What does baptism achieve?

45) Is baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?

No, only the blood of Christ and the renewal of the Holy Spirit can cleanse us from sin.

“Very truly I tell you, no-one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5)


Some people have believed that merely being baptised (maybe as a baby) is sufficient to make someone a Christian. If only it were that easy!

The language of the New Testament does often seem to suggest that baptism itself effects salvation (e.g. Acts 22:16). But this is because, in the New Testament, baptism is always performed at the time of conversion (e.g. Acts 8:36; 16:31-33). Water baptism is just an outward sign – the outward sign of repentance and commitment to Jesus (I Peter 3:21). The ceremony achieves nothing on its own! Baptism doesn’t ‘make’ us Christians (the Holy Spirit does that – I Corinthians 12:13) – but all Christians declare their faith by being baptised in water.

And yet when baptism is performed as a genuine expression of faith, it is deeply significant. All those who repent and commit themselves to following Jesus will have their sins forgiven because of His death. All who trust in Him will receive the Holy Spirit to give them new birth. As Peter preached on the day of Pentecost: “Repent and be baptised… 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)


Lord God our Father,
through our Saviour Jesus Christ
you have assured your children of eternal life
and in baptism have made us one with him:
deliver us from the death of sin
and raise us to new life in your love,
in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.                                                                                                                                  
 (Collect for 2nd Sunday of Easter)

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