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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."
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.
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