Christian teachers for centuries have seen in the old testament story of Israel crossing Jordan a shadow of the true baptism—baptism into Christ, which Paul sets forth in Romans Chapter Six. It is a teaching that is fundamental to the Christian walk, yet all too often it is unfamiliar territory to believers. It is left to the theologians to ponder while we do our best to get on with a practical life.
But we will get nowhere in life without what Christ accomplished in the Cross of Calvary becoming not just doctrine, but the reality we walk in. And this is what Romans Six is all about.
Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rom. 6.4).
Baptism into Christ makes real in us what is real in Him. What is real in Him? First, that He died unto sin.
For in that He died, He died unto sin once (once for all) but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God (Rom. 6.10).
Christ died unto sin. But Paul continues:
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God through (Gk. en, meaning in) Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6.11).
Astonishing words! You and I, dead unto sin just as Christ is dead unto sin? Paul says we are to reckon it so. To reckon means to account. I think it was Watchman Nee who gave the illustration of a man who has a certain amount of money in his bank account. He makes a transaction on the basis of this; he buys something, reckoning (accounting) on what he has in the bank. He could not reckon this if he did not know it to be true. This is why Paul talks about “knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him…” (Rom. 6.6). We can only reckon on the basis of what we know is true. It is true, it is a fact, that Christ died unto sin, and that our old man died with Him. Knowing this we who are baptized into Christ can reckon ourselves to be just as dead unto sin as Christ is dead unto sin. It is as true in us as it is in Him. If it is true in Him, it is true also of those who are in Him.
And so going back to the story in Joshua, when Israel crossed through Jordan on dry ground, the Lord commanded that twelve stones from the midst of Jordan were to be set up as a memorial on the Canaan side of the river. The twelve stones represented the twelve tribes of Israel, that is, the whole congregation, each and every one of them. And twelve stones were set up in the midst of Jordan as well.
And they are there unto this day (Josh. 4.9).
“Dad,” says a young Israelite, as they walk along the bank of the Jordan, “what are these stones here for?”
“These stones,” Dad says, “are to remind us that the Lord brought us all through the Jordan on dry ground. Right over there is where it happened,” says Dad, pointing. “And do you know what else, son? There are also twelve stones under the water over there, which the Lord commanded were to be set up in the midst of Jordan. They are there to this day.”
So it is with us, beloved, when we were baptized into Christ. We were baptized into His death—which is death indeed unto sin. And we are there unto this day.
Let this truth—this fact—enlighten us with new-covenant light. In Christ we are not dead unto sin one day and alive unto sin the next. In Christ we are not still alive unto sin. On the very day that we were baptized into Christ we were baptized into His death. We were buried with Him in the Jordan waters of baptism. And we are there unto this day. We are dead unto sin. We are no longer alive unto sin. We are no longer sinners. Sin has dominion over us no longer. We are as dead unto sin as Christ.
In Christ we are dead unto sin. We are buried with Him in baptism…
…And—if this is not wonder enough—also risen with Him (Eph. 2.6, Col. 3.1).
And therefore we are also seated together with Him in the heavenlies—the Canaan side of the Jordan. We are in our inheritance now as He is in His inheritance! We need no longer look behind us fearing some specter of sin might come up out of Jordan to haunt us. This very day we are to “seek those things which are above,” that is, the things of our heavenly inheritance in the Spirit. This is God’s new-covenant commandment unto which we have been liberated. With Joshua—Jesus—as our guide, this very day we can explore our eternal inheritance in the heavenlies a bit more. We are to fix our minds on this, we are to have a one-track mind, and not be perpetually focusing on our sins that are buried (with ourselves as well) back there in the Jordan waters. We are to “walk in newness of life” through the land of our inheritance a bit further—the length and the breadth of it, the depth and the height of it, overcoming every enemy that would stand against us along the way.
This is His order—His new creation order—for us today… if we will hear His Voice!
Amen, amen, amen. Outstanding article! I don’t want to say anything but describe what I felt while reading: FIRE. Period.
