After becoming a Christian, I was baptized a few weeks later. I know something happened to me on the inside through the experience, although I can’t say exactly what. I felt different, as if I had been changed on the inside instantaneously. I’ve never wanted to do it again, but I have wished I could get that feeling back.
Cleansing and purification were a major focus of the Old Testament sacrificial system. Among the furnishings of Solomon’s temple was a “molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about” (2 Chronicles 4:2). The molten sea was a large metal tub approximately 15 feet wide and 8 feet high filled with water “for the priests to wash in” (2 Chronicles 4:6).
The immense size of the molten sea indicates two things. First, the priests were cleansed by immersing themselves in the water. The height of the molten sea made it impossible to stand without being completely covered with water. Second, the cleansing was not meant for the priests’ bodies because a single bath of water, approximately 22 liters of water, would have been sufficient. The molten sea contained 3000 baths of water (2 Chronicles 4:5), enough to fill a large room.
The purpose of baptism by immersion is identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, but I believe it is also a type of spiritual bath. In and of itself, being dunked in the water doesn’t do anything for us, but I think a cleansing does take place for those that believe in baptism’s transformative affect. When I was baptized, I believe I was made clean on the inside. All the internal effects of sin were eliminated as I was spiritually buried with Christ and resurrected to new life.