In one of our Sunday night class sessions, we were studying various arguments against the necessity of baptism for salvation. We do these studies by examining the arguments of mainline online sources. Among these are Grace to You (gty.org), a work of John McArthur Jr. On that page we found this argument (summarized): ‘Baptism is not necessary to be saved. Baptism is found in Acts 2:38 but is not found in Acts 3:19.’ (The are a host of fallacious arguments in that specific blog, but this is sufficient for our study today.)
Did Peter really preach the necessity of baptism in Acts 2:38, (which he clearly did,) and not say a word about it just days later in Acts 3:19?
Let’s look at a simple rule of math and language to help us gain a proper view of these texts.
Regarding math, let’s consider this equation: A + B = C. Then compare to this one: A + X = C. It doesn’t take a lot to figure out in these two equations that B and X are EQUAL.
Now let’s look at the two texts in Acts 2:38 and Acts 3:19.
- In Acts 2:38 we find Repentance (A) + Baptism (B) = Remission of Sins (C)
- In Acts 3:19 we find Repentance (A) + Conversion (X) = Blotting out of Sins (C)
- Clearly our “A” and our “C” are the same. So what then logically follows concerning B and X? THEY ARE THE SAME!
Baptism is the point at which one is converted. Before baptism, one is still in sins, a sinner. After baptism, one is forgiven of sins, a saint.
Baptism is the point at which one is buried with Christ and raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). It is the point at which one is planted together with Christ in the likeness of His death so that they can be in the likeness of His resurrection (v 5). It is when the body of sin is destroyed (v 6) and a man is freed from sin (v 7). (See also Colossians 2:11-13 in this same regard.)
No, Peter didn’t forget about baptism, neither did he preach two plans of salvation. Acts is replete with similar examples (Acts 8, 16, et al).