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Many Christians today believe that Baptism is not required to make it to heaven. They have been taught that such a belief would mean a "salvation of works" rather than on Christ's "finished work on the cross" (quotes added to encapsulate common phrases used today when discussing this subject). But is this really true, and is it really quite that simple? Let's see what the Bible actually says about baptism
Peter, in his sermon at the birth of the church calls on everyone to repent and be baptised:
Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit...Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number (the church) that day. Acts 2:38-41
So we see that to be saved you must "repent and be baptised". Now we all know that Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist. We read it in Matthew 3:15:
Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this (be baptised) to fulfill all righteousness.
When we are baptised we are obediently following Christ. And if Christ needed to be baptised, who are we to say we are not? Being baptised is our public declaration of identifying with Christ and membership in His Body, the Church. Its our response to Him - a public statement that says "yes, I belong to Christ now". In 1 Peter 3:21 read,
And this water symbolizes baptism, which now saves you also--not the washing away of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God...
Baptism is closely linked to repentance and obedience. We all know that talk is cheap. Saying "I repent" is easy. Being publicly baptised and confessing Christ as saviour is certainly not cheap to God. One thing you will quickly learn when you become a Christian - God requires obedience (the Bible has much to say about this, so I won't quote endless scriptures here). Just ask any long-time Christian and learn from them on this important subject.
Now lest we are accused of creating a doctrine by "taking a scripture out of context", let's look at other scriptures about Baptism.
He that believes and is baptised shall be saved; but he that disbelieves shall be condemned. Mark 16:16
Could it be any clearer that that?
Now why do you wait? Arise, be baptised, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Acts 22:16
Does this mean that if you are not baptised that your sins are not washed away?
...having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God... Col 2:12
If you are not baptised, are you raised with him?
For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ. Gal 3:27
Does this mean that if you have not been baptised that you have not put on Christ?
We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all... Eph 4:4-6
For everyone who lives on milk is not experienced in the word of righteousness, for he is a baby.
But solid food is for those who are full grown, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.
Therefore leaving the teaching of the elementary principles of Christ, let us press on to perfection--not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God, of the teaching of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. Heb 5:13 - 6:2
The writer of Hebrews equates not understanding the need for baptism with being a baby Christian.
Baptism was obviously essential to the first disciples of Christ. According to the scriptures, everyone who became a believer was baptised on the very day.
And what about the Great Commission? What did Jesus tell us to do?
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Isn't Jesus saying that baptism is required to the making of a disciple? It really is a matter of obedience - can anyone make it to the Father being a disobedient child?
And here is something else to consider. In John 13:4-9 we read this:
He (Jesus) took a towel, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 Then he came to Simon Peter. He said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?" 7 Jesus answered him, "You don't know what I am doing now, but you will understand later." 8 Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I don't wash you, you have no part with me." 9 Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"
Could this passage have a double meaning? Besides Jesus demonstrating servanthood, could it also be an allegory about refusing baptism? Isn't baptism about Jesus washing away our sins? Could it be he's warning us about refusing baptism? Its possible.
Now we are left with one issue: What about those people who are not able to be baptised before they die. For example, a prisoner receives Christ as Saviour but isn't able to be baptised before death? Of course, God knows our hearts and intentions and he knows if you are willing but unable. Jesus proved this while on the cross with the two criminals. Because one of them repented while on his cross, Jesus told him that he would be with him in Paradise. But for someone who deliberately refuses baptism, the story will be different. Even postponing baptism is not wise, as you don't know what will happen tomorrow. That's why everyone who was baptised in the Bible, did so on the very day they became a believer.
So who are you going to believe? Dr. So and So who says baptism isn't required, or are you going to believe what you read in your own Bible? If you are a believer and aren't yet baptised, I would arrange for it today!