What Baptism Does and Does Not Do
“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” —Romans 6:4
The Bible is crystal clear on the subject of baptism. Sadly, though, the majority of the religious world says baptism isn’t necessary. It’s a good thing, but it’s just an extra thing. It’s an outward sign of inward grace. But please listen: IT IS NECESSARY. It’s necessary because God granted life. He is the Creator. He is in control. He giveth, and He taketh away. He sets the rules. Mark 16:16 says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” The Greek word for baptism is baptizó -- immersion, complete submergence. An example of that is the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8.
WHAT BAPTISM DOES:
*It brings us into Christ (Gal. 3:26-29): When we are baptized into Christ, we put on Christ. Jesus died for all. Racial, social, gender, political and economic distinctions can divide us, but Christ shows no prejudice.
*It makes us disciples (Matt. 28:19): A disciple is a student, follower, learner. As a Christian, we've made it known that we embraced the teachings of Jesus -- including baptism -- and we share the teachings of Jesus with others.
*It brings us into one body (I Cor. 12:12-13; Acts 2:41, 47): Even though we are many and we are all different, baptism brings us all into the one body of Jesus Christ. Christians make up that one body.
*It brings us into Christ’s death (Col. 2:12; II Cor. 5:14; Rom. 6:3-8): Because we are dead in sin, we need to be buried with Christ in baptism in order for His death to impact us. If we haven't been baptized, we haven't died with Christ, our old self wasn't crucified with Him and our sins haven't been forgiven.
*It grants forgiveness (Acts 2:38, 22:16): Our sins are washed away. Baptism is how we get rid of our sins and our guilt.
*It gives life (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:13): When we are baptized, we are raised to walk in newness of life. We are made alive; a new creature.
*It saves us (I Pet. 3:21): Baptism is not a physical washing, nor is there anything holy in the water. In baptism, we trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Baptism saves because God has said when we do this, He'll save us (Mark 16:16).
WHAT BAPTISM DOES NOT DO:
*Save us by itself: In the New Testament, we read that there are many things that all work together to bring about salvation. God saves us. The blood saves us. Belief saves us. Loving the brethren saves us. Works save us. Jesus saves us. The list goes on and on.
*Prevent temptation (Acts 5:1-11, 8:9-25): Don't think that Satan will leave you alone once you are baptized. In fact, Satan will come after you even harder, because he's lost you. You were once in the world; now you're a child of God. We must be ready to face temptation.
*Provide us a license to sin (Rom. 6:1-2, 23): We can't just go out and do whatever we want, knowing that we can go back to God and ask for forgiveness. We have died to sin. We must no longer live in it.
*Prevent physical pain and death (Heb. 9:27; Eccl. 12:3-8): Our baptism does not make us immune to suffering, pain, sickness and even death. Christians face all these things. But only in this life. In heaven, there will be no tears, no sorrow, no pain and no death.
*Develop spiritual maturity (I Pet. 2:2; II Pet. 1:5-11): We must view baptism as a birth. Baptism makes us babes in Christ; we must grow in the Lord, or we will die spiritually.
*Take the place of faith (Mark 16:16; Acts 8): Nor, does belief take the place of baptism.
*Take the place of repentance (Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4): God expects change in our lives. We are to walk a new kind of life.
*Take the place of confession (Acts 8:36-38; Rom. 10:9-10): A common misconception is baptism is a confession of our faith. "I'm committed to God, so let me demonstrate that by baptism." However, we must do both -- confess and be baptized -- just like the Ethiopian eunuch did in Acts 8.
Baptism does many, many great things. But we must keep baptism in its place. It is an essential part of our salvation, but it is not the whole. Baptism is not a landing pad. It’s a launching pad. It’s just the start of our journey, and there’s so much more we must do after being baptized.
BOTTOM LINE: Baptism is not just good, Biblical advice. It is necessary and essential. Without it, we are lost. We can never back off this or compromise this. We want people to go to heaven, so we must always teach this truth and never waver from it.