Water Baptism: Necessary for Salvation?

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #21

i agree with you on that all the way. Baptism cannot directly impact the soul but it is nonetheless symbolic. In many ways it is like Communion. The act is symbolic (so thus sacred), where one’s will lines up with God’s (even though baptism is usually a one-time thing) and the Holy Spirit dwells within us.

I loved your perspective of the thief on the cross by the way.

(Kathleen) #22

Hi, all! Very interesting discussion here; thanks for all the contributions! @efh, I was curious to hear your perspective on a couple of things…

It seems that you believe that Jesus commands baptism by immersion. That is, without it, a necessary requirement for eternal life is not fulfilled. Is that what you are saying that you see the whole of Scripture pointing to? I just want to make sure I understand where you’re coming from. :slight_smile:

A couple of other things I was curious about:

  1. Do you believe that when Jesus told John the Baptist (as recorded by Matthew) ‘for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness’ that he was referring to baptism being a requirement of the Jewish law? Though the idea of ritual cleansing was a theme in the Old Testament, baptism as such is not mentioned. Also, ritual cleansing it seems was not practiced by everyone, but by certain sects or priests to wash off the contamination of the world and remember the need for divine cleansing. Just curious where you see it as a requirement that Jesus would have needed to fulfill.

  2. Were the apostles baptised? I know 2 of them were first John the Baptist’s disciples, so presumably, they were baptised. But I’m failing to recall off the top of my head if all the others were also baptised…or told to be baptised.

  3. You also referenced John 3…

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God…"

This is such an enigmatic statement, but it doesn’t necessarily mean baptism. The NET Bible notes that ‘both water and wind are figures based on passages in the OT - Isaiah 44:3-5 and Ezekiel 37:9-10 - (which Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel should have known!) that represent the regenerating work of the Spirit in the lives of men and women.’

All that to say, I am curious where you are getting this idea that baptism by immersion is a particular requirement? I see the New Testament declaring it’s importance as it is an outward sign of an inward reality, but not insisting that it must be done. But I could be missing some things… :slight_smile:

(Eckhard Hensel) #23

Sorry, I dont have the time to find all the examples. There might be 50 or 30 examples. Everything needs to be read in context. I also think that Jesus words to Nicodemus … "except a man be born of water and of the spirit that “of water” can or should be interpreted as baptism of water.

(Eckhard Hensel) #24

Sorry, I don’t have the time to respond in detail, just pointing out certain things.
Immersion: John 3:23. … because there was much water there. For sprinkling (infant baptism) you don’t need much water. Much water indicates immersion.

The disciples baptized others: John 4:2. How could they baptize others if they were not themselves baptized also.:sunglasses:

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #25

I found two articles that I believe will be helpful in understanding baptism, and the specific passage you point out in John 3.

This blog entry looks at baptism as a whole.

edit: I realize all my articles are from one source so i found a couple more:


I really like the article by Greg Koukl, the link above the video I posted. He lists all the verses that have to do with baptism and draws a conclusion based on the biblical evidence.

(Eckhard Hensel) #26

There are different opinions on the subject whether baptism is necessary for salvation. The problem is the different interpretations of the relevant verses in the Bible. That is why we have so many different churches. The question whether baptism is necessary can only be answered by God or in other words by direct revelation.

(Bill Brander) #27

“This is what’s so good about this forum, it provokes me to further read the Bible, and become deeper in the faith.”
Absolutely Matthew. That’s what I enjoy about these forums. Make me a better disciple

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #28

God did give us the capacity to reason, though, and especially on an important topic such as salvation, i say we look at the evidence and draw a reasonable conclusion.

(Eckhard Hensel) #29

Reason is good. But what if I come to the reasonable conclusion that Baptism is not essential for salvation=Eternal Life, and it later turn out that Baptism is essential to salvation?

(Matt Western) #30

Hi Eckhard,
I like this forum because it causes us to think, and causes us to go back and make sure that what we have learned from whatever denomination we are from is Biblical. I think if we are honest it’s a challenge to all our worldviews, being on this forum and being exposed to so many different views.

For me it has the effect of exposing my faith to all these different ideas, and then prompting me to go ‘hang on that doesn’t sound quite right’, going back and reading the Scripture again, and gradually becoming deeper in the faith. It takes a long time, and sometimes I’m realising that it’s probably wise to stop and take a break and just ponder about where you are at, and pray and read just the Bible, and realise that all human authors are sharing their testimony, their path to learning more, and no one has ‘arrived’. We need to focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2. Even John Lennox admits he has more questions than answers, and sometimes we need to stop and wait on the Lord to give us strength. :slight_smile:

The Bible claims of itself that it is inspired of God (2 Tim 3:16-17), it is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12), will be completely fulfilled and not one little bit will pass away before the end of the world (Matt 24:35, Luke 21:33, Matt 5:18), and will endure until eternity, and that it is profitable for growing strong mature Christians.

I have been challenged to learn there are 8 different views on Genesis creation account, when in my denomination to discuss that there even may be an alternative to a literal 6 day creation would be considered ‘heresy!’ :slight_smile: .I’m partly kidding.

I think @SeanO offered wise advice in this post below with all 3 points - but especially point 1 - be slow to change your mind. We want to grow be mature Christians, not swayed around by every wind of doctrine, and it’s not helpful to be changing our mind every different day. Ephesians 4:14.

Be encouraged, I’ve heard a saying that I’m starting to think is so true: the church is a hospital for sinners not a museum for saints.

