practically raised him, and prepared him for the responsibilities of life. When the son reached the appointed age, and his schooling was complete, he then was legally recognised as being adopted. Now, in the Roman world, adopted did not mean brought into a new family ; it meant, brought to the age of adulthood, and given the full privileges of a son. When the son s schooling was complete, and he was adopted by his father, he was then given access to his father s inheritance; and he then had all the privileges and responsibilities that came with being a son. He was not under the schoolmaster anymore. He could then talk directly with his father about his needs. Similarly, Jewish believers who lived under the Law in Old Testament times were under a schoolmaster ; and the Law was that schoolmaster. Those who put their faith in God for salvation were part of the family of God; and God was their Father. However, they did not address Him as my Father. Instead, they always referred to themselves as the servants of Jehovah. Why? Because they were still in school. The schoolmaster of the Law was preparing them for the coming Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Law taught them God s standard of holiness; and it showed them that they had broken the Law, and therefore were under God s curse. It taught them that they therefore needed God s mercy and forgiveness in order to be saved. The Law taught them that a Saviour was coming, who would bring the blessing of salvation. Once Christ came, and died on the cross for our sins and rose again, the Jewish believers schooling was complete. They didn t need the schoolmaster of the Law anymore, because the Law had served its purpose of preparing them to believe on Jesus Christ. The Law still prepares people to believe on Christ. But after graduation from the school of the Law, what responsibilities does the believer have? We will be examining some of these responsibilities in our passage of Scripture this morning. The title of this message is Baptised into Christ. Galatians 3:23-29 I. The way of entry into God s family: faith (vv ) In verse 26, Paul makes a very simple statement. He says, For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. The main purpose of Paul s was to show that salvation is by faith in Christ alone, and not by faith in Christ plus keeping the Law. The Galatian Christians desperately needed this letter from Paul, because the false teachers from Judaea had shaken them with their false doctrine of salvation. The false teachers had caused them to doubt and question what they once firmly believed that salvation is by faith alone, and not by our own good works. Paul went to great lengths in this letter to re-confirm to the Galatians that they had been saved by faith in Christ alone. Salvation has always been received by faith in Christ. Believers in Old Testament times were saved by faith in Christ, just as we are today. Now, Old Testament believers believed that Christ was coming; but they did not have the privilege of seeing Christ, and of seeing exactly
2 2 how the plan of salvation would unfold. That is why Paul said that they were shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. (Read verse 23 again.) Now, what does Paul mean when he says that people in Old Testament times were shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed? Was he saying that the Old Testament saints strove to be saved by their good works, because they didn t know any better? Was he saying that they didn t know what it means to be saved by faith? Not at all! You see, there are some places in the New Testament where the word faith (pístis) means that which we believe in. For example, in Jude 3, Jude says that we should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Obviously, this means that we should contend for the Word of God, because the Word of God is that which we believe in. Well, here in Galatians 3:23, the word faith means the Person in whom we believe. Jesus Christ is that Person in whom we believe. He is the Living Word of God. He is the Object of our faith. When Paul says, Before faith came, he means, Before Jesus, the Object of our faith, came. Old Testament saints knew exactly what it meant to be saved by faith. Abraham was saved by faith. Genesis 15:6 says that Abraham believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. Well, guess what? Abraham was not exceptional. All Old Testament saints received the blessing of salvation by faith, just as Abraham did. Hebrews 11 gives us a long list of Old Testament believers who were saved by faith. The only difference between them and us is that they lived before the Messiah came. They were shut up to the Object of their faith. They never had the privilege of seeing Christ. But now, we are no longer shut up to the Object of our faith. Jesus Christ has come to earth, and has been revealed to all. He has accomplished salvation by dying for our sins and rising again; and His death, burial, and resurrection have been recorded in God s Word, so that we can hear the message, believe it, and be saved. All who believe on Him are made sons of God. John 1:12-13 There is a huge, invisible family in heaven above, and down here on earth, which stretches across the centuries. This family does not have grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, or cousins. It doesn t even have a mother. It has only a Father, and His children. God is the Father in this family; and all who put their faith in the Father s only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, are His children. Paul said in Ephesians 3:14-15, For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. Those who belong to the Family of God did not become God s children by blood. This means that salvation is not a natural inheritance. No one is born into this world as a child of God: one must become a son of God. How do you become a son of God, then? Well, it s not by the will of the flesh. In other words, you can t become part of God s family by your own efforts, and by your own attempts at keeping the Law. No one can become part of God s family by the will of man, either. In other words, salvation is not something that any man can impose upon you (whether by sprinkling water on your head, or by doing some other ritual). None of these things can save you. The sobering reality is that every single one of us was born in sin, and already belonging to the family of Satan. In order to be translated from Satan s family to God s family, you must place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is by faith in Jesus Christ that you become a child of God. My friend, have you become a child of God? Have you trusted in Christ alone to save you?
