This question is nearly 2,000 years old—so old, in fact, that I wonder just how many will pause long enough to read what I have to say here. But someone may say the question is worn out with age and use. Maybe so, but there are still many millions of lost souls and, at the expense of being ridiculous in the eyes of some, I am going to answer this question right now with the Lord’s answer.
An Alien Sinner
In showing what an alien sinner must do to be saved, I am going to study three examples—the Gentile jailer, the Jews on Pentecost, and the Ethiopian eunuch. We shall study each case separately, then combine our findings to get the complete story.
The Gentile Jailer
After the earthquake at Philippi, the jailer was scared to the point of taking his own life when he thought the prisoners had fled. “But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house” (Acts 16:28-34).
A summary of the case stands like this: The Philippian jailer heard the word before he believed, for “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). The jailer believed before he was baptized, for “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16).
Hence, it is specifically stated that this alien sinner believed and was baptized in order to be saved. This jailer was not baptized in the jail house, because he “brought them out” of the jail house and “took them” where there was sufficient water and was baptized. After this baptizing, the jailer brought the preachers into his house and they ate meat with gladness. The fact that repentance and confession are not specifically named in this record doers not mean the jailer did not have to do these two things.
The Jews On Pentecost
Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost… Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (Acts 2:37-41).
Now, to summarize this case: It is specifically stated that this group of alien sinners must repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. That about three thousand of them did this is also stated. Let it be observed also that these Jews heard preaching before they obeyed Christ. The fact that believing and confessing are not formally and specifically mentioned in this case does not mean they did not have to do these things.
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:35-39).
A summary of what this alien sinner did to be saved stands like this: He believed, confessed Jesus to be the Son of God, and was baptized. Note also that the eunuch heard the truth preached before he believed.
The eunuch was not baptized in a jug, nor with water that came out of a jug. The record says, they “came to a certain water,” not “carried it along with them in the chariot.” When the eunuch was baptized, as in all other cases of New Testament conversion, the preacher went down into the water with the one to be baptized. Neither the preacher nor the candidate was on dry ground. New Testament baptism is a burial (Col. 2:12).
If one is saved before he is buried in baptism, then a spiritually alive person would be buried. The eunuch and the jailer both rejoiced after they were baptized, not before. The reason is that in being baptized they received remission of sins.
It will be noted that the jailer heard, believed, and was baptized. The Pentecostians heard, repented, and were baptized. The eunuch heard, believed, confessed Christ, and was baptized. In summary, all of this simply means that in every conversion of an alien sinner, such a sinner heard the truth preached, believed it, repented of sins, confessed Christ, and was buried in baptism for the remission of sins. Since God shows no partiality, He saves every alien sinner in the same way (Rom. 2:11).