ANSWER: No, for often the sign, water baptism, is by metonomy put for the thing signified, inward cleansing, begun by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. Hence, the Westminster Catechism wisely says, "Grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it (baptism) as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all, who are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated." Unless the administrator of water baptism can read the heart of the candidate he may affix the sign in the absence of the thing signified as did Peter in the baptism of Simon Magus in Acts 8:13-23. If water baptism saves, it follows that Paul generally left his converts unsaved, for he says in I Cor. 1:14, "I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius." It seems that Peter, in Acts 2:38, thought baptismal regeneration was the invariable Divine order, but he was corrected in 10:44-48, when the Spirit fell on the hearers before they were baptized.
— Steele's Answers pp. 175, 176.
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