“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
In his desire to see unity in the church, the great apostle Paul stressed the fact that “there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). Elsewhere we read of the plural, “doctrine of baptisms” (Hebrews 6:2). Is there one baptism or many? The mystery is resolved when we understand that baptism signifies identification. Those who have come to Christ for salvation identify with Christ, both with His death and His resurrection. Paul explains that,“as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death . . .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” (Romans 6:3-4). The moment a believer receives Christ, the Holy Spirit re-creates them. The old sinner is gone forever. A new, innocent creation with imputed righteousness supernaturally comes into the world (2 Corinthians 5:17, 20-21). Furthermore, we are told that immediately upon our conversion, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the very body and bride of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Being baptized into Christ, we have “put on” Christ (Galatians 3:27). When God looks at us now, He does not see the guilty sinners we used to be. Rather, He sees believers clothed in the innocence and righteousness of His own dear Son. Putting on Christ not only protects us from the wrath of a Holy God against sin, it protects us from the devil’s relentless assaults as well. In order to withstand and overcome the enemy, Paul instructs us to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11). Each peace of this spiritual armor is actually the embodiment of Christ Himself. He is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), our protective faith (1 John 5:4-5), and our salvation (Acts 4:12). Christ Himself is called the Word of God (John 1:1, 14; Revelation 19:13); He is God’s ultimate self disclosure and the subject of the entire Bible. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” wrote John (Revelation 19:10), and that word is as powerful and effective in slashing through lies and deception as a double-edged sword. Truly, we are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10). Our baptism in water is an outward symbol, and a public declaration of the fact that through faith and Spirit baptism, we identify with Christ. Clothed with His righteousness we are not only protected from harm, but we show ourselves ready for meaningful, God-honoring service as well.