Teresa and I have had the privilege of visiting several states out West. There is nothing I’ve seen in life quite like visiting the Rocky Mountains. The song, America the Beautiful, was penned from the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado. The words below take on new meaning when one has observed those views from that mountain.
O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!
The phrase purple mountain majesties is an apt description of those mountains. I can remember one such trip out West, I was able to step across the Colorado River. We visited the small stream that would eventually become the mighty Colorado.
While visiting the Rockies, we occasionally crossed over what is known as the Continental Divide. This is the point that literally divides the continent of North America. Signs there describe how the rainwater falling on one side of the line will eventually wind up in the Atlantic while the water falling on the other side will flow to the Pacific Ocean.
Today I would like to consider what could be called the “Continental Divide” of one’s spiritual walk. We know from reading Ephesians 1:3 that all spiritual blessings are found in Christ. So I suggest the point we get into Christ is a critical point, a continental divide of sorts. Prior to that point we have no spiritual blessings; after the point we have all spiritual blessings. All spiritual blessings includes, forgiveness, hope of heaven, comfort, etc.
So where is the point of getting into Christ? I suggest a study of Romans 6 along with Galatians 3 will answer this question quite clearly.
Galatians 3:27 – “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Romans 6:3,4 – “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore 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.”
The Romans passage makes it clear that baptism is a burial. We are buried with Him through baptism. This negates a baptism that is not an immersion. Hence sprinkling is not an acceptable means of baptism. The word baptize, from the Greek word baptizo, literally means to immerse or submerge. Sprinkling is not an immersion and thus not a baptism.
It is in the act of baptism, the act of being buried with Him, that we contact the blood of Christ.
Romans 5:10 refers to the person prior to conversion as an enemy of GOD. Further it describes how we are reconciled to GOD through the death of His Son. Romans 5:9 says we are justified by His blood and we are saved through Him. We reach that blood as we die to sin, are symbolically buried with him in baptism, and are raised to walk in a new life.
I find no support in the Bible for baptism being an outward sign of a conversion that has already taken place. No, prior to baptism one is outside of Christ and post baptism one is in Christ. The study of Paul’s conversion in Acts 22 confirms this. On the road to Damascus Paul was blinded by a great light from heaven and told to go into the city for further instructions. Paul followed those instructions and I am convinced had faith in the LORD at that point. However, this faith was not the point of conversion, i.e. the point he was washed of his sins. Verse 16 makes clear, his forgiveness of sins occurred at the point of his baptism.
When we like those of Romans 6:17, obey from the heart that form of doctrine delivered to us by the New Testament teachings, we cross the Continental Divide spiritually. We are no longer slaves of sin but are now slaves of righteousness.
GOD has indeed shed His grace on us.