The Beauty of Baptism

Paul wrote in Romans 6:2-11

“We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We 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.

5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

I love those verses because we are directly told that in our baptism we are connected with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I can’t think of a more beautiful, Christ-imitating act than baptism.

For a long time we, in Churches of Christ, have had a view of baptism that is too small. That may sound funny because we are the guys who have harped on baptism the most. But I believe that much of what had been said made baptism out to be too small. We boiled it down into a step and in doing so missed the beauty of baptism as seen in the New Testament. I am not saying we were unaware of verses like Romans 6:1-6 but our legalistic lenses influenced us to read those verses through a reductionistic framework that missed the forest for the trees. I think sometimes we got so caught up in what we were trying to get people to do that we missed the very reason why they were to do it.

Paul says that when we are baptized we are united with Jesus Christ in his death, burial and resurrection. Just as Christ was put in a tomb, we are lowered into the water. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, we are raised from the waters of baptism freed from sin and (spiritual) death. Who wouldn’t want to participate in that? Paul very explicitly connects our baptism with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

United with his death:

  • “All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”
  • “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death”

United with his resurrection:

  • “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, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.”

Connecting baptism with forgiveness:

  • For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”

Connected with eternal life:

  • “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.”

Anyone here want their old self crucified? Baptism is the only way the New Testament tells us God does that. What does Paul mean when he says our old self was crucified. He just told us that in baptism we die. What dies? Our old self. Why? “So that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”

I don’t really understand how anyone could read the New Testament, especially verses like these, and reject the importance of baptism. I understand people make up their mind first based on what Pastor Steve  told them on Sunday or how they have seen their church convert people and then try to make the Bible fit that mold. I don’t understand how someone would read the New Testament and come away thinking baptism was an unnecessary ritual that just the crazy conservative Christians practice. To be fair, I am sure someone could say the same of me…that I think it is important so I find that everywhere in the New Testament.

Contrary to popular belief, baptism is the most graceful display of God’s saving work. There are several things that happen to us in the salvation process. We hear the word. We  are baptized. We receive the Holy Spirit. Baptism is passive in the New Testament. That means it is something done to us. We don’t even do it ourselves but we submit ourselves to it. Everything else, confession, repentance, etc are things we do (not that those are works either) but baptism is done to us. It makes it sound even sillier to call it a work when we aren’t even doing it ourselves! If we are willing to submit to God in that way he is able to do some amazingly graceful things in us (doing away of our body of sin, uniting us with Christ’s resurrection, etc).

Baptism is beautiful!

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

2 Responses to The Beauty of Baptism

  1. Jerry Starling says:

    Amen, Matt!

    My MA Thesis is The Use of Baptism in Exhorting Christians. Every single time baptism is mentioned in the Epistles it was to exhort Christians to remember what happened when they were baptized – and the new relationship they have to God, one another, and the world as a result of what happened then.

    As you say, it is beautiful.

    Jerry

  2. ksublett says:

    Christ defined the future Reign of Messiah both inclusively and exclusively. This was repeated by Malachi and Mark in the same way:

    Isaiah 1:15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea,
    ……when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
    Isaiah 1:16 Wash you, make you clean;
    ……put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
    Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless,
    …… plead for the widow.

    Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:
    ……though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
    ……though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
    Isaiah 1:19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
    Isaiah 1:20 But if ye refuse and rebel,
    ……ye shall be devoured with the sword:
    ……for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

    Nōlo, nōlŭi , nolle (not to wish, to be unwilling.
    Prō-vŏco , 1. To call out, challenge, invite one to any thing (as to play, sing, drink, fight, etc.): “provocat me in aleam,” challenged me to a game, S. 1, 10:

    You Provoke God:“aliquem cantatum,”

    Canto , B. To call forth, produce by charms: “et chelydris (harp) cantare (sing) soporem,[stupor]” Sil. 8, 498: “cantata umbra,” Luc. 6, 767.
    C. Transf., of instruments, to sound, resound:

    You CHALLENGE Him by replacing His Word with your Word and dare Him to respond.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: