This came up in our Bible study tonight. Mormons believe that baptism is required to enter the kingdom of God, and that you can be baptised for someone else by proxy. So it raises the question, why wasn’t the baptism of Jesus sufficient?
Jesus said He was baptised to fulfill all righteousness:
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
Thus baptism is an act of righteousness, just as obeying the law of God is — and Jesus came to fulfill it, too:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Law, not just in the letter as given in the Old Testament, but also the spirit of it as described in Matthew 5-7, in the Sermon on the Mount. He truly did fulfill all righteousness, as He said to John the Baptist.
His righteousness is placed on us, counted as ours when we believe:
21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
I discussed this important point in much more detail in “Imputation — The Way It Works”. It means that God sees the righteousness of Jesus as being transferred to us, just as our sin was transferred to Him when He died on the cross for us.
If this is true, and the Bible clearly says it is, then all the righteousness that Jesus fulfilled is credited to our account when we believe and receive Him. That includes His baptism. That’s why we don’t need to be baptised to be saved — that, like everything else God requires, has been covered by Christ and given to us. Those who are truly saved will love Him and want to obey Him (if you don’t want to, you either aren’t saved or have got yourself in a horrible mess that will end badly). Christians don’t get baptised to get saved, they get baptised as an act of love to their God and a symbol of their salvation.
But it is different for Mormons. They believe that baptism is needed for salvation, AND that they can be baptised for someone else (or someone else could be baptised for them). That’s imputation, an act being credited to someone’s account. It isn’t Biblical imputation, for the Bible teaches that it is the righteousness of God (not someone’s baptism) that is imputed, but it certainly is imputation.
Thus, the question in the title of the article. If you believe that the righteousness of baptism can be imputed, why aren’t you willing to just believe that the righteousness of Jesus’ baptism is good enough, and that His baptism (and all His righteousness) is imputed? After all, the Bible says His righteousness is imputed, and His righteousness certainly does include His baptism. Why put any faith in an imputed baptism of someone else when you can have Jesus’ baptism and ALL His righteousness credited to your account?