This has been a long asked question in the church, and there are numerous ones associated with it. Did my first baptism count? Do I have to be Saved to be baptized? Will being baptized Save me?
Let’s examine the Scriptural basis for baptism.
‘The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people: for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.’ Matthew 21:25-27 K.J.V.
From the section of Scripture presented above, it seems relatively clear that, to Jesus at any rate, the concept of baptism was tied with divine authority… or approval. Remember the segment of Scripture where John baptizes Jesus and the Voice of God answered saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’. Matthew 3:17b K.J.V.
Clearly, baptism is representative of our authority in Christ.
In addition, Jesus warned Nicodemus, ‘Verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’. John 3:5b K.J.V.
This verse has prompted many to wonder if one must be baptized to be Saved. I do not particularly think so. Remember, in Acts Peter says, ‘And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved’. Acts 2:21 K.J.V.
This seems to preclude the necessity of baptism, as one wouldn’t really think that Peter would refuse to yield such crucial information to those whom he was converting.
But what’s the real answer for baptism? Perhaps one of the most compelling verses is in 1 Peter: ‘Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 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 3:20, 21
Spiritual authority and preservation, that is why we are baptized.