Baptism, Faith, Covenant, Oneness and the Family of God

. . . for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29

Does baptism save? Or personal faith? Or being a member of the covenant people? Yes, sort of.

Paul mentions all of these things in few short verses in Galatians 3:26-29. They are all tied together, and none of them stands alone. In fact, the phrase “in Christ Jesus” or its equivalent qualifies them all.

  • In Christ Jesus … through faith … children of God
  • Baptized … into Christ … clothed with Christ
  • One … in Christ … no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female
  • Belong to Christ … Abraham’s offspring … heirs according to the promise

Jesus is the key that links the triad of faith, baptism and covenant membership. Faith always has an object. Christian faith is not faith in faith or in the power of believing; it is faith in Christ Jesus.

Similarly, faith is not simply an inward disposition. Christian faith is lived corporately. God clothes us with Christ in the church’s act of baptizing. Baptism doesn’t work ex opere operato apart from Christ’s promise and presence in the sacrament, which is received through faith.

We become part of Abraham’s family and heirs of God’s promises to his people. The story of Israel becomes our story. Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Miriam, Israel’s kings and prophets: they become our ancestors in faith and all of God’s people become our brothers and sisters.

To become a child of God in Christ through faith is not just a “me and God” thing. We live as one in Christ with our brothers and sisters. “One” here means both “equal to” and “in union with.” Christian faith and baptism bestow new responsibilities toward the members of God’s family.

God makes us his children through our faith-powered and baptism-clothed union with Christ. Those who are God’s children are “no longer” what they were. The world sees Jews and Greeks, masters and slaves, men and women. God sees his children who are all one in Christ Jesus.

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