“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). The Greek word here translated “put on,” expresses the thought of putting on clothes: “to be clothed in: have on to wear.” It well expresses the thought of baptism, as expressed elsewhere: of being buried, lost sight of: baptism being a burial in the water, so that the person baptized is overwhelmed, lost sight of, and shut away from the sight of the world.
Baptism in water is but the form in which is expressed the fact that the individual is buried, overwhelmed, clothed, and lost sight of, in Christ; so that instead of the old man being seen in the world and by the world, it is only Christ that is seen in the baptized individual.
The thought of this verse is expressed in another place: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Col. 2:6). As you have put on Christ, and so are clothed in Christ, so wear him as your clothing, that you yourself may be hidden, and only Christ appear.
This is the truth expressed in baptism. Oh, that this truth were indeed always expressed in baptism. How many realize that baptism in the water is not itself the true baptism; but is only the outward expression of that which is the true baptism? For though a person be baptized, buried, overwhelmed, and lost sight of in the water—if that be all, then it is but nothing. Baptism consists not in the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God. (1 Peter 3:21). And a good conscience is found only in “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God” (Heb. 9:14). When each soul, to be baptized in the water has already been, by faith, overwhelmed, clothed, and lost sight of, in Christ, and the baptism in the water is the expression of his faith which has clothed him indeed in Christ, then baptism will not only bear to Christians its true meaning, but will also bear to the world its true meaning.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Among those who are Christians, there are no racial, tribal, national, or any other distinctions, for all are one in Christ Jesus. And, whoever among those professing to be Christians, there are seen any distinctions of any kind, by that very fact it is therein declared that among them Christ is not truly apprehended. Accordingly, the Revised Version brings out this very thought, that among those who have been baptized into Christ, and so have put on Christ, “there can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female,” for all are one, and that one is only Christ.
The thought is that, when the man has died, and has been buried—baptized—intoChrist: overwhelmed, lost sight of, in Christ, he is forever taken away from himself, and is not himself any more. If he was an American before, he is not an American now: he is a Christian. If he was a Scythian before, he is not a Scythian now: he is a Christian. If he was an African before, he is not an African now: he is a Christian. If he was a slave before, he is not a slave now: he is a Christian. So that among those who are truly Christ’s, who have put on Christ, and who are wearing Christ, all manner of racial, tribal, national, or whatsoever distinction, is utterly gone. There is no respect of persons with God, nor with those who are the children of God: it is only character that counts and that the character of Christ—the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.
And thus, “if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed; and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). The promise is only to Abraham, and to his seed, which is Christ. Accordingly, that promise and inheritance, could not possibly fall to any person but to Christ. For, “he saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” Then, whosoever shall not be found with Christ, so that Christ is the individual who is seen, can never be heir to the inheritance nor receive the promise. And wherever among professed Christians there are divisions or dissensions, the promise of the inheritance is forfeited. Because the promise is not unto “seeds, as of many, but as of one. And to thy seed, which is Christ:” and Christ is not divided. He is one, and only those who are one IN HIM, can possible receive the inheritance.
[Advent Review and Sabbath Herald | May 1, 1900]