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Baptism is essential to the life of Christians. Passing from death and being raised to newness of life, Christians participate in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus through baptism (see Rom. 6). Throughout the centuries Christians have debated and even differed on their understandings of baptism. Although there are various opinions on baptism, almost all would agree on its significance of it.

Forgiveness of Sins

Baptism, in the Scriptures, is linked to the forgiveness of sins. The apostle Peter, proclaiming the resurrected Lord on the Day of Pentecost, instructed those who were convicted in their hearts of their need for baptism.

Acts 2:38-39

“Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Peter, through his words, demonstrates baptism was not only for those who heard him on that day but for “all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Baptism “for the remission of sins;” was not just for those of the first century, but for all who would come after the first hearers of Peter’s words. (see also; Col. 2:11-15)

An Appeal to God

Baptism is an appeal to God for a clean conscience. Again, the apostle Peter said, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).

When a person is immersed in water, they are appealing to God to be cleansed from thier sins. The prophet Isaiah says that “iniquities have separated you from your God” (ref. Isa. 59:2). In baptism, we call out to God for cleansing.

Ananias, speaking to Saul, said, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16). Baptism is a cry to God for the forgiveness of sins, an appeal for a clean conscience.

Clothed With Christ

Through baptism a new identity is given, Christians are clothed with Christ.

Galatians 3:26-27

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

The moment of baptism is like changing our clothes. We take off our “old garments” which are stained with sin and we “put on Christ.” Our identity is no longer in that of dirty, filthy rags. Our new identity is in Christ. The apostle Paul states; “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1). The new identity of Christ is the identity that matters.

United With Christ

Baptism unites us with Christ.

Romans 6:3-6

“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 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.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”

Baptism unites Christians in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus where freedom from sin is experienced. United with Christ, Christians are raised to walk in newness of life.

Members of His Body

In (1 Cor. 12:13), the apostle Paul states, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” Through baptism, Christians become members of the body of Christ. A body has many members. However, the many members make up one body. In Colossians, the apostle Paul wrote that Christ is head of the body. He relates this body to the church.

Colossians 1:18

“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

Through baptism, Christians become members of the body of Christ, His church.

It’s important to remember, there is nothing magical about the waters of baptism. Water does not magically wash away sin, unite us with Christ, or form us into members of His body. Christians do not save themselves when they are immersed in water. Salvation is by grace through faith (see. Eph. 2:8). Baptism is a faithful response to the faithfulness of Christ. Through Christ, the gift of God, salvation is made available to all people.



Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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