Edward Fudge (former Church of Christ minister) states the following:
Baptism is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) -- for (in the sense that) it expresses the faith by which one obtains remission of sins (Acts 10:43), faith in Christ's blood which was shed for remission of sins (Matt. 26:28).
Baptism is a visible manifestation of trust in Jesus Christ as Savior:
-- a declaration of, commitment to, and reliance on the perfect work which Jesus accomplished and by which alone sinners are set right with God (Col. 2:12).
-- a silent declaration that the believer died and rose again when Jesus died and rose, for he was our representative who acted in our stead (Rom. 6:1-11).
Baptism is a formal request to God for a good conscience, based on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Pet. 3:21).
It is the means for subjective cleansing, as one calls on the name of the Lord for salvation (Acts 22:16). By it, one is saved or delivered from identification with this crooked generation, inasmuch as baptism marks off one as a believer over against the unbelieving world (1 Pet. 3:21).
We are saved from sin by grace (not by baptism) through faith (not through baptism). Baptism is a visible, tangible confession of that faith, an act of obedient trust in Jesus Christ who only is the Savior of the world.
Churches of Christ: Mainline (COC) and International (ICOC)
1. General View: Baptism is the actual point in time when you, as an adult who has come to faith in Christ, becomes a born-again Christian (forgiven of your sins and filled with the Holy Spirit). Infants and very small children are not able to come to that faith and therefore are not baptized until later. They are considered "saved" until they reach the age of accountability.
2. New Perspectives from current and former COC & ICOC ministers/members:
Edward Fudge:Eleven Outline Studies on Baptism
Edward Fudge: Baptizing Children - summation of articles from his gracEmail.
Max Lucado:Oak Hills Church Baptism Explanation
Charlie Fordham: The 9.5 Theses of Salvation
James Fowler: www.christinyou.net/pages/baptism.html
The Catholic, OrthodoxChurch
1. General View: Baptism is a ritual which actually has the power to save you. You don't have to have faith or an understanding of anything related to Christ. Your parents' faith on your behalf is sufficient.
The Reformed Church, Many Baptists & Evangelicals
1. General View: Baptism paints a picture of what Christ has done for you on the cross and in his resurrection. It is a ritual that has no saving power. It is not necessary for salvation. It is a nice thing to do as you follow Christ, since Christ was baptized. Many in the Reformed Church (Lutherans, Episcopalians) baptize babies. Others wait until they are old enough to decide for themselves.
2. Many of these churches are changing their perspective on baptism and are seeing the importance of water baptism for every believer.
John Piper: A Celebration of Baptism
John MacArthur is another minister who also has shed new light on baptism.