I hope this encourages you and is helpful. :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

To your more general question about how we engage with ideas that run counter to what we have grown up learning about the Bible, I would offer the following advice - though it sounds like you are already keeping it…

  1. Be slow to change your mind
  2. Beware the one hand clapping - one idea always sounds good in the absence of other ideas and it can be easy to get tunnel vision if we find one explanation that we really like
  3. Seek counselors with different perspectives (Proverbs 11:14 - But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.)

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #31

I’m not trying to say baptism is bad and that you shouldn’t be baptized. You can and should be baptized if you confess that Jesus is your Saviour and you want to publicly proclaim your commitment to Him. That is all good; what i’m trying to say is that the evidence in the bible does not suggest that baptism is essential to be saved. If it were, God would not leave us in the dark on such an important matter. This is where one has to put into practice their trust in the Lord and be thankful that despite our unworthiness, we are adopted into the family of God by his grace through faith and faith alone. Make sense?

(SeanO) #32

@efh If we read Scripture it is clear that baptism, while important, is not necessary for salvation. Abraham was never baptized and yet certainly he is in Heaven. In addition, Romans 10, a classic passage on salvation, makes it clear that it is when we believe on God from the heart that we are saved - “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame”. What matters for salvation is faith - faith in the living God and the work of Christ on the cross and the resurrection.

Romans 10:10-13 - For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Here is an article that discusses the issue of baptism in more depth. Christ grant you wisdom.

The flip side of this discussion is that the Bible distinguishes between baptism and saving faith. While the reception of the apostolic word and baptism go together, the text does differentiate between them (Acts 2:41). When Cornelius and those in his house heard and believed, they immediately received the Holy Spirit, which in turn provided evidence that they ought to be baptized (Acts 10:44-47).

Throughout his epistles, Paul stresses that it is faith in Christ that saves. Paul doesn’t denigrate baptism. Rather, baptism is a sign that points to the power of the gospel (Rom. 6:3ff.). Baptism is meant to function as a visible sign, not only to the person being baptized, but to the entire Christian community who witness the initiation, that Christ has conquered sin and death, and that we conquer in him.

(Eckhard Hensel) #33

As I stated before, taking all relevant passages in the New Testament together it is sufficiently clear, that baptism is a requirement for salvation. After all, the Lord Jesus Christ himself was baptized to fulfill all rightheousness- meaning to fullfill all requirements, follow the commandments, show obedience to Gods law, etc.

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #34



I recommend you read this article by Greg Koukl. He looks at all of the verses regarding baptism and draws a reasonable conclusion. Please come at this with an open mind as God has given us all the evidence we need. If we are saved by anything else than Grace through faith, it becomes works based. If baptism is necessary, than it would contradict much of what the New Testament has to say on salvation. Here is a few verses:

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. (1 Timothy 1:9)

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.(Romans 10:10)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Philippians 3:7-9)

This is just a few, you can look up more if you want. I just want to to see the evidence and come to the right conclusion, not because i believe so but because of the Bible’s conclusion from God-breathed Scripture.

here is another article to dive a little deeper.


God bless you in your studies :slightly_smiling_face:

(Eckhard Hensel) #35

At least 2 NT passages point out that baptism is essential for salvation:

  1. Jesus himself was baptized to fulfill all righteousness
  2. Jesus to Nicodemus: Except a man be born of water … Born of water meaning baptism.


(Cam Kufner) #36

@efh So, what about the thief on the cross? He didn’t get water baptized, yet Jesus said that he would be with him in paradise (Mark 15:27-32 | Luke 23:39-43) So, was Jesus lying to the thief on the cross who was never water baptized, or? Because if water baptism was necessary for salvation, the thief would not go to Heaven/Paradise.

(Eckhard Hensel) #37

that question opens up another can or worms. Baptism is essential. That means God being omniscient has made provisions for those that did not have a chance to get baptized in this life. 1 Cor 15:29 mentions baptism for the dead. That means vicarious baptism by the living for the dead. This concept is widely unknown in Christianity but is known and practiced in the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints). Besides, paradise is not heaven. It is a preparatory state after death and before resurrection.

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #38

Do you really want baptism to be essential for salvation? If the evidence in the bible suggested so, I would gladly be on board. But the evidence strongly supports a grace through faith salvation so that is what i believe. A wise man once said:

"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Despite the evidence, why do you persist on believing otherwise? Is there any personal reasons? One must have an open mind when reading the Scriptures and be ready to change one’s mind. This has happened to me as well. I once believed that the KJV was the only good bible translation and all others were corrupt. Here is my journey:

praying for you brother

(Cam Kufner) #39

@efh I can just say that I respectfully disagree. The scriptures lead me to believe water baptism is not necessary for salvation. As @O_wretched_man mentioned, I believe in a grace through faith salvation, the same gift that was given to that thief on the cross. If water baptism was necessary for salvation, well than that thief has no shot of getting into Heaven, even if Paradise is a different place then Heaven, which I believe Jesus meant paradise to be Heaven in the scripture I mentioned, then the thief has no shot at getting into paradise if water baptism was necessary. He was simply saved by grace. My faith saves me, not works. Water baptism is an action (works). Water baptism is an outward declaration of an inward work that already took place. Again, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. You are welcome to reply to my comment, though. I will not reply though, I feel as if all that has been needed to be said has been said. God bless!

(Eckhard Hensel) #40

The KJV the only true translation: what about the German translations like Luther or the Einheitsübersetzung (Catholic initiated), which I think is the best translation I have read so far?

There are many examples in the Bible that suggest that baptism is essential to salvation. Here is one.
John 4:1-2 Jesus himself baptized or supervised or delegated the task to his disciples. Why would he do that if baptism was not necessary.

Also, see 1.Pet. 3:21 baptism saves us …