What is the defining image of baptism?
The defining image of baptism is described in detail in Romans
chapter 6. Here Paul describes baptism as entering into Christ and
into his death. It is how one is crucified with Christ, buried with
Christ, and raised with Christ (Colossians 2:11-14). Baptism is how
one is freed from sin thereby becoming a servant of righteousness.
It is a pledge to keep a clear conscience before God, and God
therefore saves us in baptism (I Peter 3:21). It is how one
receives forgiveness of past sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit
(Acts 2:38). Baptism is how one is adopted as a child of God by
entering into Christ and putting Christ on (Galatians 3:26, 27).
Because baptism is a burial and resurrection with Christ, the
action of total immersion as practiced in the early church is in
keeping with this defining image, and the dramatic experience of
burying the old self and arising to new life is accomplished in
baptism as the defining event in one's life.