A preacher friend and gracEmail subscriber writes: “Edward, From your commercial message for the Billy Graham Crusade I see that you once again are hinting that baptism has nothing much to do with salvation. Am I correct? Yes or no?”
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No. I am not hinting that water baptism has nothing much to do with salvation. It has very much “to do with” salvation, although it is no part of the work which sets us right with God. That was the perfect doing and dying of Jesus Christ our representative. It is the very news of Christ’s saving work to which a believer responds by being baptized.
What does baptism have to do with salvation? It is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) — for it expresses faith by which one obtains remission of sins (Acts 10:43), faith in Christ’s blood which was shed for remission of sins (Matt. 26:28). Baptism is a visible manifestation of trust in Jesus Christ as Savior — a declaration of, commitment to, and reliance on the perfect work which Jesus accomplished and by which alone sinners are set right with God (Col. 2:12). It is a silent declaration that the believer died and rose again when Jesus died and rose, for he was our representative who acted in our stead (Rom. 6:1-11).
Baptism is a formal request to God for a good conscience, based on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Pet. 3:21). It is the means for subjective cleansing, as one calls on the name of the Lord for salvation (Acts 22:16). By it, one is saved or delivered from identification with this crooked generation, inasmuch as baptism marks off one as a believer over against the unbelieving world (1 Pet. 3:21). We are saved from sin by grace (not by baptism) through faith (not through baptism). Baptism is a visible, tangible confession of that faith, an act of obedient trust in Jesus Christ who only is the Savior of the world.