The Water's Fine: Baptism as Participation

In the last post, I explained how baptism serves as an initiation to the Christian community. Now I want you to see that baptism also signifies your participation with Christ.

It wasn't just him who died, it was you. It isn't just him who came alive, it was you too.

When I say that baptism "signifies" your participation with Christ, I mean that baptism is a public symbol of the spiritual life that is now yours because you belong to Christ.

Paul says it like this in Colossians 2:12:
"You were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead" (NLT).

Baptism is a picture, a symbol of what has happened to you now that you know Jesus as your Savior and follow him as your Lord.

This is the theme that comes up most often in the New Testament when it talks about baptism. In fact, one theologian stated the importance of this theme by saying, "Above all, baptism symbolizes our spiritual union with Christ" (Stanley Grenz, Theology for the Community of God, 679).

"Above all." Yes, there's  the initiation theme that is present. Yes, there's the anticipation theme that is there. Yes, there's the declaration theme too. But above all, more important than those themes, is this one: baptism signifies your participation with Christ.

Paul says it again in the book of Romans like this:
"We died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives" (Romans 6:4 NLT).

You are united with Christ. So the "old you" has been buried; the "new you" has come alive.

Related Posts:
Baptism as Initiation
Rededication (and Repentance)


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