By Jimmy R. Mickells
We often encounter or hear of people who simply do not believe that baptism is a part of God’s plan to save man. They usually say that it is a good thing to do, Jesus was baptized you know. It is certainly a good thing to do because the Bible tells us to be baptized. But does it have any connection with the forgiveness of sin? To answer this question one must go to the Scriptures to see what is taught there. It is my hope and prayer that any who will read this article will remove any prejudices that they have, regardless of whether they have been baptized or not, simply accepting what the Bible says.
In Mark 16:16, Mark quoting our Lord, said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Jesus plainly says in this verse if I believe and am baptized I will be saved. Am I saved at the point of belief or is baptism necessary as well? Faith is an absolute necessity in the plan of salvation (Romans 5:1 & Hebrews 11:6). Yet the Bible teaches that faith only will not save (James 2:24). In John 12:42, we are told, “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.” Jesus said that if we would not confess Him neither would He confess us before the Father (Matthew 10:32, 33 & Romans 10:9, 10). These men were not saved at the point of faith; there was something else that they needed to do to be saved by the grace of God.
I have had some to say, “This verse says if you do not believe you will be condemned, but it does not say if I’m not baptized I will be condemned? If I don’t believe in Jesus as the Christ why would I be baptized in His name to begin with? Why would I submit to Him if I don’t believe in Him? There would be no need. I would simply be getting wet. Some have contended through the years that they can find the negative aspect of faith, repentance, and confession, but there is no verse that says if I’m not baptized I would lose my soul. Such is not the case. Look at this verse, “Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). What is the water that Jesus refers to in this text? “That water points definitely to the rite of baptism…” (Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament vol. II, p. 91).
When Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:35), that obviously included the need to baptized. Notice this exchange, “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:36, 37). The very next verse says that he baptized him (verse 38). He was born of the water and of the Spirit. Water when he was baptized and of the Spirit when he did what the Holy Spirit instructed him to do through the teachings of this man of God.
Notice these verses along with the two we have already read (Mark 16:16 and John 3:5).
“Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
“There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).
How could these verses be any plainer? What would one need to change about these verses to show that baptism is not needed to save man from his sins? Peter would have needed to say, Repent and don’t be baptized for the remission of sins. Ananias should have told Paul to arise, no need to be baptized, because your sins have already been washed away. Then in Peter’s epistle, he would have needed to have said, there is an antitype which does not save us, baptism. How sad it is to see people who refuse to do what the Lord tells them so that they can receive the remission of their sins.
Let me remind you of the words that the servants of Naaman spoke to him when he had refused to do what the prophet Elisha told him about the cleansing of his leprosy. The writer said, “And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:13). The Lord has told us to do something simple as well. We are to believe (John 8:24), repent (Luke 13:3, 5), confess (Matthew 10:32, 33 & Romans 10:9, 10), and be baptized (Mark 16:16 & Acts 22:16). If we will do what He says, then like Naaman of old, we will have been washed and made clean.