Accept Jesus as your personal Savior. Invite Jesus into your heart. Pray the sinner’s prayer. Any and all of those options have been presented as the way of salvation. Curiously, there is not a single instance of any of those being on the lips of the Lord or His messengers. Where those ideas originated and how they were popularized is anybody’s guess. One thing that we do know is that they did not come from any biblical example or command.
Jesus commissioned His apostles to go everywhere and preach to everybody (Mark 16:15). In the Lord’s own words (That would seem to be a pretty reliable source for such information!), “He who has believed and has been baptized will be saved (vs.16).” Who did Jesus say would be saved? There is no confusion here, simply a very clear statement of fact from the one who has all authority in all places (Matthew 28:18).
Peter preached the gospel to a gathering of Jews in Jerusalem in Acts 2. When it reached its climax, the message stung their hearts (Verse 37). Their concerns were urgent and their question direct, “Brethren, what shall we do?” The apostle’s answer involved neither accepting, inviting nor praying. It is unmistakably clear, “Repent and each one 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 (Verse 38).” How has the world drifted from the simplicity of that?
Throughout the book of conversions (Acts), they all share a common thread. The instructions are not exactly the same because converts start at different levels, but they all lead to the same response. From the Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2) to the Gentiles with Cornelius (Acts 10), their road to heaven led through the waters of baptism. Even Saul, whom the Lord talked to directly, was not exempt (Acts 22:16). It happened in unlikely places (Acts 8:26-39) and at inconvenient times (Acts 16:25-34), but it always happened. Peter preached it then wrote of it, “Baptism now saves you…(1 Peter 3:21).” It certainly impressed his mind.
It marks the transition from out to in, lost to saved, sin-stained to cleansed. We have both biblical commands and examples of the crucial role that baptism plays in the Divine plan of salvation. The Lord desires that all men be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). That is evidenced by the brutal execution of the Messiah which was part of the plan, and we join in that death at baptism (Romans 6:3). It may be unimpressive and perhaps even illogical to our human minds. Maybe that is why people seek alternative plans, all of which have one shared deficiency: they do not work.
Call to Praise Scripture: Philippians 2:14-16
His word on it: John 14:31
Sermon: “That the World May Know”