Page 396

If one believes that the water in baptism pictures a drowning, death-producing element, then he has destroyed the symbolism of water God intended for baptism. Why?

by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (The same reference is also repeated in Colossians 2:12). Immersionists often teach that these two verses refer to the mode of New Testament baptism, i.e., that being put under the water pictures one's spiritual death and burial; and being lifted up, his resurrection into spiritual life.

The immersionists' interpretation of this verse, however, is incorrect. There is no mention of "going under the water" or even of water in the two verses quoted. The contexts of both verses reveal that Paul is referring to the spiritual regeneration of the believer the deepest spiritual reality signified by baptism -but he is not speaking of an actual, physical mode of baptism to be practiced by the church. In both chapters, regeneration and sanctification are the subjects of discussion -the dying of the old nature of sin and the enlivening of the new nature of holiness. The death of the old man and the life of the new man is the context of both chapters, not an administration of baptism. Baptism's spiritual reality and not its mode is the subject of discussion in both references.

If we were to imagine that these two verses illustrated a mode of baptism and inserted the idea of going under the water to picture the baptized's death and burial, and being raised out of the water to portray his life, the following serious problems would present themselves:

  • The water of baptism, which pictures the blood of Christ, is always portrayed in Scripture as a life-saving and life-giving element. The immersionists' interpretation here would portray the water of baptism as death-producing instead of saving! According to this "death-under-the-water" view, the application of the water (which signifies the blood of Christ) would be death-producing, but the stepping out of it would be life-giving, contradicting Scripture's clear teaching regarding Christ's blood as life-giving.

  • Death consistently portrays uncleanness in Scripture. Water consistently portrays cleansing and purification. If the water of baptism is to be viewed as death-producing, then it is also to be seen as producing uncleanness. This view would contradict the very qualities of water for which it was chosen to be the sign for baptism, i.e., water's ability to cleanse and purify.


Previous PageNext Page