by John E. Werhan
Water is one of, if not the most important necessity of life. As I look out upon one of our major lakes it is evident that this area is deficient of this needed element. For quite some time this area has suffered under extreme drought conditions.
Even though God has given rain, there has not been enough to refill many lakes and ponds. Without the necessary water, life cannot be sustained.
This same element is also of ultimate importance for the spiritual transition of individuals. For his own reasoning Jesus commanded that every person must be born again. Then he gave instruction as to how an individual is to be born again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
In this context Jesus teaches that for an individual to “enter into the kingdom of God” that they must be reborn spiritually in water. When Jesus gave Nicodemus these instructions, Nicodemus would have understood that being born of water constituted baptism. Ritual baptism in water was a common reality in first century Israel.
In Jesus’ Great Commission, he commanded the apostles to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The baptism in this context is the same as being “born of water” in John 3. Since the apostles could not baptize “in the Spirit” it can be understood that they were to baptize in water.
Paul wrote an explanation of this to the Christians in Rome.
“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
Paul is noting that to be “born of water” an individual must be baptized (immersed) as to being “raised from the dead.” When an individual is baptized in water to emulate the new birth, they die to their sins and arise “in newness of life.” It is in the waters of baptism that one comes in contact with the saving blood of Jesus (Hebrews 9:14).
Peter in his first letter makes it clear that baptism (immersion in water) is essential for an individual to have their sins washed and ultimately receive salvation.
“Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you–not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him” (1 Peter 3:21-22).
In essence for one to be born again, they must be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38).
Without water there is no salvation for the physical or the spiritual. Water is one of the most important elements on this earth. The question we must ask ourselves is if we have been “born again of the water and the spirit”?
Have I been baptized for the forgiveness of my sins? Have I been raised up to a “newness of life”? If not, why not? Without baptism there is no salvation (John 3:5).
John preachers for the The Northeast church of Christ in Sentinel, Oklahoma.