"And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins,
calling on his name."
This verse, like Acts 2:38, again confirms that baptism is when our sins are washed away. Baptism is how we “call on the name of the Lord.” That is why when people are baptized the person who baptizes them proclaims aloud they are being baptized “into Jesus Christ” or “into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” We see in Acts 2:21,38 how closely the phrase “calling on the name of the Lord” is associated with baptism. This calling on the Lord (coupled with faith and repentance) is what distinguishes baptism from merely getting wet.
Ananias spoke these words to Paul three days after Jesus struck down Paul on the road to Damascus. Paul had believed and acknowledged Jesus as Lord for three days at this point in time. If belief alone brought forgiveness, then his sins would have already been washed away.
Let’s take a closer look at this situation:
Here is Paul, who, after having persecuted the church of Christ, is confronted by none other than Jesus Christ Himself in his glorified state. Jesus tells Paul he will be told what he must do (Acts 22:11). Jesus did not tell him what it was he must do. No, Paul would be told by someone else what it is he must do. So while waiting for three days Paul:
1.) had faith and believed in Jesus as the Son of God
2.) fasted and prayed in repentance (Acts 9:9,11)
3.) Yet his sins were still counted against him (Paul is told, “…wash your sins away”)
So for three days Paul was repenting and prayed. Do you think that just maybe, possibly, any of his prayers were asking God to forgive him? But when Ananias comes to him, Paul is told he still has sins that need to be washed away. This is indisputable Scriptural evidence that the “sinner’s prayer” is insufficient to save someone and we are NOT saved before baptism even if we have faith and repentance!
Notice also, Paul is not told to “pray for Jesus to come into your life.” He is not led in a prayer requesting salvation. No, Paul is told to “be baptized!” And the reason he was told to “be baptized” was that his sins were still counted against him--and it is in baptism that they are washed away.