By Foy W. Vinson
There are many things that baptism will not do. It doesn’t change one’s heart, remove temptation, guarantee a sinless life or guarantee eternal life. And yet at the same time there are some things which baptism will do. Modern denominationalism has been almost entirely negative in its treatment of baptism to the point that to most people it is nothing more than an “outward sign of an inward grace,” which really means nothing at all. Regardless of such thinking, the New Testament makes some very positive statements relative to the design and effects of scriptural baptism. It teaches that baptism will do the following.
First, baptism will remit one’s sins. Men usually deny this but God’s word emphatically affirms it. In Acts 2:38 the apostle Peter told inquiring believers to “repent and be baptized — for the remission of sins.” Language could be no clearer! Penitent believers are to be baptized in order that they may obtain remission or forgiveness of sins. This fact explains the words of Ananias as he told Saul of Tarsus to “arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins–.” (Acts. 22: 16.) Some seek to evade the obvious conclusion of Peter’s statement in Acts 2:38 by interpreting the word “for” to mean “because of.” This, however, cannot be since relxntance and baptism have the identical design as per this passage, i. e., the “remission of sins.” No one contends that remission precedes repentance and therefore one cannot consistently contend that remission precedes baptism. So baptism does remit one’s sins.
Second, baptism will put one into Christ. In Galatians 3:27 we read: “For as many of you as have been baptized into (Christ have put on (Christ.” We are informed of this same fact in Romans 6:3. Nothing else is said to put us into (Christ. The word “into” is, defined as “from being outside of, as in place, state, forte, etc., to within.” In other words the term “into” describes the process of entering. Before one is put into Christ he is outside of Him and thus without Christ. Paul describes those who are “without Christ” as “having no hope, and without God in the world. ” (Eph. 2: 12.) In contradiction to this we are told that “in Christ” the following things reside: (1) all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3); (2) redemption or the forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1: 7); (3) salvation (2 Tim. 2:10); (4) consolation for the dead (Rev. 14:13); (5) a new creation of life (2 Cor. 5: 17). Other blessings in Christ could be mentioned, but these should suffice to cause us to be grateful that baptism does put one into Christ.
Third, baptism will put one into the death of Christ. Paul declares this in Romans 6:3, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” Again we have the word “into,” and it means the same in this passage as it does in Galatians 3:27. So until one is baptized he is out of or without the death of Christ. This means that such a person is in the spiritual condition that obtained before Christ died on the cross and which would have continued to obtain had he not died. This is so because there has been no personal application of the death or shedding of the Savior’s blood to the soul and correspondingly no derivation of the benefits accruing therefrom. The benefits of his death are expressed in such terms as redemption, forgiveness, remission, etc. (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1: 14; Matt. 26:28; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19.) A realization that baptism does put us into His death should assuredly increase our respect and appreciation for this ordinance.
Finally, Baptism will save us. This of course has been the gist of all the observations made thus far concerning what baptism will do. Whether we mention that baptism puts one into Christ, or remits ones sins, or puts one into the death of Christ, all of these points can be equated or summed up in this last one, i. e., that baptism saves us. However, Peter makes this precise statement in 1 Peter 3:21 when he says, “The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us–.” This settles the matter once and for all. Any doctrine on baptism, which robs it of this accomplishment, is a false one. The only reason that need be given for why it Let us realize the limitations of baptism, but saves is that God has so stated in His word at the same time let us not be unconscious and has made it a condition of salvation or inappreciative of its accomplishments.
Truth Magazine VI: 9&10, pp. 8-9
June & July 1962