IS BAPTISM ESSENTIAL FOR SALVATION?
November 1, 1987 Issue
In John 17:17, Jesus stated something about truth as He prayed to the Father. He said, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." We learn three very important concepts from this passage of scripture. One, that the disciples were to be sanctified by God. Two, that sanctification was through truth. And three, that the word of God is truth.
Beginning with our Lords command in Mark 16:16, Jesus told the apostles before His ascension, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Our Lord stated baptism is a requirement to be saved. A requirement of His to be obeyed. You know, I can just picture the audacity of some living today who would rise up and say, "Lord that's not quite right. You know we can be saved after believing only. And later, if we want to, we can be baptized to show to the world we are like you." Nay!!! The Lord stated baptism is essential to one who would be saved. So essential was the command that even the Lords disciples understood what He said and meant.
Peter in Acts 2:38 answered the question concerning salvation to those who were convicted of their sins with these words, "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Notice what this man said; the man who held the keys to the kingdom (Matthew 16:19). A man who sat before the Master when he gave the great commission to the apostles in Mark 16. Peter didn't have to tell those men and women of Acts 2 to believe in God because they were Jews, men of Israel (vs. 22), God's chosen people. But he did have to convince them to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that they had crucified their Lord and Christ. Peter in his sermon "preached the gospel"; the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. They were to believe that gospel. In the gospel was preached baptism and its necessity to be saved. Yes, Peter understood the Lords command.
The next example of conversion that the Book provides for us is in Acts 8:4-13. Prior to this conversion, the Jerusalem church was under severe persecution and many were scattered throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria. The Bible tells me that in this scattering of the church at Jerusalem those who went abroad went everywhere preaching the word the gospel of Christ. We are told that Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them. In preaching Christ unto them he preached baptism as an essential act of faith for both men and women (vs. 12). Simon the sorcerer understood Philip when he preached baptism in the gospel as being essential. Twice we read that people heard God's word and twice we read that they obeyed from the heart and were baptized.
In all the examples of conversion the Bible provides, baptism is preached to all. See Acts 9:1-20; 22:6-16; 10:1-48; 11:1-18; 16:13-15; 16:23-24; 18:8. I believe these examples from the Book, the confirmed word of God, show that baptism is essential to one's salvation.
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