Water Baptism

Buried and Raised with Christ

God has always used illustrations, or object lessons, to teach people spiritual truths. Two such illustrations are considered to be sacraments (also called ordinances1) in today’s Protestant churches. One of these two is baptism.

The word baptism2 is used many times in the Bible. Literally it means, “to immerse” into something. In the context of water baptism, the word means “to immerse into water.” More specifically, being plunged or dipped completely below the water threshold. In the Bible, this was the way that John the Baptist and the early Christians baptized, and the way Jesus was baptized.

The act of baptizing is symbolic of the deep, spiritual truth of being born again. In baptism, people choose to identify themselves with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Water baptism illustrates the spiritual transformation that has already taken place in the soul of the repentant sinner who submits to the authority of Christ. Paul describes it in Romans 6:3-4:

“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.”

Just as Christ died, was buried, and rose again, we too die to our sin and are raised in a new life because we are now identified as being in Christ. Physical baptism illustrates the reality of the spiritual baptism of the person being baptized.

In his letter to Titus, Paul says that baptism represents the washing away of our sins and the renewal of the Holy Spirit which occurs at regeneration.

Baptism does not convey grace to the sinner and thereby regenerate the soul. It is not necessary for salvation. It is an outward sign of an inward transformation that has already happened. Therefore, baptism should occur after a person is born again – not before. And when baptism is performed, it should be immersion and not sprinkling. Any other ritual would not symbolize the truth it represents.

Verses for Further Reflection
Romans 6:1-11
Colossians 2:11-15

Articles on Water Baptism
Submerge or Sprinkle? (How should we baptize?)
Symbolize or Save? (Why should we baptize?)
Believers or Babies? (Who should we baptize?)


  1. The words sacraments and ordinances can be used interchangeably to describe the practice of baptism. For years, Protestants have declined to use the term ‘sacrament’ when describing baptism in order to prevent confusion with the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine of the Sacrament of Baptism, which holds to the conveying of grace and not the symbol of such a reality.
  2. Baptism comes from the Greek word ‘baptizo’ which, when translated, means: “to plunge, dip or immerse.” Baptizo is consistently used in this context throughout ancient Greek literature, both inside and outside of the Bible.
Posted by Jacob Abshire on October 3rd, 2008 - 12:17 am
Categories: Doctrines,Ecclesiology

2 Comments on “Water Baptism”

  • Mark Willis, March 8, 20113:36 pm

    I have to say to read Act 2:38 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. This is only 1 verse of many showing that baptism in necessary for salvation. We are buried with him in baptism the verse you quoted. The verse also says for the remission of sins, to say to people that baptism is not necessary is speaking against many scriptures that say it is necessary. I would be careful. If you want to now the others scriptures let me know I will gladly share.
    Servant of Jesus Christ,
    Mark Willis

  • Jacob Abshire, March 8, 20113:55 pm


    Thank you kindly for your comments. To be clear, my quote is: “Baptism does not convey grace to the sinner and thereby regenerate the soul. It is not necessary for salvation. It is an outward sign of an inward transformation that has already happened.” When I say that baptism is “not necessary for salvation,” I mean to say that you can be saved (justified in Christ) without being baptized by water. However, water baptism is an act of obedience to the same Christ who has already saved you.

    On that note, if you still disagree, please post any scriptures that I should consider. I’ll be happy to read over them and respond if you would like for me to.