Larry Kirkpatrick

A Positive Place on the Web for the Third Angel's Message

Access to Kingdom Power

Have you given thought to the insight in this famous verse on baptism?

We were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6.4)

You and I live in a a very individualistic society. There are many reasons for this. One is that we are in the endgame of a long plan to destroy the main institutions that have held our civilization together. There is a thought-through effort to dissolve the values and institutions that hold things together. Church, family, marriage—are replaced by entertainment, self-indulgence, and clever marketing. We have degenerated into an individualized consumer culture.

But when it comes to baptism Paul states of the baptized that, “we were buried with Him,” that is, with Jesus. Were you baptized with Jesus? The pastor was in the tank with you, but through the act of baptism, the baptized person is buried with Him—with Jesus.

Maybe you’ve seen a movie or a television program where two people were buried together in a mine shaft cave-in, and as the hours wore away and they thought they would die, and they formed an intense connection with each other because they anticipated dying together.

How much closer is the bond of togetherness when two people actually do die together. In Baptism we actually die together with Jesus. We are buried together with Him. He died my death on the cross for me, in my place but when I accept Him, I die with Him at the cross. I do not atone, my death to self does not earn me salvation. But I have joined Jesus in what you might call an extreme partnership. Is anything more extreme than being buried together? There is a lot of trust going on when we voluntarily are buried with someone. But if there is a place where we join together in divine push-back against hyper-individualism, it begins when we join Jesus in being buried.

How Buried with Him?

How are we buried together with Him? “Through baptism.” Baptism is entry into the grave and entry into new life through resurrection. The act is symbolic, not effective. We don’t have magic dust we mix into the water; the water is just tap water. But here is the different piece; baptism is an intentional act in which the church affirms Jesus’ death and resurrection and in which the church affirms the believer’s’ death and resurrection. It is God’s commanded act of passage. What is the passage? One is dipped completely under the water signifying dying. We don’t wrestle the person into the water; we don’t force the person under the water. The person comes voluntarily. She is saying yes to Jesus. The command to baptize came from Jesus. A person who is being baptized is following the command of Jesus.

Then what are we baptized into? “Into death.” Jesus died, the just for the unjust.

Let me give you a hint. We are the unjust.

The wages of sin is death. Jesus was baptized into death. Not a death He deserved, but that we deserved. He took our place. He, the King, to the place of His subject. He, the elder brother took the place of the younger brother and sister. He, the Creator took the place of the Created. He, the pure took place of the impure. He, the Savior took the place of the lost.

Jesus tasted death for every person. He experienced the experience you and I set ourselves up for by choosing rebellion, and you and I experience the experience He set Himself up for by living without sinning. He gets all our debits and we get all His assets. That means He tasted the punishment death due to me for sinning while I taste His purity and righteousness and peace of mind and Holy Spirit indwelling. In other words, we get all the good that accrues to us because Jesus is good, while Jesus gets all the bad that accrues to us because we have been bad.

And yet, Jesus voluntarily did this. He looks at every soul, our soul too, as one He wants to redeem, and He is willing to suffer to the farthest degree of suffering in order to save you. So we are baptized into His death.

How Raised from the Dead?

“Just as Christ was raised from the dead.” There is nothing different in the way the believer is raised up and the way Christ was raised up—nothing at all. Just as or in the same way as Jesus was raised from the dead, by supernatural power, you and I who are baptized, are raised up. A converted person is not am improved person, he is a transformed person, he is a person in whom God’s supernatural power is working. We can’t obey the law. That is, not in our own strength. Our natures are fallen. We have inherited corrupted natures. On top of that we have built corrupted habits, developed corrupted desires. This is utterly beyond any self-made, human-powered fix.

But Jesus was raised by divine power and we are transformed by divine power. Our old habits are not usually whisked away supernaturally, but a new power is available to us, a power outside of and beyond ourselves. Anyone who claims to be a Christian is claiming that supernatural power is working within. That is a strong claim. Strong claims need to be supported by strong evidence. So God has set Himself the task of generating, empowering, a group of people who volunteer to be demonstrators of His power. He called the press conference and the whole universe is watching.

You might say, no, you didn’t sign up for that. But you did. God who made the heavens and the earth, the sea, Lake Michigan, and all that is in them, gave His Son Jesus for you. He is not content to leave you in a wrecked state. When the prodigal son returned home to his father, the father brought out his best and clothed his son in it, and when you and I said yes to God, our heavenly Father brought out the best and clothed us in it. Some of us have memory problems and we have gone back and are putting on our old feed-the-pigs clothes. God has something better, way better. He calls us up higher, way higher.

How was Christ raised from the dead? “By the glory of the Father.” How great do you think the glory of the Father is? It must be very great. When Moses asked God, show me your glory, God responded by telling him He would cause all His goodness to pass before him. And then He passed by Moses and proclaimed His name. And what was His name? Exodus 34:6-7:

The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and fourth generation.