3 3 II. The Christian s first responsibility after salvation: baptism (v. 27) (Read verse 27 again.) Let s make one thing clear: when Paul says "as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ," he does not mean that baptism is what makes you a Christian. Baptism has nothing to do with saving us. Paul had just finished saying that ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. He didn t say, You are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus and by baptism ; no, he said, You are children of God by faith. A person is not saved when he is baptised; he is saved when he believes on Christ. Paul said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31). So, what does Paul mean when he says that those who are baptised into Christ have put on Christ? He is talking about identifying with Christ. The word into means with reference to. So, to "put on Christ" means to identify publicly with Christ, and with His death, burial, and resurrection. That is exactly what baptism pictures Christ s death, burial, and resurrection. When a Christian is plunged down under the water, and is brought back up, he is telling everyone that I have placed my faith in the one who died, was buried, and rose again for me; and I myself have died to sin, and have risen again to a new life in Christ. Romans 6:3-5 Being baptised is like "putting on" a uniform which publicly identifies you as a Christian. The garment of baptism doesn t make you a Christian; it simply lets everyone else know that you have become a Christian. Baptism is like a T-shirt with a message on it that says, I belong to Jesus, because I have placed my trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. This reminds me of my first job. When I was sixteen, I went for an interview at McDonald s; and after the interview, I was hired. At that point, I was an employee of McDonald s. I belonged to the Ronald McDonald family. When I went up to the McDonald s headquarters in Mansfield to collect my uniform, I was already a bona fide employee. But when I put on my red and white striped shirt, black trousers, and my bill-cap with the big yellow "M" on the front, everyone who saw me knew that I was an employee of McDonald s. Now, if I had gone behind the counter to flip burgers, but hadn t put on a uniform, people would have wondered whether I was an employee or not. Likewise, baptism is a first step of obedience after your salvation; and it identifies you with Christ. It is a public statement that "I believe that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again; and I am trusting in His finished work for me." A new Christian s willingness to receive baptism is an outward evidence of the faith that is now in his heart. True faith always produces obedience to Christ's commands. Someone who has truly received Christ will want to be baptised. Let s look at an example of a man who desired to be baptised after he believed on Christ. Acts 8:26-39 There are a few things I would like to point out from this passage. First of all, what did Philip require before he would baptise the eunuch? He required genuine faith in Christ. He said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. Baptism is not valid if you have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and been saved. Infant baptism means nothing, because an infant cannot believe on Jesus Christ. One must be old enough to understand the Gospel, and he must personally believe the Gospel, before he may be biblically baptised. Secondly, you ll notice that baptism is by immersion. They went down into the water, and came up out of the water. Philip did not take a cup of water and pour (or sprinkle) water onto the eunuch s head:
4 he put him under the water. That is what the word baptise means. It comes from the Greek word baptizo, which means to immerse, plunge, or dip underwater. Thirdly, you ll notice that the Ethiopian eunuch desired to be baptised. As soon as he heard that baptism is something that a new Christian should do, he wanted to do it immediately! Those who have become sons and daughters of God by faith have the responsibilities that belong to children of God. There are many things that God wants you to do after you become part of His family; but the first thing He wants you to do is to be baptised. Baptism identifies you with Christ; and it brings you into the membership of a local, Bible-preaching church. Let s see what Paul said about this. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27 In Paul s letters, he often called the church to which he was writing the the body of Christ. Each and every Bible-believing church is the body of Christ in its locale. Now, with this in mind, what did Paul say about the body there in verse 13? He said that by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body. Baptism is the means by which a believer in Jesus Christ is made a member of a church. It is by faith in Christ that you become a member of God s family, and His Kingdom; but it is by baptism that you become a member of a church. After you become a member of a church through baptism, you are then able to partake of the Lord s Supper. This is what Paul is talking about at the end of verse 13, where he says that we have been all made to drink into one Spirit. The drinking that Paul is talking about is the drinking of the cup of the Lord during the Lord s Supper. Taking the Lord s Supper is something that you can do only after you have been baptised into the membership of a church. Let s look at an example of a large group of people who believed on Christ, and then were baptised; and let s see what happened as the result. Acts 2:36-47 On the Feast of Pentecost, 50 days after Christ s resurrection, 3,000 people were saved! Their hearts were ready to receive the Gospel. It is obvious that God had prepared them for this moment. But there is something else in this account which you cannot help but notice: these same 