I am firmly convinced that the salvation of souls depends upon obedience to God's word. The teaching of Jesus and the apostles is very clear in this matter. In the book of Acts, often called the book of conversions, we find examples of what believers in Christ did in order to have their sins remitted. Let us glean from the consistency of these Bible examples of conversion.
In all cases, penitent believers who confessed their faith in Jesus as the Christ, were baptized for the remission of their sins. This is exactly what they all did without fail!
Baptism is just as necessary to becoming saved as repentance or believing that Jesus is the Son of God. Furthermore, baptism is the final act of obedience, which puts us "into" Christ where all spiritual blessings are located, (Galatians 3:26-27; Ephesians 1:3).
However, let me quickly add, not just any baptism, for any reason, will bring remission of sins! In order for baptism to be valid, it must meet the requirements of the New Testament. What do I mean by this?
In the first place The New Testament teaches that baptism is only for PROPER SUBJECTS. Proper subjects are those who are penitent believers. Never does the Bible say anything about children or babies being baptized. They have not yet gained knowledge of Jesus and his mission upon earth. Baptism was always administered to someone that had the capacity to recognize sin and its consequences and be convicted with godly sorrow enough to repent, (Acts 2:38; 8:37; Mark 16:16).
Bible examples of conversion are consistent in showing that the proper MODE is immersion, (Romans 6:3; Colossians 2:12). Sprinkling or pouring water over someone does not constitute a burial, and therefore is not a valid baptism!
Valid New Testament baptism has Jesus Christ as the correct AUTHORITY. Since John's baptism ceased, all must be baptized in the name of Christ, (Acts 19:5). Valid baptisms are now to be baptisms "into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost," (Matthew 28:18-20).
Finally, without fail, valid New Testament baptism was always for a specific PURPOSE, which is "for the remission of sins." If we were baptized as a public confession of faith (thinking we were already saved) we do not have a valid baptism. Only a valid baptism will bring about "remission of sins" and "the gift of the Holy Spirit," (Acts 2:38).
By Wendell Ward
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