Prior to the Protestant Reformation which officially began in 1517, no one disputed that baptism in water was a part of the plan of salvation. However, in an overreaction to the works based salvation of Roman Catholicism, Martin Luther taught that salvation was by faith alone. If by faith alone, one means biblical faith (i.e. Obedient faith) then this would ring true. That would make obedience to the simple requirement of baptism universally accepted. However, this is not what Luther and others meant. Thus people now treat baptism as a work which has no place in the scheme of redemption. However, this flies in the face of what the Bible actually says about baptism and requires a great deal of interpretive gymnastics to arrive at the conclusions drawn.
We will save the discussion of those efforts for another time as we want to look at what seems to be a prevailing attitude toward the issue. Some people really just cannot imagine what being dipped in water could possibly have to do with salvation. To them it seems quite ridiculous to think God would actually deny salvation because one had not been dipped. These individuals assume we are teaching there is power in the water itself, so they accuse us of teaching water salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth. When the Bible tells us baptism: 1) saves us (1 Pet. 3:21), 2) is for the remission/forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), 3) puts us in Christ where all blessings are (Gal. 3:26-27; Eph. 1:3), 4) washes away sin (Acts 22:16), 5) unites us in the likeness of Christ's death and resurrection and thereby frees us from our slavery to sin (Rom. 6:3-7), and 6) is purely a work of God, not man (Col. 2:12) we simply believe God knows what baptism is and does better than the best and brightest of denominational scholars.
Our human wisdom has always hindered our reception of the wisdom from above (1 Cor. 1:18-2:16). Naaman, the Syrian general who came to Elisha to be cured of his leprosy in 2 Kings 5 is a good example of human wisdom's power to rob us of God's blessings. Naaman thought much the same way the "wise men" of our age who cannot see the purpose of baptism think. Naaman was told to go dip in the Jordan river seven times to cure his leprosy (2 Kgs. 5:9-10). Like so many theologians today who think baptism for the remission of sins is foolishness, Naaman was outraged that Elisha would suggest such a silly course of action to cure him (2 Kgs. 5:11-12). After all, the rivers in his homeland were far superior to the waters of the Jordan. What Naaman failed to see was that the waters of Jordan or any other river had no inherent value to cure leprosy. It was his faith in the working of God which enabled the waters of the Jordan to cure him on this occasion. Fortunately for Naaman, his servants truly were wise and convinced him to try what the prophet had told him and he did (2 Kgs. 5:13). When he submitted to the ordinance, he was cleansed of his leprosy, not because of the water, but because of his faith in the God who commanded that he dip in the water.
I submit to you that there is no inherent power in the water, otherwise Mark 16:16 would read, "whoever falls in a lake shall be saved." Like the Jordan in Naaman's case, the waters of baptism have no inherent power. The power of baptism is in our "faith in the working of God" (Col. 2:12). Whose wisdom will you believe, God's or the theologian's?