3,000 souls were all baptised later that day! There were 120 people in the Jerusalem church that morning; and by evening there were about 3,120 members. Three thousand people were saved, and then became church members, in one day. We ll talk about this more in a moment. But first, I want to address verse 38, because many false religions twist this verse to make it look as though baptism washes away sins. Let s look at that verse again. (Read verse 38 again.) What did Peter mean when he said, be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins? Was he saying that baptism is the means by which sins are forgiven? No. You see, that word for is the key word, here. The Greek word behind for is the word eis. This preposition eis can also be translated as with reference to, or because of. So, to say it another way, Peter was saying, Repent, and be baptised every one of you because of the remission of sins. In other words, Because you have repented and received forgiveness of sins, you therefore now need to be baptised. Let s look at another verse where this same word eis is used, and see what we can learn. 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 4
5 In verse 2, Paul says that the children of Israel were baptized unto Moses when they crossed through the Red Sea. What does he mean? Well, the word unto is the key word. This word unto is translated from the Greek word eis. It is the exact same word that is translated as for in Acts 2:38. Paul is saying that the people of Israel were baptised because of Moses, or with reference to Moses. In other words, their passage through the Red Sea identified them with their leader, Moses. They had already been saved from the bondage of Egypt on Passover night, because they had put the blood of the lamb over their doorposts when the LORD passed over their houses. Now, a few days later, they were baptized unto (or, with reference to ) Moses in the Red Sea. Whenever we think of the children of Israel, we think of their relationship to their leader, Moses; and their passage through the Red Sea with Moses is the thing that crystalizes that relationship in our minds. In the same way, new Christians need to be baptised with reference to, or because of, their Leader, Jesus Christ. When you place your faith in Christ, and in His shed blood, you are redeemed from the bondage of sin, just as the children of Israel were redeemed from the bondage of Egypt on the night of Passover. But, when a new Christian is baptised, he is now identified with Christ publicly just as the children of Israel were identified with Moses in a very public way when they were baptised under the waves of the Red Sea! Are you understanding the meaning of this word eis? It means because of, or with reference to. So, let s bring this back to Acts 2:38. Peter wasn t telling the people that they needed to be baptised to receive remission of sins; he was telling them that they then needed to be baptised with reference to, or because of the remission of sins which they had already received. And when did they receive it? When they repented! Baptism doesn t save you; it simply identifies you with Christ, and with the forgiveness of sins that he has given you. So, 3,000 people repented, and were baptised. And what was the result of their baptism? The result was that they identified with Christ, and they became members of the church of Jerusalem. (Read Acts 2:41 and 47 again.) Did you notice the connection between these two verses? Verse 41 says that through baptism, there were added unto them about 3,000 souls. Then, in verse 47, we are told that there were added daily to the church such as should be saved. By putting these two verses side by side, we see that baptism is what added them to the church. They didn t become church members by attending church services for a while, and getting to know everyone, and finally coming to feel that they were members; no, they became members by baptism (after they had put their faith in Christ). Through baptism, they publicly identified with Christ, and with His death, burial and resurrection, and with the remission of sins; and, they became members of Christ s church. After they became members, they then broke bread together (took the Lord s Supper), and served the Lord together with all the other members of the church. Baptism is like a garment. Now, it certainly is not the only kind of garment that a Christian should put on. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:24 that Christians should put on the new man (the new nature that Christ has given them) every single day. In Colossians 3:12-14, Paul says that Christians should put on the garments of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, forgiveness, and love. But baptism is the first garment to put on after you are saved. Perhaps you have been saved, but you have not yet been baptised scripturally. (By scripturally I mean by immersion underwater, as a symbol of Christ s death, burial, and 5
6 resurrection, after you have repented and believed on Christ. ) If you have not taken this step, I urge you to do so! It is the first responsibility after you become a child of God. III. Christians status in the Kingdom of God: one in Christ Jesus (vv ) (Read verses again.) In these verses, Paul tells us what Christians status is in the Kingdom of God. Our status is that we are all one in Christ Jesus. Those words in Christ Jesus are important. Whenever Paul used that phrase in Christ Jesus, he was talking about the realm of regeneration, or the new birth. Jesus said in John 3 that we all must be born again : and He went on to define this new birth as something that the Holy Spirit would accomplish in His disciples in the very near future. The new birth is, by definition, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Christians bodies. Fifty days after Christ s resurrection, the Holy Spirit came to live inside Jewish believers; and about