What Is The Purpose for Water Baptism?

by Tom Edwards

1) Mark 16:16, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved...." Baptism must be coupled with faith--and vice versa--to obtain salvation.

2) Acts 2:38, "...'Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins...." One is to be baptized for the same reason one is to repent--and that is to have sins blotted out.

3) Acts 22:16, "And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name." Paul had already met the Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-20), believed and penitently went three days fasting and praying; but he still had sins--and these were not forgiven until he obeyed the command to be baptized, as this verse shows. By his submission to baptism, along with his faith and repentance, Paul was "calling" on the Lord--by these actions, and not merely by some type of "sinner's prayer."

4) Rom. 6:3,4, "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." We contact the benefits of Christ's death through baptism; and as this passage shows, baptism is so that we might begin our new life as a Christian. Therefore, one seeking God's forgiveness doesn't have this new life prior to baptism.

5) Galatians 3:26,27, "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." The Bible tells us that "all spiritual blessings are in Christ Jesus" and that there is "no condemnation for those who are in Christ" (Rom. 8:1). The above passage shows the answer to the important question of how one is to get into Christ--and baptism is part of that answer.

6) 1 Peter 3:21, "Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience...." Clearly, the Bible does show water baptism as being necessary--along with faith, repentance, and confession of faith--toward having sins forgiven and becoming a child of God. By doing these things--and not by merely praying a "sinner's prayer"--one is "calling on the Lord" (cf, Acts 2:21). For consider Acts 2:14-41, in which Peter quotes Joel as saying that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." In this same chapter, not one word was ever said about praying a "sinner's prayer" to become a Christian. Rather, they were told to believe in Christ (v. 36) and to repent and be baptized (v. 38). When they obeyed these commands, they were fulfilling what Peter and Joel had meant by "calling on the Lord."

NOTE: I took the time to emphasize this because so many in the religious world today have been deceived into thinking that baptism is not a part of God's plan of salvation. Many of these people believe instead that salvation is obtained by merely a "mental assent" toward the deity of Christ. But God's word shows more than that: one must also repent (Acts 2:38), acknowledge faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10), and be baptized in water (as the above scriptures show). Knowing the right purpose for baptism is, therefore, a very serious issue.

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