Life means movement. The dead are still. The living are in motion. The apostle Paul presented the one true God to the Athenians, saying of him: “For in him we live and move about and exist” Acts 17.28 NET.
Spiritual life, or eternal life, as it is often called, also means movement. To start this life, there must be motion — an entering into the place where this life begins.
Eternal life is unlike physical life in at least one respect: a person chooses to possess it. God initiates it, provides it, creates it, calls us to it, but we must move toward it. We must go where it can be had.
This is the sense of 1 Corinthians 1.9: “God is faithful, by whom you were called to enter into fellowship with his son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (my translation). The phrase “to enter” has been supplied because the preposition into translates the Greek preposition eis. HELPS Word Studies says of the preposition:
1519 eis (a preposition) – properly, into (unto) – literally, “motion into which” implying penetration (“unto,” “union”) to a particular purpose or result.
Wayne Jackson quoted Balz and Schneider’s Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament that the preposition eis serves as “an indicator of direction toward a goal, not as an indicator of location without direction.”
So eis is “a preposition of motion,” says one commenter.
All this is to say that living means motion and finding that life is also a starting movement to enter into Christ. So the question is, what specific movement, if any, puts one into Christ, in order to receive this living fellowship with him?
The New Testament leaves no doubt. Using the eis preposition again, the apostle Paul states:
Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into [eis] Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Romans 6.3.
For all of you who were baptized into [eis] Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3.27.
Paul identifies immersion in water then as the movement that puts a person into Christ. This is prefaced by the very first step of faith and the next movement of decision to abandon sin and follow the Lord Jesus—repentance. This puts one on the edge, but still outside. Immersion is not only the plunge into water, but into the living Christ as well.
Because of false teaching about immersion, it often serves to remind ourselves that
- Obedience is not equivalent to works of merit, Romans 1.5; 16.26. The latter cannot save, but the former is essential to eternal salvation, Hebrews 5.9.
- Immersion is an act of faith, Mark 16.16. Faith always precedes it in Scripture. It is not therefore a sacrament, an act that has effect without the consciousness or consent of the subject.
- God has put the action of Christ’s cleansing blood at the point of immersion, 1 Peter 3.21.
Once we have entered into fellowship with Christ through immersion, then “we must progress beyond the elementary instructions about Christ and move on to maturity” Hebrews 6.1. For eternal life is knowing God, John 17.3, a movement ever closer to his holiness and love.