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Bible Basics (5th. ed.)


Study 1: God || Study 2: The Spirit Of God || Study 3: The Promises Of God || Study 4: God And Death || Study 5: The Kingdom Of God || Study 6: God And Evil || Study 7: The Origin Of Jesus || Study 8: The Nature Of Jesus || Study 9: The Work Of Jesus || Study 10: Baptism Into Jesus || Study 11: Life In Christ   10.1 The Vital Importance Of Baptism || 10.2 How Should We Be Baptized? || 10.3 The Meaning Of Baptism || 10.4 Baptism And Salvation || Digression 19: Re-baptism || Digression 20 The Thief On The Cross || Doctrine In Practice 19: The Certainty Of Salvation


10.3 The Meaning of Baptism

One of the reasons for baptism by immersion is that going under the water symbolises 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.

“...all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death (by baptism), we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection” (Rom. 6:3-5NIV).

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 rising again with Christ, which baptism enacts, is the only way to do this. It should be noted that sprinkling does not fulfil this symbol. At baptism, “our old self (way of life) was crucified” along with Christ on the cross (Rom. 6:6NIV); God “made us alive with Christ” at baptism (Eph. 2:5NIV). 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 (human nature) 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 (Lk. 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 surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). Concerning this, Jesus promised: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives (peace) do I give to you” (Jn. 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 abounds through 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 his own experience of this. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20).

“Baptism ... now saves you ... by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:21NIV) 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, you will live also” (Jn. 14:19). Paul likewise: “We were reconciled to God through the death of His Son ... we shall be saved by His life” (resurrection; Rom. 5:10).

Time and again it is emphasised 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:-

“If we died with (Christ), we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:11,12).

“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body ... because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus ... will also raise us with Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:10,11,14NIV).

Paul shared in “the fellowship of (Christ’s) sufferings, being (by his hard experience of life) conformed to His death, if, by any means, I might attain to the resurrection from the dead.” as experienced by Christ (Phil. 3: 10,11 cf. Gal 6:14).

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