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When Peter writes that believers are to be baptized for the remission of sin, he doesn't mean "in order to obtain" remission of sin, he means because the believer's sin has been remitted. If I ask my daughter to go to the store FOR me, I don't mean "to get" me, I mean "on my behalf." Peter didn't mean "to get" remission of sin, he meant since remission had been accomplished. Baptism is in essence a celebratory act that blesses the Lord for His work of salvation in the believer's life. It's similar to a marriage wedding. Having a marriage ceremony won't make the betrothed couple love each other if they don't truly love each other. A wedding won't ensure that they respect each other and forsake all others "till death parts them." It's simply a ceremony that celebrates their union. When marriage was instituted in the garden of Eden it didn't come with a ceremony. Neither was there a legal document to make the marriage lawful. When the man and woman "came together" they became man and wife. What is this "came together?" The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man (Gen 3:22). From that time on, they were husband and wife. They were husband and wife BEFORE they went into the tent and laid down. They were husband and wife when Adam accepted responsibility for his woman. No ceremony was necessary, sexual or nonsexual. No marriage ceremony is spoken of when Bathsheba and David hooked up. David had gotten this woman pregnant while her husband was away at war. When David's plan to conceal his adultery failed, he had the woman's husband, Uriah the Hititte, killed. When the time of mourning was over, David sent and brought her (Bathsheba) to his house and she became his wife; then she bore him a son. But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord (2 Sam 11:27). It was evil, but they were still man and wife. No ceremony, but they were still man and wife. It wasn't said that they became "man and wife" after they had their sexual encounter. They became man and wife when (here it is) David assumed responsibility for the woman. That's when a man and a woman "become husband and wife." The marriage between Jesus and the church (a believer) is exactly the same. The believer confesses and asks for forgiveness. The Father sends the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26, Jn 15:26) to indwell the believer, thereby adopting the believer through a "rebirth." A new child of God is born of the Spirit of God. Jesus is said to be "the firstborn of many brethren" because of this process (Rom 8:29). When the Holy Spirit moves in He will "teach [us] all things, and bring to [our] remembrance all that [Jesus] said to [us]." In other words, He assumes responsibility for the believer. The marriage is complete. Baptism is a ritual; calling baptism a ritual doesn't detract from its worth, it gives it its proper value. Making baptism out to be more than a ritual is like making a wedding out to be worth more to a marriage than it really is. Getting baptized doesn't ensure that the person being dunked in the water has confessed their sin, any more than having a grand wedding means that the couple truly loves each other. My opinion is that "religion" plays too much of a role in the lives of believers. By "religion" I don't mean "a set of beliefs and practices," I mean "rites and rituals," formal and ceremonial acts and procedures used for religious purposes. It's prescribed by man, not by God. I was twice baptized. Someone will invariably say, 'Jesus got baptized.' Jesus' baptism didn't pay the ransom for our redemption from sin. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace" (Eph 1:7). His blood, not water. If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.. (Rom 10:9) And it doesn't add "if you get baptized."
Baptism is our public declaration of faith that Jesus has saved us from the penalty for our sins (the wrath of God for eternity) and given us a brand new eternal life as a new creation, a new person. If baptism remitted our sins then Jesus died for nothing. If baptism saved us then our righteous act of choosing to be baptised, replaces Jesus righteousness imparted to us by the grace of God. Our enemy, Satan, tricks many Christians not to be baptised. He tells us that we are not good enough to be baptised, there is too much sin in our lives that we feel guilty and ashamed about. Once we get our lives cleaned up then we'll get baptised, then we'll show the world what a good Christian we are. These are all lies and deceptions from the pit of hell. Our baptism gives great glory to God as we declare the wonders of his amazing salvation. All the angels praise God at our baptism. All the demons shudder in horror as they see another soul set free from their imprisonment. When we refuse to get baptised, as soon as possible after we have be saved (believe in Jesus), we are mocking what God has done for us. God is also pleased to pour out his Holy Spirit upon us, like he did at Jesus baptism, to give us the wisdom and power to live a holy and righteous life. Baptism also identifies us with the church, the body of Christ on earth, and gives us a new home and family to enjoy and support us.
