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Comparative Theology, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
20- Why is there death in baptism? And what is its importance?
Here we ask: Why is there death in baptism? And what is its importance?
(a) To have fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle did not say that he only enters into the power of His resurrection, but he said: "...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Phil.3: 10) and "I have been crucified with Christ" (Gal.2: 20). The phrase dying with Christ is repeated many times in his Epistle to the Romans (Rom.6).
(b) Man's corrupted nature (the old man) must die in baptism so he may receive the new nature. This is what the Apostle express in his words about crucifying the old self in baptism. In the same chapter of his Epistle to the Romans he says: "...knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin" (Rom.6: 6,7). Here is the benefit of death. Death is not harmful as some think, and we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other pages. It is better for us and for our old self to die so that we can rise with a new nature after the image of God. As for the corrupted nature, it does not have the power to rise with Christ. It is essential for our old self to die in order to live.
(c) The fellowship of His death implies that we profess that we were under the penalty of death; we were dead in trespasses. Christ died for us and was buried. That is why we are baptised into His death. As long as the wages of our sin is death, we are buried with Him in baptism. In this way we receive the merit of the blessing of rising with Christ.
(d) It is common sense that resurrection means rising from the dead. Whoever rises with Christ in baptism must have died with Him in order to rise. If he did not die, how then will he rise?
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