The Baptist believes in ‘faith only’ to save. The Catholic believes in ‘baptism only’ to save. They both are wrong because according to Christ it takes both! Jesus commanded His apostles to preach the gospel (Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ) unto all the world. “He that believes AND is baptized shall be saved; he that believes not shall be condemned,” (Mk 16:15-16).
Therefore, if one believed but was not baptized, they would be lost. If one believed not and was baptized, they also would be lost. The Baptist says all one needs to do to be saved is to accept Jesus as their personal savior by believing Jesus to be the Christ. They are half right. One must believe or else they will perish (Jn 8:24). Yet, James said faith without works is dead (Jam 2:20). As Abraham and Rahab were justified by their works, even so we are justified by the works of God, and not faith only (Jam 2:21-26). What works of God saves a man? Faith is a work of God, for Jesus verily said, “This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he has sent,” (Jn 6:29). The word “work” simply refers to something that takes effort.
James tells us, “You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (Jam 2:18). God’s intention is that man accomplishes the work He has set out for him. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them,” (Eph 2:10). Like faith, baptism is also called a work of God. “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead,” (Col 2:11-12). When God says something saves, but man claims it is unnecessary, does that man truly believe God? God said through Peter, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,” (Acts 2:38).
The Catholics teach that an infant must be baptized in order to be saved. Yet, an infant cannot believe. An infant cannot confess his belief. An infant cannot repent of sins, nor does an infant have anything to repent of. There is not one conversion in the entire New Testament which teaches that anyone was commanded to be baptized separate and apart from confessed belief that Jesus is the Christ. In Acts chapter 2, all who believed were commanded to repent and be baptized (v 38). In Acts chapter 8, the Samaritans, along with Simon, believed and were baptized (v 12-13). In Acts chapter 8, the Ethiopian eunuch believed and confessed before he was allowed to be baptized (v 37-39). In Acts chapter 9, Saul of Tarsus (aka the Apostle Paul) after seeing Jesus Christ, was baptized (v18). In Acts chapter 10, after Cornelius and his household heard the gospel preached unto them, and hearing that belief was necessary, were baptized (v43, 47-48). In Acts chapter 16, after God opened her heart to hear the preaching of Paul, Lydia and her household were baptized (v 14-15). In the same chapter, the Philippian Jailer asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house, and he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. Immediately he and all his family were baptized (v 29-33). Not once did the Bible say that this baptism was sprinkling or the sprinkling of babies. All these heard the gospel preached. All believed and confessed Jesus to be the Christ. All repented of their sins. Then and only then were they immersed (baptized) into the body of Christ.
Conclusion: Thus, it takes both belief and baptism in order to be saved, even as Jesus commanded His apostles to preach unto all the world. If you truly believe, you will be baptized in order to be saved!