Repentance. The Jews had to change their mind from trusting in keeping the law to Jesus salvation by grace. What Jesus did for us, not what we do or do not do. Repentance for salvation is the Greek word metanoia. It means to change your mind. Go from unbelief to belief. John 3:18. Peter was talking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13-14. Acts 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how He said. John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 Without the Spirit there is no salvation. With the Spirit we have eternal life. Ephesians 4:30. And grieve not the Holy Spirit in whom ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Hebrews 13:5 And be content with such things as ye have for He hath said, I will never leave you or forsake you. What if we lose our faith? Second Timothy 2:13. If we believe not, He abideth faithful. He can not deny Himself. Ephesians 1:13. In whom ye also trusted, after ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, First Corinthians 15:1-4, in whom also after ye believed ye were sealed by that Holy Spirit of promise. Our guarantee of eternal life. Second Timothy 2:19. God knows His sheep because they have His Spirit in them. Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal the Lord knoweth them that are His.
I believe that the answer is found in Luke 24:47. After Jesus had been resurrected and before He ascended back to the Father, He told the apostles "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." This was the message that Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost. While it is true that baptism doesn't save us, I believe that it is an outward sign that as sinners we have turned away from our sins and made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. We have been united together with Him, by His death, burial, and resurrection. I believe that this is what Paul is teaching in Romans the sixth chapter. We see in the Gospels, that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan and He also was baptized by the Holy Spirit. I believe that these two baptisms signify the new birth. Jesus said in John 3:5 "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
Peter told the people to “repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38. This verse needs to be clarified. The audience: They were Jews, “the house of Israel,” Acts 2:36, “men of Israel,” Acts 2:22, who had assembled for the Pentecost holiday. The problem: Peter stated they had murdered Jesus, an innocent Man, Acts 2:22-23, and they had crucified the One who God had raised and made Him both Lord and Christ, Acts 2:36. The reaction: The Jews had tremendous guilt, as they realized the seriousness of this charge. The solution: Peter commanded that the people were to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins they had committed against God in this matter. Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ meant they accepted responsibility and had also believed on Jesus Christ. No other people were commanded with these same instructions. H. P. Barker, the author of “The Vicar of Christ,” showed the different sequences of what happened in four communities of believers in Acts: Jews, Acts 2:38 – repent, be baptized, receive Spirit Samaritan, Acts 8:14-17 – believe, be baptized, apostles prayed for and laid hands on, receive Spirit Gentile, Acts 10:44-48 – believe, receive Spirit, be baptized John’s disciples, Acts 19:1-7 – believe, be (re)baptized, Paul laid hands on, receive Spirit Only to the Jews was the command given to repent and to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. They were nationally responsible for the crucifixion, as they had accepted the blame for it, Matthew 27:25. It is noteworthy that Gentiles, Samaritans, or John’s disciples were not told to repent because these groups had not committed a crime requiring repentance. Repentance, or change of one’s mind about sin, is not salvation, but it can lead to salvation, Romans 2:4. Repentance toward God can be followed by faith through Jesus Christ, Acts 20:21. The Jews were to repent and then be baptized. In this case, baptism was the requirement for the Jewish nation to get right with God. Baptism not only proved they were repentant, but it demonstrated their belief in Jesus. Baptism was also a cleansing matter. At his conversion, Paul, as a fellow Jew, was baptized and his sins were washed away, Acts 22:16. Baptism was never a requirement for salvation, which is always by faith in Jesus, John 3:16, and 6:47. In AD 70, forty years later, the situation with Israel changed. God judged the nation of Israel and destroyed the temple. Since that time, both Jews and Gentiles have believed on Jesus which is when they received the Holy Spirit. Then, they submitted to baptism in obedience to the Lord. A caution here is to be careful of using everything in Acts for doctrine. That which was commanded specifically to Israel must not be taken by present-day believers as the rule of faith. Acts 2:38 would be one of those verses.
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