Summary: This is the third sermon in a series on Basics which focuses on the New Testament symbols assigned to baptism.
Basics #3- Baptism
The Symbolism of Baptism
CHCC: July 19, 2009
Video from Youtube (Cannonball baptism)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5abEm1241kY&NR=1
At least I can say, that boy was excited about baptism! And, after all, baptism is something to get ENTHUSIASTIC about! For the last few weeks we’ve been talking about some of the “basics” of Christianity --- and baptism is one of those basics.
Most people are familiar with Christian baptism, and a lot of people have been baptized. But it’s good for us to be reminded of why Jesus instituted baptism … what it means, and why it matters.
Today we’re going to take a look at what the Bible teaches about the symbolism of baptism. We’ll start with Romans 6:3-5:
Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
1. Burial and resurrection Romans 6:3-8
Baptism is a way that we retell what Jesus did for us … and more than that, baptism declares that the same thing has now happened to us. The Greek word, baptizo means to dip, plunge, submerge, sink, or bury. When a ship went down at sea, that’s the word that was used. The ship was baptized into the ocean. In Christian baptism, we are submerged in water, then raised up again.
We go down in the water as Jesus was buried in the tomb. We are under the water as Christ was three days in the tomb, and we come up from the water as Jesus came back from the dead. Our baptism allows us to participate in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It is kind of like a three act Passion Play acted out in the baptistery.
Romans 8 goes on to say, 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— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. Romans 8:6-8
Baptism is a way of declaring that we believe Jesus has done what He promised he would do. In baptism we show that we are now dead to the world of sin that held us captive. We are set free from our hopeless addiction to sin. We have died to everything that once held us back from knowing and loving God.
And we are now alive to everything God has promised to give us. We are eternally connected to Jesus … and through him to God. The very spirit of Jesus has come to live within us. In baptism we are declaring a permanent change: for the rest of this life … and for life eternal … Jesus IS our life.
The Bible has even more to say about the meaning of baptism. Our baptism serves as a physical sign of a spiritual covenant between us and our God.
2. Sign of God’s new covenant Colossians 2:10-14
When God first made a covenant, he gave Abraham and all his descendants a physical SIGN of this spiritual covenant. This sign was circumcision. To the Jews in the Old Testament, circumcision was not just a fleshly operation but a symbol that a man had become part of God’s covenant with Abraham.
Colossians 2:11-12 makes a direct connection between circumcision in the Old Covenant and baptism in the New Covenant. "In Christ you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead." Colossians 2:11-12
Like Circumcision, Baptism is a Sign of our covenant with God. Just as
Circumcision was the physical representation of belonging to God in the Old Testament - Baptism is the physical sign of belonging to God in the New Testament. It is an example of the principle of cutting off the flesh which is continually fighting against God’s will. In that way, our baptism is a circumcision of sorts done without hands when God sets us free from the law of sin and death.
Just like the New Covenant is superior to the Old, the New Sign of Baptism is better than the old. We can be thankful that circumcision was replaced by baptism. For one thing, it’s a lot less painful! For another, baptism is available to everyone - both men AND women.