Is Water Baptism Essential to Salvation?

Baptismal Regeneration

Baptism does not produce salvation.

Baptism follows salvation as an act of obedience. In Acts 2:41 we notice that the people who were saved at Pentecost were baptized after they “gladly received the gospel.” Then they were baptized and were added to the church. In Acts 10:44-48 we see the Gentile converts at Cornelius’s house were baptized after they received the Holy Ghost [v.47]. If Baptism was essential to salvation, then Paul would have not downplayed baptism [1 Cor. 1:13-7], and would have told us in his letters. In Eph. 2:8-9 Paul makes it clear that faith is required for salvation, and that faith was given to us by God.

Jesus never baptized anyone.

He never said in the gospels that it was essential to salvation. He did tell us about repentance and faith.

Scripture will not teach something contrary to scripture.

In John 3:5 the emphasis is on believing and spiritual birth. “Born of water” in v.5 refers to the washing of regeneration by the Word of God [Titus 3:5; Eph. 5:26; John 15:3]. In Acts 2:38 the word “for” means “on the account of, or on the basis of.” In other words, because your sins are forgiven, be baptized. In Mark 16:16 notice the absence of the word “baptized” in the last part of the verse for disbelieving. The emphasis is on believing. Baptism is an expected outward expression of belief. Baptism is not the condition of salvation, but an outward proclamation that the person has been saved. If we had to be baptized to be saved, then baptism would be a “work” by man. This would run contrary to the Gospel of grace through faith in Christ alone [Gal. 1:6-8]. Approximately 150 verses in the N.T. state that salvation is by faith alone in Jesus. Romans 6:3-6, refers to baptism of the believer by the Spirit into Christ. Also, the thief on the cross was not baptized and Jesus told him he would be in paradise with Him.

Baptism is a matter of obedience.

Baptism does not impart saving grace. It is an outward expression of the believer that one identifies with Christ, it pictures the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and is a means of entry into the local church. Baptism is not the event, but the picture of the event.

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