Each week of the DISCIPLE series we will be asking a question and suggesting a motion.
What does baptism symbolize?
Be Fully Alive
Romans 6:1-14 (NIV84)
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! 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? 4 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.
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. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
What does it mean to be a disciple who is fully devoted to God? Especially in light of the truth that discipleship is a heart issue that works itself out through all of our extremities. After all, nobody can see our hearts. What does it look like, and what does it mean to have a heart that is fully devoted to God?
I think God knew we would have a difficult time picturing this. So He gave us a metaphor that we could not only see and discuss, but, that we could also experience ourselves: baptism. What does baptism symbolize? Baptism is not just something a disciple does out of obedience that demonstrates to the world that we have decided to follow Christ as one of His disciples. It is also a way we get to experience Christ’s death and resurrection for ourselves.
As the Apostle Paul states in this week’s text, when we are dipped into the water during baptism it symbolizes our having been buried with Christ into His death. This happened when we placed our faith in Christ and His death on the cross as a substitutional sacrifice for our sins. When we are baptized, we symbolically experience the death our our old, sin self. It is a picture of what has happened to us on the inside. Something we can’t literally see, but can figuratively see through the imagery of baptism.
But, thankfully the imagery does not stop there. After all we can only hold our breaths so long. Paul also states in this week’s text that when we come out of the water after baptism it symbolizes our being united with Christ in His resurrection. Christ was resurrected to new life, a life Paul says He lives to God. The same is true for us. Through Christ we have been born into new life where the death of sin no longer has control over us. Again, we can’t literally see our heart alive to God, but we can figuratively see it through the imagery of coming up out of the water, being united with Christ and His resurrection.
Christ defeated death. We share in His victory, free to Be Fully Alive, living the life that God created us to live in the first place.
What Baptism Portrays by John Piper