What is the role of baptism in the plan of salvation? This has been a long debated question and it will continue to be until Jesus returns.
Yet the word of God commands the believer to be baptized. (Mark 16:16)
Baptism has been a part of the gospel from its beginning.
Even before Jesus appeared in the scene.  John the Baptist started it. (John 1:33)
It was prefigured by the Israelites’ crossing of the Red sea. (I Corinthians 10:2)
More over Jesus' apostles baptized during his earthly ministry. (John 4:1)
Before Jesus ascended unto heaven he commissioned his apostles to baptize believers.  Which they did from the beginning of the church. (Acts 2:41)
Down through history baptism has been an integral part of Christianity.  This led some misguided people to introduce infant baptism. During the middle ages infidels were given the option of baptism or death.
The Bible, tradition, and history agree that baptism is essential to the believers' salvation; but some modern preachers insist that baptism is not necessary.
Many of these teachers quote I Corinthians 1:17 to support their position. Paul did say that Christ had not sent him to baptize, but to preach the gospel; yet he did perform some baptisms (Acts 19:5), so obviously the people who oppose baptism using this verse got it wrong.
Was he contradicting himself? No. Paul concentrated in preaching the gospel, but left the baptizing to others; much like today's evangelists (including myself) do.
There is no verse in the Bible which teaches that baptism is optional, but plenty which teach its necessity. Baptism does not negate salvation by fait, but complements it. (Hebrews 6:2)
Baptism does not guaranty a person's salvation.  There is no magic in the water. What makes baptism effective is faith in Christ Jesus. (I Peter 3:21)

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