My Lutheran friend, Below is the summation of my soteriological position on the purpose of baptism in the New Testament: The question is not whether baptism saves, as the scriptures clearly says it does. The question is not whether baptism washes away sins, as the scriptures clearly says it does. However, the question is HOW does baptism save and wash away sins - literally or figuratively. The scriptues clearly says it does as a "FIGURE" - 1 Peter. 3:21. Moreover, the same can be said of the sacrficial and ceremonial system in the Old Testament. The language of redemption was always directly connected with sacrifices and ceremonial cleansings ("for sins" "for thy cleansing") however, Hebrews 10:1-4 informs it did not LITERALLY remit or wash away sins at all but only did in figure as a "shadow." Jesus illustrates this clearly in Luke 5:12-15 with the cleansing of the leper: 12 ¶ And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 13 And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. 14 And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. He was LITERALLY cleansed "immediately" He was nevertheless told to go "offer for thy cleansing according as Moses commanded." This involved a sacrfice "for thy cleansing." Did he offer the sacrifice in order to be cleansed but because he had been cleansed? Both! He offered a sacrifice in order to be cleansed CEREMONIALLY or FIGURATIVELY because he had already been cleansed LITERALLY. Bottom line it was "for a testiomy unto them." Likewise with baptism and the Lord's Supper as they are New Testament counterparts to Old Testament ceremonial institutions. So it is very simple. When one believes they are saved LITERALLY. When one submits to baptism they are saved FIGURATIVELY. Scripture must be compared to scripture if truth is to be arrived at.