by Thomas Bass | Les Feldick
Let’s get back into Romans Chapter 5, verses 20, and 21. As I teach the Old Testament, especially Genesis and the Book of Revelation, there is no problem keeping people’s interest. But when you start teaching in a book like Romans, people are not as excited. They should be because this is where we are. But I will say that the response from our television audience has been almost as good as it was when we were teaching the exciting Book of Revelation. My, I had a call from the state of Indiana the other day, and this fellow couldn’t say enough for what Romans was doing for him.
“Moreover the law entered, that the offence (the fall, the sin)might abound (sounds like the Law caused sin to abound doesn’t it? It wasn’t that the Law caused people to sin more, but the Law caused people to realize how sinful they were. We’re not sinners because we break the Law, but rather we break the Law because we’re sinners. Our whole sin problem began with Adam, we have inherited it; so the very nature of mankind is to be sinful. When the Law came in all it could do was show man how sinful he really was. That is what Paul is trying to drive home in these chapters). But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:”
I like to call this three letter word `sin’ singular, the old Adam, or the old sin nature. Never lose sight of that, and you won’t do any violence to Scripture if you use it synonymous as such.
“…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:”
Go back into human history, or even in our own present day. When you read of the horrendous atrocities that armed forces can commit against their enemy. How can they do that? Take the country of Yugoslavia. How can these young men from one area of the world that are fighting against their enemies lose all sense of morality. They think any female is free game for their animal appetite, and nobody seems to try to take that appetite away from them; they appear to have full liberty. In fact I read the statement of one general of a bygone time. He said, “Well that’s just one of the privileges of being a foot soldier.” Where do they get such thinking? Why do these young men suddenly lose everything that they must have learned at their momma’s knee? It’s that old sin nature, and everyone of us, as we saw back in Romans Chapters 1 and 2, are capable of those same things. I tried to explain in Chapter 3, when the old sin nature is exposed for what it really is, and God says, “we are all sinners,” then we must stop and realize that under like circumstances we would probably be prone to do the same thing.
During my own service days, back in basic training (I was older than most of the kids that were coming in), these seventeen year-olds, especially, would be doing things I just knew they didn’t do back home. I would ask them about it once in a while. “Did you do this at home?” They would answer, “Oh no!” “Well, why do you do it here?” I asked. They replied, “Because nobody knows me here.” Isn’t that the perfect answer? Even the unbeliever can be inhibited by virtue of his surroundings, his circumstances, his parental influence, and the influence of community. But you put them in a totally strange environment, away from home, and the old Adam has free course. See, this is just what happens then when soldiers of an invading army can just pillage a community and rape the women, and seemly it doesn’t bother them. That’s the old Adam. And every one of us before we were saved would have been capable of those same things, because that’s where the human race is coming from. So this is what Paul is trying to show, that the old Adam abounds with sin,but where sin abounds the Grace of God is always greater.
“That as sin (the old Adam)hath reigned (like a king)unto death, even so might grace reign…”
Like a king. We have these two alternatives. We can either let old Adam rule supreme, or we can let the Grace of God come in and overwhelm old Adam. God’s grace rules supreme, and that’s where the matter of choice comes in. God will not force anybody, so we should never try to force these things down anyone’s throat. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. As The Lord creates interest in them, and they begin to ask questions, we should be ready with all the Scriptures at our command, and then be able to bring them to a knowledge of what The Book is trying to say.
“That as sin (old Adam) hath reigned unto death (misery. Look at the world’s misery caused by Old Adam), even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I maintain that this is a narrow Book, and Christianity is a narrow concept. Christianity doesn’t reach out and say, “If you’re a Muslim, or any other religion you can still profess Christianity.” That doesn’t work, because the Scripture says, “There is no other name given under Heaven among men whereby we must be saved.” That makes it very narrow doesn’t it? Yet it’s absolute. You know I’ve been stressing the absoluteness of The Word of God, and I always like to stress that this Book stands head and shoulders above any other religious book in this world, because it’s the only Book on earth that tells the future, hundreds and thousands of years in advance. It has been fulfilled so far, and the rest will be. There is not another book on earth that can do that. The Bible is absolute, and we can trust it. Grace abounds more even where sin abounds.
“WHAT shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin (shall we continue to let old Adam have his way and reign as king?), that grace may abound? God forbid….”
Don’t even think such a thought. Now if I understand Greek correctly the term `God’ isn’t even in verse 2. It’s rather “banish the thought.”Just because God’s Grace is so overwhelming that we are now free to do as we please, let old Adam control us, and God will somehow take care of it. If you explain to some curiosity seeker that the Grace of God is greater than all our sins, that we’re not under any demands of the Law, but rather we’re living under Grace, they will shake their heads, and say, “Well you’re telling me that you can do whatever you want to do, and God’s Grace will take care of it?” No, I’ve never taught that. In fact I’ve told my classes now for over 25 years that “Grace is not license.” Grace is not license; it doesn’t give us the freedom to do as we please; it just simply changes our appetites, and our motives. But beginning here in Romans 3:7 Paul was up against the same thing.
