Erasing The Baptism Confusion: Romans 6:3-7
“3) Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4) Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5) For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6) knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7) for he who has died is freed from sin.” Romans‬ ‭6:3-7‬
There is a cloud that hangs over these verses. Some churches believe in what is called “Baptismal Regeneration.” They believe that the churches ceremony of water baptism is what brings salvation, then they look at these verses to substantiate that claim.
But this runs contrary to Paul’s argument in the book of Romans that justification is by faith and not human works. If circumcision did not save Abraham in the Old Testament, how could the ceremony of baptism save people in the New Testament? (Review Romans 4:10-17)
But there is another baptism accomplished by the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation talked about in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says; “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slave or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” This in indeed what Paul is describing in Romans 6:3-7.
At the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit places (baptizes) the new believer into the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. We die with Him that we might also live with Him. We are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ.
It is nearly impossible to read this text without remembering the words of Jesus to Nicodemus in John 3:1-16. He says that being “born-again” requires both a physical birth and a spiritual birth. (See John 3:5-6) The conversation culminates with John 3:16 where personal belief or faith in Christ is the basis of receiving eternal life. No place in the text is a ceremony by a church mentioned. In fact, the church did not come into existence until at least Acts chapter two.
Human Religion always tries to place itself as the doorkeeper of heaven. This is a false and twisted view of Scripture. Those who take the time to study the full context of Romans 5-8, discover the ministry of the Holy Spirit is mentioned multiple times, while the church is not mentioned at all.
There is no doubt for even the casual reader of the book of Romans to conclude that Paul is referring to the wonderful phenomenon accomplished by the Holy Spirit at the moment of personal saving faith in this context. He baptizes the new believer into Jesus Christ. The act of water baptism is merely an outward picture of this inward reality accomplished by the Spirit of God.
The opens another sad but troubling conversation. Over the years I have asked countless people what is the basis of their hope of salvation? Many tragically point to the fact that they were baptized as an infant into the Christian faith. I point out that they are believing in something not taught in the Bible. The Bible always places personal saving faith in Jesus Christ before water baptism. (See Acts 8:36-37 and Acts 16:29-34)
Never does the Bible confuse the doctrine of justification by faith with a human ceremony. In fact, as Christianity spread, Paul refrained from water baptism so as not to confuse the gospel message. See 1 Corinthians 1:13-17 as a powerful testimony of this fact.
If you are one of those who are religious but not born-again, I would encourage you to read the gospel of John and the book of Romans over and over again while asking the Holy Spirit to clarify the gospel. This confusion may be the single greatest error Satan is using in traditional churches to keep people blind to the truth of the Gospel. Personal saving faith in Jesus Christ is the only basis of salvation taught in the Bible.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global