God’s glory is expressed in His character. His character is what love is. God is love. If character for humans is made up of the thoughts and the feelings combined, then why would not God’s character be made up of the same stuff, of God’s thoughts and feelings combined? And Exodus 34 puts that all together. He is merciful and gracious and all these things, but He also chooses not to remove all the consequences of sinning. A man may quit smoking, and be entirely forgiven for the practice which has taken health from his body, but God might not eliminate the consequences of those destructive choices. If he has given his heart to Jesus he will be in the resurrection of the just, but his body may molder in the grave before that glorious day.

God is merciful but cannot look upon sin, so that even Jesus, when He took upon Himself our sins, must suffer the wrath of purity against evil. And yet all that glory in His mercy, grace, patience, and so on—all that glory which we express in those words God expresses in His creative power also. His word does not return to Him empty. It accomplishes that which He send His it forth to accomplish. There is a harvest that goes with the word of God. God has thoughts and feelings about you. The Bible tells us His desire is to give us a future and a hope. He wants you to succeed. So He gladly forgives you, He gladly gives you His peace, He gladly gives you courage and hope, and He gladly gives you access to His power.

Even So We Also

Paul writes,

We were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6.4)

This brings us to “even so we also.” Again and again, we see this partnership between Jesus and the believer. What applies to Jesus applies to us. He is buried, we are buried; He is baptized, we are baptized; He is raised from the dead, we are raised from the dead; He walks in newness of life, we walk in newness of life.

Hebrew thought has some very literal pieces. Many times the Bible speaks of the believer “walking.” Walking is active, it is movement, it is action, it is going from one situation to another situation. The believer walks. He doesn’t levitate or slide or glide or float or dematerialize and rematerialize; he walks. He ambulates. He actively moves his body from one location to another without an external motor. He has a cooperative part in what is happening. His ability to walk is entirely God-given. But he walks. God doesn’t walk, he, Mr. believer, walks for himself.

Somehow we think that we can have spiritual results without spiritual action. We cannot. Our prayer muscles, our faith muscles, must be used, we must ask so that we can give. Otherwise our experience shrivels. Friend in Jesus, activity is the price of living. Locking down in place, hiding in place, waiting for some emergency to pass us by isn’t something that is going to grow us ever. We need to understand God’s instruction and then execute God’s instruction. We need to walk the talk.

Then Paul characterizes what this experience is by calling it a walk “in newness of life.” The old person has died to self and is living under a different power, an external power. We still have access to the old power, our own self-propelled power. But we need the external power, the kingdom power. The Bible speaks of this power in many places and in many ways but one I have found the most helpful is the promises at 2 Peter 1:3-4:

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

All things that pertain to life and godliness is a pretty good toolbox to have on hand wouldn’t you say? Nothing that we need is missing, it is all there. All things. And we can name several pieces without the slightest difficulty, right? How many different approaches to prayer? Engaging in Bible reading, memorizing Bible promises, meeting together with like-minded Jesus-seekers, acting on the health message, daily devotional time, singing hymns, listening to preaching, reading a book by Ellen White—all these may come quickly to mind. God has made it possible for you to know these things, understand them, act on them.

It is His divine power that has given you all these things. All these practices help increase our knowledge of our Father who called us by glory and virtue. There is that glory business again. And virtue, which is doing good whether for yourself or for others, is that reflex fact of the universe that our unselfish acts return to us in blessing without our seeking it.

Then Peter highlights the simplicity of God’s promises. There are conditions all over the place but why wouldn’t there be? We should look for these promises and pay special attention to the conditions that go with each promise. But everything is provided we need to actively engage in newness of life.

And yet there is no cancellation of all the old temptations. Earth is still an island filled with traps and temptations; earth is still booby-trapped. There are innumerable places where we should not walk or step, places where some delicious-tasting convenience or habit-forming practice awaits us and sirenly calls us to partake just like we used to before we were baptized. The baptized person does not become superman. He is as needy as before. But He is connected in covenant with the God who wants to transform him.


God longs for us to be His partner and friend. He wants us to do everything with Jesus. Just as Jesus said that what He saw the Father do that was what He did, the Bible reminds you, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” You can make it. You, who are living in the most booby-trapped culture there ever was, with temptations almost literally floating in front of your face, you who are the most pavlovianly-trained subject of psycho-experimentation and multi-billion dollar marketing onslaught, you can do all things including overcoming all those tricks through Christ who strengthens you.

But you have to walk. You have to actively engage in Christianity. And Jesus will help you. Of course all the devils are after you to destroy you. But all the devils are nothing, nothing, nothing in comparison to one single human person who partners with their friend Jesus.

So now read the verse one more time and be encouraged. God is for you!

We were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6.4)

Be in partnership and friendship with Jesus, expect incoming, and cooperate with His helps for you. Likely you will make mistakes but get back up each time and go again. He is making you into more than a conqueror. The best spiritual times of your life are right in front of you if you’ll have them.


Muskegon MI SDA church 2021-10-06