Role of Baptism

Realizing Baptism's Significance
(by  Bob Pulliam)

What is it that makes baptism special? Obviously it is the fact that God commanded it! When God speaks, man should sit up, listen, and obey... and do such just exactly as God says! To illustrate the importance of obedience, let's look at the example of Naaman in II Kings 5. Here is a man living with a fatal condition. He has leprosy, and his only hope of salvation (physical) is Elisha and the command given by God. Elisha told him what God demanded, but he became mad (like many today when you teach them the truth). He refused to go dip in the river Jordan seven times (which was what God had commanded). Did God heal him anyway?... Naaman did eventually go... was he healed along the way to the river Jordan? Did he decide to have his servant pour, or sprinkle, water on him seven times instead of dipping? If he had, would he have been healed? Was Naaman going to do it to show that he had already been healed? All of these questions reflect ideas that are prevalent in the religious world today regarding baptism. People commonly think they can change God's commands, or the design behind those commands, and still receive the blessings He's promised. So what is special about baptism?

Does the water have a chemical in it that washes away sins? We know it does not. Did a priest bless the water so it would have some holy, mystical character? Not in my Bible. Then what is so big about being immersed in water?

Immersion in water associates one with the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We talk about being saved by the blood of Jesus (Rom 5:9). But how do we make contact with that blood? Does someone have a vial of it stuck away somewhere? Certainly not! Romans 6:3-5 tells us the significance behind this command of God. There Paul wrote,

"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 also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,"

Where was the blood of Jesus shed? In His death. In what way do we make contact with that death? There is only one way set forth in scripture, and it is right here. We are baptized into His death. How is that? It is an association decreed by God. The waters of the Jordan had no healing power, and the bronze serpent Moses lifted up on a standard had no power. But God said "If you will...", and thus it was made so. There need be no special water. The decree of God, and the intention of the individual to associate himself with the death of Jesus by partaking in the symbolic act of baptism are special enough. If you doubt that it is so, answer this question by the passage above: "When does one rise to walk in newness of life?... Before or after baptism?"

When Jesus died, He was buried. We are to die to sin, and we are buried in baptism. But Jesus rose from the dead to live for God, and we are to do the same at baptism. (Rom 6:6f & 10f) Why be baptized? To wash away your sins. To be saved by the blood of Jesus.