It serves as the door leading into the Kingdom of grace, or the Church, and it grants access to participation in the other Mysteries. Even before the establishment of the Mystery of Baptism, the Lord Jesus Christ in His conversation with Nicodemus indicated the absolute necessity of it for salvation: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven.” When Nicodemus expressed his perplexity, “How can a man be born when he is old?” the Saviour replied that the new birth would be accomplished by water and the Spirit: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which as born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:3-6).
The passage that Pomazansky quotes is vital to Orthodox theology. Many Protestants will contend that Baptism is a mere “sign” and has no spiritual value whatsoever. But, it is very clear here that Christ is issuing Baptism as a means of entering the Covenant itself, a means of becoming born again, and that without it one cannot be saved. Paul the Apostle speaks of Baptism in this same manner when he says, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism…”(1 Peter 3:21). Fr. Pomazansky goes on to say: Baptism is a “new birth,” and it is performed for the salvation of men (Mark 16:16). Moreover, setting forth the grace-given significance of Baptism, the Apostles in their Epistles mdicate that m it we are “sanctified,” “cleansed,” ‘justified”; that m Baptism we “die to sin” so as to walk in renewed life; we are “buried with Christ,” and we arise with Him. “Christ loved the Church, and gave Himselffor at that He might sanctifY and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (that is, Baptism with the utterance of the words instituted to accompany it) (Eph. 5 :25-26). “Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6~11). “We are buried with Him by Baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Baptism is called the “washing of regeneration” (Titus 3: 5). As for the subjective side – the state of soul of the person being baptized – it is indicated by the Apostle Peter, who calls Baptism the promise of a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21). Through Baptism at the same time one is joined to the Church.This has got to be the most concise paragraph on Baptism I have read. He does not try to over-rationalize or persuade through sophisticated apologetics, he simply teaches the Holy Scriptures. How could anyone possibly deny, after being taught these passages, that Baptism is not efficacious to Salvation? Not that Baptism gives salvation in and of itself, but that it, as Pomazansky says, is “the door” to salvation. Through Baptism we enter into the Church, and through the Church we inherit salvation.