Question:

I stillhaven't been baptized since repenting again and coming back to the Lord a year ago. I'm just patiently waiting, you see, for my pastor to preach the truth. I know God wants me to be in that church because every time I wanted to leave, the pastor ends up preaching Scriptures based upon the word of God. But I don't think my church takes baptism seriously, as I do, though I have never been baptized. A sister in the church told me in her opinion she doesn't think baptism is required in order to be saved and for salvation. Because one of the things she tells me a lot is what about those people who accept the Christ and then in the next minute died in an accident, or what about those people with disabilities or those who are sick in the hospital who have accepted Christ, and probably end up dying shortly. Basically they accepted Christ without being baptized so they are saved and have salvation, so this is the reason why you can be saved and have salvation without baptism. I couldn't really respond back to her on this, so I want to know what's your opinion on this? Oh, every time I try telling her it is required because Jesus commanded it in Matthew 28:19,20 she tells me who was Jesus speaking to that time, I say the Jews, she says itdoesn't applies to the Gentiles. In the same way I told her about the book of Acts, she said it was probablyrequired for them led by the Holy spirit- basically the Holy Spirit probably had a reason to tell Paul why he had to get baptized in Acts 22:16. She always say in the letters Paul wrote he never mentions baptism being a requirement or needed to be saved or receive salvation.

Answer:

I'm a bit confused because you say you take baptism seriously, but then turn around and say you haven't been baptized. I'm sorry, but a person's actions speak far louder than words. Now the Ethiopian eunuch took baptism seriously because while listening to his first gospel sermon from Philip, he interrupted Philip and said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" (Acts 8:36). They stopped the chariot immediately so that the eunuch could be baptized. That is serious! Or the Philippian jailer, who learned the truth in the middle of the night. "Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized" (Acts 16:32-33). That was serious! But your actions state that it is not a serious matter to you.

In regards to your friend's arguments, ask for a book, chapter and verse where God says there is an exception to the rule requiring baptism. She argues that if a person believes and dies before they are baptized, then they must be saved, but that is reasoning by assertion. Peter said while speaking of Noah and the Flood, "This is a symbol of baptism, which now saves you--not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21). Or another way to read the Greek is that baptism brings about immediate salvation.

In regards to Matthew 28:18-20, you are both reading the passage incorrectly. "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen" (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus is speaking directly to the apostles, who are Jews, but notice that what Jesus is stating is not for the Jews only. They were told to make disciples of all the nations. How does one become a disciple? By baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And it doesn't end there. Those baptized disciples were to learn to observe all the things Christ taught the apostles -- including the command to make disciples of all the nations by baptizing them. Therefore this command is for all Christians, not just twelve Jews.

Yes, the Holy Spirit had a reason to require Paul to be baptized. "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). Paul needed to be baptized to wash away his sins. By the way, this is after Paul acknowledged Jesus as Lord and spent three days fasting and praying. None of those things removed his sins. He needed to be baptized to have them removed.

In regards to Paul never mentions baptism as being a requirement, needed to be saved, or to receive salvation, well, I had to laugh because in Acts 22, who do you think is telling the story about Paul's conversion? Paul said it!

Let's see, Paul also said:

  • All, including Paul, were baptized into Jesus and into Jesus’ death - Romans 6:3
  • They were baptized in order to be able to walk in newness of life - Romans 6:4
  • They were baptized so they could share in Christ’s resurrection - Romans 6:5
  • They were baptized so that old, sinful ways might be done away with - Romans 6:6
  • They were baptized so that they would no longer be slaves to sin - Romans 6:6-7
  • We are circumcised with a circumcision done without hands, removing sins, by being buried with Jesus in baptism - Colossians 2:11-12
  • That baptism made us alive together with Jesus - Colossians 2:13
  • That baptism allowed us forgiveness of all our trespasses - Colossians 2:13
  • We are cleansed and sanctified with water - Ephesians 5:26
  • Baptism puts us into Christ - Galatians 3:27-29
  • Baptism makes us Abraham's descendants and heirs to the promise - Galatians 3:26-29
  • Baptism puts us into the church - I Corinthians 12:13
  • Baptism is called a washing of regeneration (new birth) - Titus 3:5

Then there are Paul's actions:

  • Lydia was baptized - Acts 16:15
  • The Philippian was baptized - Acts 16:33
  • Crispus and many in Corinth were baptized - Acts 18:8
  • John’s disciples in Ephesus were baptized - Acts 19:4-5
  • Paul was baptized Acts 22:16
  • Paul had baptized Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas - I Corinthians 1:13-16

But even if Paul had not said or done all of those things, the fact remains that we are Christians, followers of Christ. Matthew 28:18-20 is Jesus' direct command -- it is required by my Lord and God -- my Lord's commands are not options which I can ignore. Jesus also said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). Jesus also had his disciples baptizing. "After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized" (John 3:22). It got John's followers upset. "And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified--behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!"" (John 3:26). Soon we learn, "Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John. (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples)" (John 4:1-2). It is proper to say that Jesus was baptizing, even though he did not physically do the action, because the disciples were doing the baptisms by his command or authority. Therefore we have both Jesus' command and his example -- and you call yourself a follower of Christ and do not follow either?