“The like figure whereunto even 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” (1 Peter 3:21).
If water baptism is needed for salvation, then the teaching of the Catholic Church is correct and there was, and is no need for the Protestant Reformation. Sola fide (by faith alone), is at the heart of the Reformed Doctrine of Justification.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17).
If water baptism is needed for salvation, then the Catholic Dogma of works, plus faith, resulting in salvation, is correct, and passages such as Ephesians 2:8-9 is overthrown. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
If water baptism is needed for salvation, then the Law need never have been abolished, for a new set of laws have replaced them, and Christ can no longer say, “It is finished”. Something more must yet be done.
If water baptism is needed for salvation, then the great parallel, emphasizing faith, is made void.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14).
If baptism is necessary for salvation, then the misguided practice of the early church whereby individuals delayed being baptized until near death, is justified. But what does the Bible say about baptism? It exhorts an immediate obedient response to the gospel. Baptism is to be done sooner, rather than later.
“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:36, 37).
“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway” (Acts 16:31, 32).
If water baptism is needed for salvation, then another foundation is laid on which faith rests.
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).
If water baptism is needed for salvation, then a good work has been added to the atoning work of Christ, and the heart is left to wonder and worry about other good works to be enacted in order to be saved. The end result will be nothing but fear, and despair, for who can merit the merits of Christ?
“But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:23-26).
If water baptism is essential for salvation, then the importance of the Spirit baptism is reduced.
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27).
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).
In the matter of salvation, bring the children, and all seeking sinners, to Christ, not the font. Then, upon profession of faith, as an act of gospel obedience, let individuals be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.