Question: Is baptism necessary for salvation?
It depends upon what you mean by the words "salvation" and "baptism". Certainly, some have found forgiveness of sins and have entered into eternal life without water baptism, such as thief on the Cross (Luke 23:39-43). There is a body of believers who do not practice water baptism at all, namely the Friends, who are also called Quakers. Many of the Friends have the consciousness of having their sins forgiven, and God has set His seal upon their acceptance by giving them the gift of the Holy Spirit.
However, the term "salvation" is used in Scripture not merely in regard to forgiveness of sins and eternal life, but also in a larger sense of all the fullness of blessing that is to be found in Christ. Certainly, one cannot enter into all the fullness of blessing that there is in Christ without absolute obedience to Him (Acts 5:32). If there is any commandment of Christ that we know we do not obey, we certainly cannot enjoy fullness of fellowship with Him. Jesus Christ Himself commanded water baptism (Matthew 28:19). He also commanded it through His disciples (Acts 2:38). As an act of obedience to Christ, therefore, water baptism certainly is, in the larger sense, a saving ordinance for those who believe that Jesus Christ commands it. Submitting to baptism has been the turning point in the experience of many men and women. It has been done as an act of conscious obedience to Jesus Christ, and has been accompanied by great blessing.
There are earnest followers of Christ who do not see in such passages as the above a command to baptize or be baptized with water, and in not being baptized, they are not consciously disobeying Jesus Christ. It is difficult for me to see how anyone can study the New Testament with the single-minded purpose of discovering what it actually teaches and not see the necessity of water baptism. Yet from my contact with those believers known as Friends, I must conclude that many of them are perfectly conscientious Christians, even though they have not been baptized with water, and that they are true children of God.
[my thoughts: If indeed you are truly saved, then it stands to reason that you would want to be baptized. Why? Because of your new heart-felt love for Christ and what He did for you on the Cross! Personally, I HAD to be baptized because I needed to openly show Jesus just how much I loved Him and how much it meant to me to be a child of God! It didn't matter to me whether "I must" or that I "should". I simply had to do it! And I am so very glad that I did!]
~R. A. Torry~