The Holy Spirit Does NOT Baptize Us Into Christ
In Romans 6, Paul describes being baptized into Christ, with no mention of the Holy Spirit in the chapter. Romans 6:7 gives as its answer to antinomianism not a new enablement by the Holy Spirit which allows us not to sin (so much) Romans 6:7 is about being justified from the power of guilt because of legal identity in Christ’s death is about the indicative of being united to Christ in His death.
All the New Testament texts teach that Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and none of the texts teach that the Spirit is the agent who places the elect into Christ. Should the texts be understood (even if they don’t say) that “John baptizes with water, but Jesus baptizes with both water and the Spirit, and (also) the Holy Spirit is the one who baptizes when Jesus baptizes? So when Jesus baptizes with the Spirit, it’s really the oppoiste of that, so that the Holy Spirit who baptizes with Christ?
I agree that it is not possible to receive Christ without receiving His Holy Spirit, but that in no way proves that the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ. We should not assume that the “reality” of regeneration by the Spirit has priority over God’s legal imputation with Christ’s death and justification. “We have have been baptized into Christ” is NOT about the water ritual. The baptism on view in I Peter 3 and Colossians 2 and Romans 6 Is NOT ‘an outward sign of an inward change…. Water does not fulfill the type of physical circumcision…
One, I am not giving “the baptist view” Most baptists I know are as likely to assume that “baptism” means also water as any paedobaptist. (See for example, though I like Robert Haldane’s commentary, his remarks on Romans 6.)
Two, I believe in Holy Spirit baptism, but Holy Spirit baptism does NOT mean that the Spirit “baptizes into” Christ, at least not so far as any Bible text teaches. I Cor 12:13 correctly translated reads –”in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” The text does not say “by the Spirit” or teach that the Holy Spirit is the baptizer. The I Cor 12:13 agrees with the other six Spirit baptism texts in teaching that Christ is the agent who gives the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not give Christ, and the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in Romans 6. Yes, even many baptists assume that the Holy Spirit is the agent in Romans 6, but they also wrongly agree with many paedobaptists who assume that any text with the word “baptism” must have reference to the work of the Spirit and read that idea into Romans 6 and Colossians 2 and I Peter 3.
Do you assume that there’s water somewhere (at least implied) in Romans 6 and in Colossians 2 and I peter 3? There is no text anywhere that talks about “baptism by the Spirit”, and these three specific texts a) don’t refer to water but instead to something that actually saves and b. don’t refer to the Spirit or to the new birth. All three texts are about legal identity with Christ’s death. They don’t use the word “imputation”, but their legal context has nothing about the Holy Spirit or regeneration (or water)
I never teach that Romans 6 or Colossians 2 or I Peter 3 are about the Holy Spirit,. I teach that the three texts are NOT about water. If not water, then what? Not water, but the Father’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect. I agree that other “baptism” texts ARE about water, and about some texts, I might still be agnostic. We could go from “John the Baptist with water, but Jesus with the Spirit to the Great Commission. But in the meanwhile, we need to stop assuming “water” or “water as a reference to the Spirit”. That paradigm does not fit all the biblical evidence.
Since I deny that the new birth comes before God’s imputation of Christ’s death and say that it’s Christ’s death imputed which results in having Christ and life, am I also begging the question about what “union” means? I hope not. Christ, who was far off, is brought near by the news of the gospel (Romans 10:8), and united to the elect when God credits them with His righteousness (which is the value and merit of Christ’s death) and effectually calls them . The elect don’t first get Christ and then get His righteousness . The elect cannot first “put on Christ”, and only after that get “baptized into His death” Being placed into Christ’s death is in order to being in Christ and then having Christ in us. Being baptized into Christ in Romans 6 (which is NOT regeneration by the Spirit, which is NOT baptism by the Spirit) is another way to talk about God’s imputation. And this means that Christ baptizing the elect with or into the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13) is not first, but the result of legal union with Christ.
Berkhof—-“It is sometimes said that the merits of Christ cannot be imputed to us as long as we are not in Christ, since it is only on the basis of our oneness with Him that such an imputation could be reasonable. But this view fails to distinguish between our legal unity with Christ and our spiritual oneness with Him, and is a falsification of the fundamental element in the doctrine of redemption, namely, of the doctrine of justification. Justification is always a declaration of God, not on the basis of an existing (or future) condition, but on that of a gracious imputation–a declaration which is not in harmony with the existing condition of the sinner. The judicial ground for all the grace which we receive lies in the fact that the righteousness of Christ is freely imputed to us.”
Cal Beisner— “First, the term baptism did not mean, primarily, a ritual application of water. Second, commentators argue in two ways that in Romans 6 baptism does not denote the rite: (a) consistent application of that sense in the immediate context (verses 1-10) would yield the conclusion (contrary to other passages of Scripture) that all, without exception, who undergo the rite are regenerate, converted, justified, sanctified, and finally glorified, and (b) Paul himself, who certainly views circumcision and baptism as type and antitype (Colossians 2:11-12), had already written in the same epistle that it was not the rite of circumcision but the spiritual reality designated by it….
p 324 http://www.ecalvinbeisner.com/freearticles/AATConclusion.pdf
Paul Helm—Is not the granting of Christ’s gifts also a work of Christ? Is this giving not something that Christ does? Giving us gifts is not atonement, Giving us gifts is the result of atonement. But in giving justification Christ is at work.
Bavinck: Christ took on himself the task of really and fully saving his people. Christ will not abdicate as mediator before Christ has presented his elect– without spot or wrinkle – to the Father. The application of salvation is not less an essential constituent of redemption than Christ’s acquisition of salvation‘Take away its application and redemption is not redemption’. Christ continues his prophetic, priestly and royal activity. The application of salvation is Christ work. By an irresistible grace Christ gives himself and his benefits to his own. (Reformed Dogmatics, 3-523)