The Truth About Water Baptism
Q: What about the thief on the cross?
A: "Yes. What about him?"
"Was he saved?"
"Yes. Jesus told him that he would be with him in paradise."
"So, did he come down from the cross and get baptized?"
"No. I don't read that. I think there would be a record of that."
"So that means I don't have to be baptized, right? All I have to do is ask Jesus to remember me when he gets into his kingdom, right?"
First, you aren't hanging on a cross next to Jesus at his crucifixion.
Secondly, that was before Jesus' death, resurrection, and final instructions to his disciples. Jesus had not yet died, so all of his previous instructions and demonstrations of baptism were not yet in effect. (Hebrews 9:17) Also, we know that Jesus had power on earth to forgive sins by his word. (Matthew 9:6)
Jesus gave his disciples the plan, they passed it down to us, and it is still in effect today. I have not seen any new additions. In Galatians 1:9, Apostle Paul said, "If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
You know, this reminds me of two incidents of Jesus healing blindness. One case is in Luke 18:35-43. The other is in John 9:1-41. In the first instance, the man is instantly healed by Jesus' words. In the second instance, the man is told to go wash his anointed eyes in the pool of Siloam.
The man to whom Jesus said to go wash didn't say to him, "Hey, what about that guy in Luke 18? He didn't have to go to the pool to wash! Why do I have to go wash? What if I get hit by a donkey cart on the way? After all, I'm blind, you know. This isn't fair..."
The bottom line is: Yes, Jesus told the thief hanging on the cross next to him that he would be with him in paradise. He told you and me to go and wash away our sins in baptism.
I'm just happy to have a way to be healed. I'm not going to argue with Jesus about the means.
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.