Destroying Death, Gaining Life
Some people want to misuse, mistreat, and cheapen Baptism; some wish to come to it over and again, as they want to recapture the moment they were born again (and many feel they may have missed something along the way), and some are confused all together on its meaning and purpose. I wonder if we understand it. Consider, if you will, the participation in the Lord's Supper. Like so many things, if we let our guards down, it becomes a habit, as opposed to a reminder. Yet 1 Corinthians 11, we're told that participation in this sacred act of worship is participation in Christ's Death until He returns. Baptism is the beginning of this participation. Here is what I mean: Apart from Christ, we are dead in sin; we are born in to rebellion and remain in it until we come to the Cross. We gain such a rebellious attitude from our ancestors, Adam and Eve. They began the process by questioning God's authority, and deciding, instead, to follow their own desires. This broke God's "Very Good" (His words, not mine, see Genesis 1-3) world away from God's purpose, and plunged it in to rebellion which always leads to death. This is why we have sickness, this is why we have disasters, this is why humanity is so cruel to one another: Humanity is in rebellion (Genesis 3...and onward!), and the earth groans in agony for its rightful owner (Romans 8:22). So what is the solution? Just as in communion, participation in the death of Christ that we may reach new life. This is what Baptism is all about. This is why it's a one time thing. Jesus did not need to die many times, but once. We, too, though we are prone to wander, need to die once. In the act of obedience to Christ through Baptism, we crucify the flesh (our old life) with Christ, we are buried with Him (we plunge beneath the water), and we rise again, a new creation in Him (rising out of death, from the water, in to new life). Through our obedience to Christ in this act of worship, we are not merely symbolically born again, we are spiritually new. We put death, so to speak, to death, and enter in to Life that is truly life in Christ Jesus. Many of us forget that, and so we try and return to that moment over and over again, many people desiring, or participating in baptism over and again. But just as in birth, we need only be born once. From birth, we grow; and in growing, we mature. When we act out, act up, or rebel after being born again, we don't need to be reborn again. We need to learn and grow, seek the Father's forgiveness, repent, and continue following Jesus. But many of us still hover over death. We still look back, and so we fall. Choose life. LIVE. That is what Jesus died for, that we may, forever, be alive to God through Him. Romans 6:1-14 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.