“For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) [We are being falsely accused of this very thing that when we proclaim the Grace of God as being so great, and so free, then they accuse us of saying, “Well you can just do as you please because the Grace of God will take care of it.” But look at Paul’s answer]Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just. What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin (and under His Grace);” Now Chapter 6 again. Paul says:
“…Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid (and here is the reason), How shall we, that are dead to sin (old Adam), live any longer therein?” When did our old Adam die? The moment we believed the Gospel. God reckoned him dead, crucified. See that’s what Paul meant in Galatians Chapter 2.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Now the whole work of the Gospel in the hearts of men is that we can put old Adam on the Cross, reckon him as dead, no longer ruling as a king; he is kaput, and now we have Christ living and reigning in His Grace. Now verse 3: Here is where I’ll probably run into a buzz saw of controversy, but I’m going to teach it as I feel The Lord has led me to, although it’s completely opposite of what I used to practice years and years ago. I used this verse just as much as anybody to convince people of water baptism, but I suddenly saw that this goes way beyond water baptism. And all I ask people to do is not take my word for it, but open their eyes, and take off the blinders of tradition, and look at what The Book says.
“Know ye not, that so many of us were baptized into (not the Church, not a denomination, but rather baptized into)Jesus Christ (water can’t do that, water can’t put anybody into the Body of Christ, and I can prove that from Scripture. This has to be the work of the Spirit of God. It will break down if you try to make this teach water baptism)were baptized into his death?”
Let’s look at some references. Turn with me first to I Corinthians Chapter 12, and look what The Book says (regardless of what I say). Here is Paul’s use of the word which is strictly Pauline. Now when I use the word `Pauline’ I hope everybody understands I mean that which came from the pen of the Apostle Paul. This is a Pauline term, “The Body of Christ.” In Ephesians 1, he makes it so plain as he uses the, “Body of Christ, and the Church which is His Body.” It’s the same concept here in I Corinthians Chapter 12, except in verse 12 he’s using the human body as an example.
I Corinthians 12:12
“For as the body (this human body) is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are (still)one body (now he’s talking about this body – we have eyes, fingers, toes, hands, legs, the whole body, and all of its members are still singular in its purpose. They are singular in their nerve endings. If you strike your thumb with a hammer, the whole body will hurt, not just the thumb, because it all goes to that central nervous system. Paul is using that as an example. And look what he says at the end of the verse): so also is Christ.
He is the Head of the Body which is composed of many members. Now I know there are some that just ridicule this idea of the so-called Body of Christ as being an invisible entity, but the Scriptures don’t. The Scripture teaches it, especially in Paul’s writings, that we now become members of the Body of Christ of which He is the Head in Heaven, and we’re the Body still here on the earth. How did we become then a member of the Body of Christ? How did we get into that organism? Well we didn’t sign up for it, some preacher didn’t baptize you into it. But first you had to believe the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4), and the Holy Spirit automatically and immediately the moment we believe did what’s in verse 13:
I Corinthians 12:13
“For by one Spirit (see how clear that is? And it’s capitalized so it’s the Holy Spirit)are we (what’s the next word?)all baptized into one body,…” That doesn’t mean everybody is going to be saved. Paul only writes to believers, so when he says all, he’s not including the lost, but rather every believer.
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into (not a local Church or denomination, but into)one body,…”
Now that’s an act of God, that’s something that we can’t put our hands on. That’s in the area of the invisible again. When we started our study in Romans, I put all the things on the blackboard that God did the moment we believed. And I said that everyone of them are such that you can’t put your fingers on them. You can’t see them, or touch them, but we know they happened. How? By faith. Because The Book says so that this is what God did, and we believe it. I can’t look back and say I could feel when the Holy Spirit put me into the Body, or that others saw it happen. No, I can’t say that, and neither can you. But we know it happened because The Book says it did. The moment that every child of God believes, the Holy Spirit baptizes them into the Body of Christ.
Now the word `baptized’ in the Greek, even in classic Greek such as Homer would use, the word “Baptizo” many times would refer to a ship being sunk at sea. So what did the word really imply? Well, I always like to use the phrase “totally engulfed,” When something was baptizoed, when something was baptized it was totally engulfed. That didn’t always mean by water, and in the spiritual realm it could mean a lot of things. In other words, Israel, coming out of Egypt was spoken of as being baptized unto Moses. What does that mean? The Nation of Israel was totally engulfed in Moses’ leadership. And when we speak of something being baptized it’s again meaning that it’s totally engulfed by it. For example:
I Corinthians 12:13a
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,…” We were totally engulfed, we weren’t just set up on the edge someplace, but rather we were engulfed in all this. Let’s finish this verse and then let’s turn to the Book of Colossians for a moment.
I Corinthians 12:13
“For by one Spirit are we all (every believer, not just the most spiritual) baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” Now let’s turn to Colossians Chapter 3, and see where that puts us. Here’s where this baptism puts us as we’re in the Body, and here is our position tonight as believers.
“For ye are dead (old Adam), and your life (that which took the place of Old Adam, that new creation)is hid with Christ (where) in God.”
See how plain that is? So the moment we believed, we were placed into the Body of Christ, and that Body of Christ is hid in God. And that gives me another loaded shell for my security of a person that is genuinely saved. There is no one that can get at us there. Now let’s back up in Colossians in Chapter 1. All of these things took place by virtue of the Holy Spirit baptizing us, engulfing us again in the Body of Christ, into the very core of God’s being, even while He is still in Heaven, and we’re still on the earth, yet our position is there. Here Paul has been praying on behalf of the Colossi believers. And he comes down to the end of his prayer in verse 12.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet (or prepared us)to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who (speaking of God the Father)hath (past tense)delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into (See that position? Just like being baptized, engulfed by) the kingdom of his dear Son:”