You, like me, have friends and loved ones who are wonderfully sincere individuals, but who have never been baptized to put on Christ. We love them, but, at times, our love for them leads us to be unwilling to speak clearly and boldly about the essentiality of baptism for salvation.
Our Lord Jesus Himself stated that it is essential. He told Nicodemus, “…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). The Great Commission, given by Jesus, makes it crystal clear that one must be baptized to be saved from sin. He stated, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16; see also Matthew 28:19-20).
Peter, the apostle to whom the “keys of the kingdom” were given (cf. Matthew 16:19), made it clear that baptism is necessary. On Pentecost, he declared, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Later in his life, he would clearly state, “Baptism…now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21).
Paul, another apostle and the man who penned a large percentage of the New Testament, made it clear that baptism is essential. Of course, this came after he himself had been taught that baptism washes away sins (Acts 22:16), which Paul immediately heeded. So, as he exhorted churches, he wrote of the essential nature of baptism. Romans 6:1-11 connects baptism with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He wrote, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27) and that “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
We love our friends and neighbors; of that, there can be no doubt. But are we showing that love by teaching them–from the Scriptures–that it is only through baptism that one is truly in Christ? Or, do we sidestep the issue because it might be contentious or might strain the relationship? We have no excuse to water down baptism. The eternal destiny of our loved ones is at stake.
“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” (Acts 22:16)
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn