Text Box: THE URGENCY OF BAPTISM
Paul Smitherman
It is important to notice that in each and every Bible example of individuals becoming Christians, they were baptized (Acts 2:38,41; 8:12; 8:36-39; 9:1-6; 10:48; 16:14; 16:30-33; 19:5; 22:16).
We also find that there was an urgency concerning baptism. For instance, the eunuch said, "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" He commanded his chariot to stop and was baptized immediately (Acts 8:36-39). In the case of the Philippian jailer, it was midnight. His jail had just been destroyed by an earthquake. Paul and Silas had blood all over their backs from being beaten. The jailer had almost committed suicide. Yet, he was taken and baptized "the same hour of the night" (Acts 16:33).
These things are understandable when we consider the words of our Lord and His apostles. Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:16). The apostle Paul declared, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27). Peter wrote, "...baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1Pet. 3:21).
What cannot be understood is why denominational doctrines teach that baptism is not necessary for salvation! The Scriptures plainly teach that baptism like belief, repentance, and confession, is a part of God's plan for the forgiveness of sin.
Some may ask, "But why baptism?" It will help us to see the answer to this if we make a basic observation. No one can be saved without the blood of Christ. We are redeemed, forgiven, cleansed by the blood of Christ (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Rev. 7:14). Other passages say that baptism does precisely the same thing. Baptism is said to remove sin and cleanse the conscience (Acts 2:38, 22:16; 1Pet. 3:21).
Does this present a problem? The Bible first says the blood takes away one's sin, then it says baptism does. What is the truth? There are only two possibilities. Either the Bible contradicts itself, or there is some connection between the two. Obviously, there has to be a connection. The connection is that baptism is the means by which one contacts the blood of Christ.
Jesus shed His blood in His death (Jn. 19:34). Of course, we cannot contact the actual physical blood of Christ. But, we must contact His blood for the forgiveness of our sin. Paul explains how this is done. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:3-4). Newness of life (i.e., being born again) comes only after being buried into the death of Jesus through baptism.
Therefore, we see why baptism is found in every Bible example of conversion, why it was urgent, and still is today.