ROMANS 6: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO "DIE WITH JESUS"?
DOWN IN THE RIVER TO PRAY
When I was 11 years old, I wanted to be baptized. I was scared of hell. That's why I got baptized. I knew I wanted to follow Jesus but I was also getting baptized because I didn't want to go to hell.
I didn't understand as much about baptism as being a way to join with Jesus. Really, understanding that we are joining him in this whole story. What is true of Jesus is true of us. We died and therefore we can be raised to life like Jesus. We're resurrected with him and that's what baptism is. We're joining into a life with Jesus. In him, is salvation. In him is, we can trust that we're all right. But that's something that was in my heart whenever I was a young boy. I'm curious. What were your thoughts when you got baptized?
I asked Quinn Fields this question in a recent worship service, and here's what he said:
"I think that when I got baptized, yeah I was maybe seventh grade, summer before eighth grade. I think it was the idea that I'm really fully taking on my faith as like my personal faith. It was kind of like a personal declaration, personal public declaration and a receiving of the Holy Spirit."
Our baptism means so much, and scripture talks about it and it's all those things. Forgiveness of sins. We can have a hope and we can have trust in God. We can have the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us. We're washed. We're renewed. We're cleansed. It uses all those images, but I wonder if somebody is here today that in addition to the person that's going to be baptized. I'm going to tell you who it is in just a moment. Who wants to move from the world of Adam to the world of Christ?
Because this is a moment of God's grace we call baptism. It's like a cleansing. It's like the ancient ritual washing of kippur. The cleansing in the tabernacle that we talked about some weeks ago. It's a moment that we come in the conscience that we're made new in our conscience. We can have a fresh conscience. We can have a clean conscience. We can have the guilt that we carry around, the shame, washed away. That's one of the reasons we have this ceremony.
But joining with Christ, that's where we lose all of that shame, and we get to be one with him. So I just wonder, is there anyone who would like to join with Jesus today in baptism? One of our high school students is going to be baptized today.
We have a way of baptizing at The Journey where everyone willing goes down to the baptistry together singing, "Down in the River to Pray." This moment isn't a moment just because we're afraid of hell. Baptism is not a ritual that we do and then we can say we've done it, and therefore I'm saved because I got baptized. Now I can do whatever I want. No, Paul in Romans 6 said no way would you think like that. So we have to really revise some of our thoughts about what baptism is. Baptism is joining the story of Jesus, who through God's power has redeemed us, and we join him in his death and we put to death that old Adam in us. We join in that already and not yet life of the Spirit and start walking anew. Doesn't mean we're perfect. Doesn't mean we won't sin again. It means we're walking in the new life of the Spirit, and you can read more about that New Life in the Spirit in future blog posts and listen to a sermon on the New Life in the Spirit at our podcast.
To answer the question of this post title, we die with Jesus in baptism, Paul says, so that we might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.