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
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 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.