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Water Baptism: The Immersion Obedience

Updated on December 2, 2012

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. {19} Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Mat 28:18-20 NIV)

            The first step of obedience in public declaration of our faith is water baptism. It is an act of obedience to God’s specific commands. It is also a public declaration simply because it is done in the presence of other people.

            If God had decided we eat three big cakes as an act of obedience, we would have done it. But God chose this symbolism because it fits perfectly into many categories.

            Water baptism is immersion. The Greek word used means “to immerse, or go under water.” It is not a sprinkling of water, nor a pouring of water on the head. It is the immersion of the whole body under water. This dipping rite is not a cultural difference, nor a Semitic tradition. It is Bible. Going under the water signifies ‘burial,’ and the coming out of water as ‘resurrection.’

            It is an act of recognizing the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. We all know that Jesus died to save us from our sins. And so did other canonized people, sacrificing their lives for others. However, only Christ Jesus rose from the dead. The empty tomb is more than a proof of life; it is the cogent evidence of deity. Jesus was not just an excellent rabbi, not just a powerful prophet, and definitely not just a holy man. He was God in the flesh! There were many wonderful people who have died and became icons throughout history, but they all remained dead. Only Jesus died and came back to life, and remained alive. Death has no hold on Him. The point is this: If He didn’t resurrect, our faith is useless, and we are the most pitiful people in all the world. But He did! He is alive! We don’t have a dead religion, He is living and active. We do not pray to a dead person; He is well and able, ever-present to hear and answer our prayers. This is a cause for rejoicing and celebration in life.

            Immersion also signifies the denouncing of our sins, the burying of our past and failures. It is also a public declaration in the spiritual realm that we are dead to sin, and alive for righteousness. And as we come out of the water, we embrace new life and grace. We live for Him.

            Accordinglly, water baptism is about obedience. Following God in baptism means that our rebellion against Him has ended. Being water baptized testifies that our disobedience and contempt for His Word has ceased.


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