A number of years ago I was leading a study for a group of teenagers on basic Bible doctrines and the subject of baptism came up. Several of the teens were coming from different church backgrounds so I explained that baptism was and is a very serious practice for believers. It's a visual message of your commitment to Jesus Christ. You are making a public declaration of your belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ on your behalf. It represents a break from the past, which often includes separation from family and friends. As the teens were listening to me I could tell they were about to explode with questions. One of the guys shouted out, "so do I have to be baptized to be saved or not?" I quickly replied, "No, but you have to be saved to be baptized!" The New Testament picture is baptism always follows faith in Christ alone as the only requirement for salvation. Titus 3:5 says, "It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." See, you can get baptized every week and not be saved! It's not the “washing of the flesh,” (1 Peter 3), it’s not the water itself that saved, it’s the fact that you believe that Jesus took your place, rose from the dead, and conquered death, to give you life.
Allow me to give you a few more responses to commonly asked questions about baptism: Is it possible for a person to put their faith and trust in Jesus and never be baptized? Yes...but don't you want to be an obedient follower of Christ? Jesus said, "If you love me you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15). He instructed (command) His followers to be baptized, so isn't that enough? I was baptized as a baby, should I now be baptized by immersion as a believer? Yes! As an infant, you had no idea what you were doing. Every single time we see baptism in the New Testament it is someone that has repented of their sin and come to faith in Christ. How old do you have to be to be baptized? There is no prescribed age, but generally, when someone is able to understand that their sin has separated them from a Holy God and they turn to Christ in faith they are qualified to be baptized. This is why Baptism in Scripture is always reserved for those who believe. How about you? Have you followed in obedience to baptism? Press On, Pastor Brian Richard