In establishing a relationship with God through Jesus Christ one needs to exercise their faith in properly responding to the gospel in a manner in which Jesus has authorized. Repentance from sin is one such outworking of one's faith. So also Jesus has commanded that those who believe are to get baptized as believers, showing their allegiance to Him.
Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Matt 28:19,20See how the apostle Peter incorporated believer's baptism into the first Christian sermon he preached. After he preached the gospel many believed and asked what to do next.
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, 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." Acts 2:38Believer's baptism is not to be reckoned a sort of optional thing. It is what believers are to do.
Jesus said, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Mr 16:16So if you believe in Christ, but have yet to get baptized as a believer, then go and get baptized. "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name."Acts 22:16 After the Ethiopian of Acts 8 came to believe the gospel that Philip told him, he saw some water and asked, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Acts 8:36 What hinders people from getting baptized?
Baptism is an answer of a good conscience towards God, which is not the case of infant baptism. "There is also an antitype (to the story of Noah's flood) which now saves us——baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God)" 1Peter 3:21
To show further that the Bible affirms rebaptism, while there is no example of infant baptism in the Bible, there was another kind of baptism which was not recognized as believer's baptism, namely the John's baptism.
Acts 19:1-6Why were they rebaptized? Because the first baptism they received was not believer's baptism. In fact they didn't even become believers until this event. They believed and were baptized.
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John’s baptism," they replied. Paul said, "John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
There are other hinderances to baptism as well. What is disturbing is that baptism is often left out of the message because of fears that it makes the gospel less palatable. Afterall people may not believe if getting wet is a part of believing. Ironic that they water down the gospel by taking the water out of the gospel. Such could be the argument for removing other significant aspects of the gospel. But didn't God put such things in the gospel in order to allow only genuine believers in?
There are many things which accompany saving faith - love, joy and peace are just some of the attitudes which accompany faith, as do obedience and perseverance. All such outworkings of faith are revealed by actions. We work out our salvation. We don't work for our salvation. Paul writes, "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed— not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence— continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." Php 2:12,13
Is it FAITH + WORKS => SALVATION?
Or is it FAITH => WORKS + SALVATION
This subtle difference can save one from falling into legalism
We are saved by faith. Faith is not a work, it is an attitude, as is
love, joy and peace and many other things. So also characteristic of saving
faith is the intention to obey the Lord. Since salvation is not by works,
and yet things like repentance and baptism are required, logically it is
really the intention to obey which is the prerequisite to salvation. Intention
is not a work, it is an attitude of saving faith. Or another way to say
it is that one attribute of the kind of faith that saves is that one is
willing to repent of one's sins and be water baptized.
|My dear brothers, what does it gain
If one believes, but only in vain.
For if faith does not affect how he behaves,
I don't really think that kind of faith saves.
James 2:14 (rap)
It is important to remember that it is not the actual getting wet which is necessary for salvation. For that would put water baptism in the same category as circumcision as it was advocated by the group of the circumcision - a cult which was condemned in the book of Galatians for holding the idea that righteousness can be obtained through the flesh. "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing." John 6:63 And so also "The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Rom 14:17 Those who think things like eating, drinking, getting wet, or cutting off a piece of skin are prerequisites for salvation have yet to understand the gospel. There is no ritual that you can perform that will save you. It is an occultic idea that rituals save. Salvation is only by faith.
And just to give an example of one who was saved before getting baptized, there is Cornelius and his household of Acts 9, who received the Holy Spirit before he was baptized. Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." Acts 10:47