Baptism means identification or association with a message and/or a group. Compare to 1 Cor.10:2
It is an ordinance of the church. It does not give any merit towards one’s salvation. It follows one’s personal faith in Christ. Immersion is clearly the mode taught in the NT. For example, a white sheet dipped in a tub of red dye will identify itself with the dye by becoming red as the dye itself. Hence, baptism publicly identifies the believer with Christ in His death, burial, & resurrection. It is an outward act of the inward reality of our cleansing from sin through faith in Christ. It is a symbol of leaving the old life & entering the new. In the NT it immediately followed salvation. Rom. 6
We believe the New Testament teaches believer's baptism by immersion (it follows personal faith in Christ) as the initial sign of a profession of faith in Christ. Baptism publicly identifies the believer with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection; therefore, we understand water baptism to be merely a picture which symbolizes the reality of our cleansing, identification with Christ and His Body, and the new life in Him. Even though baptism is not a requirement for one's salvation, it is the responsibility of each believer to be baptized (Mt.28:19; Acts 10:47-48; 16:31-34; 18:7-8; 1 Cor.12:12-13; Rom.6:1-6).
Arguments for immersion.
(1) This is the primary meaning of the Greek word baptizo.
(2) The normal understanding of "into'' and "out of'' the water indicates immersion.
(3) Jewish proselyte baptism was a total immersion, which points to John's and Christian baptism being the same.
(4) The practice of the early church was immersion.
(5) Every case allows for it.
(6) The Greek language has words for "sprinkle'' and "pour'' but these are never used of baptism.
(7) Immersion best pictures what the baptizing work of the Spirit accomplishes according to Romans 6, though not water baptism here.
NT Truth :
1 Pet 2:21
21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,
16 And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him,
17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection,
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Does Baptism Save You?
NO ! But what about :
1 Pet 3:18-21
"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Note : Remember a rule of interpretation : Always interpret a seemingly vague passage in light of a clear passage related to it. Ex., on the issue of salvation : Compare Eph. 2:8,9 with Phil. 2:12. It is clear salvation is not based on works!
Peter is now applying what he instructed in the context of suffering for the sake of righteousness thereby keeping a good conscience as stated in v. 13-17,21. Most inherent in the word baptism is the idea of identification ( Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12 ). One who becomes a child of God identifies with Christ, is in Christ and is no longer of the world. He no longer identifies with the world in his position. Therefore he can expect suffering to one degree or another for the sake of Christ, just as Noah did ( He was ridiculed. ) for obeying God.
Based on the below verses the primary conclusion that may be drawn on this matter is that just as the Ark delivered Noah's family from divine judgment, so too will baptism deliver us from divine judgment. ( 1 Thess. 5:9 ) But there is only one baptism that can deliver one from divine judgment and it is not water baptism but the baptism of the Holy Spirit as seen in 1 Cor. 12:13! This baptism takes place immediately at the moment of salvation.
Consider these verses :
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism ( Spirit baptism here ), one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
1 Cor 12:13
For by ( with ) one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
NOTE : Christ is the baptizer, the Holy Spirit is the agent He used.
1 Cor 1:17
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void. ( Also see Rom. 1:16 )
Baptism Does Not Save you
Acts 2:38 ( See more Here )
And Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for ( ei" w/accus. - causal - see Mt. 12:41 for same Gk. construction ) the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
NOTE : Compare this verse to Acts 10:43-47 where Peter also makes it clear that faith alone saves.
The word "save" can also mean deliver. The context determines what one is delivered from. It has to be related to the statement "an appeal to God for a good conscience-through the resurrection of Jesus Christ". Secondarily, by identifying with suffering for the sake of righteousness and thereby having a good conscience, they would be delivered from a bad conscience if they tried to avoid persecution by not taking a stand for Christ. Peter knows this all too well. He remembers what it was like when he denied Christ 3 times!!
So, baptism will save no man. There must be an answerable good conscience. There must be the answer of a good conscience towards God & what He says is required to obtain salvation. Peter is not contradicting himself - note 1 Peter 1:5-9 where he makes real clear faith alone saves. Remember again, the main idea behind baptism is the idea of identification. The overall context here is identifying with the message of Christ dying for our sins to bring us to God - v. 18. It was Noah's faith that saved him, & thus he believed God & built the ark. Scriptural baptism demonstrates that faith in Christ has already taken place & this baptism is public announcement of that.
by Dave Smith, D.Min.