One of the key questions for Martin Luther and John Calvin was, how is a man right with God? That is, how can a man be justified in the sight of God? This was central for the Reformers. Their answer, which they took from Scripture, was absolutely right: men and women are justified by faith alone. We also affirm the doctrine of justification by faith alone, not because the Reformers taught it, but because, as they rightly rediscovered, the Bible teaches it. God’s Word teaches faith alone in many different places, but I’ve selected Paul’s words in Romans 3:21-26 to draw it out for us this morning.
In Romans 6:1-4 Paul is not teaching about baptism per se. It certainly contains teaching about baptism, but that’s not the point. The point is the impossibility of those united to Christ to live in sin. Yet Paul drew from a shared understanding of baptism to make certain points about the Christian life. Consequently, this passage is a helpful and clarifying glimpse at biblical baptism. Our text teaches about baptism, and, from baptism rightly understood, it teaches about the Christian life. The point this morning is: those baptized in Christ will live differently from those who are not.