Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
[In verses 1-2, Paul rejects the argument that “free justification” leads to sin. In this verse, he holds baptism that at the] first entrance upon the profession of Christianity they take upon themselves a vow or solemn obligation to die unto sin.
In the words there is —
1. A truth supposed, that those who are baptized are baptized into Christ…. We are not only baptized in his name, but baptized into him, made members of that mystical body whereof he is the head.
2. A truth inferred, that they that are baptized into Christ are baptized into his death.
3. The notoriety of both these truths, ‘ Know ye not ? ‘
Doct. Sacraments are a solemn means of our communion with the death of Christ. Where is to be shown
1. What is communion with Christ’s death.
2. That sacraments are a solemn means thereof.
I. What is communion with Christ’s death.
A. Something by way of privilege, a participation of the benefits and efficacy of Christ’s death. We are partakers of the benefits of his death when we receive pardon and life, begun by the Spirit, and perfected in heaven. Eph. 1:7, 5:26; Tit. 3:5-6; Gal. 3:13-14, 4:5-6.
B. Christ’s death bindeth us to renounce sin, and by submitting to baptism we profess to take the obligation upon us to die unto sin and unto the world more and more, to show ourselves to be true disciples of the crucified Saviour …. Rom. 6:5; Gal. 2:20…. This likeness is seen in two things:
1. In weakening and subduing sin. Gal. 5:24; Rom. 8:13.
2. In sufferings for righteousness’ sake, and obeying God at the dearest rate, as Christ’s undergoing the death of the cross was the highest act of his obedience to God. This is also called ‘ conformity to his death ;’ and ‘ the fellowship of his suffering,’ Phil. iii. 10.
II. The sacraments are a solemn means of this communion. Here are three things : —
A. That union with Christ is the ground of communion with him. 1 Cor. 1:30; 1 John 5:12; Rom. 8:9 & 32; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 1:22-23. …From this great cistern the waters of life come to us, and not immediately from the Godhead ; and it is our head which doth communicate and send to all his members from himself that Spirit which must operate in them as they have need: this grace our mediator distributeth to all his members.
B. That this union and communion is signified and sealed by the sacraments, and so they are special means to preserve and uphold the communion between Christ and us. Rom. 6:5; 1 Cor. 10:16, 12:13;
1. There is not only a solemn commemoration of the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, but a participation of his benefits ; it is the communion of his body and blood. There is a difference between a historical representation of Christ’s death, and a spiritual communion of his blood and body. John 15:2; Eph. 3:17.
2. This is the sum then: Christ maketh his first entrance into us by his Spirit, who regenerateth us ; this is figured in baptism ; continueth his presence by faith, love, and new obedience, which are exercised and quickened by the Lord’s supper.
C. The sacraments do chiefly relate to our communion with Christ’s death, as appeareth —
1. By the interpretation of both in scripture. Baptism is explained in the text ; the chief thing represented is his death.
a) [Discussion of the institution of the Lord’s Supper.] Thus you see Christ hath instituted two sacraments which represent him dead, not one to represent him glorified. This signification may be confirmed by the types of the old law.
b) Therefore in these ordinances he representeth himself rather as he procured the glory of others than as possessed of his own glory, and would have us consider rather his death past than his present glory. His death is wholly for us, but his glory for himself and us too. For understanding this, we must distinguish between what is primarily represented in the sacraments, and what is secondarily and consequentially. It is true the consideration of his humiliation excludeth not that of his exaltation, but leadeth us to it. ….
c) We remember his death as the meritorious cause of our justification and sanctification, but his resurrection as the public evidence of the value of his merit ; according to that of the apostle ; Rom. 4:25.
d) So in baptism, the immersion or plunging in water signified his death, and the coming out of the water his resurrection ; and in the Lord’s supper we annunciate his death; but because we keep up this ordinance till he come, we imply his resurrection and life of glory, therefore we do but consequentially remember it.
2. By the rites used in both these ordinances. Baptism signifieth the death and burial of Christ ; for immersion under the water is a kind of figure of death and burial.
3. By reason it must needs be so.
a) With respect to the state of man, with whom the new covenant is made. It is made with man fallen and a sinner; therefore baptism and the Lord’s supper imply our communion with Christ as a redeemer and saviour, who cometh ‘ to save us from our sins,’ Mat. 1:21 …So here the intervention of his death was the way and means to expiate former sins, and that penitent believers might have eternal blessedness instated upon them by way of inheritance ; therefore the most obvious thing represented in these seals of the new covenant must be the death of Christ.
b) With respect to the great benefit we stand in need of, which is the destruction of sin, which hath a double malignity in it ; for sin is considerable under a double respect — as it damneth or as it defileth ; as it rendereth us obnoxious to God’s justice, or as it tainteth and staineth and defileth our faculties. Christ considereth sin under this- double respect, and maketh none partakers of the benefit which cometh by him whom he freeth not from sin, both as to the guilt and power ; ….
c) With respect to the value of Christ’s death, which is often recommended to us under these two considerations — (1.) As a wonderful act of love; (2.) As a price and ransom paid for our souls, and the blessings we stand in need of.
(1) As a wonderful act of condescending love : Gal. 2:20; Eph. 5:2; Rev. 1:5. Christ’s death is the greatest instance of his love, and sacraments are a memorial of his love to us,
(2) They are the price paid for the blessings we stand in need of, and so breed confidence in us.
(3) The mutual respect that is between both sacraments ; for Christ’s death, and the immediate benefits which result thence, are represented both in baptism and the Lord’s supper in a way proper to each.
(4) (1st.) Baptism, that our consent to depend upon God for the benefits of the new covenant, and perform the duties thereof, may be more solemn and explicit ; …that act is an act of love, it may bind us to love him to the death, who hath loved us first, and in all temptations cleave to him, …
(5) (2d) The Lord’s supper is necessary to confirm and strengthen both our resolutions and dependence; for nothing is more fickle and uncertain than the heart of man.
III. Use. Here is direction to us about the improvement of our communion with Christ, to look more to the effect and fruit of sacraments; have we the communion of his death?
A. Of your baptism. Do you live as one that is washed from his sins, that is baptized into the death of Christ ?
B. As to the Lord’s supper, your great business here is to commemorate Christ’s death, who is evidently set forth, and as it were crucified before your eyes.
1. This is needed by man ; we are undone forever if sin be not destroyed. …If we had a broken-hearted sense of what we have brought upon ourselves by sin, we would more prize our remedy : we come to be saved from sin, and so by consequence from wrath and hell. And shall we be cold in such addresses to God, while we have so much sin in us?
2. This is offered by God. His great intention of sending Christ into the world was to be ‘ a propitiation for our sins ;’ 1 John 5:10
a) It is dearly purchased, by the death of Christ; that was the price paid for our ransom, which both commendeth his love Rom. 5:8 & 8:32.
b) It is freely offered : Is. 55:1; Rev. 22:17.
c) It is surely sealed and conveyed to every penitent believer; for God by deed and instrument reacheth out to every believer the body and blood of our crucified Saviour, or the benefits of Christ’s death. To others it is a nullity ; the whole duty is lost to them who regard iniquity in their hearts. Therefore resolve without any reservation to devote yourselves to God, always to watch and strive against sin.