What Is The Purpose of Baptism?

In the last two issues of the Milpitas Messenger, we have listed the scriptures which answer the questions, "What Is Baptism?", and "Who Should Be Baptized?" Following the same procedure, we wish to list some passages which tell us what was the purpose of baptism.

Mark 16:15-16 - And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

If the above passage had said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be enriched with $1000," it is doubtful if anyone would have a problem understanding the importance of baptism - if they wanted their $1000! But to affirm that belief and baptism are necessary for salvation is to be consigned to religious heresy in some quarters today. Why can't we just accept and affirm exactly what Jesus said and let the theological chips fall where they will?

Acts 2:37-38 - Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Both repentance and baptism are "for the remission of sins." That same phrase is found in Matthew 26:28 where Jesus said, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." No one has much trouble figuring out the importance of the blood of our Lord from this text. Why, then, do so many look at Acts 2:38 and fail to see the importance of baptism? Do you suppose some pre-conceived ideas might be hindering them?

Galatians 3:26-27 - For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

This plain passage answers the question, "How do we become the children of God by faith?" It also answers another one, "How many have put on Christ?" Go ahead - ask the questions and see if the passage doesn't give you an answer.

1 Peter 3:20-21 - Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Were the eight souls really saved by the water which destroyed the rest of the world? Of course! The answer's easy, isn't it, because that's what the text says? Are we really saved by baptism? Well, what does the text say? Wouldn't understanding the purpose of baptism be simple if we didn't feel obligated to pay homage to some man-made theology which restricts us from the obvious meaning of the text?