Baptism: Necessary For Salvation
Amen, amen, I say unto thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
There is a close connection between Baptism and the Resurrection of our Lord. By Baptism we not only die to our sins with Christ on the Cross, we also rise to the new life of Grace with Christ risen from the dead.
In His great loving kindness, almighty God sent forth the spirit of adoption to regenerate the new people brought forth by Baptism. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear: but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba, (Father.) (Romans 8:15)
In His wisdom, God prepared mankind for this outpouring of His Grace through various types and figures. At the very beginning of the world, ...the Spirit of God moved over the waters. (Genesis 1:2) The very nature of water was thus sanctified; by a secret mixture of His divine virtue it was rendered fruitful for the regeneration of men. The sanctification of water at the beginning of Creation pointed to the heavenly offspring that would emerge from the immaculate womb of Baptism, reborn a new creature.
In the Garden of Eden, water flowed forth to the ends of the world, thereby showing the universality of the call to regeneration. (Genesis 2:6)
By water, God washed away the crimes of the guilty world. The universal Flood was a figure for regeneration. "God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also; not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1Peter 3:20) At the same time, water would represent an end to vice and the beginning of virtue. (Genesis 7:10-24)
The crossing of the Israelites through the waters of the Red Sea is another powerful figure for the crossing of the Christian from death to life through the cleansing waters of Baptism. (Exodus 14)
In the wilderness of Sinai, water was made to come forth miraculously from the rock, thus turning the bitterness of the desert into a place of spiritual refreshment. (Numbers 20:13)
Water was changed into wine by Our Lord Jesus Christ when he performed His first miracle at the wedding in Cana. (John 2:1-11)
Another miracle was performed when Jesus walked dry foot across the water to the worried disciples. (Matthew 14:25)
Jesus set the example by submitting Himself to Baptism. (Matthew 3:14-16)
After His death on the Cross, the side of Christ was pierced with a lance and both blood and water gushed forth, an image of the union between the sacrifice of Calvary and the regeneration of the water of Baptism. (John 19:34)
The final command of Christ before He ascended back into heaven was, Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations: baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost... (Matthew 28:19).
We thereby see how important Baptism is, how central it was to the plan of God's redemption. In Baptism the stains of all sins are washed out. Human nature, created in the image of God, is reformed to the honour of its Author. The soul is cleansed from all the filth of the old man. Every baptised person is born again, a new child of true innocence.
As the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so my soul panteth after Thee, O God. My soul hath thirsted for the living God: when shall I come and appear before the face of God? (Psalm 41:2-3)