Is baptism an essential part of salvation?
No, Jesus told the thief on the cross that “today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43) when he expressed faith in Jesus even though he could not be baptized. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Romans 10: 9 and 13 say, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved… For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Therefore, we are saved at the moment when we trust Jesus’ death and resurrection for us, confess Him as Lord, and call on Him for salvation. We should get baptized quickly to obey Jesus and make our public profession of faith. However, baptism is not a sacramental act that conveys grace. Salvation is in Christ alone.