Raised . . . to New Life.
In November, two students approached me and asked if I would baptize them. Sister and brother, (junior and senior in high school), it was an interesting request, since I had not taught on baptism at Fellowship of Christian Athletes or Sunday Night Live, and they had not been raised in church, so why make such a request? The answer was simple: they wanted to obey Christ's example and also make public their commitments to follow him. In truth, baptism symbolizes what Paul was teaching in these verses:
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ,
set your sights on the realities of heaven,
where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand.
Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.
For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world,
you will share in all his glory. Colossians 3.1-4
Baptism in Paul's day was different than is common today. It was adult baptism. (Infant baptism did not begin until around A.D. 200.) In the early church, baptism was connected with confession of faith. Baptism was usually total immersion, which symbolized being buried and when coming out of the water, rising from the grave. Symbolically, baptism was like dying and rising again. The man died to one kind of life and rose to another; he died to the old life of sin and rose to the new life of grace.
For you died to this life . . . and you have been raised to new life with Christ.
Well, word got out, and another student approached me and asked to be baptized, and then another ... and we picked a baptism date. I met with the students on campus ahead of time, to be certain of their commitments to Jesus, and talk about what baptism is, and what it is not. It is not baptism into a denomination or membership in any church; it does not 'save' anyone, but rather is the demonstration of what has already taken place within the heart of an individual. And it symbolizes death to bondage of sin and rebirth to a new life.
On a cold, clear Sunday afternoon in December-just two days before Christmas--folks assembled at our locals' beach, Riviera, ready to participate in the faith commitments of 10 young adults. Two sets of siblings, in which Big Dave and I baptized brother first; then the brother would assist me in lowering his younger sister into the cold Pacific waters, only to raise her back up again, while the crowd exploded in cheers!
So beautiful ... so many teary eyes on the beach of onlookers. It truly was a joyful experience, a lovely demonstration of the newness of life Jesus offers those who would come after him ... so amazing indeed.
For you died to this life.. and you have been raised to new life with Christ.