OceanSide church of Christ
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A QUICK, SIMPLE ACT WITH PROFOUND MEANING
Victor M. Eskew
Faithful churches of Christ emphasize baptism in the plan of salvation because the Bible puts it within that framework. On the day of Pentecost, thousands of people were wondering what they needed to do to be saved (Acts 8:37). Peter’s answer was simple and straightforward. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). It was the first time the question had been asked on this side of Calvary. Those Jews who believed were told to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. The Ethiopian jailor had been told something that caused him to desire baptism the moment he saw water (Acts 8:36). To be so urgent, he must have been told the same thing those on Pentecost were told. When Ananias came to Saul in the city of Damascus, he found him as a penitent believer. Saul, however, was not rejoicing in his salvation. He was still waiting to find out what he needed to do to be saved (Acts 9:6). Ananias was his teacher. Here is how he instructed Saul. “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). These individuals, and others, were doing just what the Lord Jesus Christ had instructed to be done in the Great Commission. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).
The action of baptism is a burial (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12). In other words, an individual is immersed, completely covered up, in water. It is a quick, simple action. There have been times when this writer has baptized inmates from a local jail. They were brought to the building. In a matter of minutes, the inmates were immerse and heading back to their cells. It takes less than a minute to baptize a person. Yes, the act is simple and quick. What needs to be emphasized is that the act has a profound meaning.
When a person is immersed in water for the remission of sins, every sin that person has ever committed is completely forgiven. Thayer says that the word “remission” in Acts 2:38 means: “forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed). In Romans 6:17-18, Paul writes about this forgiveness. He states: “But God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” The phrase, “that form of doctrine,” involves dying to sin, burying the old man of sin in the waters of baptism, and rising from those waters a new creature in Christ (Rom. 6:3-4). It is a perfect representation of our Lord’s work at Calvary. He died, was buried, and rose the third day (I Cor. 15:1-4). When one obeys from the heart “that form of doctrine,” Paul declares that he is “then made free from sin.” This is profound. For unless one has his sins forgiven, he faces the sentence of death (Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 6:23). That death involves the suffering of one’s soul eternally in the fires of hell.
When a person is immersed in water for the remission of sins, that person comes forth as a new person. Prior to his baptism, he was an “old man of sin.” That man was crucified and buried. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:6; see also Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9). When one rises from his burial (baptism), he begins to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). He is a new creature in Christ (II Cor. 5:17). The new person that he has become is none other than Jesus Christ. Paul understood this about his conversion. In Galatians 2:20, he proclaims: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Yes, a sinner is turned into an image of the Christ. That, dear readers, is a significant event!
When a person is baptized, he is also moved from one locale to another. This is not a physical translation, but a spiritual one. The sinner had been living in the evil and corruption of the world. It is a realm that is overseen and controlled by Satan (John 12:31; Eph. 2:2). The new convert is taken out of that realm. He is placed into the precious body of Christ, the church. On Pentecost day, about three thousand individuals obeyed Peter’s inspired admonition to repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:41). Those individuals, according to Acts 2:47, were added by the Lord to the church. “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” The church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23). Thus, it is not surprising to read that we are “baptized into one body” (I Cor. 12:13). In like manner, the church is the kingdom. Therefore, Paul told the Colossians that they had been removed from the power of darkness and were translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:13). Christ is the head of the body (Col. 1:18). It is He who is the overseer of this domain. He is the King over His kingdom (I Tim. 6:15). Yes, at baptism, a person leaves an evil realm controlled by Satan and enters into an organization that has Jesus Christ as its Overseer (I Pet. 2:25). Again, this is profound, significant!
There is no doubt that baptism is a quick, simple act. The sinner allows another person to lower him into the water, and he rises therefrom (Acts 8:38-39). It takes only a few seconds to complete. However, what is done spiritually to that individual during those few seconds is profound. All of a person’s sins are forgiven. The person rises in the image of Jesus Christ. The individual has been translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, the church. Individuals need to appreciate these things after their conversion. They need to rejoice and give thanks for the salvation. They need to live in such a way that gratitude is expressed for all that God has done for them. No doubt, their baptism was quick and simple, but it was also extremely profound.