Is Baptism necessary for salvation?
I do believe that all the sacraments are the work of God; for water by itself will not wash our sins but the work of the Holy Spirit in it will. If you disagree with this, you disagree with the importance of Baptism as a Sacrament. So why do it in the first place? Why was it important for the Lord to commission His disciples saying "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Mt 28:18-20). What is this authority our Lord is talking about? Why did He have to mention it now that He is leaving them? Why did He make a point to baptize every believer if faith in Him only is enough?
Please reflect on these verses. May be you can see Baptism the way I see it...Holy Gospel of St. Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved". Why did not the Lord stop at saying “he who believes”, why did he include Baptism?
The Holy Gospel of St. John 3:5 "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." Water and Spirit are here a condition for entering the kingdom of God...On the day of Pentecost when the Jews accepted faith and were cut to the heart, they asked "Men, and brethren what shall we do?" And St. Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). Here is also another example of the need for Baptism by those who come to the Lord and to the Christian faith with a repentant heart for the washing of sins.
We read in the Holy Book of Acts, Saul who received the call from the Lord Himself to be an apostle for the Gentiles and a chosen vessel to bear His name and suffer for His name's sake (Acts 9:15,16), did not go to preach on his own authority, but as the Lord commanded him, he first went to Ananias, who baptized 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'" (Acts 22:14-16).
When Cornelius accepted the faith, St. Peter baptized him and all those who heard the word saying, "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" (Acts 10:47)