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Why Water


Years ago a pastor once told me that there is nothing Biblically significant about water in respect to water baptism.  "Sand would do just fine, he said."  Was he Biblically correct?  Why water?


Romans 6:3 and 4 says: "Donít you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death ..."  One thing we learn from the Apostle Paul here is that when we are water baptized we are acknowledging the historic fact that from God's perspective, we were buried in the tomb along with Jesus.  We received the sentence of death along with Jesus because Jesus was punished in our place.  He was our representative to God in death.  Water, therefore, in respect to baptism is associated with God's judgment that ends in death.      


With the above in mind I find Revelation 21:1 interesting.  "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea."  Why are there no seas on the new earth?


In answering the question about why no seas we should know that the book of Revelation was written in Old Testament Jewish prophetic style, and maybe specifically to Jews living at the end of this age.  When the text says that there will be no seas on the new earth, Jews in the first century and throughout Old Testament times would have found that significant.  They had a real dislike and uneasiness for oceans.  They were not people of the sea like other cultures.  This might have been due to the waters of judgment and death as seen in the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, in the flood of Noah's day, and the ocean that covered the earth in Genesis 1:2. 


"Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters" (Genesis 1:2).  One thing we know from this and the following verses is that the waters covered the entire earth.  However you understand Genesis 1, this world-wide ocean prevented human life from existing on dry ground, and thus the reason for Genesis 1:9.  "And God said, 'Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear."  


All of this suggests to me, and it is merely a suggestion, that in Biblical terms water may have some significance.  If water prevented human life from existing in Genesis 1:2 and 9, and if it was associated with judgment and death at the Red Sea, the flood of Noah's day, and Jesus' death, then water, not sand, is significant in water baptism. 


Water baptism is the acknowledgment of the fact that from God's perspective, we were judged, condemned, and sentenced to death with Jesus.  The Biblical fact, therefore, is that in the eyes of God, when Jesus died, we died too, and like Jesus, we have been raised to a new life by the reception of the Holy Spirit into our lives.  We are not who we once were. We have become new creations.  Our old self has died.  We have risen from the waters of death into the life of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15). 


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