Ask Your Preacher
You said getting baptized is a requirement to be saved. What happens if someone accepts Jesus and the same day that person passes away? For example, one of the criminals on the cross did not get baptized, and Jesus said to him, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” Sincerely,
Dear Making Exceptions,
Part of accepting Christ is being baptized; those who obeyed Christ didn’t wait to be baptized later; they were baptized as soon as possible (Acts 16:33, Acts 8:36-38). In almost all cases, when someone makes the decision to obey Christ, there isn’t anything hindering them from being baptized immediately. In those extremely rare circumstances when someone can’t make it to water, God is a perfect judge and won’t make any mistakes in who does or doesn’t go to heaven (Heb 12:23).
As far as the thief on the cross, there are four solid explanations for why Jesus told him that he would be in Paradise. Read our article “The Thief On The Cross” for a full write-up on that particular question.
Regardless of how God deals with unique circumstances, the Bible tells us what we should do. If you are willing and able to be baptized, it is a commandment the Lord gives for salvation (1 Pet 3:21). SB