Reflections on Romans, Week 1
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.Romans 6:1-4
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It’s so easy to think of our Baptism as just another thing we do, right? It’s not uncommon for pastors to get phone calls from strangers asking them to “get their kids done.” They are meaning baptized (I hope, anyway), but aren’t sure what to do about it. People generally see Baptism as a good thing, but for many of them, it’s for the wrong reasons. It’s really just a ritual, they assume. It’s a celebration of birth, or a time to get the family together, or a reason for a cute photo-op.
What about in the classroom? What is Baptism to you and your kids? I’m guessing many of you have unbaptized students in your classes right now. Perhaps you struggle to bring it up with your learners, parents, or even fellow teachers because there’s just so much . . . well . . . baggage when it comes to denominational differences. So, we don’t really talk much about what it is and what it does. It’s easy for the subject of Baptism to be just another thing we bring up from time to time in the Lutheran school.
What Paul writes in this section of Romans is profound, especially when connected back to the verses we’ve already covered. The Gospel is power and has power. It has power to save sinners from the eternal sting of sin, death, and hell. This gospel promise came at a great cost: the life of God’s Son in your place in exchange for your life. And here, in Romans 6, Paul reminds us of how that gospel power now comes to us. In Baptism, we now share in Christ’s victory. Yes, we are sinners. Yes, we will die. But the baptized share in Christ’s life and resurrection. We were buried with Him and so will be raised with Him as well. The same power that raised Jesus from death will raise us as well. The Word of God gives forgiveness, life, and salvation.
The Gospel is power. We are naturally dead in our sins and enemies of God. God has used the water and the Word in our Baptisms as the means by which that gospel power is now ours. God’s Word gives life now. God’s Word gives new life at the resurrection. Christ has won the victory over death and now connects us to Himself through His great gospel gift.
When the topic of Baptism gets confused, when it’s easier to avoid conversation than talk about it, remember this timeless truth. Don’t despair—instead, remember that Baptism is not a burden or a ritual but instead a great gift. It’s a means by which God’s Word works and transfers the power of gospel salvation to broken, lost, sinful people. So rejoice in this gift. Rejoice in God’s call to you. Rejoice that you have newness of life in Christ. Amen.
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