It is now nearing four years since I was baptized into the Orthodox Church. As a result, I have been reflecting on the time around my baptism and the many graces that baptism into the Church of Christ has bestowed upon me, and bestows upon all who are baptized. In baptism, by dying to our old self and putting on the new man, we participate in the death and resurrection of Christ: His death and resurrection restored man’s relationship to God. After baptism, we are cleansed from all of our past sins, and our life in Christ through grace really begins. These results can be seen in the life of one who has become baptized, and can often be seen by others as well.
Theologically, baptism is our participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. His death on the Cross, entombment, and resurrection on the third day put death to death. Paradoxically, it was by death that death was abolished, in that when He was put in the tomb, His soul descended to Hades, where the dead lay, and He restored our Fathers Adam and Eve to life.
When man is baptized, he descends into the water, which becomes his grave. Emerging from this watery grave, he is resurrected with Christ. After the three immersions, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, man is chrismated, or anointed with oil, which bestows the Holy Spirit on him. His old nature is killed, and he is reborn with the gift of grace. All of his sins are forgiven.