By Ron Nelson
With surprise shock some ask, “What exactly are you trying to say? Are you expecting me to believe one receives salvation from sins at the time of baptism? A person receives salvation before having to obey Christ’s command of baptism, doesn’t he?”
Do you love Jesus the Christ and agree salvation is only through the blood of Christ (Rev. 1:5; Matt. 26:28)? Do you agree there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1)? Do you doubt the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins? If you do, please take a moment to examine the topic of baptism. Since Christ commanded baptism (literally immersion), and since we love him, let us allow him to settle the controversy.
Jesus says, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mk. 16:16).
While speaking to Nicodemus, Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of the water and Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
On the day of Pentecost when Jesus the Christ established his church, the apostle Peter preached the first gospel sermon. The 3000 who responded were commanded by Peter and the rest of the apostles to, “Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirt” (Acts 2:37-38, 41).
In response to the message of Jesus the Christ, Saul of Tarsus was asked by Ananius, “And now why do you de-lay? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). After becoming an apostle he later wrote, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27).
In another place the apostle Paul explained, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3) He continues in verses 4 and 5, “Therefore we have been bur-ied with him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”
Paul also declared that baptism is an act of faith, “Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:12).
The apostle Peter corroborated this teaching, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that he might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit . . . when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:18-22).
Jesus tells us, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Our love for God is expressed by our keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).
People who have been told that immersion is not essential to salvation are often shocked when reading these verses of the Bible and sometimes respond, “What are you trying to say? Do you believe I am still in a lost condition? The truth is not determined, however, by what man says, but by what the word of God says (Prov. 14:12; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Lk. 6:46). The Bible clearly teaches that in order to be saved, one must be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Baptism is the moment when one enters the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, contacting the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:22). Are you outside of Christ? Why not believe and be baptized today!
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: No. 20, p. 22
October 19, 1995