|Study 10: Baptism Into
The Vital Importance of Baptism | How Should We Be Baptized? | The Meaning of Baptism | Baptism and Salvation | Digressions (Re-baptism, The Level of Knowledge Required Before Baptism, The Thief On the Cross, A Sample Baptism Service) | Questions
10.3 The Meaning of Baptism
One of the reasons for baptism by immersion is that going under the water symbolizes our going into the grave - associating us with the death of Christ, and indicating our 'death' to our previous life of sin and ignorance. Coming up out of the water connects us with the resurrection of Christ, relating us to the hope of resurrection to eternal life at his return, as well as to living a new life now, spiritually triumphant over sin on account of Christ's victory achieved by his death and resurrection.
Because salvation has been made possible only through Christ's death and resurrection, it is vital that we associate ourselves with these things if we are to be saved. The symbolic dying and resurrecting with Christ, which baptism gives, is the only way to do this. It should be noted that sprinkling does not fulfil this symbol. At baptism, "our old man (way of life) is crucified" along with Christ on the cross (Rom. 6:6); God "quickened us together with Christ" at baptism (Eph. 2:5). However, we still have human nature after baptism, and therefore the fleshly way of life will keep raising its head. The 'crucifixion' of our flesh is therefore an on-going process which only begins at baptism, hence Jesus told the believer to take up his cross each day and follow him, as it were, in the procession towards Calvary (Luke 9:23; 14:27). Whilst a life of true crucifixion with Christ is not easy, there is unspeakable consolation and joy through being also united with Christ's resurrection.
Christ brought about "peace through the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:20) - "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Phil. 4:7). Concerning this, Jesus promised, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth (peace), give I unto you" (John 14:27). This peace and true spiritual joy more than balances out the pain and difficulty of openly associating ourselves with the crucified Christ: "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ" (2 Cor. 1:5).
There is also the freedom which comes from knowing that our natural self is really dead, and therefore Jesus is very actively living with us through our every trial. The great apostle Paul could speak from much experience of this all down the long eventful years of his life: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Gal. 2:20).
"Baptism doth also now save us...by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21) because our association with Christ's resurrection to eternal life gives us access to the same at his return. It is through sharing in this resurrection, then, that we will finally be saved. Jesus stated this in very simple terms: "Because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19). Paul likewise: "We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son...we shall be saved by his life" (resurrection; Rom. 5:10).
Time and again it is emphasized that by associating ourselves with Christ's death and sufferings in baptism, and our subsequent way of life, we will surely share in his glorious resurrection: