Does baptism save?
Luke 3:16: John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
Baptism is an action taken by an agent upon a subject into an element. For instance John the Baptist (the agent) baptized the people (the subjects) into water (the element).
John said that Jesus (the agent) would baptize the people (the subjects) with the Holy Ghost and with fire. (the elements)
The passage clearly speaks about two different baptisms with two different agents and two different elements.
The Bible says that salvation is of the Lord.
Psalm 37:39: But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.
Jonah 2:9: But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.
If salvation is of the Lord then baptism could save only if the Lord (The Father, The Son or the Holy Spirit) was the one doing the baptizing (the agent) and the element was the family of God (the body of Christ.)
If Jesus Christ (the agent) placed you (the subject) into the family of God (the element) that would be baptism that saves.
If the Holy Spirit (the agent) placed you (the subject) into the body of Christ (the element) that would be baptism that saves.
1 Corinthians 12:13: For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
John 1:12: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Becoming a son of God by receiving Jesus as Saviour places one into the family of God. It could very precisely be said that when we receive Jesus as Saviour we are baptized into the family of God.
Sometimes becoming a child of God is called an adoption.
Romans 8:15: For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
When one is adopted into the family of God he is baptized into the family of God. When this kind of baptism occurs the agent is a spiritual being and the element is spiritual (not physical). When one is baptized with water the agent is a physical being who is not the source of salvation. The element is water, a physical thing, not the body of Christ or the family of God (spiritual things). When you are baptized by a spiritually powerless physical agent into a physical element salvation does not happen.
Water baptism does not save!!!! Water baptism is to be a physical picture of something spiritual that has gone before.
Circumcision was done by the Jewish people at the command of God. Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin of a man. It is a physical thing. Isaac was circumcised and Ishmael was circumcised. Being circumcised did nothing to make Ishmael right with God. Physical circumcision is a physical picture of something spiritual that should have preceded it. Circumcision is performed by human hands and it is obviously possible to have the physical event without having the spiritual event. And it is possible to have the spiritual event without having the physical event.
Colossians 2:10-11: And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
When the Holy Spirit places us in the body of Christ we can very precisely say that the Holy Spirit has done a circumcision without hands or a baptism without hands. The Holy Spirit has done a spiritual thing.
Colossians 2:12-13: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
In this baptism the agent is God and the element is Jesus* death. For a man to believe he could accomplish this and place someone into the death of Christ is the epitome of foolishness.
The Bible gives two commands regarding baptism. It commands us to baptize and it commands us to be baptized.
Matthew 28:18-19: And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Acts 10:48: And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
So we have a command to baptize and a command to be baptized. When a pastor baptizes an infant, even if the pastor was obeying one command, the infant would not be obeying the other.
Can a man who has been physically circumcised go to Hell? Yes! Can a man who has the circumcision made without hands go to Hell? Never!
Can a person who has been baptized with water go to Hell? Yes! Can a person who has been baptized into the body of Christ go to Hell? Never!
The baptism that saves is a spiritual event -- not a physical one.