ten years later, the Holy Spirit came to live inside Gentile believers, as well. Today, whenever a person believes on Christ and is saved, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside that person immediately, and seals him forever. The Bible teaches that Christ is in the New Testament believer; and the believer is in Christ. In His prayer to His Father in John 17, Jesus prayed that His disciples all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us...i in them, and thou in me (John 17:21, 23). This is called the new birth, or regeneration. It is also called the realm of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not the church. A church is an assembly of born-again, baptised Christians. It is local and visible. The Kingdom of God, on the other hand, is universal, and invisible. It is an invisible kingdom, made up of all who have been born again. Remember what Jesus said? He said, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). So, then, what is a Christian s status in this universal, invisible Kingdom of God? Paul says that we are all one in Christ Jesus. In the Kingdom of God, there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Ethnicity makes no difference whatsoever in God s Kingdom. There is also no distinction in regard to male and female. God sees men and women in His Kingdom as equal in worth. There also is no distinction in God s Kingdom regarding bond or free. Now, thank God, we do not have the institution of slavery in our culture today; but in Paul s day, slaves made up ¼ of the population! Can you imagine what a wonderful thing it was for Christians who were slaves to know that in God s sight, they were of equal worth to all their brothers and sisters in Christ? (In one case which is recorded in the New Testament, a Greek master named Philemon, and his slave, Onesimus, both became Christians; and Onesimus ended up freeing Onesimus, so that he could be a missionary co-labourer with the Apostle Paul!) Brethren, we are all one. God is our Father, and we are His children; and we are all equal in His sight. There are no distinctions in the Kingdom of God. But remember: the Kingdom of God is a universal, invisible Kingdom, made up of all who are born again. In the church, however, there are differences in position. There are offices in the church; and not just anyone can fill those offices. The two offices of pastor and deacon can be filled only by men (not women); and even then, not just any man may fill the office. They must be men who have a definite, divine call from God to that office, and who are able to meet some high moral and spiritual requirements such as being married; not having any divorce in their past; having their children under control; being highly trained in God s Word, and well able to teach it; not being a brand-new believer; and not having any moral stain which would bring reproach upon the name of Christ. Let s take a look at these requirements. 6
7 7 1 Timothy 2:11-12 / 3:1-13 There are distinctions in regard to offices in the church. There are certain requirements and restrictions. But these restrictions do not translate to unequal worth. We are all one in Christ. So, let s make this practical. If we Christians be one in Christ, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or social class, should we not treat each other as brethren? We who are saved are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus said, Be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren (Matthew 23:8). Paul wrote to Timothy, Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity (1 Timothy 5:1-2). As fellow heirs in God s family, we are responsible to love each other; to render each other material aid; to comfort each other; to pray for each other; to encourage and admonish each other; to rebuke each other, when necessary, in love; to provoke each other to good works; to be tenderhearted and forgiving toward each other; and to fellowship with each other at church. You see, when a person gets saved, things begin to change radically in his life. One of those changes is that the new Christian now feels a bond of unity and love with other believers. Now, an unsaved person, if he do go to some kind of church, normally bolts out the door as soon as the service is over. Why? Because to him, going to church is a duty which he begrudgingly performs, because he thinks it might help him earn his salvation. He has no concept of sticking around with God s people, because he himself is not one of God s people. (And if he be going to a false, apostate church, none of the other people there are God s people, either!) But after you get saved, you consider it a joy to go to a Bible-preaching church, and to stick around and fellowship with God s people! Christ has made His true followers one in Him. Christ makes all the difference. Conclusion: In the closing verse of Galatians 3, Paul reminded the Galatians, And if ye be Christ s, then are ye Abraham s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Christians, Paul says, are Abraham s seed. Yet, earlier in this chapter, Paul identified the Seed of Abraham as Christ. Why does Paul say that Christians are Abraham s seed, when he said earlier that Christ is Abraham s Seed? Because Christians are in Christ! (How s that for security?) But consider this: There is no half-way position between in and out. Either you are in Christ, or you re not. Either you are a child of God, or you are still a child of the devil. Which spiritual family you are in depends upon one thing: whether you have put your trust in Christ, and Christ alone. If you have not trusted Christ as your Saviour, I urge you to do so today! And, Christian, I would ask you: Have you put on Christ by being biblically baptised? If you have been baptised already, is there some other spiritual garment that you should be putting on today (such as love, or kindness, or forbearance)? If so, put it on!