As I begin reading Chapter 3, I must first go back and read again Paul’s final words in chapter 2, which read, to today’s church:
A man is not a Christian if he is only one outwardly, nor is baptism merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Christian if he is one inwardly, and baptism is a baptism of the heart, by the Spirit, not the written code.
“So many people in the 21st Century call themselves Christian, yet their heart has not been overtaken by Christ. Circumcision was a radical sign of being a Jew, and the change in our life should be a radical sign of being a follower of Christ, otherwise our baptism just gets us all wet!”
So very little has changed in 2,000 years. I remember when I, like those Paul was writing to believed my conversion prayer, baptism and family heritage was all I needed to be a follower of Christ. Then I gradually learned that a true Christian understands fully these words from Romans: “No one is righteous, no one truly seeks God.”
I can never be right in God’s eyes by following the rules. There is no difference between me and the world’s worst sinners (that’s what a Gentile was as far as a Jew was concerned.)
It is that realization (One I discovered while pondering Luke 7:47) that brought me to the true baptism of the heart. As long as there was a part of me I felt was “good enough,” it was impossible for me to be truly “baptized.”
The word baptized implies immersion, complete coverage. Like circumcision was a radical cutting of the body and could never be undone, baptism symbolizes that same kind of decision. It is our physical sign that we’ve made a radical change in our faith.
I can never be good enough, but Jesus is good enough. I will never be justified by my own means, but Jesus’ blood made that atonement for me. I will not boast in my goodness, but I will shout that I believe in Christ’s gift to me on the Cross.