Col. 2:12. “Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead.”
Just as circumcision was symbolic of the covenant relationship between God and the Hebrew nation, so baptism is symbolic of the relationship between God and all who have accepted the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as God’s plan for salvation. Paul wrote essentially the same words in Romans 6:4. Circumcision had become a point of debate between judaizers and and Gentile believers. Paul mentioned it frequently in his epistles because it was a matter of contention, separating Jewish and non-Jewish believers and occupying way too much time in debate and discussion.
I’m a student and teacher of history. As such, I can tell you that Satan uses all sorts of similar arguments to divide believers, and has done so down through the centuries. His plan is simple, really. If he can get believers arguing and debating among themselves over such issues, then he keeps us from what we’re really supposed to be doing. We’re supposed to be “walking in the newness of life,” showing our faith in our behavior, sharing the gospel and being examples of Christ wherever we go.
Some issues have existed for centuries and have still not been resolved. We’ve wasted a lot of time and energy trying to convince each other that the position we have taken is THE position. I remember hearing about all-night-long debates in the men’s dormitories at my Bible college. The debates were about such things as Calvinism v. Armenianism, a divisive issue that has never been resolved. Today, we fight about versions and translations. We fight about styles of music. We fight about how a person should/should not dress for church. It’s an endless list of things about which we bicker. Churches have divided and divided again over such things.
I have opinions about all of it, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me 🙂 However, I think I’m learning, in my advancing years, that none of it is the hill I want to die on. What would I be willing to fight and even die for?
*Jesus Christ is the Son of God, wholly God and wholly Man.
*Salvation by grace through faith.
*Baptism, voluntary and by immersion, as a sign of obedience to and relationship with God.
*The absolute authority and inspiration of the Word of God.
There are probably other things, but those four are at the top of the list.
It is interesting to me that in Romans 1, in a list of behaviors that indicate a spirit of rebellion against God, the word debate appears in the KJV in verse 29. It is translated as contention or discord, and Paul uses the same word in several other passages :
Yet, in spite of the clear admonition against contention and discord, we always seem to be able to find that over which we don’t agree, and to make it a primary feature of division among believers.
Too bad we don’t spend the same amount of time discussing the things about which we DO agree!