For all of the Protestants dismissal of baptism as necessary to salvation, there are great many people that actually it to be so. Granted, dear critic, numbers does not make right, but Protestants are quick to belittle the actual history of the ‘Tradition’.
I am not going to attempt to answer ever argument about Baptism that Protestants throw at us, but I will make a few points that might lead to further discussion and development.
First, baptism is necessary, whether or not you see it as bringing about remission of sins. In Matthew 28.19, our Lord Christ commands then to baptize.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Mat 28:19-20 NET)
Beyond the theory of interpolations, the command of baptizing is still there. If not, then gone is the commanded to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Gone as well is the command to teach them to obey the commandments of the Lord.
Now when they heard this, they were acutely distressed and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “What should we do, brothers?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
(Act 2:37-38 NET)
What was Peter’s response? (Remember, Peter had received the keys to the kingdom, what was the keys? Repentance, Baptism, and Indwelling) He told them to go and be baptized. What else could Peter do, but to tell them that when he had heard for himself the very words of Christ who had commanded everyone to be baptized.
Now, some will say that the baptism was just for the Jews (ignoring the fact that no where does God given one commandment to the Jew and other to the Gentile). They also point to the fact that the Gentiles received the Spirit before baptism, but Peter answered that question himself.
The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were greatly astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “No one can withhold the water for these people to be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” So he gave orders to have them baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for several days.
(Act 10:45-48 NET)
The simple reason, is that the Gentiles received the gift of the Spirit before Baptism to show the Jews that they could be admitted to the Church and baptized, just as the Jews had been. In other words, to show that Christ was not just Messiah to the Jews, but to the Gentiles as well, and the promises included the Gentiles as well. Here also we see an emphasis on baptism.
Peter would go on to say in his first epistle,
Who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us–baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
(1Pe 3:20-21 NKJV)
So, in Peter’s own words, baptism saves us, just as Noah was saved through water. Paul too saw the need for baptism.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Far be it! Seeing that we have died to sin, how can we live any longer therein? Are you ignorant that all we who were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried together with him through baptism into death, and just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, so also we should walk about in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall also be sharers of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man was crucified together with him, that the body possessed by sin might be destroyed, that we should no longer serve as a slave to sin: For he that has died in baptism, stands free from sin. Now, if we died with Christ, we know that without a doubt that we shall also live with him, Knowing that Christ having been raised up from the dead, no longer dies; death has no more dominion over him.
(Rom 6:1-9 CTV-NT / W)
So, baptism is necessary. I believe that it brings about the remission of sins, participating in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is our dying out to sin and our raising to a new life. Nevertheless the theological meaning behind it, it is a commandment from Christ our Lord which the Apostles followed suit.