By Carol R. Lumpkin
Have you been baptized as Jesus commanded? Jesus made baptism a must for all who would be His disciples. This was true in the first century, and remains true today. Jesus informed Nicodemus that baptism was a must in order to enter the kingdom of God. Nicodemus was a Jew, one of God’s chosen people; yet, he was not in God’s kingdom. Jesus said, “verily, verily, I say unto thee, except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:5). The only birth which combines the elements of water with the Spirit of God is baptism in water.
Nicodemus was surprised when Jesus required a birth in water and the Spirit to enter God’s kingdom. Even today, people are surprised that Jesus requires baptism for salvation. In order for a lost .person (a sinner) to realize a new life in Christ, he must be born again. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born anew” (Jn. 3:7).
Before Jesus left this earth for heaven, He said; “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). We observe this in action when Peter said, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto (for) the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us. . . ” (1 Pet. 3:21). The apostle Peter preached that baptism was necessary for one to be saved.
The apostles all preached the same gospel. This was unlike modern day preachers who differ in their preaching. One will teach that baptism is essential; while many others will say it is non-essential. Paul wrote on the necessity of baptism for those who would be saved; in fact he himself had to be baptized to be saved. “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Baptism was a necessity for Paul to have sins washed away, or forgiven. Let us not believe it is not also necessary today.
Paul describes baptism in his letter to the Romans. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4).
Jesus described baptism as a birth in water and in Spirit which brings the saved into a new life. Peter shows us that our salvation is a likeness unto Noah’s salvation. Noah was saved by water and so are we (1 Pet. 3:21). Paul shows baptism to be a burial in water and a resurrection there from to walk in newness of life.
There is no verse any plainer to be found in the New Testament than that in Mark 16:16. “He that believeth and. is baptized shall be saved.” This verse coincides with what Peter, Paul, and other inspired men said and wrote on the subject. Someone cries out, baptism is not a commandment; and therefore it is not necessary. Peter said: “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (by His authority)” (Acts. 10:48).
Baptism is a must for every one who desires entrance into the kingdom of God. No person is permitted to enter the kingdom unless he first hears and obeys the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus declared that both “belief and baptism” saves (Mk. 16:16).
Truth Magazine XXII: 34, p. 553
August 31, 1978