Total Immersion

“The “Way” that Jesus Christ gave his followers is more than private reading and devotions, more than occasional prayer, and more than “accepting Christ.” There must be a total immersion experience.”

When I was growing up our family had a membership with a local pool. Living in southeast North Carolina with the high humidity of the summers, this pool provided an oasis to escape the endless heat. It was a place to forget the muggy humidity and just have a good time in the water. I remember my first swim lessons in that pool. The pool, like most in ground pools, was built with an incline, just a couple feet at one end and about ten feet at the other. Then there was also a kiddie pool off to the side, separate from everything else. Even before learning how to swim, I was intrigued by the deep end. There was just something about my feet not touching the bottom, a sense of being completely surrounded—submerged in water. All I wanted to do was get out of the shallows and experience the deep. I wanted to be totally immersed in the experience.

Underwater shot of the swimming pool

Our spiritual life is not much different. Many are content to splash around in the shallows, where it is relatively safe, where there is no risk, where we can touch bottom and do not have to exert too much energy. Spiritually speaking, some never get out of the kiddie pool with the crying babies and helpless toddlers. But staying in the shallow end we miss the adventure of the deep. We sell ourselves short on the full experience. We miss the full immersion experience waiting for us in the deep. I’m talking about living for God with a sense of adventure. I’m talking about faith, desire, and a willingness to go where we have never been, attempt things we’ve never done before, and always feel that we must totally immerse ourselves in the entire experience of living for God.

Matthew 28:16-20 says,

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Reading and studying the Bible, church gatherings, prayer, praise and worship, offerings, fellowship, baptisms … all of it is part of a total immersion experience into the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. This final meeting between Jesus and his disciples is the culmination of all Jesus’ ministry—all his teaching and preaching, all his healings and miracles, everything Jesus said and did ended here at this final meeting place. Jesus spent 3 ½ years living with his disciples, showing them A NEW WAY to live. Jesus gave them a NEW IDENTITY as “fishers of men” and preachers of the Gospel. Many left their families, left their jobs, to follow Jesus and learn from him—everything about their lives had changed!

Here, standing on this mountain, Jesus had already been rejected by the Jews, arrested by the Temple guards, and turned over to the Gentiles to be crucified. Jesus had already gone up Calvary, shed his blood, and died. Jesus had already been entombed—and God had already raised Jesus from the dead. After his Resurrection, Jesus spent about 40 days with his disciples, showing his wounds and opening their understanding of the Scriptures, how that the Messiah had to suffer and die and rise again, according to the Scriptures. Now—after all of this—what does Jesus tell his disciples?

Jesus unequivocally declares, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

This is the foundation—the cornerstone—of everything we say and do in the church.

Because Jesus is both Lord and Christ—we can go and preach with authority.

Because Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life—we can expect revival.

Because Jesus has all Power—there is no devil in Hell that can stop the Church.

BECAUSE JESUS HAS ALL POWER,

This means your sickness does not have all power …

Your financial crisis does not have all power …

Family strife does not have all power …

Depression does not have all power …

That addiction does not have all power …

Sin does not have all power!

Jesus has all power in heaven and in earth! This is why we need to be immersed into the life of Jesus.

“Cultural immersion” is a term used to describe many study abroad programs in universities. Students will be sent to live and study in a country foreign to them because of how it will change them and their perspective. One website that promotes immersion trips mentions three key purposes for cultural immersion:

  • To enlighten the mind of each participant through cultural sharing opportunities.
  • To enrich the spirit of each participant through engaging activities and meaningful service.
  • To empower participants to develop new perspectives on their lives, the world we live in and their place in it.

THE GOSPEL IS AN IMMERSION EXPERIENCE!

When we believe and obey the gospel, we are immersed into a brand new culture. Old ways of thinking don’t work in this new country of the Kingdom of God. Old habits cannot follow us into this new country. Old customs, preferences, even some friends and family—cannot follow us into this new country. But it requires total immersion into “the New!” Splashing in the shallows or dipping your toes in is not enough. Watching other, or knowing others who are immersed in the faith of Jesus Christ is not enough. Each must go in for themselves, and experience the immersion into Christ. There is a “coming out” and “going in” when we experience the salvation Jesus offers us. We leave our old life behind and enter the new. We enter into a brand new world and are planted into a brand new culture.

