There are three main views of baptism.
1. View one – Baptism is the means of saving grace.
This started in the late fourth century with the theologian Augustine.
Augustine developed the theology that everyone is born into sin.
Sin separates us from God and the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death)
He promoted the baptism of every baby for their salvation.
What does the Bible say about Baptism equaling Salvation?
Mark 16:16 whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. But whoever does not believe will be condemned.
1 Peter 3:21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.
Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The second half of the verse does not connect condemnation to baptism.
1 Peter 3:21
The last part talks about baptism being a pledge of good conscience.
Acts 3:19 repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord
Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
Acts 16:30-31 he then brought them out and asked, “sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”
There is no clear Biblical teaching that says baptism is the means of salvation.
2. View 2 – Baptism as a sign and seal of the covenant.
This is a replacement of the Old Testament concept of circumcision.
Circumcision was the sign of partnering with God’s covenant.
Baptism is the act of faith by which we are brought into that covenant and hence its benefits.
Baptism is the means of initiation into the covenant and a sign of salvation.
In essence, baptism is not salvation, but you cannot be part of God’s covenant without it.
Just like you could not be a part of the Old Testament covenant without circumcision.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works.
3. View 3 – Baptism as a token of salvation.
It is an outward symbolism of an internal change that has been effected in the believer.
- Must become a believer first.
- Done through immersion (The word “baptized” means to be submerged).
- It is identifying with the work of Jesus on the cross. Romans 6:1-11
Going down – death of Christ
Under water – burial of Christ
Up from the water – Resurrection of Christ