2.15 Baptism is vital for salvation. Through
it we enter covenant relationship with God. By baptism we enter the body
of Christ, becoming one with Him.
Don't Continue In Sin
Baptism is a change of masters- but we are still bondslaves, not of sin, but of God. The implications of this figure may not be immediately apparent to the modern mind. We are totally committed to the Master- this is who we are, bondslaves. In Gen. 44:9, being dead is paralleled with being a slave; and there appears a parallel between being a bondslave and dying in Gen. 44:9,17. Indeed, Romans 6 draws the same parallel- death to sin is part of being a slave of Christ. The very fact we are baptized means we should not continue in sin, seeing we are dead to it (Rom. 6:2). This is one of the most basic implications of a first principle which we live in ignorance of most of our days. Israel coming out of Egypt through the Red Sea is a type of our baptism (1 Cor. 10:1). So therefore we'll preach the Gospel and try with all our heart to persuade others (including our children) to be baptized. We will realize that the unbaptized world has no hope, and we will treat them accordingly. Baptism can never be undone; as a result of that covenant statement before God, we for evermore live our lives with a sense of responsibility to Him. " If ye call [upon yourselves] on the [name of] the Father [an allusion to baptism into the Father's Name]...pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: forasmuch as ye know [i.e. the more you realize this, the more you will live in fear / reverence] that ye...were redeemed...with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:17-19). It should be noted that allusions to baptism in Paul's letters are in passages where Paul is trying to correct misunderstandings about unity and way of life (Rom. 6; 8:12-17; Gal. 3:27-4:6; 1 Cor. 1-4, 12). The early brethren had a tendency to forget the implications of baptism. And so it is with us all today. Entering the body of Christ by baptism means that our sins are in a sense against our own brethren, our spiritual body, as well as against the Lord personally. Like the prodigal, we realize we sin against Heaven and men.
Separation From The World
Deuteronomy speaks time and again of how Israel's Red Sea baptism [cp. ours] was to be the basis for their daily living; the fact they had been redeemed from the world by 'baptism' was to inspire them in every aspect of spiritual endeavour. Because they had been brought out of Egypt, therefore they were to keep the Sabbath, not worship idols, be obedient, witness to the surrounding nations, disfellowship false teachers who would take them back to Egypt, and especially, it was to motivate them to the faith that they could overcome all obstacles in their path to the promised land (Dt. 20:1). For those raised Christian, this sense of deliverance from the world and entering the body of Christ through baptism must be hard. But it is nonetheless true for you as it is for the hardest living worldling.
Strength Against Immorality
Therefore, Paul says, smashing through all Corinth's rationalizations of their sin, " know ye not" (isn't it obvious to you?) that we should not become one body with a prostitute (1 Cor. 6:15). This isn't just because webelong to the body of Christ and manifest Him; it is also because we are representative of us all who are in that body, and we wouldn't wish to bring His body, i.e. all the other believers, into such an inappropriate position. What you do, we all do. And the Lord Jesus has delegated His reputation in the eyes of this world to us, who are His body to them. The wonder of being baptized into His Name, entering the body of Christ (1 Cor. 6:14 matches our resurrection with that of the Lord) means that like our early brethren, we will rejoice to suffer shame for the sake of carrying that Name (Mt. 10:24,25). It will be " enough" for us that we know something of our Lord's sufferings. The more we reflectively read the Gospels, the more we will know the nature and extent of His sufferings, and the more we will see in our own something of His.
Paul reasons that we enter the body of Christ by baptism; and nobody hates their own body. He feeds and cares for it. This not only means that the Lord will likewise care for us. It means that we now have the basis of self-respect and a healthy love of self [the kind the Lord had in mind when He said we should love our neighbour as we love ourselves]. Because we are to count ourselves as the body of Christ, we no longer need wallow in the feeling that we are so unworthy, we aren't worth making the effort with. And therefore we should truly love our brother; Lev. 25:38 reasons that because of Israel's experience of the Red Sea redemption, therefore they were to have a generous spirit to their brother. Because the Egyptians were hard taskmasters, and Israel had been graciously saved from them, therefore they were not to be hard on each other (Lev. 25:40). If the oppressed [as Israel were oppressed] cry out unto you [as Israel cried out for their affliction], you must hear them, otherwise God will hear them and punish you, as if you are the Egyptian taskmaster (Ex. 22:24-27). Indeed, the whole Law of Moses is shot through with direct and indirect reference to the Red Sea experience. It was as if this was to be the motivator for their obedience and upholding of the culture of kindness which the Law sought to engender (Lev.23, 24; Dt. 17:7; 24:19-24). And our experience of redemption from this world ought to have the same effect.
Motivation To Be United
By being baptized into Christ, all that is true of Him becomes true of us.
Entering the body of Christ carries this implication. We must aspire
to be united, with neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female etc.,
because " ye are all one man in Christ" (Gal. 3:28 RV).
We " are all sons of God" (3:26 RV) because of our baptism
into the Son of God. And so Paul goes on to reason that just as
Christ was " the heir" (cp. " this is the heir…"
), who is " lord of all" , " even so we…" were
kept under the law for a time (Gal. 4:1-3). The basis of our unity
is that there is only one Jesus, and by being in Him we are living
lives committed to the imitation of that same man. It's painless
enough to read Gal. 3:27-29- that all those baptized "in Christ"
therefore are in a status where there is neither Jew nor Gentile,
no human barriers between us. But this is actually something we
have to live out in life in order for it to become reality. In the
"new man" whom we have "put on", i.e. Christ,
"there cannot be Greek and Jew" etc (Col. 3:11
RV). But we have to do something in order to bring this about- mere
baptism isn't enough. Paul continues: "Put on therefore...
a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience"
(Col. 3:12). If we are "in Christ", there "cannot
be" division in that body- if there is, from our perspective,
then surely we are proclaiming ourselves to be not of that body.
But in order to actualize being "in Christ", we have to
therefore show kindness, humility, patience etc. in
order that there will not be division. We have to live out
in practice the status which we have been given at baptism, of being
"in" the undivided, indivisible Christ.