When I was a young man attending a Baptist church, another young man came to me, concerned and upset because of the name of our church. He declared that he didn’t think baptism saved anyone, and he thought the name “Baptist” implied that our church believed that baptism was part of
salvation. I explained the name Baptist derived from the Anabaptists, who believed that baptism is an act of obedience in response to our salvation.
Salvation comes when we accept by faith the gift of Christ’s work on our behalf to deal with our sin and death. Baptism itself does not save anyone.
Frankly, it certainly would be easier to be saved if the only thing necessary to accomplish salvation was to be immersed or sprinkled by water. But instead, we have to repent of our sins and place our trust in Jesus (Acts 2:38). Baptism is the public proclamation that we have aligned ourselves with Jesus Christ and have accepted His gospel. It is the demonstration before others that we are choosing to follow Christ.
Today many people are baptized in front of other believers in churches. Some churches do prefer, when possible, to host their baptism services in a public place—a public park with a lake or on a beachfront—so that they can offer a testimony to the world of the commitment that believers make to follow Jesus. And for many believers around the world, being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a confession of faith that could bring alienation and often death.
When we accept Christ, we are saved. We can do nothing to add to what Christ has already done for us. Baptism signifies our identity as redeemed by God, but the act of baptism is not what saves us—all the credit for that goes to Jesus’ death, resurrection, and His work as our Great High Priest.