Baptism’s Role in Repentance and Forgiveness

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Baptism’s Role in Repentance and Forgiveness

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“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins . . .’” (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
, English Standard Version).

Peter said that baptism is an essential part of forgiveness. But where does baptism fit in with the grace of God and Jesus? Through faith in Christ’s sacrifice, we have all of our sins and the guilt we harbor entirely removed. We are then completely clean in God’s sight (Acts 22:16 Acts 22:16And now why tarry you? arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
American King James Version×
).

It is comforting to know that God not only forgives our sins, but totally dissociates them from us: “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12 Hebrews 8:12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
American King James Version×
).

David was awed by God’s complete mercy and forgiveness. He wrote, “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:11-12 Psalms 103:11-12 [11] For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. [12] As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
American King James Version×
).

Through the prophet Isaiah, God tells us of the forgiveness that follows when we repent and turn to Him: “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good . . . Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:16-18 Isaiah 1:16-18 [16] Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil; [17] Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. [18] Come now, and let us reason together, said the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
American King James Version×
).

This is where baptism comes in. Paul explained how we are cleansed and made right with God: “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11 1 Corinthians 6:11And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
American King James Version×
). Jesus Christ cleanses the Church “with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26 Ephesians 5:26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
American King James Version×
).

This washing away of the accumulated filth of our sins is part of what is symbolized by baptism. Before Paul was baptized, Ananias said: “Why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16 Acts 22:16And now why tarry you? arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
American King James Version×
). By plunging our entire body under water, we are symbolically cleansed throughout.

Of course, the water is only a symbol. In reality, the cleansing of sin and reconciliation to God are by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, our Savior (Romans 5:8-10 Romans 5:8-10 [8] But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [9] Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. [10] For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
American King James Version×
; Acts 20:28 Acts 20:28Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.
American King James Version×
). Without His sacrifice, our sins cannot be washed away. But when we submit to God and are baptized as He wants us to be, we’re demonstrating our faith that our sins can and will be cleansed by Jesus’ sacrifice.