My heart was strongly burning as I “saw” that your words are “filled with the breath of God” (quote taken from http://acalltotheremnant.com/2014/01/01/a-word-for-the-new-year-strength-for-the-battle/ and from your first comment there where you quoted the same).
In Christ’s love,
“15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.
17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Heb 3:15-19)
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Thank you for this “witness,” Susanne, it’s a confirmation to me that this word is of the Lord– what He is saying to us just now. How deeply we need revelation as to what is ours in Christ, in whom we are “dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God.” Thus the twelve stones in Jordan, and the twelve stones on the Canaan side of Jordan. In Christ we are not only dead unto sin, but also risen with Him, and thus in our inheritance! Let us, guided by our Joshua, possess it!
Amen again, my dear brother!
Blessed New Year, Allan!
I am reading Romans 6 everyday because if I don’t get that I don’t really get the Gospel. As you may remember, I received a powerful revelation of Romans 6:6 3 years ago this month.I “woke up” to the fact of my inclusion in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I realized that I, indeed all of humanity, died and was raised with Christ quite apart from even my belief in that fact. It was all God’s doing. In the words of Godfrey Birtill, I was “hijacked into Paradise”. I take no credit for even believing because that is a gift as well. All I can do is simply wake up and smell the Rose of Sharon. Christ has taken me and all my fellow human beings through death and raised us up and seated us within the very blessed Trinity! Even my own baptism did not accomplish that – it simply acknowledged that 2000 years ago I bled into Christ and have been jn Him since before the foundation of the Cosmos! All I can do is shout from the roof tops that the Good News is not “what do I do to get right with God?” but “Look what Christ has done for, with, and to all of us!” The Gospel is not about DO but about DONE! My daily task is to simply remind myself of who I am in Christ and to help others to awaken to their true identity in Christ. What an amazing and liberating truth!
Happy New Year to you too, Paul. Perhaps I can clarify what you have said. The apostle Paul does not teach that all men are dead in Christ and risen with Him and seated in the heavenlies with Him, but only those who have been baptized into Christ. This truth is “in Christ,” not in Adam. All men who are outside Christ are dead in sin. That is, God has not made all men dead to sin, has not raised up all men, has not seated all men “in the very blessed Trinity.” This is not something that is the reality of all men that they only need to discover. No, it is Christ who died to sin, Christ who was raised from the dead, Christ who is seated in the Father’s throne in the heavenlies; and only those who are baptized into Christ can claim this reality as their own. While it is true that God made provision for all men (in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself) this does not mean that all men are in Christ and simply need to be “awakened” to this fact. All men in Adam are “dead in trespasses and sins,” and what they need is to be baptized into Christ. Certainly it is true that, as you said, your own baptism (I take it you refer to water baptism) did not accomplish this. But baptism into Christ does accomplish this.
Dear Paul Appleby,
I do understand your zeal to share your revelation with others. And indeed, you are right that justification before God is all about what God has DONE in Christ on our behalf. This is amazing and liberating, isn’t it?
Our wise brother’s – Allan’s 😉 – response aptly points to the fact that though from God’s sight the world is reconciled through Christ unto Himself, the world itself must be reconciled to Him individually (I recall Allan having mentioned this already in his last reply to you, cf. https://amendingfeast.org/2013/11/26/our-grave-is-behind-us/). We ought to react to hearing the Gospel with believing in the One whom God has sent, the One who came to even free us from our sinful habits. Thus, being baptized into Christ through the Holy Spirit is no longer about justification but about sanctification – killing sin (!) – since without that God-given holiness which is completely empowered by His Spirit, “no man shall see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).
If we simply relax by saying, “God has done it all,” we are in danger of falling prey to the so-called hyper-grace syndrome. Perhaps, one might check out Frank Mc Eleny’s excellent piece regarding that issue:
Thank you, Allan and Paul.
Every blessing to you both,
Encouraging and uplifting, Allan.
Thank you, Anna.