“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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:4-11)
Baptism pictures our identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. It is this symbolic significance that necessitates baptism by immersion. Baptism’s symbolism is lost if its scriptural mode is changed. For instance, how is one’s death, burial and resurrection with Christ pictured by being sprinkled in baptism? Obviously, baptism’s symbolic significance is forfeited anytime its scriptural mode (immersion) is compromised.
As Christ died for us, we’ve died for and with Him. Whereas He died for our sins, we’ve died with Him to our sins; that is, we’ve died to the old person we used to be and to the old life we used to live. As Christ was buried beneath the earth in the tomb, we are buried with Him beneath the waters of baptism. Here, beneath the baptismal waters, our old person and life are buried to never rise again.
After being buried with Christ in baptism, Paul says that we are raised with Him into newness of life. Just as He was raised from the dead into newness of life by the Father, we are raised from the dead into newness of life by Christ. This great truth is beautifully pictured by our rising up from the waters of baptism.
In baptism, we rise from our watery grave to live a brand new life that is abundant and eternal (John 3:15; 10:10). We leave our old person behind, buried in the waters of baptism, and emerge from those very same waters as a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). No longer will we live for ourselves, but henceforth for Him who died for us and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15).
“We may never be martyrs but we can die to self, to sin, to the world, to our plans and ambitions. That is the significance of baptism; we died with Christ and rose to new life.” (Vance Havner)