The immersionists' claim that the baptized person is showing his identification with Christ by going into Jesus' death with Him (when going under the water). The problem then ensues that the sacrament focuses more upon the believer's actions than on Christ's; the believer is testifying of his own "death and resurrection" rather than, or with, Jesus Christ's. The sacraments, however, are to be used solely in remembrance of Jesus Christ and His deeds -not the believer's.
These two texts speak of being baptized into Jesus' death, not His grave. Numerous other texts, also baptism texts, speak of the central importance of Jesus' death and shed blood. Jesus died by crucifixion. He was lifted up in death and His blood was sprinkled and poured out upon a sinful earth. To be baptized into Jesus' death by going down under water (which pictures His blood and death) certainly produces a distorted analogy.
Even if Jesus' burial, rather than His death, were viewed as the focal point of Jesus' saving work in these two texts, the immersionists' analogy would still remain inaccurate. When Jesus was buried, He did not go down under the earth. This would be true according to the European and North American customs of burying their dead, but it is not true according to the practice in biblical lands and times. Jesus was buried in a sepulchre - a hewn-out rock or cave which was above ground. He was not buried underground. A stone was rolled across the entrance to the sepulchre where Jesus lay. One had to stoop to enter the sepulchre's small door, but the sepulchre was above ground. Jesus' body was not lying beneath a sepulchre, under the earth, but in a sepulchre above the ground.
Therefore, the immersionists' attempts to literally picture the expression "buried with Him by baptism into death" by "burying people under the water" as Christ was "buried under the earth," are mistaken. Jesus never was lowered "down into" or "under" the earth.
Baptism in these two verses retains the same meaning as it does throughout the entire Bible. It signifies cleansing and consecration. Believers have fellowship with (are consecrated to) Jesus Christ and therefore obtain the saving benefits (the spiritual cleansing) of
How do sprinkling or pouring picture Jesus' death (His crucifixion) more clearly than immersing?
Would people in biblical times and would people in many parts of the world today understand that going under the water represents one's burial by going under the earth? Why not?