In his classic sermon, “There’s Water in the Plan,” iconic gospel preacher Marshall Keeble used to say, “There’s so much in the Bible about baptism that I can wring water out of it.” That great brother certainly had a way with words, but I want us to consider the veracity and validity of his statement.
As one reads through the New Testament, he ought to note the consistency with which the text speaks of baptism and more notably baptism’s relationship to finding favor with God.
In Matthew 28:19-20, we find that baptizing people into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the means by which one is made a disciple (cf Acts 18:24-19:5).
In Mark 16:15-16, we see that those who properly respond to the preaching of the gospel are those who believe the message preached and are baptized in order to be saved (cf Acts 2:36-41).
In Luke 24:47, Jesus said that “repentance and remission of sins” would be preached in His name, beginning at Jerusalem (cf Acts 2:38).
In John 3:3-5, we see that unless a man is born again, that is, born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Peter connected the new birth to the preaching of the gospel and the remission of sins in 1 Peter 1:22-25.
Acts is replete with texts wherein people responded to the preaching of the gospel by being baptized unto the remission of their sins (2:38; 8:12, 26-38; 16:14-15, 30-34; 18:8; 22:16).
Romans is a book many think teaches salvation without baptism, but these would have to skip over Romans 6:3-7. Without doubt, baptism is included in the “obedience to the faith” of Romans 1:5, 16:25.
In fact, we know that every single epistle written by Paul to specific churches includes a reference to baptism within the book itself, or the recipients are mentioned somewhere in the book of Acts as obeying the gospel, which necessitates being baptized for the remission of sins.
Those with express mentions of baptism are the Corinthians (1 Cor 1:13-17), the Galatians (Gal 3:26-27), the Ephesians (Eph 4:4-6), and the Colossians (Col 2:11-13).
Those mentioned in Acts as receiving and obeying the gospel include the Corinthians (Acts 18:), the Ephesians (Acts 18:24-19:5), the Philippians (Acts 16:11-34), and the Thessalonians (Acts 17:1-4). The Thessalonians were also given warning concerning those “who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes 1:6-10).
Finally, regarding Paul’s epistles, some of those who were converted in Rome are mentioned in Philippians 4:22 as “the saints in Caesar’s household.”
It simply astonishes me how so many people would purport to teach that Paul did not believe in baptism for the remission of sins! In his own recount of his conversion, Paul quoted Ananias as saying to him, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). If there were any quibble about what it means to “call on the name of the Lord” (cf Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13), Acts 22:16 ought to forever settle it.
Getting back to brother Keeble and his way with words, he also used to say, “The Devil don’t want you to be baptized because he knows you’ll burn better if you’re dry.” While I don’t think many could get away with that kind of straight talk today, the brother certainly made the point clear. Let’s obey what the New Testament teaches us from start to finish!