A perfect example in the bible that water baptism is not necesary to be saved is the thief on the cross. He got saved under Jesus grace.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:39-43
Many will say that the thief got saved because he died under the Old Covenant but that is not true because the bible tells us that Jesus died before the two thieves died. If Jesus had not died before them then his legs would had to be broken.
The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. John 19:32-33
If Jesus died before them then the thief on the cross got saved under the New Covenant because the bible tells us that a covenant takes place when the testator dies. From the second he or she dies then the covenant is in full effect.
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. Hebrews 9:15-17
But for a minute lets assume that the thief on the cross died under the Old Covenant. We would have to take into account the requirements that the Old Covenant had. Lets see what a Jew would say about the Law.
Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony Matthew 19:18
You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ Mark 10:19
You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’ Luke 18:20
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Romans 13:9
Lets look even further and see what the Torah says that the commandments are.
“You shall not steal. Exodus 20:15
“‘Do not steal.“‘Do not lie. “‘Do not deceive one another.
You shall not steal. Deuteronomy 5:19
What happens to someones that breaks the law?
and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. Leviticus 26:15-16
So the Thief on the cross could not have been saved under the Old Covenant because he did not obey the law and God was not going to break his law just for one person or even the whole people of Israel. We know that God keeps his covenant.
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9
I will not violate my covenant
or alter what my lips have uttered. Psalms 89:34
There was a reward for those that kept this covenant and the thief on the cross did not keep it.
All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. Psalms 25:10
The thief recognized that he did not keep the commandments of the Old Covenant he said “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve” Luke 23:41
The bible said that only with death the Old Covenant would be broken.
Your covenant with death will be annulled;
your agreement with the realm of the dead will not stand.
When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by,
you will be beaten down by it. Isaiah 28:18
For that reason Jesus had to die and he died before the two thieves died. The Old Covenant was too hard to keep even the people that tried to fulfill the law could not keep it, it would be unthinkable for a thieve to be saved when he did not even try to keep the commandments in the Old Covenant.
Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? Acts 15:10
But Jesus broke that harsh covenant that no one was able to keep and He made a New Covenant.
Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. Hebrews 7:22
For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said
“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Hebrews 12:24
From the second that Jesus died the covenant took effect and he had already given His blood for the forgivness of our sins.
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:28
The new covenant its about Jesus taking away our sins; like he did with the thieve on the cross.
And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” Romans 11:27
The new covenant is of the Spirit therefore only one baptism of the Holy Spirit.
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6
The thief on the cross died under the new covenant because Jesus cleanse him with his blood. He could not have been saved under a law that he broke. The bible tells us that a covenant takes place the moment the testator dies. Jesus died before the thief on the side of him died. This is an example that water baptism is not necesary for our salvation only Jesus doing it for us and us believing that He has done it for us. the thief could have not been saved under a law that he had to perform in order to be saved, he got saved under grace that if we have faith we are saved. The apostles believed this too.
know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. Galatians 2:16
No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” Acts 15:11