Is Baptism Necessary For My Salvation?
The word “for” is the problem. It does not mean the same as what we think it to be ie: “do something to get something” or “I did something therefore I got something”—in this context I got salvation because I was baptized. The word “for” is from the Greek word “eis” which is actually the word “unto” or the literal meaning is to be understood as “for the purpose of identifying you with the remission of sins”. Or another way to put it is that I am baptized because my sins are already remised or gone or washed away before I am baptized. Another example of a clearer usage of the same word (eis) can be found in 1 Corinthians 10:2: “and were all baptized unto Moses.” Were they baptized to be with Moses in the wilderness? NO! They were already with Moses in the wilderness (“delivered from Egypt” like we are delivered from our sins) therefore the word “unto” identifies the people with him as already being with him. Hence, we are baptized because we have already believed unto salvation, so I confess it, and I then exercise my obedience through baptism! Simply put, I am baptized because I am already saved.
Some thoughts on baptism:
It’s the “right” thing to do.
In Matthew 3:15 Jesus answering (John) said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”. Jesus knew then and we know now that it was/is the “righteous” or right thing to do. Why? It is a believer’s first act of obedience just as it was for Jesus before He Himself entered/began His public ministry.
It identifies us with Christ.
It’s an outward expression of our new inward faith in Christ. Romans 6:5 reminds us that we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection. Baptism is our public display of us having been united with Christ on the inside. I call it the “team jersey” experience; one can privately practice with the team but, once you wear the team jersey – its colors and what they represent – you are now in the public’s eye officially a part of the team. Or it’s like a wedding ring; the ring doesn’t “make you married” but, the ring tells the world that you’re married – you are taken!
Colossians 2:11-12 says: In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism. Just as circumcision was important to God and necessary for His people in the OT so it is for His people under the “New Covenant”. In the OT circumcision (we know today) carried many unknown medicinal benefits to God’s people – it kept them alive! The same is true from a spiritual perspective today. We can’t “see” what God does through baptism but, He promises to do something in the heart of those who are baptized.
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