Clever yet superficial quote on Twitter by one Sinclair Ferguson: “Baptism didn’t die on the cross for your sins.” Does anybody claim this? The Bible does say that without #baptism you cannot be forgiven of your sins in Christ. It’s so plain that religious folk who reject baptism have to resort to ridicule to hide their lack of argument.
If the reason behind the death of Christ is important to understand, then immersion, which is our participation in his death in order to receive the benefits that it brings, is also important to understand, for the one hinges on the other. “Christ … gave himself for our sins” Gal 1.4. “Be baptized, and have your sins washed away” Acts 22.16.
“Paul saw that if a man accepted the Gospel it could be said of him that he ‘believed’—a word he uses to mean to accept baptism and become a Christian … because the Gospel demanded to be believed since it was God’s word, to accept it could also be called ‘obedience’.” —A.R.C. Leaney, Letters of Peter and Jude, 28.
The gospel that begins with John saying, “Repent and believe,” to the Jews ends with Jesus saying, “Believe and be baptized,” to the world, Mk 1.15; 16.16.
Baptism is not our Savior. Only God and Jesus Christ are called Savior. Neither is grace, or faith, or repentance called our Savior, but all these are necessary for salvation. The Lord uses these to save us. It is proper to affirm that “baptism saves us” 1Pt 3.21, because all these are necessary for salvation. But they are not the Savior.