For 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).
When I was 12 years old, I attended a Bible camp. At the end of the camp, I was baptized by water immersion.
I remember to this day what the minister said to me before I was baptized, “As you are standing in the water, think about Christ on the cross; as you are going under the water, think about Jesus buried for your sins; and as you come out of the water, think about Jesus rising from the grave having conquered your sins.”
I have baptized hundreds in the name of Jesus, and I always tell them exactly what I was told when I was 12. Baptism represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
Baptism is mentioned over 80 times in the New Testament.
Often in the book of Acts, it was the teaching given to those who had just accepted Jesus. After hearing Philip teach about Jesus, the Ethiopian Eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” (Acts 8:36)
Have you been baptized?
After summer camp, I was excited about Jesus until the first day of school. I looked around the room and thought, “I’m the only Christian in this class. If I continue to follow Jesus, I will not have friends.”
I decided then not to follow Jesus.
I was faithful to my “un-decision” until New Year’s Eve 1971/1972, when I was baptized again in the Atlantic Ocean at midnight. This baptism seemed to “take.” Though I was unfaithful to God between the ages of 12 and 18 – God’s grace was faithful to me!
As Paul continues in his teaching in Romans 6 about baptism …
We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:6).
Though baptism is mentioned in the New Testament many times, I’m often amazed about how many believers have not been baptized. There is a lot of confusion about baptism. The church denomination that I first attended as a new believer taught that the act of baptism was the moment of salvation – if you were not immersed as a confessing adult, then you were not saved.
I believe now that faith saves us and have for years.
But baptism is an act of faith. Baptism adds substance to our faith. It is a pinion point upon which you can say, “I confessed, and I was baptized.” When I have doubted and wondered (after bonehead decisions) if I was really a follower of Jesus, I remember …
I was baptized at the age of 12 and then again at the age of 18. Once wasn’t enough, but by the grace of God, two will be!
Paul writes the same thought but slightly different and better …
For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him (Romans 6:7-8).
I’ve led five trips to the Holy Land. In the middle of each pilgrimage, we stop at the Jordan River for a baptismal service. Almost everyone gets baptized – some for the first time and others for the second or even third time.
At the Jordan River stop, I’ve been asked to perform the baptism for many. It is always a highlight. There are white doves that live in the area, and one time, after taking a group photo of an African church’s baptismal service, I looked at the picture in the bus and …
What did I see? Can you see it too?
Just like after Jesus’ baptism, a dove descended!
Paul continues with his teaching on baptism in Romans 6 …
We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him … So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus (Romans 6:9-11).
If you have not been baptized, you should be. Then the next time you are tempted to sin, remember that you have been baptized with Christ.
And if you want to be baptized in the Jordan River, I’m considering leading another trip to Israel in March 2024; let me know if you want to go.