Galatians 3:26-29 ESV
“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
What is faith? Where does it come from? Well, it comes from God. We can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to Christ, unless he persuades us to believe in Jesus via dying with him to sin and being raised with him to walk in newness of life in him in holiness and righteousness and according to the Spirit of God.
The faith to believe in Jesus, which is required for our salvation from sin, is gifted to us by God. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. And we can only obtain such a faith as that of the apostles by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. In other words, this faith is not of ourselves, but it is of God, and thus it will submit to God’s will and purpose. Those with such faith will die with Christ to sin, be born anew of the Spirit of God, and they will follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands.
So, what is this faith? It is belief in Jesus Christ in all that he is and does and will do, and it is obedience to his commands, and it involves the forsaking of our sins, not just once, but daily dying to sin and to self and following our Lord wherever he leads us. It is daily walking in the light as Jesus is in the light, and it is no longer living under the control of sin, but now as slaves of God and of his righteousness. And it is submission to Christ as Lord.
[Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Jn 2:3-6]
Baptized into Christ
So, what does it mean to be baptized into Christ in this context?
“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” Rom 6:3-7 NIV
To be baptized into Christ is what happens to us when we believe in Jesus with God-given faith in Christ. We die with Christ to sin and we are raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him. This is what our water baptism symbolizes, which is why full immersion is usually the recommended form of water baptism. But modes of baptism do not secure for us salvation or keep us from being saved from our sins, for they are external, not internal.
What matters for eternity is that we have died with Christ in death to sin and we have been born again of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ and that we are now walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, and that we are walking in obedience to our Lord’s commands. And it is critical that we continue to die daily to sin and live for our Lord in faithfulness and in perseverance until the very end.
[Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 6:9-10; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:1-17; Jn 15:1-11; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rev. 2-3; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27]
All One in Christ
Under the Old Covenant that God had with his people Israel, there was a separation between Jew and Gentile (all non-Jews). But when Jesus Christ gave his life up for us on that cross, to die for our sins, he destroyed the barrier that stood between these two groups and he made us both one in Christ by faith in Christ. So, we are no longer divided as Jew and Gentile, but now the division is Christ-follower or non-Christ-follower.
For, if we belong to Christ, then we are Abraham’s seed, and we are heirs according to the promise, whether we are Jew or Gentile by birth, as long as we have genuine God-given faith in Jesus Christ that we are putting into practice in our daily lives. For, not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel. For it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise who are those who belong to Christ.
For, Jesus Christ is the promised seed of Abraham through whom all nations are being blessed. So, only those who believe in Jesus Christ with genuine faith are the children of Abraham and heirs of the promise. For, whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ, the promised seed of Abraham, the Messiah, is antichrist, denying the Father and the Son. So, whoever does not believe in Jesus also does not believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
What that means for the Jewish nation (the physical nation of Israel) is that, as a nation, they are no longer God’s chosen people for they are of Hagar, the slave woman, for they are still in slavery with her children. So, the physical city of Jerusalem is also no longer the holy city of God. She is no different from her Arab neighbors. But we who believe in Jesus are of Sarah, the free woman, and we are the children of promise.
Only those with genuine faith in Jesus Christ are children of God and heirs of the promise. And we are now God’s chosen people, and we are his temple, and he dwells within us who believe in Jesus. We are God’s people, his spiritual nation. We are his holy city, his holy people. And we exist all over the world, not just in one physical place. We are of the Jerusalem that is from above and that is free, who is not still in slavery.
[Gal 3:16, 26-29; Rom 9:4-8; Gal 4:22-31; Eph 2:14-18; 1 Jn 2:22]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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