  • 2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
  • Colossians 1:13 Who [God] hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
  • 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

Why do we need immersion into the reality of Jesus?

Because many of us spent years developing habits, ways of thinking, ways of talking, ways of dressing, forming associations with certain groups of people, places and things. It’s not easy to change all this over night, or just a little at a time. That’s why God chose the New Birth and a lifelong process of discipleship in the Church. There must be a dramatic shift—a complete turn around—an about face! There must be repentance, baptism, and an infilling of that New Life that God has prepared for us. And, there must be an immersion experience into the life of the Church.

It’s not enough to take away the drugs and alcohol, take away the parties and the music. It’s not enough to change the style of dress or to adopt a more “religious” life. There must be a new culture—a new life—that completely replaces the old. It is going to take more than “Sunday morning” religion to change somebody’s life. The “Way” that Jesus Christ gave his followers is more than private reading and devotions, more than occasional prayer, more than “accepting Christ.” There must be a total immersion experience.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

Baptizing (Gr. baptizō) means to immerse or submerge; to dip repeatedly; to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water.

Anyone like pickles?

An example that shows the meaning of the Greek baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander (200 B. C.). It is a recipe for making pickles. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be “dipped” (Gr. bapto) into boiling water and then “baptized” (Gr. baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution—But the first is temporary. The second, the act of “baptizing” the vegetable, produces a permanent change. [i] Just believing in Jesus is not enough, there must be a faith that leads us into full relationship with Christ. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle! We must be baptized (i.e. immersed in; submerged into) the Water and the Spirit! “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Some have “tried” the Christian faith; some have “dipped” themselves once or twice, but God is telling us we must be IMMERSED!

Water Baptism – “In the name of JESUS!”

  • Acts 2:38 “…be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”
  • Acts 2:41 “…they that gladly received his word were baptized”
  • Acts 8:16 “…they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus”
  • Acts 8:36 “…see, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
  • Acts 10:44 “…he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”
  • Acts 19:5 “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
  • Acts 22:16 “…arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

Immersion, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is the act of putting someone or something completely in a liquid; complete involvement in some activity or interest. Considering this definition, let’s look at the sequence of Matthew 28:19.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt 28:19)

Immersion into the name of the Father

It is not enough to say, “I believe in God” or “I accept Christ” (“easy-believism”). We must be IMMERSED in the reality of the Father. God must become our Father through the New Birth. That is, we enter into filial relationship with God and continue in faith to receive the inheritance God has provided. Being baptized in Jesus’ name means we acknowledge him as the only way to the Father, because he said,

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

I am in the Father, and the Father in me.” (John 14:11)

No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” (Matt 11:27 Berean Study Bible)

Immersion into the name of the Son

New Testament salvation means leaving our old, sinful life completely, and entering our new life in the Body of Christ. We are immersed into the name of the Son of God because he is the one who shed his blood for our sins, and his name, Jesus, is the only name that can bring salvation. There is no other name. The Son has all power in heaven and in earth. Rather than be immersed in the latest television series, or swallowed up by the ceaseless inundation of imagery on the internet, what we really need is to be immersed deeper into the name of the Son of God. The name represents his very essence … his presence!

Immersion into the name of the Holy Ghost

It is not enough to have a feeling or a chill once in a while. We must be baptized—i.e. immersed—in the Holy Ghost. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body…” Is it theologically incorrect to insist that one must receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost (i.e. be immersed in the Holy Spirit)? Is it a stretch of the imagination to adamantly maintain the absolute essentiality of the baptism of the Holy Ghost? In fact, the baptism of the Holy Ghost was promised by God, foretold by the prophets, prophesied by John the Baptist, and promised and then given by Jesus Christ.

I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28).

I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize (i.e. immerse/submerge) you with the Holy Ghost” (Mark 1:8).

While the world is busy immersing themselves in their work, their career, their personal success, and while others are immersing themselves in sports obsessions and insatiable pursuit of hobbies, and some are immersing themselves in milkshakes and fast food, still others immerse themselves in over-adulation of the human body with religious gym workouts and worship of the flesh … GOD IS CALLING PEOPLE TO IMMERSION INTO HIS PRESENCE … SPIRIT, SOUL, and BODY.

“What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16)

 

[i] Bible Study Magazine, James Montgomery Boice, May 1989.

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