Thanks for the response, Eden. I'll wait til your posting limit goes up before fully engaging you in a discussion about salvation so you will be able to post as many answers and questions as you want in our discussion and not have to worry about posting limits.
But I did want to comment on a few parts of your response about salvation.
First, what I agree with. You said: " What I’m persuaded is that there isn’t salvation outside Christ, for the his the “Chief Agent and Savior”, and there is salvation on no one else (Acts 4:12)"
I totally agree with that! So that is a plus. There are a few "Christian" churches that are teaching differently. Joel Osteen and a few others are saying that Jesus is only one way to God, but there are several. I disagree and believe that the Bible is clear that it is in Jesus ALONE that we are saved. Phil 2:9 says that the name of Jesus is greater than ANY other name. It is only at the name of JESUS that every knee shall bow.
That being said, I've gotta disagree with you about baptism being an absolute requirement for salvation. This in itself will be a deep discussion, but there are a few specific scriptures that directly comment on what is necessary for salvation. Romans 5:1 shows that we are justified by FAITH. Eph 2:8 says the same, showing that it is gift of God (not something we obtain through any type of works). If we are saved by faith, then we are saved by faith when we believe, not when we get baptized. Otherwise we are not saved by faith. Also, if baptism was absolutely required for salvation, then anyone who receives Christ on his deathbed and believes would not be saved since they were not baptized. This would also mean that Jesus lied when He told the sinner crucified next to Him that he would be in paradise. That man had never been baptized.
Does that mean that baptism is not necessary? By no means. You mentioned 1 Pet 3:21. It is the only verse that speaks of the baptism that saves. However the key word in this section is the Greek "antitupon" which means "copy", "type", "corresponding to", "a thing that resembles another", "its counterpart", etc. So what does Baptism correspond to? The answer is found in vs 20: "who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you."
Water did not save Noah. This is why Peter excludes the issue of water baptism being the thing that saves us because he says, "not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God." Peter says that it is not the application of water that saves us but a pledge of the good conscience. Therefore, baptism here most probably represents the breaking away of the old sinful life and entrance into the new life with Christ -- in the same way that the flood waters in Noah's time was the destruction of the sinful way and, once through it, known as entering into the new way. Also, Peter says that the baptism is an appeal of a good conscience before God. Notice that this is dealing with faith. It seems that Peter is defining real baptism as the act of faith.
Again, I'm not saying that baptism is not necessary and right. But it in itself is not what saves us. It is a demonstration of our salvation. It demonstrates to the world that we have already been saved. Just as good works are a demonstration to the world that we have faith and have been saved.
Again, this is a deep subject. And I'll reserve a more thorough discussion with you until your posting limit is increased.