QUESTION: We have been taught that only those baptized will be saved, using the example of the Jews all being “baptized through the Red Sea” (1 Cor 10:2). And the example of Noah, at 1 Pet 3:21 “Baptism, which corresponds to this, is also now saving you (not by the removing of the filth of the flesh, but by the request to God for a good conscience), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Interestingly, I have to take note that these two examples were spiritual baptisms, happening through their faith & obedience. As in those days, I can see many people coming in during the plagues, in the final hour, before the door is closed, just as a vast mixed company joined the Jews in Egypt. So wondering, will these also need to be physically baptized to be saved? Or will they too experience a spiritual baptism, through faith & obedience, as did those examples of old?
ANSWER: The door to salvation is closed prior to the pouring out of the last plagues. That is why the 14th chapter of Revelation depicts the total number of the 144,000 standing upon Mount Zion, at which point the angel announces: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of judgment by him has arrived, so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and the springs of water.”
“The hour of judgment” results in the separation of mankind into two distinct camps. That is symbolized at Revelation 14:15: “Another angel emerged from the temple sanctuary, calling with a loud voice to the one seated on the cloud: ‘Put your sickle in and reap, because the hour has come to reap, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.’ And the one seated on the cloud thrust his sickle into the earth, and the earth was reaped.”
“The earth” in this instance represents those who are called the “great crowd,” who are going to inherit the earth. It is then —after the earth has been reaped —that the seven plagues are poured out upon the doomed. Will they repent? Sadly, no. For example, here is what takes place with the pouring out of the fourth bowl or wrath: “The fourth one poured out his bowl on the sun, and to the sun it was granted to scorch the people with fire. And the people were scorched by the great heat, but they blasphemed the name of God, who has the authority over these plagues, and they did not repent and give glory to him.”
Again, same with the fifth bowl: “The fifth one poured out his bowl on the throne of the wild beast. And its kingdom became darkened, and they began to gnaw their tongues because of their pain, but they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their ulcers, and they did not repent of their works.”
The ninth chapter of Revelation also confirms that there will be no mass repentance during the judgment. Revelation 9:20-21 states: “But the rest of the people who were not killed by these plagues did not repent of the works of their hands; they did not stop worshipping the demons and the idols of gold and silver and copper and stone and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders nor of their spiritistic practices nor of their sexual immorality nor of their thefts.”
This is why Jehovah exhorts us to seek him now, before that awful day. Here is what is stated in Zephaniah: “Gather together, yes, gather yourselves, O nation that feels no shame. Before the decree takes effect, before the day passes by like chaff, before the burning anger of Jehovah comes upon you, before the day of Jehovah’s anger comes upon you, seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who observe his righteous decrees. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you will be concealed on the day of Jehovah’s anger.”
With the above in focus, let’s refine the question to this: is it possible that some of those meek persons of the earth who will be harvested for life will be unbaptized when the hour of judgment arrives? And the answer to that is yes, since, obviously there will be many children and teens among those who will inherit the earth. And let’s leave open the possibility that there will be many others too who are presently seeking Jehovah, but who for whatever reason have not gotten to the point of baptism. Their going through the tribulation will be baptism in fire.