Does baptism really save? After Peter’s first sermon he responded to a question from those listening. The Question:”What shall we do?”
Peter’s answer: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Repenting is fairly straight forward – although many false converts to the Christian faith think saying a sinner’s prayer was enough to get into Heaven when they die. The Bible states that withour repentance there is no salvation. Repentance – true biblical repentance – is the only way to enter the Kingdom of God and be assured of a place being reserved for you in heaven.
Repenting deals with a change of mind and purpose that turns an individual from sin to God.
1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God
Genuine repentance knows that the evil of sin must be forsaken and the person and work of Christ totally and singularly embraced. Peter called on his hearers to repent or they would not experience true conversion. Many today have not repented – and thus are not true converts and so are not in the faith or in the Kingdom. They may say they are born again but they are following a born again religion.
Peter then moves on to being baptized – immersed – in water. This was in line with what Jesus told the apostles to do. “Go into all the world, preach, make disciples, baptize them…” (Matthew 28:18-20). He was not suggesting that if you were not baptized that you were not saved. He is stating that a true convert will want to be baptized so that he or she can identify, through the waters of baptism, with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4).
For new believers at this time in the Roman Empire this was a crucial but very costly identification.
For many it syill is today.
The scripture goes on to say: “for the forgiveness of your sins”. So, we need to be baptized to be forgiven? No! Absolutely not. Dr. John MacArthus states: “This might be better translated ‘because of the forgiveness of sins.’ The reality of forgiveness precedes the rite of baptism Acts 2:41).”
Genuine repentance with godly sorrow brings from God the forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7) and then, because of this experience, they were to be baptized.
Baptism was to be the ever-present act of obedience – so it has often become synonymous with salvation. Thus to say that one was baptized for forgiveness was the same as saying one was saved.
Today many denominations believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are all that is required to be saved. The Anglican (Episcopalian) prayer book and catachism states “there are two sacraments necessary for salvation – holy baptism and the Lord’s Supper.” Not true. Absolutely not true!
We need to return to a biblical understanding of baptism and the wonderful meaning it holds for the true convert to the Christian faith.
Christian, have you been baptized since you received Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour?