Church as the baptised into Christ
Romans 6:1-8, 11-14 | John 3:1-8, 16-18
Romans 6:1-8, 11-14
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
John 3:1-8, 16-18
3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.’
3 Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’
4 ‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’
5 Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.” 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Jesus calls us to be born again – born into a new community and family. Baptism is the key boundary marker and identity badge that marks us out as part of this new messianic (Christian) and cruciform community. It is the means by which we become part of this family and a marker of our membership in the body of Christ and marks the beginning of our ‘crucified life’. Baptism therefore brings with it key responsibilities and obligations – the obedience of faith (faithful allegiance to Christ) – as well as opening up for us all the benefits and gifts of inclusion into Christ’s resurrection and the life of the Spirit. It is the badge of our allegiance to Christ, and his community.
As we welcome adults and young people into baptism, we are witnessing a new creation – the creation of new life as people are drawn into Christ and his body. Individual Christians are never autonomous individuals – we are immersed into a greater unity – the body of Christ – a unity that is diverse in background, age, or gifting but unified in loyalty to Christ.
It is only as a full member of this body that the blessings of Christ’s victory, forgiveness, cleansing, healing, renewal are accessed. It is for this reason, because by being baptised into Christ is simultaneously being baptised into the church family, that baptism brings with it all the obligations of allegiance to Christ, and to his body.
Baptism is the marker of a new life, a renewed life, a life of adventure and belonging. This invitation is open to all! In Baptism we die to our old lives and gain Jesus’ resurrected lives. We want to explore what it means to live this ‘risen’ life.
- What does it mean to be baptised into Jesus’ death?
- What does it mean to have been raised with Jesus?
- Paul makes the link between being united with Christ and being freed from the power of sin. What does this mean in your own experience?
- What does it mean to ‘count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ’?
- What does it mean to offer our bodies to be instruments of righteousness?
- What is the link between being baptised in Christ (Paul) and being born again (Jesus)?
- As baptised believers, what behaviour do we need to ‘put to death’ in our own lives?