Glenview Church of Christ

Baptism Is Essential For Salvation

I want to take a break from our ongoing study of the book of Hebrews to call your attention to a very basic Bible topic. Although this simple truth is clearly indicated in the scriptures, it is not readily espoused by many religious people today. In fact, it would probably be accurate to say that more people deny this Bible teaching than accept it.

Baptism in water is essential for salvation. This fact cannot be denied by the conscientious Bible student. Before we demonstrate this truth with scripture, please make note of a few things.

First, the issue is not how God will judge someone who is on his way to be baptized and a calamity of some sort befalls him. I have heard otherwise logical people resort to this argument because they do not want to accept what the Bible says about the subject.

Also not at issue is the fact that another person must be present in order for someone to be baptized. Again, otherwise logical people have objected to baptism simply because it requires that someone else be present for one's salvation. In doing so, they ignore the fact that God requires men to confess Jesus (Rom 10:10), which also requires the presence of others, for one to obtain eternal life.

Neither is the issue whether baptism is immersion or not. The word transliterated in our English Bibles means to "dip" or "submerge." The only reason our modern day dictionaries define the word "baptism" to include sprinkling or pouring is because man later decided to call these acts by the same name. These are not baptism.

Nor is the issue the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Many denominational people today say that it is Holy Spirit baptism that is required for salvation, but that water baptism is required for church membership.

The fact is, Eph. 4:5 says that there is "one baptism." You can't have it both ways! Holy Spirit baptism was neither promised nor commanded of us and occurred only two times in the New Testament in Acts 2 and 10.

The issue is that people today must be baptized to be saved, or stated another way, that baptism is required for our sins to be forgiven.

In the book of Acts, there are about nine examples of conversion (salvation) given. These include the Jews on Pentecost, the Samaritans, the Eunuch, Saul of Tarsus, Cornelius, the Jailor, the Corinthians, the Ephesians, and Lydia. So far as examples go, this book contains more than a sufficient quantity to demonstrate the process of salvation. In each of these cases, the belief of the people mentioned is either directly stated or strongly implied. Scarcely anyone would deny that belief is essential for salvation, and each example shows us such. But every example also tells of something else these people had to do to be saved. They were all baptized.

Clearly, this important act was part of the conversion process. Baptism is included in every single account in the book of Acts. But it is not the mere mention that finalizes the point. Please also notice a few simple observations about these passages.

First note that in two of the passages, we are told that baptism is "for the remission of sins" and that it "wash[es] away your sins." Some have said that the first passage (2:38) means that baptism is "because of" the remission of sins. Yet no standard English translation uses such phraseology there. As well, the words repent and baptized are joined with the connecting conjunction "and," so whatever repentance is for, baptism is as well. Is repentance "because of" salvation? Of course not.

Second, as I stated, many today profess that baptism is what places ones membership with a local church. Where is this concept in the New Testament? Certainly not in any of these examples! In Acts 2, those who were baptized did not do so to gain membership in a denominational church. In fact, no church had even been established yet! As well, the eunuch didn't go down into the water to join the First Baptist Church of Ethiopia.

Finally, the story never stops before the people are baptized in these cases of successful conversion. In every example, before the rejoicing, before the restraining, before the meal, before whatever it was that the people did next, they were ALWAYS baptized after believing. I mention this to point out the fact that there are no Bible examples of conversion given in which the person is not baptized. I challenge the reader to find even one such instance.

There are many other passages in the New Testament that demonstrate God's desire for us to be baptized, but I want to point out just one more in this article. You can find it in Peter's first epistle. Here is the passage in several modern versions:

(1 Pet 3:21 KJV) The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

(1 Pet 3:21 NKJV) 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,

(1 Pet 3:21 NASB) And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

(1 Pet 3:21 NIV) and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.

It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, This verse states without any question that baptism saves us. No honest person can deny that. The passage shows that the physical act of baptism (that is "getting wet") is not the saving power, rather it is the obedience that brings about our salvation.

Have you been baptized for the remission of sins, into Christ? If you have not been baptized, or if you were baptized to be added to a denominational church or for some other reason, then you are not saved. Why not obey God and begin a new life with Him by responding in faith to the call of the gospel and by being baptized?

By Joshua V. Best