“. . . having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12 ESV)
Next week, we have the solemn and exciting privilege of witnessing brethren from our church respond obediently to Christ’s command to be baptized. Our baptismal candidates will each share his or her personal testimony and then step into the baptistery to be immersed in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Many of us know that baptism was given as a sign of a believer’s salvation as well as a testimony to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but do we truly recognize the depths of all that baptism teaches us about the believer, his Savior, and the relationship between the two?
While our major presentation of gospel truth will come from those being baptized on Sunday, we will spend some time together in the scriptures, focusing on Colossians 2:6-15. This passage bears out the significance of baptism in such a profound way. Too often, evangelical (particularly Baptist) baptism services spend so much time focusing on what baptism is not (i.e., not salvific as in baptismal regeneration, not so correlated to circumcision that it is administered to infants, etc) that we lose focus on what baptism is. Rather than considering this passage in a merely polemical way, we will highlight the glorious truths that a believer’s baptism conveys.
According to the passage, believers have “received Jesus the Lord” (v6) and are “rooted and built up in him”; they are “filled in him” (v10) and circumcised by “the circumcision of Christ” (v11); they are “buried with him in baptism” and “raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God” (v12); in Christ, believers were “made alive together with him” (v13); all of this was made possible because Christ canceled “the record of debt that stood against us. . .nailing it to the cross,” and in doing so, “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in him.” (v14-15)
Baptism, spoken of in the middle of that glorious text, is a vivid picture of our union with Christ – not just our conversion, but the work God has accomplished in Christ before the foundation of the world and our solemn obligation to continue to “walk in him” and abound in thanksgiving,” (7). As the meaning of the word baptize signifies, in Christ we are “immersed” with all his saving benefits. This Sunday, let us not only celebrate the life-changing power of the gospel as demonstrated in the water baptisms of our brethren, let us also marvel at God’s work in our lives and renew our confidence in him.