Many professing Christians say that baptism has nothing to do with your salvation. They will argue that it is a work and works do not save. If we are talking about meritorious works (things we do to earn something) then I agree, we are not saved by those kinds of works. However, baptism is not a meritorious work. It is a work of God. Look what Colossians 2:12-13 says. Look how the Bible connects faith, baptism, salvation, and the working of God all together here. And this is what we want to focus in on this morning, what God does in baptism.
He Forgives Us of Our Sins
Staying in Colossians 2:12-13 note emphatically what the text says in v.13 “He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.” This happened when they were baptized because the previous verses said that when they were buried with Him in baptism is when they were raised from the dead. So, in baptism God forgives us of all our sins. Period.
But this is not the only passage in which the Bible ties forgiveness of sins to baptism. Consider these passages.
- Mark 16:16 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”
- Acts 2:38 “Repent and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…”
- Acts 22:16 “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name [Jesus].”
- 1 Peter 3:21 “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.”
Repeatedly we read that the one who is baptized has been saved (Mark 16:16), they have forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), their sins have been washed away (Acts 22:16), and they have been saved (1 Peter 3:21).
And as Peter made the point, it is not baptism in of itself that saves but it is Christ and His blood. Peter said that baptism is not simply some ritualistic cleansing or an outward sign. Rather baptism is the demonstration of faith in what God said concerning salvation. The power in baptism is Christ.
If baptism is at the point in which we are forgiven of our sins we need to take God at His word and believe it.
He Cleanses Our Conscience
As we just read in 1 Peter 3:21 when we are baptized yes, we are saved, but also, we “appeal to God for a good conscience.” God, in baptism, gives us a new or good conscience or a clean one. That is a conscience that no longer feels guilty about the sins we have previously committed. This cleansing is only possible because Jesus died and was raised again from the dead. But why do we need a new conscience?
We need a new conscience so that we would not continue to carry around this guilt of our sin. God does not want us to be walking around all sullen feeling guilty over things that He has forgiven! So, He cleanses our consciences. He does this by 1) forgiving us of our sin (as we have previously discussed) and 2), He forgets the sins that are forgiven. This is one of the markers of the New Covenant (Hebrews 10:16-17).
He Adds Us to the Church
We read in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that God adds us to the church, the body of Christ, when we are baptized. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” Now I know this says “one body” but in the New Testament that one body is synonymous with the church.
Look over in Acts 2:41, 47 “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls… and the Lord was adding to their number (the church NKJV) day by day those who were being saved.” The word church (Gk. Ekklesia = assembly, gathering) simply means a group of people. So, when the NASB says “their number” it is the same as the KJV/NKJV using the word church. So, we see here that they were baptized into the church. In Corinthians they were baptized into the body. We have not made the connection yet so let us continue.
Ephesians 1:22-23 says God gave Christ as head over all things “to the church which is His body.” Here we see the connection between the body and the church. Which according to the Scriptures are one in the same. So, if baptism is what places us into the body, the church, the question is can I afford to be outside of Christ body?
He Adopts Us into His Family
Not only does God forgive our sins, cleanses our consciences, and adds us to the church in baptism, He also adopts us into His family. Let us look at Galatians 3:23-29 and note vv.26-27 “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothes yourselves with Christ.” In those two verses the English word “for” comes from the Greek word γάρ (gar) which means “because.” Why is that significant? It is significant because Paul is saying that we are all sons and daughters of God becausewe all were baptized into Christ. That is the reason why we are in the family because we have been born into the family in baptism!
This was part of God’s plan of salvation from eternity past. God predestined that His son would die and rise again so that those who would be conformed to Him (i.e., obey the Gospel) would be adopted into His family (Ephesians 1:5).
It is God Who Is at Work
When a person is baptized yes, it is them who goes down into the water and will arise out of it. But it is not they who are “working” it is God who is at work on them. And He is doing all that we have looked at this morning and so much more.