Most people do not pause to consider the spiritual significance of baptism in the plan of salvation. Often, in our own eagerness to defend the truth, we fail to teach and to preach on baptism’s spiritual importance. It is the perfect spiritual representation of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-5).
Many years ago, brother Perry B. Cotham rightly identified three spiritual imperatives with regards to salvation:
There must be a change of heart (i.e., the intellect and emotions) by faith. This is the accepted element of salvation.
There must be a change of mind (i.e., the will) by repentance. This is the most difficult and often lost element of salvation.
There must be a change of state/relationship by baptism. This is the rejected element of salvation.
There are many religious people in this world, good people, who have altered their hearts by faith; they have altered their minds by repentance; but they have been deceived into thinking that they are already in a right relationship with God, either without or before baptism. This is not just a lie - it is a false lie.
The authority of men should be set aside and the authority of Jesus (Mat. 28:18; Col. 3:17) should be restored to the people. The doctrines of men must go - and the apostolic doctrine must remain (Acts 2:42). “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation… so why tarriest thou? arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (2 Cor. 6:2; Acts 22:16).