Buried with Him
Noticing the title of our article you might assume that we will be discussing the importance of baptism and how baptism saves us by the resurrection of the Christ (cf 1 Peter 1:3). However, we are going to be focusing on the mode of baptism. Notice the first word to the title, buried. It seems that there is a growing trend to be lax concerning this part of the command given to us through the apostles by Jesus (cf Matthew 28:18-20).
On the internet there is a video going around that has been viewed at the time of my writing this article 3.1 million times. It depicts several soldiers in the desert being baptized in a makeshift baptistry. The baptistry is the bucket of a front end loader. Now, this is great. It is wonderful to know that anywhere where we can get water to pool we can baptize someone into Christ (cf Romans 6:3-ff; Galatians 3:37). Sadly, as joyous as this should be, at least one of these men was not baptized. He was not fully immersed. When he was baptized his knees came up out of the water.
Is this really a problem? Many say, God’s grace will cover that. Others say, he was immersed just not all at one thusly fulfilling the requirements of baptism. Sadly, those who offer dissenting arguments are attacked as legalistic, accused of not trusting in God’s grace, and/or being whats wrong with the church.
To get to the bottom of this all we have to do is go to one passage of Scripture. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Can we read the word buried?
Baptism is a burial. When discerning the validity of baptizing someone with a body part sticking up out of the water we must ask, would I bury a dead body with a body part sticking out of the dirt? Since baptism is in the likeness of Jesus’ death burial and resurrection, can we truly be like Jesus if we are buried with a body part sticking out of the tomb? Did Jesus have a body part sticking out of the tomb?
Furthermore, if we cary this idea out to the end of its logical progression, if one part of the body can be out of the water during baptism then all parts of the body can be out during baptism. This idea may sound absurd but let’s see if we can illustrate it. Suppose a man says, I want to be baptized but I can’t get my feet wet. We might lower him into the water but his feet stay out of the water. That part of his body was not buried. That part of his body was not baptized. Can you find a book, chapter, and verse which authorizes such? Also, If we are picking and choosing which body parts must go under the water then what is the argument agains sprinkling or pouring? Can I simply dunk my head in a bucket of water and have that count as my burial, if not then why not? Obviously the answer is, no.
I would hope that everyone who reads this would prayerfully consider what has been said and be extra careful when we bury our dead. We need to make sure its a burial and not a partial burial. If I am going to be buried in like fashion as Christ I must have my whole body buried.