“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” – Mark 16:15, 16
This verse contains the last charge that Christ gave to his apostles as he told them to go forth and preach. He gave them as part of that charge what they were to accomplish by their preaching. The warning given is harsh and states that people (all the posterity of Adam) who hear the gospel message and reject it will be damned. Damnation in this context means that they cannot live with God eternally. Those that do believe are asked to show their belief by submitting to the ordinance of baptism and are those that will be saved.
Baptism is for Identification:
The New Testament writings of Paul talk about being baptized into one “body” (see 1 Corinthians 12:13). That has reference to the “body of believers”, or the “body of Christ”. Baptism is for the purpose of identification with Christ through which we become a part of the church. It is your invisible badge that you wear.
This event of baptism is really just the beginning of a journey. It is the making of a covenant (promise) to God that for your part you will take the name of Christ upon you, which means you will be an example to the world of someone living the true Christian life by traveling on the strait and narrow path. We are thus separated out from society and made “one in Christ” in this special group.
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:27
Repentance and the Holy Ghost:
Baptism is meant to be symbolic. One of its symbolisms is that of being washed clean. It is not however the physical act of the water baptism that is cleansing the person. It is the power of the Holy Ghost that sanctifies us and cleanses us.
We are sanctified by the Holy Ghost through the power of God. Redemption comes through the atoning blood of Christ that allows this cleansing to take place. The sanctification by the Holy Ghost is what makes us pure and spotless before God.
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” – Acts 2:38
You can’t fool God
Many Christians are well aware of and have experienced a water baptism. This physical baptism in water does not accomplish the actual sanctification of a person. This is only half of the process. In order for the process to be complete, one must experience a baptism of the Spirit. This is also referred to as baptism by fire.
The day of Pentecost in the ancient church was an extreme case of the baptism by fire happening where the Holy Ghost descended and actual fire and a rushing noise was experienced. Through the baptism of fire, sin is burned out of the repentant sinner. This is related to the person being born again and becoming a new person in Christ.
The insincere cannot fool God. They may have the water baptism, but will not receive the baptism of the spirit. The baptism by fire is the experience resulting from receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” – John 3:5
I invite you to read about baptism and to seek out one in authority to administer this ordinance. Don’t stop there, because the physical act is the outward sign. The true effect of it will be a baptism of the spirit.