A FOURTH LESSON FROM SAUL'S CONVERSION IS THAT BAPTISM, IN CONJUNCTION WITH FAITH AND REPENTANCE, IS ESSENTIAL TO MAN'S SALVATION.
Do you remember Jesus' statement from Acts 9:6? Jesus told Saul to go into Damascus and that he would then be told what he "must do." This was at the point where Saul started believing in Jesus. Saul went into the city penitent and praying, but at that time, he had not yet been told what he "must do."
Three days later Ananias was sent by the Lord to Saul. Acts 9:10,11 states - "Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, 'Ananias.' And he said, 'Here I am, Lord.' So the Lord said to him, 'Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying."
Saul recounts the visit in Acts 22:13-16 - Ananias "came to me; and he stood and said to me, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight.' And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said, 'The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'"
When Saul's sight was restored and he first saw Ananias, he was still in a lost condition spiritually. He still needed to have his sins washed away according to what Ananias affirmed in Acts 22:16. The act that would wash away his sins was baptism. Note carefully, during that visit this is the only thing Ananias told Saul to do; it was what he "must do" in order to be saved! Baptism was essential!
Of course, the essentiality of baptism is confirmed throughout the New Testament: Mark 16:16 - "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." Acts 2:38 - "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" I Peter 3:21 - "There is also an antitype which now saves us - baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
It doesn't get much plainer than those statements. A person must believe and be baptized to be saved. They must repent and be baptized to be saved. Baptism now saves us! Paul was told that he must be baptized in order to wash away his sins, and he obeyed the Lord. He was baptized (cf. Acts 26:19)! Let it be noted, however, that without Saul's faith and repentance prior to his immersion, even baptism would not have washed away his sins.
Friends, have you done what Saul did to be saved? If not, you need to. Why not accept the commands of Christ today and obey the gospel to save your soul from eternal condemnation? It's not enough to be religious, you have to be correct in your religion before God. Don't think that just because your conscience doesn't bother you that you're in good shape spiritually; Saul did all sorts of terrible things and he thought he was pleasing God. Don't think that you can be saved by merely believing or praying Jesus into your heart! Saul wasn't saved that way; he was saved by believing, repenting, and being baptized for the forgiveness of his sins. If you haven't done that, allow me to ask you the question Ananias directed to Saul: "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).