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Experiential Baptism: Romans

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Romans 6:3-4
Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
This is one of the most complicated verses when discussing baptism so I will do the best I can with it.  I really do think that Paul is talking about baptism experientially here.  The complicated part is that he is connecting the experiential part (water baptism) and the Spiritual part (Spirit baptism) in the same sentence.  That is exactly what you can do when you view baptism experientially.
Remember, Paul has just finished talking about justification by grace through faith and doesn’t contradict himself here.  Paul never waivers in the fact that we receive (procure) the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith.
First of all, Paul is pointing them to their water baptisms to remind them of Spiritual realities that took place.  This it totally right (and totally what we should do in similar situations) because Paul is using the experiential function of baptism: it shows us what we didn’t see happen in the Spiritual realm.  Paul seems to be saying (exactly what I’m saying) that the Spiritual realities are experienced through water baptism (although not caused by it since we have already shown that this isn’t true).
We didn’t see ourselves enter the body of Christ (this was done by the Spirit…we will discuss this in Galatians) but we did experience it in baptism.  We didn’t KNOW we were in it until baptism even though God could have added us before.
We didn’t see Christ’s death for us or how it benefits us in the Spiritual realm but we did get to experience it in baptism.  The forgiveness of sins is by grace through faith but we don’t see that.  We must point to our baptisms as this event.
We weren’t buried in the tomb with Jesus or see how it benefits us in the Spiritual realm but we did get to experience it in baptism.  We were buried in baptism though, which is our reference point for this event.  We could not see it any other way.
We weren’t raised with Christ physically or see how it benefits us in the Spiritual realm but we did get to experience it in baptism.  The only resurrection we can see right now is baptism and this is why Paul points to it when discussing the new life that Christians have in Christ.  This is a Spiritual reality that we must have a way to put our minds around.  Paul uses baptism to help them “see” what they otherwise could not.  This is the point of baptism.
To sum up, Paul is speaking of Spiritual realities using the gift that God gave us for this very purpose; baptism.  Paul is connecting the Spiritual with the experiential in a way that we should also do today.  He is not connecting them because they happen at the same time or because water baptism causes the Spiritual realities to happen.  He has to connect the physical with the Spiritual because it is only the physical that can be seen and explained.  They didn’t have the Scriptures yet to determine if these things were true, they had to trust in God’s gift of baptism to give them the answers.  We should do the same and not rely on our own understanding of doctrine to determine our own salvation.  Baptism was designed to communicate unseen Spiritual realities to us in our fleshly nature.  It does not affect those realities.
I hope I am doing a good job of explaining Experiential Baptism in a way that makes sense.  Let me know how I am doing.  
Romans 6:3-4
Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
This is one of the most complicated verses when discussing baptism so I will do the best I can with it.  I really do think that Paul is talking about baptism experientially here.  The complicated part is that he is connecting the experiential part (water baptism) and the Spiritual part (Spirit baptism) in the same sentence.  That is exactly what you can do when you view baptism experientially.
Remember, Paul has just finished talking about justification by grace through faith and doesn’t contradict himself here.  Paul never waivers in the fact that we receive (procure) the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith.
First of all, Paul is pointing them to their water baptisms to remind them of Spiritual realities that took place.  This it totally right (and totally what we should do in similar situations) because Paul is using the experiential function of baptism: it shows us what we didn’t see happen in the Spiritual realm.  Paul seems to be saying (exactly what I’m saying) that the Spiritual realities are experienced through water baptism (although not caused by it since we have already shown that this isn’t true).
We didn’t see ourselves enter the body of Christ (this was done by the Spirit…we will discuss this in Galatians) but we did experience it in baptism.  We didn’t KNOW we were in it until baptism even though God could have added us before.
We didn’t see Christ’s death for us or how it benefits us in the Spiritual realm but we did get to experience it in baptism.  The forgiveness of sins is by grace through faith but we don’t see that.  We must point to our baptisms as this event.
We weren’t buried in the tomb with Jesus or see how it benefits us in the Spiritual realm but we did get to experience it in baptism.  We were buried in baptism though, which is our reference point for this event.  We could not see it any other way.
We weren’t raised with Christ physically or see how it benefits us in the Spiritual realm but we did get to experience it in baptism.  The only resurrection we can see right now is baptism and this is why Paul points to it when discussing the new life that Christians have in Christ.  This is a Spiritual reality that we must have a way to put our minds around.  Paul uses baptism to help them “see” what they otherwise could not.  This is the point of baptism.
To sum up, Paul is speaking of Spiritual realities using the gift that God gave us for this very purpose; baptism.  Paul is connecting the Spiritual with the experiential in a way that we should also do today.  He is not connecting them because they happen at the same time or because water baptism causes the Spiritual realities to happen.  He has to connect the physical with the Spiritual because it is only the physical that can be seen and explained.  They didn’t have the Scriptures yet to determine if these things were true, they had to trust in God’s gift of baptism to give them the answers.  We should do the same and not rely on our own understanding of doctrine to determine our own salvation.  Baptism was designed to communicate unseen Spiritual realities to us in our fleshly nature.  It does not affect those realities.
I hope I am doing a good job of explaining Experiential Baptism in a way that makes sense.  Let me know how I am doing.  
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Written by freeinchrist

June 17, 2009 at 8:00 am

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