“Baptism now saves you…” 1 Peter 3:21
As we continue through this series on the Daily Steps of Salvation, “Baptism” poses some challenges. Of course, I’m not going to suggest that we should all submit to the ritual of baptism every day. So how do we practice a Daily Step of Baptism?
The word “baptise” isn’t really an English word. It’s a transliteration of the Greek. This means translators took the Greek word and made it sound English, but they never actually defined it. Greek dictionaries almost universally give the primary definition of the word baptidzo (baptise) as “plunge, dip”. Although highly debated by churches that practice baptism by pouring or sprinkling, I strongly believe that “immerse and submerge” are synonyms for “plunge or dip”.
If we translate the word baptidzo in Romans 6:3-4 using the English word “immerse” it reads like this:
Or don’t you know that all of us who were immersed into Christ Jesus were immersed into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through immersion 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.
I love the way that reads. The words “baptism” has become so churchified that we easily lose sight of what it involves. We think of it almost exclusively as a ritual. When we use the word “immerse” we find ourselves lowered into Christ, and even when we’re raised we’re raised with him! There are many verses in Scripture that refer to Christians as being “in Christ”. We’re not “next to”, or “near”. Our relationship with Christ is “in Him”. For example, 1 Peter 5:14 “Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”
I certainly believe Scripture refers to the one-time event of baptism when it uses the word baptidzo. However, I also believe that God longs for His people to immerse themselves in Jesus. He doesn’t want his church just dipping their toes in the Jesus pool. The phrase in v4 about being raised interrupts a thought that says, “We’re immersed into his death in order that… we too may live a new life.” God expects our lives to be transformed into something new by our immersion into Christ. The way we live and the newness of our lives is intrinsically tied to our state of now being “in Christ”.
In his book Radical David Platt (p37) describes popular ways to “invite Jesus into your heart” then observes,
“I invite you to consider with me a proper response to this gospel. Surely more than praying a prayer is involved. Surely more than religious attendance is warranted. Surely this gospel evokes unconditional surrender of all that we are and all that we have to all that he is.“
I believe that baptism/immersion provides that “proper response to the gospel”. It’s not just that God commands the act of baptism, but that God’s seeking lives immersed in Christ. He longs for us to submerge ourselves in Christ’s death. He wants us to wallow in Jesus love. He yearns for us to plunge into a lifetime of following Jesus. Baptism/Immerison symbolises and begins this lifestyle.
Here’s my my really simple question for you:
- What does “immersing yourself in Christ” mean to you?