The Scriptures point us to the reality that is to be lived and experienced, and not merely memorized as a doctrine or quoted. Jesus is a living person who wants to communicate with us, the kingdom is vibrant and ever-present, and it’s up to us to break into this reality. More often than not, it’s a progress, and it may take a while to get there. It’s a mirror principle – we get close to God, he gets close to us. It’s like a dance – God only makes the steps which will keep him in sync with where we are.
We can’t just quote Scriptures, punctuating them with victorious amens, and then moving on to life as usual. As if merely quoting the Scripture will bring anyone any closer the reality that it points to. Case in point: “It’s no longer I, but Christ who lives in me”. I have heard this verse quoted dozens of times by people claiming it to be their reality, but I have met less than 10 people in my 22 years of being with Christ who reflected that in their everyday life. Actually, the number is closer to 5. I am not one of those people, either. I love this Scripture, it’s a wonderful summit to climb, but I am still on the way.
In a certain society, Johnny robbed and brutally killed an old lady (a la “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoevsky). A most heinous, brutal crime. According to the law of the land, he should be hanged for this. But his 13-year-old nephew Billy (a fully responsible young boy in that society), as sweet and innocent a boy as they come in that age, asks the judge to allow him to take Johnny’s place. An unusual request, to be sure, but the one that was eventually granted and carried out.
It so happens that on the third day after the execution, Billy suddenly comes back to life. Not only that, but his new life essence makes him immortal. Not only that, his body becomes immune to any disease or damage. Sort of like a superhero, with one exception – he doesn’t hold his powers only to himself. Billy has now the power to impart his amazing new life essence to anyone, for the asking.
As Billy explained, the offer, at its core, is this. When you want to have the life essence of Billy, your life essence is taken out from you, and you experience an instantaneous clinical death. However, the life essence of Billy is immediately placed within you, and you are back to life before you know what happened. Now the center of your being shifts from your physical body to the newly acquired life essence, and your new identity becomes that of Billy.
DEATH ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES SERIES – TABLE OF CONTENTS
Now, after we have disambiguated ourselves of extra-Scriptural meanings, we are in a position to define what the scriptural meaning of death is.
DEATH OPERATES ON THE BODY OF THE FLESH
Death that has been plaguing humanity ever since the fall of Adam operates on the bodies of flesh, and not on spirits. This is stated in the Scriptures quite clearly, but scripture expositors rarely tie this knowledge in with the topic of death, for whatever reason. Sin (dysfunction, being “apart / amiss” from God’s design) operates in the flesh, producing death, as apostle Paul noted most notably in Romans chs. 5 – 8, and this is also noted in a lot of other places in the Scripture as well.
Here are some passages pertaining to sin / death operating on the bodies of flesh:
2 Corinthians 4
11 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members [of the body] to bear fruit to death.
I don’t know why this eluded me for so long, but in the past few days I had this hunch about the Acts 2 events, as pertaining to the question of baptism. Here’s an interesting twist that I’ve discovered.
Please follow me through Acts 2, all the way from the beginning of the chapter.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
[ … ]
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
pay close attention to v. 41. The ones that gladly received the word were baptized, and the same day were added 3000 souls / persons to the number of the outcalled (ekklesia, or church).
All the events in v. 41 – they heard the word, they gladly received it, were baptized, and they were added to the rest of the believers – all of these happened in the same day. That much is 100% clear from the passage. The specific question that I want to address is: can we clearly establish at all, as per the passage, that they were or were not water-baptized? Well, it turns out, we might be able to.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
On Matthew 6 side of the cross (pre-crucifixion), the measure of forgiveness received from God was based on the measure of our forgiveness of others.
On our side of the cross (post-crucifixion), it’s based on the measure of Christ’s forgiveness of others.
In Galatians 3 (and in the entire letter to Galatians) the context is an encouragement to start in the spirit and continue in the spirit. The whole division of Galatians. 3:1 – 4:7 (which is one logical division) speaks of the work of the spirit, and verses 3:26-29 about how we got into Christ to get qualified for the promise made to Abraham also speaks of the work of the spirit.
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Therefore, v. 27 “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” has to also be speaking of the Holy Spirit baptizing us into Christ.
Let’s start off with this passage:
1 Peter 3:21
There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
I think this pretty clearly defines the baptism that saves us as the answer of good conscience toward God, and even underscores it not to be a washing. That’s the solution to successfully passing Mark 16:16 test:
To help us make more sense of our position “in Christ”, here are some thoughts concerning its legal underpinnings.
First off, let’s see how you “got into” Christ. A person gets baptized (a much more exact meaning of the word is “immersed, with lasting effects”) into Christ the moment they believe in him:
16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.