Many don’t know that baptism is required for salvation. Some know baptism is required for salvation, but nothing more. Some are baptized right, some wrong, and some not at all. What do the scriptures tell us about baptism?
After Peter preached the first gospel sermon, the Jews after hearing were pricked in their hearts. They asked Peter and the rest of the apostles what shall we do in order to be saved. Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Repentance and baptism are here listed as conditions for receiving the remission of one’s sins.
When Ananias approached the believing and penitent Saul of Tarsus, he told him, “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). This man had seen the resurrected Christ and believed on him; for three days he was in agony because of the sins which he had committed. Yet, he was not yet saved. Ananias told him that he must be baptized in order to have his sins washed away.
In Matthew’s account of the Great Commission, Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit . . . .” Jesus said to go make disciples. Disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26) Therefore, in order to become a Christian, one must be baptized. Only Christians were added by Christ to His church (Acts 2:47). All Christians are baptized into one body (the church) which Christians make up collectively and are members individually (1 Cor 12:13,27).
In giving the Great Commission, Jesus said, “Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned” (Mk. 16:15-16). Jesus gave two conditions for salvation: belief and baptism. If one must believe in order to be saved, then surely he must also be baptized in order to be saved. You can’t have one without the other and expect to be saved.
Peter related how that the waters of the flood had saved Noah from the wickedness of the world in which he lived. He then added, “The like figure where unto even baptism does 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” (1 Pet 3:21). “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith (Heb 11:7). Peter and the Hebrew writer make it clear that it took both faith and water to save Noah and his family even as Christ and Peter make it clear that faith and baptism saves us today (Mk 16:16 f; 1 Pet 3:21).
Conclusion: The facts are plain to see. Baptism is required for remission of sins and to wash away sins. Baptism combined with faith makes one a Christian and brings forth salvation to all who remain faithful unto death (Jn 8:31 f; Rev 2:10). Bottom line, faith only saves no one. Baptism alone saves no one. However, faith combined with baptism saves everyone!