Which Gospel? The Gospel of Baptism (Paul), Part 3

The end of regulations

(Col 2:11-17) In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

This is such an important passage … and I don’t have space to really talk through it. But here’s the point. Baptism teaches us that we have no need for “regulations” that are a “shadow of the things that were to come.” Law is replaced by grace in Christ — not better laws.

But baptism also teaches us that we live in a world in which Jesus has “disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Jesus defeated Rome and Caesar, Herod and the Sanhedrin. He took the worst this world can do to anyone — and won! Therefore, we need not be cowed by the powers.

Rather, baptism teaches us to see the new “reality” that is “found in Christ.” We see that Jesus is sitting on his throne — in charge. Not Congress. Not the UN. Not the President. It’s not that we are therefore in rebellion. Rather, we submit to the government, when not inconsistent with God’s will, but we look to Jesus as the only source of power and authority and truth. Our citizenship is, therefore, in heaven, not here.

(Phil 3:20-21) But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Thus, we become in America like missionaries. We aren’t citizens of this land. We are citizens of heaven. We obey the local laws, but our allegiance is to Jesus.

Think of an American missionary in Romania. He obeys Romanian law. He’s thankful for the police. But he owes that nation no allegiance, no loyalty. Rather, he’s a “stranger in a strange land,” out of place, doing God’s work as a foreigner.

And so, baptism teaches us that nationalism and nations will burn up. They’ll be destroyed. In a sense, they’ve already been destroyed.

(Heb 11:9-10) By faith [Abraham] made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

And so, we too, are, as the old hymns says, “just a-passing through,” but we have a job to do while we’re here. Remember: we are to be God’s blessing to the nations. We are on a mission, a mission which calls for us to see a new and radical reality — a reality that turns everything upside down.

Baptism teaches us to see the world with spiritual eyes — as the world looks to Jesus. And baptism teaches us that we have to choose between this world and the next, citizenship here or there, home here or there.

Again, from the same hymn: “This World is Not My Home.”

This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

Chorus:
O Lord you know I have no friend like you
If Heaven’s not my home, then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

They’re all expecting me and that’s one thing I know.
My Savior pardoned me and now I onward go.
I know He’ll take me through, though I am weak and poor.

Repeat Chorus

Just up in Glory Land we’ll live eternally.
The Saints on every hand are shouting victory.
Their song of sweetest praise drifts back from Heaven’s shore
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

Repeat Chorus

Words and Music by Albert E. Brumley
© 1965 – Albert E. Brumley & Sons

I offer this video just to show you can sing this sing without sounding like a hillbilly!

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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6 Responses to Which Gospel? The Gospel of Baptism (Paul), Part 3

  1. Joe Baggett says:

    Baptism has become such as quagmire. We can drag people to the baptistery all day long and never make one single disciple. In fact only about 10% of actual people who come from lost and unchurched background attend 2 years after their baptism. Peter says that baptism is the pledge of a good conscience toward God. I wonder how many actually pledged their minds and hearts to God when they got wet? This also suggests a fundamental change in ones think or the way they see things such as the world. But this deep spiritual change rarely took place at baptism because we preached as a work rather than a fundamental change in the way we think wrapped up in pledging our heart, mind and body to God.

  2. Nick Gill says:

    That is indeed my story, Joe. I was immersed in 1994… I became a follower of Jesus in 2001. I don't think it should be this way.

  3. Nick Gill says:

    Jay,

    Have you thought about the relationship between Brumley's lyrics and the eschatology being taught in Surprised by Hope?

    Nick

  4. Jay Guin says:

    Nick,

    I guess it depends on how you look at it. In one sense, this is not only our home, but the home we'll have in eternity. And so, yes, this world is my home.

    But the nation states and economic and political structures will all burn. They are not part of my home. Rather, the only thing that will survive the fire at the end of time will be us, and we'll live in a refreshed, re-invented world. This rest will burn.

    Hence, the only nation and only society that's truly my home is the church universal.

    (2 Pet 3:10-14) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

    Peter argues that we should look forward to the fire that destroys this world and pray for its hastening. In short, we should not feel at home in this age, but anticipate the next one.

    It might be more precise to say "This earth is not my home," but I couldn't find a hymn that says that! Our home, I think, is the new earth.

    (2 Cor 5:8 ) We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

  5. Nick Gill says:

    I'm not trying to put you on the spot; I'm really curious because this verse boggles my mind, too.

    If "the nation states and economic and political structures will all burn," what will the leaves of the tree in Rev 22:3 be healing?

    Rev 22:3 – On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

    Verses like these really get me excited with their mystery and potential.

    Maybe, "this land is not my home?"

    Or, "This age is not my home?"

  6. Jay Guin says:

    Nick,

    It's indeed an interesting passage.

    Wright takes the position that this passage implies that there may be an in-between position between saved and tossed in the lake of fire. He says it's possible the "nations" are outside the New Jerusalem. He also notes that the river flows out of the city — to where?

    However, I don't see the river leaving the new Jerusalem in Rev. I think the correct interpretation is found by comparing with Eze 47 —

    (Ezek 47:1-14) The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar….

    6 He asked me, "Son of man, do you see this?" Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. 8 He said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. …

    12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing."

    13 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "These are the boundaries by which you are to divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel, with two portions for Joseph. 14 You are to divide it equally among them. Because I swore with uplifted hand to give it to your forefathers, this land will become your inheritance.

    Now, in Ezekiel's vision, the promise is to Israel, the 12 tribes of which will receive a stream of living water from Jerusalem flowing into the gulf of Arabah.

    The leaves therefore are for the healing of Israel, as Israel is promised the "inheritance" in v 14.

    However …

    (Ezek 47:22-23) You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 23 In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance," declares the Sovereign LORD.

    Ezekiel also prophesies that Gentiles (aliens) will settle among the Israelites. They are to be considered native-born and to inherit — a radical change from the Law of Moses!

    Thus, Rev 22:2 recharacterizes the vision in terms of the work of Christ —

    (Rev 22:1-2) Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

    The temple becomes the throne of God and the Lamb. But we've told there's no temple in the new Jerusalem, as God himself will be the temple. 21:22.

    The river is now in the City, not flowing out of the City, as the City is now much larger, I suppose.

    There is but one tree — Tree of Life — whereas Ezekiel saw many trees. But now the nations have been made into one.

    And Israel has become all the saved.

    (Rev 21:24-27) The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

    v. 24 paraphrases Isa 60:3, and the thought doesn't appear that the nations will surround the City. Rather, it appears that the city will encompass the nations.

    The nations are "brought into it" but nothing impure comes in. Thus, he surely means the faithful within the nations.

    (Isa 60:11-12) Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations– their kings led in triumphal procession. 12 For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined.

    "Ruined" means wasted, destroyed, or made desolate. And so, notwithstanding Wright, the vision seems to be that the nations that serve God will be grafted into Israel, treated as native born, and live in the city to serve God. Those that do not will be destroyed.

    Nonetheless, the vision is people from all nations becoming a single nation under God and the Lamb, living in perfect community and harmony in a land without evil or suffering, with even kings submitted to the will of God. But it's not for everybody. Those who don't come in are destroyed.

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