Vol.VI No.IX Pg.4
November 1969

After Burial, What Then?

Robert F. Turner

In the biography of Daniel Sommer, by William Wallace, my attention was captured by Sommers impression of southern churches of Christ. He said they fought the sects, and were firm on the burial of baptism, but were weak on the resurrection to a new life. (You may have to chew on that one for awhile, as did I.)

He clearly meant that we put a lot of effort into getting people to be baptized, but did not emphasize sufficiently the NEW life, the NEW creature and CHANGED life, that must follow the death and burial of the old man. He may have struck a most needful chord.

Our burial with Christ is not the end, but is done with a view to the NEW life ahead. Note carefully the context of Rom. 6:1-f. Shall we continue in sin?... God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also walk in newness of life. (emph, rft) Our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away. Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. (Through vs. 11, AS)

One might almost say that Pauls argument in Rom. 6: concerns chiefly the DEATH to sin, and RESURRECTION to a NEW life; and that the BURIAL part, which we so often emphasize, is more or less incidental to his purpose. This is not to say the burial is of no consequence (the very words Bapto, and Baptidzo, mean immerse dip etc.) but while we are making a legitimate use of this portion of Rom. 6:4, would it not be well to stress the point that Paul stressed here.

Life can not be a vacuum. We have poorly taught, and done an injustice to a convert who is led to believe that getting rid of his past sins is the essence of Christianity. He can not properly count the cost with such and understanding. (Lu. 14:28-f) Jesus warned of the vacuum concept in his lesson re. the unclean spirit, cast out of a man, who found his old abode empty (nothing good in his former place) and so he taketh with himself seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man becometh worse than the first. (Matt. 12: 4345)

There is a great need to prepare the potential convert for the new life that must follow his baptism. We err in trying to shield him from the problems of the future. If we are properly working at such problems, and our attitude toward them is what it should be, this would serve to encourage the prospect — show him just what wonderful, sacrificing, and dedicated people we are. But if we hide our carnality (or try to hide it) and are hypocritical about our struggle with sin, we practice deception, and lay the ground-work for another weak church member, having no NEW life.

A Christian is something different. If we could teach people to BE what they ought to BE, then they would DO what they ought to DO.