There is a very good and right and helpful association between baptism and circumcision, but it is also important to remember that baptism is baptism. There is much more in the Scriptures about baptism than about circumcision. There were many and various baptisms – sprinklings and cleansings associated with worship and the offerings. These were applied to people, animals, and the tabernacle and temple themselves.
But we see it on a much larger scale as well. Peter says in his first letter that, “baptism, which corresponds to [Noah being brought through the flood], now saves you.” Noah, through this baptism, was transferred out of the old creation of evil and corrupted flesh, and put into a new creation. He became a new Adam and God restored the covenant with him, to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”
The Exodus also is a picture of baptism, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians, “all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” The Israelites also were brought out of slavery and death through the sea. But just as in the flood, there were those who were saved through this baptism, and those who were destroyed. Baptism is always effective. As Paul says earlier in 1 Corinthians 1 about the gospel, “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The same gospel is foolishness to some and power to others. Just so with baptism. The same word is preached, the same water is applied, “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Peter goes on, saying baptism saves us, “not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Baptism is not taking a bath; it is is death, burial, and resurrection. As Paul expounds in Romans 6, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
Because we have been transferred out of death and into life, we must no longer carry on our lives as if we were still slaves to death. Refusing to live in light of our baptism is longing to return to Egypt. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”