by Matt Slick
This question is for those who believe that baptism is necessary for salvation. Let's say there is a person who has recognized his sin, acknowledges that Jesus Christ is God in flesh, that he died on the cross, that he physically rose from the dead, and that he has repentend of his sins. This same person prays to the Lord Jesus--as Jesus instructed (John 14:14), and asks Jesus, by faith, to forgive him of his sins (Matt. 28:18; Luke 5:20). If he does this, are his sins forgiven?
If you say that his sins are forgiven, then baptism is not necessary for salvation because he would be forgiven without baptism by faith in Christ.
However, if you say that his sins are not forgiven because he is not yet been baptized, then you are saying that Jesus would not forgive the sins of the person when the person prays to him and asks. It would mean that a faithful trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sins is not enough to save anyone. It would mean that those who have prayed to Christ and asked him for forgiveness are still in a state of damnation because they have not yet been baptized. It would mean that Jesus alone is not able to save because salvation would require a combination of faith in God and man's participation in the baptismal ceremony. This means that salvation from God is restricted and cannot be accomplished until the ceremony is performed.
A ceremony is a religious rite, a series of practices done in a short period of time for religious purposes. A wedding is a ceremony. Communion is a ceremony. Baptism is a ceremony. Therefore, if baptism is necessary for salvation, then the forgiveness of sins is accomplished by faith in Christ and a ceremony.
This is a false gospel since it denies justification by faith alone in Christ alone (Rom. 3:28; 4:1-5; 5:1; Eph. 2:8-9).