4. Baptism is part of the response of faith in coming to God.
Galatians 3:26-27 says this:
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Note the interchange of faith and baptism and how Paul calls on baptism to explain how the Galatians became sons of God through faith in Christ. Baptism isn’t to be divorced from either the good news of Jesus or our response of faith in Jesus—it is part of both!
5. Baptism is an act of grace.
In Titus 3:4-7 we read:
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
The washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit by which God has saved us is clearly a reference to baptism (John 3:3-5). Just as clearly, the whole process is grace based (having been justified by his grace). Contrary to the thinking of some, baptism and the grace of God are complementary, not contradictory. Too many people want to look at this passage (and others like it) through reformation glasses and interpret the text from an anti-Catholic point of view. The problem with such an approach is that all of that took place over 1,000 years after Paul wrote this. We need to hear the text apart from such a bias.
6. Baptism is too rich of an initiatory rite to be summed up by a single purpose or passage.
It ought to be obvious that there is no passage that confines baptism to a single
purpose. About the time someone is ready to confine the purpose of baptism to the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), someone else points out that the same verse speaks of baptism as the means through which God gives us His Spirit. In Romans 6, Paul speaks of baptism as a funeral where we buried our sinful lifestyle. Which passage is right? Which is the purpose of baptism? They all are! So unless we can come up with a passage that says, “This is the exclusive purpose of baptism,” we’re better off to view it as a something layered with several complementary meanings.
7. Baptism for a scriptural reason is a scriptural baptism.
Person A was baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. Person B was baptized to obey God. Person C was baptized in view of having a good conscience toward God (see 1 Peter 3:21). Is someone going to claim the wisdom of Solomon and ferret out which are correct and which are not? Baptism that’s done only for a wrong reason isn’t valid (Acts 19:1ff), but baptism for a scriptural purpose constitutes a scriptural baptism and we’d be wise to leave it at that.
8. Baptism is about trusting Jesus fully, not understanding baptism perfectly.
I’m not arguing for ignorance but for trust in Jesus. Baptism is a response that should reflect our trust in Jesus, rather than confidence in our theology. Understanding is wonderful, but trust is superior (Proverbs 3:5-6). Moreover, the focus of baptism isn’t us, it’s Jesus (1 Peter 3:21-22).