If you’re looking for an introduction to the biblical teachings about baptism and its relationship to salvation, then I hope the following will be helpful to you. This is not an exhaustive study of the subject, but the scripture references here should lead you to greater insight into what Christian baptism is and what it is for. If you have any questions about what I’m saying here, please leave me a comment or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I’ll do my best to respond. May God bless your study!
- Baptism is something Jesus did to identify with humanity (Matthew 3), and it is something we do to identify with Jesus. Jesus’ example is foundational for us.
- Baptism is likely in mind as Jesus says we must experience a new birth of water and spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5).
- Baptism is an identification with and a joining with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 6:3-11; Colossians 2:11-14).
- Baptism is putting on Christ through faith (Galatians 3:26-27).
- Baptism is commanded for all who would be Jesus’ disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
- Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Note that even John’s baptism was one of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3)!
- Baptism (into Christ) is when believers receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 19:1-6).
- Baptism saves us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:20-21).
- Baptism results in sanctification—God makes us holy, purified, consecrated—and justification—God declares us free and renders a favorable verdict (1 Corinthians 6:11).
- Baptism is one of the seven foundation stones of unity Paul mentions in Ephesians 4:1-6. See also 1 Corinthians 12:12-13.
- “Faith takes away the love of sin, repentance takes away the practice of sin, and baptism takes away the guilt of sin (Ferguson, The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today, p. 183).
- Baptism adjoins repentance and confession. It is a faith-based act of submission to the commands of God. Baptism is a submissive act and should not be considered a work that earns our forgiveness. Paul clearly alludes to baptism as a saving act of God while also saying that it is not a work of righteousness that we do to earn salvation (Titus 3:5). We affirm that we are saved by grace through faith and that our salvation is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:1-10)! We also affirm that faith is never passive; we faithfully respond in obedience to the commands of God. Our faith is in God’s work. The demonstration of trust that we offer the one who plunges us beneath the waters in baptism is emblematic of the demonstration of trust we offer to God who promises to save us.
- Baptism is something we submit to in faith because Jesus did it and God specifically commands us to follow this example. It is a work of God that, through His mercy and grace, cleanses us from our sins, indentifies us with the sacrifice of Jesus, seals us with His Spirit, and joins us to His bride—the church.