If one is saved by confessing that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead, what is the deal with Baptism? Why get Baptised when one is already saved? Does the water baptism itself actually wash away one’s sins and create the opportunity for forgiveness? Let’s dig into some key scripture on water baptism and why it’s essentials for the walk of a Christian.
Not Saved From Work
The formula of salvation is simple…
Reptence + Faith in Christ = Salvation
Then, as a result of being saved and feeling the deep love of Christ, one begins to produce good works and increase in their obedience to Christ. It’s important to understand this because if you get this wrong, you will miss out on the good grace of God.
You are saved by the finished work of Jesus on the cross and by nothing else. His blood covers you, and the fact that God raised him from the dead is what creates our eternal salvation. Therefore, the only way you could earn your salvation is if you could prove that you did things that only God could do.
Romans 10: 5-9 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
If your righteousness depends on the law, it means that you do the work and earn your salvation. But when it’s based on faith, it means that you need to believe and know that Jesus has done all of the work for you, so you don’t have to.
What this points to is the fact that a Baptism can’t save you. James Chapter 2 says that Faith without works is dead, simply because you know a Christian by their fruit. If Christ has changed one’s heart, you will see the results of that fruit in their life.
We Are to Be Obedient to What God Has Called Us To
What Jesus wants from us more than anything is our obedience to the Father. In the Old Testament, we learn about the character of God. He is good, loving, the creator, and he is sovereign, and he is a jealous God. He wants all of us and not a portion of us. He wants to know that we will follow him no matter what the world says or how much it costs him.
- 1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
- Romans 5:19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
- Psalm 112:1 Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!
Scripture is clear that we should delight in doing what God has told us to do. Before we even focus on the water baptism, this is true of everything scripture says.
God originally has called his people to live under the law. It’s unbearable, and The Law was made to show that we could never meet the mark (Romans 3:19-20).
The Law brought knowledge of how sinful humans are. The law clarified that humans were not meeting God’s standards, and they could not meet them. This is because humans are not naturally obedient to the ways of God.
Matthew 5 talks about how Jesus came to fulfill the law, not abolish it. He came to do everything that humans could not do on their own. It’s important to understand this because when you believe in Jesus, you become blameless in the eyes of God like him.
Also, when you believe he is Lord and that he died for your sins, you are given the Holy Spirit as a gift (John 14: 5-24). The Holy Spirit is the help that allows Christians to walk through this earth like Jesus. So again, the work is not from anything that you do on your own but because of the finished work of Jesus Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 1:31 – so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
- Hebrews 3:6 – but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
We Boast in Christ because our salvation comes from him and not from our own work. Therefore, everything we do should be to imitate Christ and the life that he lived. In Matthew 3:13-17, you see Jesus get Baptized. Since he is our Lord and Savior, we should want to be baptized like him. The same way that we are called to suffer as Christians because Jesus suffered for us by dying on the cross for our sins.
What is The Point of the Water Baptism?
Christians get Baptized because the Bible says so. For many people in our culture today who think they are their own rulers, that may be hard to understand. But the truth is that it’s a display of the fact that you have new life in Christ. When you go below the water, it represents getting buried, and then when you are raised, you come up brand new in him.
In him, you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Christians get so excited about Baptism because it represents being obedient to the Call of God. It means you are coming in line with your new master. Romans 6 talks about how we used to be slaves to sin, but now we are slaves to righteousness. We are slaves to a God who loves and cares for us to a point where he would give up his one and only son so that we could have life through him.
Acts 22:15 – And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’
Where Can The Water Baptism Go Wrong?
God is after our hearts, and if Baptism is not representing Jesus being accepted in your heart and the Holy Spirit, it does not matter. In church, it’s easy for people to get caught up in emotion and say they are giving their life to Christ. They come up to the front of the church, jump in the water, and get pulled out, and the church cheers.
Then they go back to living their normal life, and nothing changes. Sadly this happens too often. People are sure they are saved, but they have not received the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is what allows us to change and walk through life Jesus. Without that real change, it is more than possible that one just got in and out of water. There is nothing special about the water; what matters is your heart.
Acts 2:38 – And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In Leviticus 26:41, you see Moses call God’s people to have a circumcised heart. You see, the people being circumcised fulfilled the covenant made between Abraham and God in Genesis 17. It was how others would know that they were God’s people, but that became the focus. It was nothing more than a symbol and an outward checked box.
Moses realized that they needed to be circumcised in their hearts because an outward symbol without a change of heart meant nothing. But the truth is that we cannot change on our own. We need Jesus to change our minds and our hearts. The water baptism is just an outward sign that we are ready to submit and be changed.
Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”