Examining the purpose of baptism seems to be an emotionally charged endeavor. Unnecessarily so! As a topic, baptism is a prominent fixture in the New Testament. Various angles can be pursued such as: what is baptism is, or what baptism is compared to, or the even baptism of the Holy Spirit. However, the purpose of baptism is another matter.
There are many in the religious world today that would say, “it’s an outward showing of an inward commitment.” In fact, an almost identical statement is made by Crosswalk.com, “Baptism is an outward act that symbolizes the inward phenomenon of coming to and accepting Jesus Christ as real, as God incarnate, as the sacrificial means by which those who believe in him can be forever reconciled to God.” There are many references to baptism and baptizing in the New Testament so we should be able to see something about the purpose of baptism in Scripture.
How Scripture answers "What is the purpose of baptism?"
The purpose for baptism is profound and so much more than simply a symbolic act1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,11,14. John the Baptist prepared the way with “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”9. Peter says the same thing on the day of Pentecost – baptism (in connection with repentance) was the remedy for removing/forgiving sins1 – saving us3.
Paul makes the same direct connections to forgiveness of sins2,5 and salvation4,12. He further makes a connection to being “buried with Christ”2; and to the Galatians he connects baptism to what put them “into Christ” – effectively putting on Christ7 and being added to His church (universal)11. He further links the “washing” to the promise1,7 and sactification of the Holy Spirit14. All of this correlates with Paul’s account of his own “faith journey”13.
Do you want to put on Christ7? (And would we really consider someone saved without putting on Christ?) Or, put the way Paul states it in Romans2 and Colossians6, do you want to be “buried” and “raised” with Christ? Baptism is the only thing that does these things, allowing us to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit1, “walk in newness of life”2, and inherit the kingdom of God12. When put in these terms, wouldn’t you agree the purpose of baptism is essential for salvation? BTW, these connections explain perfectly the immediacy of being baptized after hearing the word preached4,5. We even see immediacy when there’s every reason in the world to wait10. Just as Paul was told, “And now why do you wait?”5.
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That’s enough to convince a person who seeks the truth, diligently. Job well done! Thanks!
Thank you, sir!!