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Comparative Theology, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
6- The Necessity of Baptism Ever Since the Establishment of the Church
Since the beginning of Christianity, baptism has been an inseparable part of accepting the . Especially that it is an undisputed commandment by Christ Himself.
His Holy and imperative commandment is “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt.28: 19). He also commanded: "He who believes and is baptised will be saved" (Mark. 16:16). If baptism were meant to be only a sign, the Lord would have not given it all that importance.
Regarding the practical administration of baptism, when the Jews believed on the Day of Pentecost, St. Peter immediately called them to baptism. He said: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). On that day 3000 believers were baptised. Undoubtedly, baptising that multitude was a tedious and difficult task and must have taken a long time. Unless baptism was so important for Salvation the Apostles would of bypassed it, avoiding the hassel of baptising all these thousands, and we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other pages. It would have been easier for the Apostles to say: "Since you now believe, brethren, you have received salvation. Go, the Lord's blessing be with you."
We find the same situation with the Ethiopian eunuch who himself asked to be baptised immediately after he had believed. He was baptised by Philip and went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8: 36-39).
Saul of Tarsus was called to be baptised to wash away his sins after he had believed (Acts 22:16). Lydia, the woman dealer of purple cloth was baptised together with all her household after they had believed. When Cornelius believed, Peter the Apostle baptised him together with all those who heard the message, after saying: "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptised who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" (Acts 10: 44,47)
If salvation was to only be attained through belief, why were all those who believed baptised?
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