Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?

Does Baptism save? Is it a requirement of salvation?

Many churches teach that it is, and this belief is called “Baptismal Regeneration.” Does your church teach this? If you are Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopalian, Church of Christ, Mormon, Lutheran–the list goes on…it does.

So what is essential for salvation? Faith alone or faith plus water baptism, church membership, “good works” or whatever? What does the Bible say?

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

If we look at the story of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, we can see this very clearly. Philip is whisked away to the desert where this Ethiopian man is struggling to understand what he’s reading in Isaiah. Philip starts right there in Isaiah and preaches Jesus to the man, as a result, the man asks if there’s anything to hinder his getting baptized. Does Philip urge him to wait and get it done by a certain denomination? No, he actually emphasizes that he needs to believe in Jesus Christ first, and then they hop out and take a baptismal “dip” in the nearby body of water. Let’s read it.

And as they went on [their] way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Acts 8:36-37

Baptism…Church Membership…Salvation?

When a church ties salvation to membership or baptism, something is wrong. Please consider how many Bible verses point that the way to Christ is simply by believing that Jesus’ blood shed on the cross is all that stands between you and hell. That there is nothing you can do to earn or deserve His gift of canceling your sinful debt on the cross with His precious blood. To say that salvation involves anything more, is to add works to salvation. By doing so, I’m afraid that you’re falling into 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 territory, believing in “another Jesus, another gospel” and erring from the simplicity that is in Christ:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him]. 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed’ Gal. 1:8

There are other “gospels” and other “Christs” being taught in churches, so be careful. Check these things with God’s word, our ultimate authority.

Verses to Consider

John 1:12-13 teaches that to believe on Christ is to receive Him, and that those that receive Him, receive the power to become sons of God. Verse 13 teaches that it is not by human administration or by anything that man can do.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 3:15-18 speaks very plainly that salvation is by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice verse 18, and that none of these verses have anything to do with baptism, or any reference to baptism.

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

In John 6:29, Jesus says, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

John 3:36, He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 5:24, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

John 6:37, All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

John 6:40, And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 11:25, Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

John 8:24, I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins.

Acts 10:43, To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Acts 13:39, And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Acts 13:48, And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

Acts 16:30-31, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Luke 7:50, And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

Romans 3:28, Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Romans 4:3, For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Romans 4:5, But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Gal. 2:16, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Gal. 3:26, For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Romans 5:1, Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

1 Corinthians 1:21, For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

1 John 3:23, And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

In Closing…

In the words of the famous hymn, “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus…”

1 John 1:7, But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

Ephesians 1:7, In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Jesus saves, not baptism. We’ve seen above that the Bible teaches that salvation comes by undeserved grace through believing faith in Jesus’ shed blood on the cross for our sins. Baptism follows salvation as an act of obedience by the believer, to identify with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, and as a testimony of their salvation.

4 thoughts on “Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?”

  1. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel . . .” (I Corinthians 1:17). This verse, along with the many cited in Mary’s article, shows clearly that water baptism is not part of the gospel, does not save, and cannot save anyone, because man’s sins are not located on the outside of the body to be “washed off” with tap water like so much dirt or grime.

    Those who think baptism is the “saving act” are NOT saved, born again, or going to heaven. It’s not just a matter of differences of opinion on what one believes, it is a matter of heaven or hell with eternal consequences, since adding baptism (or any other work of man) to the gospel is what the Bible categorizes as “damnable heresy” – i.e. to believe this lie damns the soul to hell for eternity.

    If a person is trusting in water baptism (even partially), they are therefore NOT fully trusting in Jesus Christ (100%) for their salvation, indicating they believe Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was insufficient to save them without doing something on their part. I know for a fact that some denominations send out postcards to children when they go through catechism classes to join the church that contain the words: “Congratulations, you were born again last Sunday at your baptism. Welcome to the ____ church!” Those theologies, denominations, seminaries, churches, and pastors that teach this heresy (baptismal regeneration) are responsible for sending millions of souls to hell, and will be held accountable by God for doing so.

    Often when witnessing, as I ask people about whether they are sure they are saved or how they were saved, I get an answer telling me with pride when they were baptized. I know immediately at that point, that the person is NOT saved and does NOT understand the gospel, because they are equating the act of water baptism with salvation. I can then begin to reason with them from the scriptures demonstrating that it is the blood of Christ that saves – not water.

    Taking this strange doctrinal heresy through to it’s logical end shows that no one could be saved in a desert or the arctic, since such geographies and climates don’t easily allow for immersion in water (the only biblical mode of baptism). No one could be saved if they were all alone or in a prison cell isolated from others – because no “authorized person” is present to baptize them. Other situations and scenarios could be imagined where the same outcome would result. From this perspective, salvation then becomes dependent upon man’s presence and actions – some other man.

    About the only way a person would come to the conclusion that water baptism saves or is necessary for salvation is by being repeatedly exposed to this heresy through some preacher who pounded it in their ears or whose writings they read. It would be nearly impossible to arrive at this conclusion without such an influence, for it is neither reasonable, nor biblical. This is why we are exhorted to study God’s word (II Timothy 2:15), so we aren’t “blown about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). Truth and error exist side-by-side in our world, and some errors are so great that they have eternal fire as a consequence. Don’t be deceived! If you are trusting in water baptism to save you or help save you, you are lost and on your way to hell. You are in desperate need of true salvation found only in Jesus Christ.

  2. Excellent comment, Farmer John! This deserves a blog of its own. And Jesus never baptized anyone, yet He is our savior! “Baptismal Regeneration”–the idea that baptism saves– is a “good works” religion…as if there is anything we can do to earn or deserve salvation, when the Bible says that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags. Thanking God for Jesus Christ and His loving gift of conquering my sin and death on the cross at Calvary!

  3. Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt blieeve in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man blieeveth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Being saved and born again by God’s spirit is your way to heaven through Jesus Christ, And Romans 10:9-10 is so much different from the scripture we read in 1st John 1:8 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I pray you can see the difference. In 1st John you confess your sins, in Romans you confess The Lord Jesus. The key is, you confess the Lord Jesus to get clean from sin, and you confess your sins to stay clean. God bless.

  4. Ray, you make such a good point. I think there is so much confusion about how to get to Heaven. The Bible is flraiy clear about how, in Romans 10:9-10, but man (with Satan’s help, of course) has muddied the waters and led folks to believe they’re going to Heaven if they confess their sins or get baptized in water. Confessing your sins is essential, once you are saved; it keeps you in Fellowship with our Lord. And getting baptized is a physical or outward expression of your confession belief’.

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