“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.” – Acts 2:38
Everyone has a name. My last name represents my forefathers, heritage, and personal identity. When I go to the bank, I need to have my driver’s license with me to prove my last name matches the banking account. When I travel overseas, I need my passport to get through customs. It’s apparent that my last name is integral to everything I do, representing what is true about who I am as a person.
Jesus Christ is no ordinary name. It mean’s the “Anointed Messiah,” and represents the Creator of the universe. To be baptized in His name is a sign of identifying with God, imitating His character, and living your life for His glory. When a Christian get’s baptized, they are informing the world that they have died to their self, going under the water, and being raised again in new life through the power of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 3:27 states, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Therefore, a Christian’s life is identified with the blood of Christ, and that’s when we are united into his death, burial, and resurrection.
There are two extremes concerning baptism. One view holds that water baptism automatically saves you (Baptismal Regeneration). The other view minimalizes baptism out of a false eagerness to promote grace rather than works. The problem with this is that baptism is not a work that we do. As Christians, we aren’t baptized in our own name or power, but in the power of Christ. It’s not our work, it’s all about the glory, honor, and performance of God.
With that being said, does baptism save you? Yes and no. No in that there is nothing in the physical water that has a magical formula to save you. People have gone under the water in baptism and continued living a rebellious, sinful life without God. They are not saved. Yes in that if you are trusting in Jesus to save you from your sins, it is the “timing” in which God applies regeneration to the individual. As Peter makes clear, “Baptism now saves you, not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a clean conscience (1 Pet. 3:28).”