In this passage, then, we see a clear explanation of Christus Victor and thus our victory in our union with him. Baptism is a depiction of cosmic warfare and the triumph of Christ over the rulers and authorities that would seek to destroy his kingdom and his people. Every time a person comes up out of the baptismal waters there is a declaration of victory through union with Christ. He has conquered death, as we celebrate each Easter and thanks be to God as he walked from the grave in Palestine 2,000 years ago, by faith, so did I. He is alive and so am I! That means Baptism is special. That means Baptism is important in the life of the church. Let me give you four specific ways Baptism is important:
- The ordinance is important: It is important that we baptize people by immersion, because, as I have said before, the word baptize means to dip or immerse. A cloth dyer would completely dip or immerse a garment in dye and that garment would be identified with that color just as we are identified with Christ. Immersion is important. It is also important for the ordinance that we do it together as a church. We do it as a church to affirm the one being baptized (agreeing that they are a believer) and to remember our own baptism and to increase our faith in the plans of God, because all over the world, God is defeating the principalities and powers and every time someone comes up out of the water it reminds us that Jesus is the victor.
- Reverence is important: While I think certain things that happen in church are funny, and there are funny things that happen in baptism, there needs to be a sense of reverence about the event. Satan would love nothing more than for us to treat baptism as if it was a silly, meaningless exercise.
- Remembrance is important: Baptism reminds us of our baptism as I have already noted, but that is very important. It is a marker in time of our walk with Christ and it points out to everyone watching that we are a part of Christ.
- Continual obedience is important: Romans 6:4-11 is crystal clear. You have been identified with Christ, so why are you running back to an idol? The witness of the church fills this role of accountability. If we see someone get baptized, which identifies them with Christ and then they enter into blatant rebellion and sin against God, what grounds do we have to call them to repentance? Their baptism! “Hey, I saw you get baptized and someone who is united to Christ doesn’t act that way! Brother, repent!” The witness of our own conscience works in this matter as well. Think long and hard about what it means for you to be united to Christ. My Grandmother, May Isabel Stanley, became a Christian when she was in her late teens, early 20’s and when my mother asked her why she didn’t dance like she did before she was converted, her statement was, “I just don’t think I could take my Lord’s nail pierced feet onto a dance floor.” Now, I know that some of you are going to come right back with “hey, dancing isn’t sinful, and that’s just an old Baptist way of thinking. I understand. But to the conscience of my grandmother, doing that would be going against her union with Christ and her conscience wouldn’t allow it. Maybe it wasn’t sinful, and her conscience was super sensitive. Better a sensitive conscience than a seared one that doesn’t recognize sin at all, right? Baptism is an ordinance that reminds us of our union with Christ and his triumph over sin. It should cause us to think deeply and live joyfully in union with him.