The teaching of the Scripture on the subject of this article is one of the clearest things taught by inspirations’s pen. Yet for some strange reason, it remains a hotly-debated issue among religious people today. Let’s take another look at it and see what is taught.
Baptism is a command. Luke, in giving the account of the first Gentile converts to Christ, wrote, “And he (Peter) commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48). “In the name of the Lord” simply means by His authority. Paul told us in Colossians 3:17 that “whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the Father by Him.” Jesus gave the authority for Peter to command Cornelius and his household to be baptized when He said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). By this same authority Peter commanded the Jews on Pentecost to “Repent and be baptized” and Philip commanded the penitent Saul to “Arise, and be baptized” (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
Baptism is essential for salvation. Even though the religious world in general denies this, it is true nevertheless. An honest, unbiased survey of all the passages that speak of baptism and salvation (or its equivalent) clearly shows that baptism is always placed between the individual and his being saved. In Acts 2:38 baptism is placed between the believer and “remission of sins.” In Acts 22:16 baptism is placed between the penitent believer and “washing away sins.” In Mark 16:16 baptism is placed between the individual and being saved. And Peter plainly states in I Peter 3:21, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. Read it for yourself; don’t take my word for it. And after you read it, answer honestly these questions. (1) What does Peter say “saves”? (2) Whom does he say it saves? (3) When does he say that it “saves us”? Peter plainly states baptism saves us now! To the honest enquirer that settles it.
Baptism puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3). Since baptism puts one into Christ and since we cannot go to heaven except through Christ (John 14:6), it is evident that one cannot go to heaven without being baptized into Christ. In John 10:9 Jesus states, “I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved...” Since baptism is the only way to get into Christ unless one is baptized he will neither enter in through the door (Christ) nor be saved. Jesus makes it even more emphatic when He says, “Verily, verily I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). Since there is no other way by which man can be saved except by entering in through the door (Christ) and since the only way to get into Christ (the door) is by being baptized into Him, unless one is baptized into Christ, his attempts to be saved in some other way or fashion make him a “thief and a robber.” I didn’t say that, the Lord did!
Baptism also puts one in the church. On Pentecost, those who “gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). Verse 47 of that same chapter shows that the “them” to whom they were added was the church. Since all the saved are added to Christ’s church and since He is “the saviour of the body” (church) (Eph. 5:23), then again, the necessity of baptism is plainly indicated. Paul shows it in others words in I Corinthians 12:13 when he writes, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
So man can either believe it or disbelieve it; he can obey it or disobey it; he can ignore it or accept it; he can try to find another plan, another way, another entrance, or he can enter in through the door. But whatever man does or does not will never change the plain simple word of God on the subject. Our plea is for all to study carefully, without prejudice or preconceived ideas and accept God’s teaching. Your soul depends on it!