Do you know how John prepared people for the Savior? He was “preaching the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk. 1:5; cf. Lk. 24:47; Acts 2:38). People were being baptized in water “to flee the wrath to come…unquenchable fire” (Mt. 3:7-12). John was getting people ready for the Great Commission of Jesus, who had come to save people from their sins and would thus command the whole world to be baptized in water for the forgiveness of sins. Yes, the Savior commanded baptism, knowing that the whole purpose of His Great Commission was to save people!
All four Gospel accounts of the Great Commission either explicitly or implicitly include water baptism, and on the first day the Great Commission was carried out, guess what the lost people were told to do—Were they told that they were already saved because they now believed in Jesus? (Acts 2:37). Were they told to pray? No, they were told, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins…Save yourselves” (Acts 2:38, 40). That pattern of water baptism for salvation is seen throughout Acts, to “wash away sins” (Acts 22:16). Prayer was not mentioned at all in the Great Commission, because that is not what people do to become saved, to become Christians. That is what people do AFTER they have been baptized in water to become saved, forgiven (Prov. 28:9; Jn. 9:31; Acts 8:12-24; 1 Jn. 1:9; 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:12, 20, 21).
The Savior said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). He did NOT say, “He who believes and prays shall be saved,” but that is what is being taught by so many today. There is no account of any alien sinner living under the New Covenant being commanded to pray to become saved, but we read of thousands being baptized for the forgiveness of sins! How is it then that “asking Jesus into your heart” is perhaps the most widespread “plan of salvation” these days, even though it is not in the Bible at all? How is it that we have so many churches convincing people they are saved, even though those people have not done what God commanded to be saved? If those churches do eventually baptize people, they tell them it is for a different purpose than what God said. Maybe this happens so often because most people do not study for themselves, but unknowingly put their trust in false teachers, or maybe they simply have not studied enough to learn how the Scriptures harmonize. Friends, it’s past time to get things like this figured out, and if you want to study this further, I will be glad to help, because I love you and care about your soul. Prov. 16:25; 28:9; Mt. 7:13-27; 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15, 16; Lk. 24:47; Jn. 3:5; 9:31; 12:42, 43; 20:23; Acts 9:6-19; 17:11; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-5, 16-18; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 5:26; Col. 2:11-13; 2 Tim. 2:15-18; Heb. 10:22; Jam. 2:19-26; 1 Pet. 1:22; 3:12, 20, 21; 1 Jn. 6-9; 2:12.