Jesus chose water as an essential part of baptism because water is a cleansing agent. “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you” (Ezekiel 36:25). Water baptism serves as an illustration to the spiritual cleansing of the believer’s experience when he is saved. Just as water cleanses the flesh from the impurities, so the Holy Spirit cleanses the believer’s heart when he accepts the Lord as a personal Savior.
The word baptize is from the Greek verb baptidzo which means “to immerse.” Immersion is a picture of burial. Paul says, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:4-6).
When a believer is completely immersed in the water, this symbolizes the burial with our Lord; one is baptized into His death on the cross and is no longer a slave to self or sin. When a believer is raised out of the water, he is symbolically resurrected to new life in Christ to be with Him forever, born into the family of our loving God (Romans 8:16). Thus, water baptism represents the joining of the life of the believer in such close union with the life of Christ that the two become, as it were, one spiritual unity (1 Corinthians 12:12, 13, 27; Galatians 3:27).
As burial (or total immersion) in the baptismal water is followed by total emergence, so death with Christ to sin, which that immersion symbolizes, is to be followed by resurrection with Him to a new way of life (Romans 4:25). The Lord is not mainly concerned with forgiving a man’s sinful past, but with transforming him in the future. Justification is not only forgiveness, it is also obtaining of a new relationship with God, an experience of being set free from sin. Such an experience is possible only by faith in the Christ, who “always lives to make intercession” for us (Hebrews 7:25).
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In His service,