We currently live in a society where sinful conduct is actually glorified and rationalized. Satan tempts us through these views in addition to deceitful lusts and he is called “the god of this age who blinds the minds of those who do not believe” (2 Cor 4:4; Heb 3:13; 1 John 2:15-17). Yet Almighty God who is called the “God of truth” gives us a clear view of the effects of sin” (Isa 59:1-2; 65:16; John 14:6). Sin not only separates us from God, it leaves us “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12).
The good news is that God has made known the wonderful promise of forgiveness and salvation available to every person (John 3:16; Acts 3:19). It is unfortunate, however, that there is so much adverse teaching on how forgiveness comes. Religious feelings and prejudice can cloud human minds to the beautiful truth of God about forgiveness and any other Bible subject for that matter.
For example, you may have seen one or perhaps someone gave you a tract entitled “God’s Simple Plan of Salvation.” One such tract said one should pray the sinner’s prayer and ask Jesus to come into your heart. It is interesting to note that in the Bible, there is not one single person who was commanded to “pray the sinner’s prayer.” What is also interesting is that nearly all the conversions in the New Testament records people who were already religious. Consider these Bible examples: the birth of 3000 [spiritual] babies on Pentecost (Acts 2:37-41), others at Jerusalem (Acts 4:4; 5:14; 6:7), Samaria (Acts 8:5-13), the Eunuch (Acts 8:35-39), Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-30; 22:1-21; 26:12-18), Cornelius (Acts 10:34-48), at Antioch where the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:19-26), Lydia and her household (Acts 16:13-15), the Jailor and his family (Acts 16:30-34), the Corinthians (Acts 18:8), and the Ephesians (Acts 19). These examples suggest that one can be religious and yet not saved.
On baptism, the tract mentioned above stated, “You should be baptized in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ as a public testimony of your salvation, and then united with a Bible believing church without delay.” Nowhere in the Bible do you read that people were baptized or told to be baptized “as a public testimony of one’s salvation.” You do read in the Bible that baptism was for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), to wash away sins (Acts 22:16), to put one into Christ (Gal 3:27; 1 Cor 12:13), to put one into the kingdom (Col 1:13), to unite the sinner with the death of Jesus Christ (Rom 6:3-4), and for salvation (1 Pet 3:21; Mark 16:15-16). So, is baptism necessary to obtain forgiveness? Of course it is! The fact that it doesn’t fit into the doctrine of other religious bodies doesn’t change the Lord’s will and teaching.
The answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” is clearly set forth in Acts 16:30-34. Here is the phrase “to be saved” used in the sense of being rescued – rescued from sin and from Satan. Jesus did not come just to make the world a better place or to simply raise the standard of mankind’s moral concepts. As the Savior, Jesus came to rescue people from sin and the horrible punishment of hell! (Mat 1:21; Luke 19:10; 1 Tim 1:15; 1 John 4:14). Thanks be to God “that Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3) and that we have “redemption through His blood” (Eph 1:7). – By Joseph Casimier