Tuesday, January 27, 2015

John Owen - Baptism = Burial With Christ ≠ Immersion

The apostle, Rom. 6:3-5 is dehorting from sin, exhorting to holiness and new obedience, and gives this argument from the necessity of it, and our ability for it, both taken from our initiation into the virtue of the death and life of Christ expressed in our baptism; that by virtue of the death and burial of Christ, we should be dead unto sin, sin being slain thereby; and by virtue of the resurrection of Christ, we should be quickened unto newness of life; as Peter declares, 1 Pet. iii. 21. Our being buried with him, and our being planted together into the likeness of his death, and likeness of his resurrection, is the same with 'our old man being crucified with him,' (ver. 6) and the destroying of the body of sin, and our being raised from the dead with him, which is all that is intended in the place.

There is not one word, nor one expression, that mentions any resemblance between dipping under water, and the death and burial of Christ, nor one word that mentions a resemblance between our rising out of the water, and the resurrection of Christ. Our being 'buried with him by baptism into death,' (ver. 4) is our being 'planted together in the likeness of his death,' ver. 5.  Our being planted together in the likeness of his death, is not our being dipped under water, but ‘the crucifying of the old man,' ver. 6. Our being raised up with Christ from the dead, is not our rising from under the water, but our ‘walking in newness of life,' (ver. 4) by virtue of the resurrection of Christ; 1 Pet. iii. 21.

That baptism is not a sign of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, is clear from hence; because an instituted sign is a sign of gospel grace participated, or to be participated. If dipping be a sign of the burial of Christ, it is not a sign of a gospel grace participated; for it may be where there is none, nor any exhibited.

For the major: if all gospel ordinances are signs and expressions of the communication of the grace of Christ, then baptism is so: but this is the end of all gospel ordinances, or else they have some other end; or are vain and empty shows.

The same individual sign cannot be instituted to signify things of several natures. But the outward burial of Christ, and a participation of the virtue of Christ's death and burial, are things of a diverse nature, and therefore are not signified by one sign.

That interpretation which would enervate the apostle's argument and design, our comfort and duty, is not to be admitted. But this interpretation that baptism is mentioned here as the sign of Christ's burial, would enervate the apostle's argument and design, our comfort and duty. And therefore it is not to be admitted.


The minor is thus proved: the argument and design of the apostle, as was before declared, is to exhort and encourage unto mortification of sin and new obedience, by virtue of power received from the death and life of Christ, whereof a pledge is given us in our baptism. But this is taken away by this interpretation: for we may be so buried with Christ and planted into the death of Christ by dipping, and yet have no power derived from Christ for the crucifying of sin, and for the quickening of us to obedience.

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