Truth Taught- Water baptism is the earthly portrayal of the heavenly reality
1. Water Baptism Rightly Follows Salvation
Promised in prophets in the Old Testament for those in the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon the church by Jesus Christ through the power of his resurrection. The Spirit now brings believers into communion with the Father and the Son through the new birth, fills the believer with the love of God, works holiness in the lives of believers, and convinces people of the truth of the gospel.
When we believe the Gospel and are saved by grace through faith we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, He indwells us as believers. This Spirit baptism at salvation is a gift to all who believe.
In the Book of Acts where the Holy Spirit is highlighted throughout we see that believers are saved and indwelt with the Holy Spirit called the Spirit Baptism and then those believers who have already been saved are baptized in water. We see very clearly that water baptism rightly follows salvation.
Acts 10:47–48 (ESV)
47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
Acts 8:12 (ESV)
12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Baptism rightly follows belief. Never in the New Testament do we see water baptism preceding belief nor do we see any cases where infants are baptized it is always believing adults. So, water baptism cannot save because it clearly follows salvation and it is clearly for those who have exercised belief first so it is not meant for infants, those who cannot believe yet.
2. Water Baptism is a Very Important Step in Obedience
Requiring anything in addition to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation is a works-based salvation. To add anything to the gospel is to say that Jesus’ death on the cross was not sufficient to purchase our salvation. To say that baptism is necessary for salvation is to say we must add our own good works and obedience to Christ’s death in order to make it sufficient for salvation. Jesus’ death alone paid for our sins. Jesus’ payment for our sins is appropriated to our “account” by faith alone.
Acts 16:30–34 (ESV)
30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
Therefore, baptism is an important step of obedience after salvation but cannot be a requirement for salvation.
3. What Water Baptism Portrays Our Union With Christ
Romans 5:20–6:11 (ESV)
20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
A. Baptism Portrays the Fact That We Have Died With Christ
How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death,
The reality is that our sin was imputed to Christ and He died our death for us. There is this union with Christ in His death. God’s wrath against our sin was carried by Jesus on the cross for us. So, His death is our death. When we believe we are made to be in Christ so that everything that happened to Jesus then happens to us.
When we are immersed in baptism it portrays our death with Christ. It portrays the grave.
So when Romans 6:3-4a says that we are baptized into Christ and into his death, I take it to mean that baptism expresses the faith in which we experience union with Christ. This is presumably why God designed the mode of baptism to portray a burial. It represents the death that we experience when we are united to Christ. This is why we are immersed: it’s a symbolic burial.
It shows that the believer has died with Christ. In Christ, the old unbelieving, rebellious “I” has been crucified with Christ. This is what your baptism means.
B. Baptism Portrays the Fact That We Have Been Raised With Christ
4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
The most crucial commentary on this truth is Colossians 2:12. Paul says, “Having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” Notice: We are raised up with Christ just like Romans 6:4 says we walk in newness of life. And there is the working of God who raised him from the dead just like Romans 6:4 says that Christ was raised through the glory of the Father. And this happens through faith in the working of God who raised Jesus from the dead.
So Colossians 2:12 makes explicit what Romans 6:4 leaves implicit – that baptism expresses our faith in the working of God to raise Jesus from the dead. We believe that Christ is alive from the grave and reigning today at the Father’s right hand in heaven from which he will come again in power and glory. And that faith in God’s working – God’s glory as Paul calls it – is how we share in the newness of life that Christ has in himself.
In fact, the newness of life is the life of faith in the glory and the working of God. “I am crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live . . but the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” The newness of life is the life of day by day trusting in the working of God – the glory of God.
C. Baptism Portrays the Fact That I Can Live For Christ
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
This is what it means to be a Christian – to live in the reality of what our baptism portrays: day by day we look away from ourselves to God and say, “Because of Christ, your Son, I come to you. In him I belong to you. I am at home with you. He is my only hope of acceptance with you. I receive that acceptance anew every day. My hope is based on his death for me and my death in him. My life in him is a life of faith in you, Father. Because of him I trust your working in me and for me. The same power and glory that you used to raise him from the dead you will use to help me. In that promise of future grace I believe, and in that I hope. That is what makes my life new. O Christ, how I glory in what my baptism portrays! Thank you for dying my death for me and giving new life to me.
D. Baptism Portrays the Fact That We Are Made Alive to God
9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Contained within our being raised in Baptism is the picture that because Jesus has been raised being made alive to God so to we have been raised with Christ and are made alive spiritually. Through Christ’s death and resurrection our lives have been greatly altered. Our death is different than a death of lost people. Our lives are now different from those of lost people. We are alive to God in Christ.
So, baptism is a wonderful parable that portrays wonderful truths that have already taken place in the believer by faith. Baptism is the visible portrait of the heavenly reality.