“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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.” (Romans 6:3–4, KJV 1900)
There are certain things that happen to us in life that we never forget. It might be our graduation, our marriage ceremony, the birth of children, their graduation, and etcetera. These events all mark significant milestones in life. One great and unforgettable milestone in the believer’s life, it that of the salvation experience and baptism. Paul, in this passage, reminds believers of their baptism and uses it to remind them of a vital reality of their salvation experience.
Paul had just impressed upon the readers that they had died to sin and thus should no longer walk in it. Here he uses one of the unforgettable moments in their lives, baptism, to explain why this is. Baptism pictures several theological realities of one’s conversion experience.
To understand this, we must first understand what baptism is. The word baptize is a transliteration of the Greek word baptizo, which means to completely immerse something. For example, if you were to dye a garment, you would completely immerse it into a vat of dye so that the entire garment would be infused with the colorant. In his letters, Paul uses a key phrase, “in Christ” to describe the position of believers. Believers are completely in Christ. We are not partially dipped or sprinkled, but completely immersed in Him, just as we were completely immersed in water baptism after we came to faith in Christ.
Understanding baptism, we now can understand the picture it represents regarding our new birth. Paul indicates that we were baptized into Christ’s death, that we were buried with Him, and then raised with Him so that we can walk in newness of life. I know that this is difficult to understand since Christ died on the cross around 2000 years before we came to faith. Paul is presenting the miraculous reality that for us who have believed, we have died with Christ 2000 years ago. We have died to sin with Christ. We were buried with Him, demonstrating the finality of our old life. Moreover, we were raised with Him so that we might experience abundant new life in Him.
You see, it would be impossible to walk as a new creation without first dying to the old self. Christ made this possible and our baptism in water by immersion should stand as a memorable reminder that we are no longer the person we were before we believed. That person has died. Now we are the new person made to walk in newness of life.