Why is baptism not a symbol?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has (caused us to be born again) [ἀναγεννήσας] to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4)
Because God is the ultimate agent of our being born again; He causes it to happen, very specifically, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Even to call baptism our first step of obedience is wrong, because, then, through our own work of obedience we are saved. It is not obedience, but surrender into the hand of God; Who, through His great mercy, causes us to be born again through the resurrection of Christ, in which you have faith. Where is this linked to baptism? In the same letter, when Peter explains what “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ means:”
“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, 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” (1 Peter 3:21).
There is no power in a symbol, but there is ultimate power in the mercy of a God.