THE TRUTH ON BAPTISM FOR SALVATION
Many years ago I heard a Salvation Army Captain say, on the radio, “Paul answered the Philippian Jailer’s question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ in only one word, "believe" (Acts 16:30-31).
That is not a true statement. While it is true that Paul began by telling him to become a believer, which he was not at that stage, the very next verse says, “THEN THEY SPOKE THE WORD OF THE LORD TO HIM . . ." So he was not answered in “only one word.” It is by necessary inference that this included baptism “to be saved,” since he “was baptized the same hour of the night,” showing he considered it to be important, and urgent, in order “to be saved.”
Note well this fact: He was not said to be a believer--what he was told to become--'til after he was baptized, since only then was he “justified by faith”; his belief was greater than the devils have (James 2:19). It was an obedient faith, rather than a “dead faith, being alone”-- man is not saved by “faith only,” as “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).
One cannot be saved without “the remission of sins” and that is what baptism is for (Acts 2:38), or to “wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:19). Baptism is every bit as important to salvation as the teaching of other things, such as hearing the gospel, faith, repentance, and confession. Thus salvation is much more that a good feeling about things. A good feeling will only result, and be valid, if and when all is attended to.
Jesus made this truth very clear by saying, “he that beliveth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16: 15-16); note also that this is God’s requirement “in all the world,” for all time (Matthew 28:18-20). Nowhere can it be escaped, and it will never be amended.
Faithful preaching is to “tell it like it is”; after all, salvation for eternity is at stake. Do you think you can make it without baptism? Even if you have attended to all else? Do the devils tremble because they are confident of eternal salvation because of their belief, which is without doubt or dispute? They accept Jesus for what He is. Do you?
So accepting Him for what He is, and being obedient and following Him, are two very different things.
After salvation none can claim he no longer sins (1 John 1:8-10), but though one may still often falter in his actions, his faith needs to be steadfast; otherwise he is unable to remain a child of God. An obedient faith is just as necessary in overcoming the problem, as it was at the very beginning.
Baptism without a strong faith is just as useless to salvation, as a strong faith without baptism. It is repeated, the devils have such a faith, but they lack repentance and baptism. They also have no problem with confessing Christ for what He is.
Unless your faith is without doubt, like the devils is, and results in works of obedience, which includes baptism, you are no better off than the devils.
No one is ever called a Christian, in the Bible, short of baptism.
Many can claim to be devoutly religious, like Cornelius was (Acts10), but that does not make one a Christian.
Regardless of all else, no baptism--no Christian.