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"Incorporating us into the fellowship of his death and resurrection"

From The Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary, by Bastiaan Wielenga, pages 97-99.

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In the same way that resurrection followed Christ’s death, incorporating us into the fellowship of Christ’s resurrection follows also. “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Rom. 6:5; emphasis added). They relate to each other as cause and effect. Indeed, resurrection arouses a shout of jubilation in the bosom of the congregation, but the deeper ground of salvation lies in the awful death of God’s Son. His resurrection is a miracle, certainly a glorious miracle. But a much greater and more glorious miracle than his resurrection is clearly his death. It is a much greater miracle that he who called himself “the Resurrection and the Life” went to death, than that this Resurrection and the Life has left the grave. Therefore, God’s people are called to proclaim in the Last Supper not the resurrection, but the death of Christ until he comes (1 Cor. 11:26).

The cross is the tree of life on which the fruits blossom as on Aaron’s staff, and the resurrection is presenting these fruits. The awful, chilly grave in which Jesus lay becomes, by the rolled-away stone and the rising of our triumphant Lord, the fruit dish on which the fruits of his death are presented to the Lord’s church. The resurrection is not the payment of the debt of God’s people, but the divine receipt as proof that the debt has been paid, and the effect that gives claim to all the treasures of righteousness and life that Christ has earned by the work of his soul for himself and his own. “Who,” Paul says in Romans 4:25, “was delivered for [that is, because of] our offences, and was raised again for [that is, because of, on account of] our justification.”

Seen in this light, the incorporation into the fellowship of Christ’s death and resurrection is one and the same blessing. However, the symbolism of baptism shows us this blessing from two angles. The incorporation into the fellowship of Christ’s death is the dying of the old man of sin, and the incorporation into the fellowship of his resurrection is the life of the new man, with all the material and moral consequences.

The one is more negative, the tearing down and removal of what stands in the way of man’s salvation. The other is more positive, the pouring in and building up of all that can contribute to his spiritual welfare.

Fellowship into Christ’s death is for the Lord’s child the death of death, that is, the death of his spiritual and eternal death. It is the destruction of destruction; the corruption of corruption. And the resurrection? It calls out to this child, live the life!

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The Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary
by Bastiaan Wielenga

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