I’m certain there must be more people who’ve had the same experiences, but I have the distinction of having been baptized twice, once as an infant and once as an adult. The infant baptism was a sprinkling; the adult baptism was a full immersion is the tank behind the pulpit platform. So whatever way is the “correct” way, I think I’m covered – infant, adult, sprinkled, dunked. (My wife was baptized in a river when she was a child, and still recalls the snake that swam nearby.)
In the NIV, “May it never be!” was translated into the more prosaic and understandable “By no means.” The NASB must have left an impression because I still find myself thinking “By no means” sounds, well, boring when compared to “May it never be!”
The verse that is at the heart of Chapter 4 of The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges, which Tim Challies has been the discussion for the past several weeks, includes this phrase: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2).
The apostle Paul was refuting the notion that the gospel promotes irresponsible and sinful behavior – the more the sin, the more the grace, so keep on keeping on and watch grace grow!
Well, not exactly. Paul says we have died to sin, and Bridges makes three point about that death: the death occurred in the past; this death occurred even if the believer isn’t aware of it; and we’re dead to sin through our union with Christ.
One major thought struck me as I read Bridges explain what “union” meant – both a representative or federal and a vital or spiritual union. I had heard this explanation before. I had heard pastors expound on it and Sunday School teachers explain it. I had read about it.
But that was decades ago. I had not heard it since. It’s not exactly a popular topic. The concepts, though, are critically important, because they explain why Adam’s sin was everyone’s sin and why Christ’s atonement was atonement for all. As Bridges writes, “Adam was our federal representative in his sin; Jesus Christ was our federal representative in his earthly life and atoning death.”
But have we stopped teaching this critical Christian truth?
May it never be!