Is it necessary for one to be baptized? Is baptism essential to one’s salvation? For what purpose is one to be baptized? From Acts 2:38 it was seen that the purpose of repentance and baptism was “for the remission of sins,” and Mk. 16:16 said that faith and baptism were in order to be saved.
What Must One Do To Be Saved?
There are three separate accounts of the events relating to the conversion of Paul recorded in the book of Acts. One account is in the ninth chapter, one in the twenty-second chapter, and the other account is in the twenty-sixth chapter. Paul and his company were on the road that went to Damascus, when a great light appeared unto Paul, a light which he described as being “brighter than the noonday sun.” Saul was blinded and fell to his feet, and a voice from heaven called out, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And Saul answered, “Who are you Lord?” And the voice of heaven answered and said, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you persecute.” Saul was then aware of the fact that he had been fighting against God, and so he cried out, “Lord what will you have me do?” Jesus answered him and said, “Go into the city of Damascus, and there it will be told you what you must do.” Having been blinded by the great light that he had seen, the men in Saul’s company led him into the city of Damascus.
In the meantime God had appeared unto Ananias and told him to go and tell Saul what he must do. Ananias, having heard of the terrible acts of persecution wrought by Saul, was rather reluctant to go to him, but nevertheless, at the command of God, he went. When he arrived he found Saul, just as God had said he would be found: praying. Paul himself told of his conversion, and spoke of it like this: “And one Ananias, a devout man, according to the law, well reported of by all the Jews that lived there, came unto me, and standing by me said unto me, Brother Saul, receive your sight. And in that very hour I looked upon him. And He said, The God of our fathers has appointed you to know his will, and to see the Righteous One, and to hear a voice from his mouth. For you shall be a witness for him unto all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you delay? arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:12-16). Marshall Keeble once said, “A man is not saved and then baptized. A woman doesn’t wash clothes because they are already clean. I’ve seen a lot of smart women, but not that smart. She washes the clothes because they’re dirty. Man is baptized because he’s dirty and needs to be cleaned.”
In answering the question, “Is baptism essential to one’s salvation?”, let us notice the statement made to Saul by the Lord. Christ told Saul to go into the city of Damascus, and there it be told him what he must do. Those things to be told him in Damascus, were not a group of needless commands, but they were things that he must do. When Ananias came to him, the very first commandment that he gave him, was to arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins. Certainly, this was a necessary commandment. It is a must command.
BELIEVING is a “must” command. Paul (if he be the writer of the book of Hebrews) said, “and without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him” (Heb. 11:6). Should someone argue that faith is not necessary, every denominational preacher would use this passage, and stress that the writer says that one must believe. REPENTANCE is a must command. Jesus also said: “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish,” or you must repent or perish (Lk. 13:3). Could one be saved without repenting? Jesus said, you must repent, and therefore it is indispensable to one’s salvation. BAPTISM is a must command. Jesus also said, you must be born again, or as it is stated in His words, “Except one be born of water, and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:5). In each of these instances, faith, repentance, and baptism are “must” commandments and definitely necessary for salvation.
All the passages in the New Testament that instruct us as to why we should be baptized teach the same thing, even though they may be differently worded. Jesus said in Mk. 16:16 that it was to be saved; Peter said on Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2:38 that baptism was for the remission of sins; Ananias told Paul that it was to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16); Peter later said that it was to save one (1 Pet. 3:21); and Paul said in Romans 6 that it was to be made free from sin. There is no man that exists that can show that the Bible teaches baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is for any other purpose than to remit one’s sins. Sinners cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor 6:9-12 f; Gal 5:19-21) Thus baptism is necessary. Thus baptism is a must in order to be saved.