Baptism is Like...
In 2005, we presented a series of lessons on Bible baptism (cf. 03/12/05, 03/19/05, & 03/26/05). We concluded that:
Bible baptism is immersion in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. Bible baptism must be preceded by faith and repentance. The place of baptism is unimportant. The time of a baptism is unimportant, but the sooner the better. Furthermore, only those who meet the conditions should be baptized.

With those thoughts in mind, let us study baptism again today from a different perspective. The New Testament makes many comparisons between baptism and activities that occur (or have occurred) in our world. Let us explore seven of these comparisons in this lesson.

To be born is to come forth into a new existence or relationship. As an infant comes forth from his mother into the world of light, the obedient believer comes out of the waters of baptism a "newborn babe" in Christ (I Pet. 2:2). His life as a child of God has just begun, and he should desire the pure milk of the word of God--that he might grow, consequently. As an infant is born a citizen of a physical country or kingdom, in baptism we are born citizens in God's kingdom, the church (cf. Matt. 16:18,19; Acts 2:47). As the Lord Himself said about baptism - "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).

To die is to end a certain existence or relationship (at least in the flesh). As a mortal dies and is buried, the obedient believer dies to self and is buried in waters of baptism. Such a burial cannot be properly accomplished via sprinkling or pouring. Baptism, as a burial, marks the end of living in sin and living selfishly. Paul teaches in Roman 6:3-7:

"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin."

In baptism, our old man of sin--whom we have put to death through penitent faith--must be buried to rise no more. This is how we are freed from sin! We, as a "new creation" (II Cor. 5:17), will rise again in Christ, but not our old wicked and corrupt self.

This point is closely linked with the prior one in that the apostle Paul mentions both aspects in the verses we read from Romans 6. Jesus was brought back from the dead by the power of God; He did not stay buried. Likewise, one being immersed in water for the forgiveness of his sins will not remain under the water. Baptism is like giving life--spiritual life--to those dead in sin. You see, sin separates humans from God (cf. Isa. 59:1,2) and those who commit sin (i.e., all accountable humans; cf. Rom. 3:23) are dead in their trespasses. Through baptism penitent believers can be made alive through God's grace, who were formerly "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). Titus 3:5,6 reads - "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior." To regenerate is to make alive again, and it happens when we are washed in baptism (cf. Acts 22:16)! Therefore, we are made alive from our spiritual death in sin, by God, when we are baptized.

Males under God's covenant with Abraham were required to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant (cf. Gen. 17:10,11). Circumcision was vitally important for it identified the baby boy as one of God's spiritual sons. Today, both males and females must undergo a circumcision of the heart (culminated in baptism) in order to become a child of God. Paul explains this in Colossians 2:11-14:

"In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."

Baptism is like circumcision in that God cuts off the old sins of the heart when we are buried with Christ in the watery grave.

Those who lived under the Mosaic regime were continually faced with the problem of ceremonial defilement and uncleanness. It's not within the scope of this lesson to detail the various ways in which one could become unclean and subsequently purified (but for those interested, the book of Leviticus explains such matters in detail). Purification often involved both physical washing with water and a blood sacrifice of some sort. Under the New Covenant, however, we are washed pure in the waters of baptism where we contact the blood of Christ (cf. Rev. 1:5; He shed his blood in His death and it is into His death that we are buried; Rom. 6:3). Hebrews 10:19-22 speaks to this comparison:

"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."

Baptism is indeed like the purification rites of the Hebrews. The physical washing with water has a significant spiritual sense in both cases.

Paul has much to say regarding the relationship between Christ and His church and how it is similar to the relationship between husband and wife:

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:22-27).

In ancient times, great emphasis was sometimes placed upon purifying the bride before she was presented to her husband (e.g., Est. 2:12,13). In like fashion, those today who are baptized (i.e., "the washing of water by the word") are being purified and prepared for the Lord Jesus Christ. Their sins are removed and they are made holy and without blemish; what a glorious thought!

In Noah's day, when the flood came and overwhelmed the planet, the waters separated the righteous from the wicked. The flood destroyed sinners upon Earth while simultaneously floating those within the ark to safety. "When once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 3:20,21). The water of baptism is a distinct line separating the saved and the lost. As it saved Noah from the exceeding wickedness of the world, so baptism saves us from the wages of our own sins and enables us to embrace the gift of life (cf. Rom. 6:23).

These many sides of baptism that the New Testament speaks of are both beautiful and powerful. May those who have been properly baptized rejoice in these comparisons and be reminded of the eternal significance of their obedience to the gospel. For those who have not yet been baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins, may I humbly ask: What are you waiting for? If we can be of assistance to you in any way, please contact us immediately.

Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.