IVB1: In Christ You Have a Circumcision Made Without Hands (Col. 2:11-12) - Page 2 (series: Lessons on Colossians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

(2.12) having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raise him from the dead.


“Having been buried with Him in baptism”; they were circumcised in Christ―not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. A new heart, a new spirit, a new life was theirs―a present possession in Christ. When a true believer undergoes true baptism and is immersed in water according to the New Testament formula, that person is thereby testifying to a previous death―such death having occurred when the person being baptized believed on the Lord Jesus Christ with the heart. It is at that moment that he dies with Christ to his past and rises in Him to newness of life. This, in fact, is what verse 12 says, stating briefly what is said at length in Romans 6:3-11. But baptism is no magical rite, valid in itself, for it depends upon the convert’s faith, as Paul now adds― “and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raise him from the dead.”

Here let us pause to make an important point. We think of baptism mostly as the symbol of washing. The New Testament also thinks of it as a dying and a rising. And that is natural. For New Testament baptism was founded on Christ’s own blood-baptism for us― remember His saying, “I have a baptism to be baptized with” (Luke 12:50)― and vividly spiritualized the spiritual truth which it conveyed. Recall what normally happened. As Christ had gone down into His baptism of death, so the communicant {1] in the moment of baptism was “buried,” as Christ had been in the grave. Then He “rose” into new life, as Christ had risen on the first Easter Day. Nor was all this simply bare symbolism. Through the Holy Spirit’s working, the convert really rose from his own bad past into a new life; and henceforth he was called to become what he now potentially was― a new man in Christ, united with his living Lord and incorporated into His Body, the Church. It is a familiar teaching of the New Testament that he who believes in Christ is said to die in Him, to be buried with Him, and to rise with Him (ver. 13; Romans 6:11; Ephesians 2:5{4]). A circumcised heart, a new nature, cannot be obtained by mere human effort, by stern resolutions, painful processes of self-mortification, or by the most advanced and rigorous mental culture. It is secured only by a complete vital union and incorporation with Christ, and a sympathetic participation with Him in all He has done and suffered.

The moment a person believes on Jesus and receives His finished work, that same moment that person dies to sin. Baptism denotes burial to the body of sin. When we accept the finished work of Jesus Christ for remission of sin, we accept His death, burial and resurrection. There is no instrument used in the circumcision referred to by Paul “not with hands” and in like manner, when he refers to baptism as a burial there is no burial garment or coffin used when the burial takes place. True baptism takes place the moment one believes: “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body―whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free―and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Cor. 12:13). Water baptism is a visible demonstration of an invisible miracle within.

“Having been . . . raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”

Paul here is referring to the ordinance of baptism and the deep spiritual meaning it holds for the true believer. The act of baptism by putting one under the water certainly does not produce the death or the burial; nor does the raising out of the water produce resurrection to newness of life. The death, burial and resurrection are spiritual truths portrayed by baptism; but true death, true burial and true resurrection are experienced in the heart.

“Having been . . . raised with him through your faith in the power of God.” Paul here has reference to the ordinance of baptism and the deep spiritual meaning it holds for the true believer. The act of baptism by putting one under the water certainly does not produce the death or the burial; nor does the raising out of the water produce resurrection to newness of life. Water in baptism has nothing whatsoever to do with resurrection. The death, burial and resurrection are spiritual truths portrayed by baptism; but true death, true burial and true resurrection are experienced in the heart. It is possible to die with Christ and to rise with Him without being baptized with water; but it is impossible to do either without the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Spiritual baptism is the grave of the old man and the birth of the new. As he sinks beneath the baptismal waters, the believer buries there all his corrupt affections and past sins; then as he emerges, he rises regenerate, quickened to new hopes and a new life.

“Having been . . . raised with him through your faith in the power of God” is a very important statement. It means that it is not the water in the baptistery or the river which achieves this spiritual resurrection; it is faith―faith in the divine program power of God which was settled before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:18-23). Faith in the completed work of Jesus is the vehicle (or the wherewithal) through which the divine resurrection takes place. Faith is not a natural production of the human heart. It is a divine gift, and is bestowed on man by a divine operation of God’s power. Man can believe because God has given him the power to believe. No unbeliever can receive the baptism that brings about the spiritual resurrection. The faith specially referred to is to be fixed on the power of God as exerted and displayed in the resurrection of Christ from the tomb. The same power is employed in that mysterious baptismal process by which the soul throws off the mass of moral vileness and rises into newness of life. Faith opens every gateway of the soul so that it gratefully welcomes and revels in the transforming operations of the divine energy.

The greatest bombshell ever to explode in the face of the world was the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ―the one thing that was utterly impossible for the enemies of Jesus to explain away. The resurrection of Jesus proves beyond the shadow of a doubt God’s acceptance of His atonement. God the Father raised His Son from the dead “and gave Him glory; that our faith and hope might be in God” (1 Peter 1:21). The resurrection of Jesus Christ opened the door of salvation to “whosoever will,” for Jesus satisfied every demand of God’s Law and thus the majesty of the Law was vindicated.


Scripture and Special Notes
[1} Communicant― a church member entitled to receive Communion.
[4} “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.” (Eph. 2:5)

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