Baptism, by believing and repenting adults, IS like circumcision of the Old Testament. Just like in the Old Testament, It’s become a mere work of the flesh for many: like the crowd that supports the unbiblical practice of baptizing infants which requires no faith, and like the “faith only” crowd that says baptism IS necessary for obedience while insisting it IS NOT necessary for salvation. These make or create the idea that baptism is somehow separate from real faith. Because Circumcision required no faith by the circumcisee, like infant “baptism”, being done on the 8th day when the child was believing and choosing nothing, it became, as infant baptism has become a substitute for obedience to God. “I was baptized into my church as an infant and that’s good enough for me.” For the “faith only” people, who go to great lengths and twists to teach that salvation comes before baptism, it’s become a mere work of the flesh. Because the Scriptures clearly show Jesus commanding baptism, they don’t deny it’s necessity, only that it’s not necessary for salvation. Please don’t try too hard to understand the position of the “faith only” people because it makes about as much sense to say obedience is and it is not necessary for salvation. So the Baptism of the New Testament has become like circumcision of the Old Testament – in this sense that it has been corrupted. The Baptism of Jesus is not to be a substitute for faith.
BUT Baptism is necessary for salvation because it involves a spiritual circumcision of the heart. Colossians 2:11 says, “and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ”. You must be circumcised with THIS circumcision and there’s no way around it. This needs to be said. The Colossians did not submit to the physical circumcision of the Old Testament, but they were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision. If you call yourself a Christian but you have not been circumcised, then you aren’t really a Christian – your sin has not been removed by the hand of God. Every sinner must be circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by the cutting away of the sinfulness in our lives, by the circumcision of Christ. WHEN does this happen?
BAPTISM is the place WHEN spiritual circumcision occurs by the power of God. Colossians 2:12 says, “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” The “having been” is building on the point in verse 11 (see above) that you must be circumcised with a circumcision made without hands. This part always trips up the “faith alone” people who can’t decide if James is New Testament or not; who must wrestle with every single passage that talks about the necessity of obedience for salvation. But the Colossians “having been” baptized into Christ by faith meant they received a very real spiritual blessing from the hand of God when they got in the water because they put their faith not in their works, but believed in God. WHEN they were baptized in faith, God by His power raised them up into new life.
The circumcision of the Old Testament was an external sign of the covenant that males received on their 8th day of life. The circumcision of the New Testament is a spiritual circumcision where sin is cut away and forgiven by God’s grace WHEN a believing person repents of his/her sins and gets into the water. Have you obeyed Jesus who said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved” and “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”?