Do you have to be baptized in water in order to be saved (and go to heaven)?  Or is faith in Christ all?

1 Cor. 1:17        Christ did not send Paul to baptize, but to preach the gospel. This verse shows that baptism is not part of the gospel message. What is the gospel?

1 Cor. 15:1-8     The gospel is that Christ died for our sins, was buried, was raised on the third day, and then appeared to many people. In this passage, it says that they were saved when they received (believed) this gospel after it was preached to them. To receive the gospel is to believe the gospel – Jn. 1:12.

Acts 16:30-31   The question is asked as to what a person has to do to be saved. The answer is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 15:7-11      This passage tells us that hearing and believing the gospel is what cleanses the heart, grants one the Holy Spirit, and saves one through grace. To have the Holy Spirit is to belong to Christ (be saved) – Rom. 8:9.

Acts 10:42-43   Through His name everyone who believes in Christ receives forgiveness of sins.

Eph. 2:8-9        A person has been saved by grace through faith. It’s a gift, not a result of works.

Jn. 3:16            Whoever believes in God’s Son will have eternal life.

Rom. 3:24         A person is justified as a gift by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

1 Jn. 5:11-13     Eternal life is in God’s Son, and the person who has the Son has life. You can know that you have eternal life by believing in the name of the Son of God.

To obey Christ and/or the gospel is to believe in Christ and/or the gospel as seen in the following passages: Jn. 3:16, 1 Jn. 3:23; Heb. 5:9; Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5; 1 Pet. 4:17; Jn. 6:28-29; 1 Pet. 1:22-23.

If you say you have to be water baptized in order to be saved, then you’d have to say that you’d have to keep all the commandments to be saved (Matt. 19:16-21, 24-26, 29). And the Bible is clear that a non-Christian cannot keep the commands perfectly (Rom. 3:12, 23; 8:8; Isa. 64:6; 1 Jn. 1:8, 10; Jas. 2:10) and is not saved by trying to keep them (Gal. 2:16; 3:8, 24, 26; Rom. 3:24, 28; 10:4), but is saved by faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9; 1:13; Gal. 2:16, 21; 3:11, 21-26; Rom. 4:2-5; 3:23-30; 9:30-32).

Water baptism for salvation is not taught in Jn. 3:5; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21 and Acts 22:16.

John 3:5 isn’t talking about water baptism, but about physical or human birth versus spiritual birth. “Born of water” means “born out of the water sac of your mother’s womb.” Nicodemus thought that Jesus meant to be born again was to be physically born a second time – Jn. 3:4. But Jesus corrects him and states that a person who’s been born physically (born of water) the first time needs to be born spiritually (of the Spirit) the second time. This interpretation is confirmed by Jesus in Jn. 3:6-7.

Mk. 16:16 is actually saying that the person who believes in the gospel shall be saved, whether or not a person is baptized. How do we know this? For several reasons. In this verse, the only ground for condemnation is disbelief, not lack of baptism. If a person believes and is baptized, it is true, he will be saved. But the reason he will be saved is because of his belief, not because of his baptism. A similar verse is Jn. 6:40, which says “that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life.” Does that mean that if you don’t behold (see) Jesus physically, you can’t have eternal life? Obviously not! Simply believing in Him will save you, whether you see Him physically or not.

Acts 2:38 is very similar to the above passage and explanation. Repentance (which means to have a “change of mind” – here in context it’s a change of mind regarding what or Who saves them, namely Jesus and nothing else) is what gives them forgiveness of sins, not baptism. Besides the Mk. 16:16 explanation, Acts 3:19 and Acts 13:38-39 would make this clear, because in both passages baptism is not mentioned as a requirement for forgiveness, just repentance or belief in Christ. See also Acts 11:18.

1 Pet. 3:21 Just as Noah and his family were saved (from God’s judgment on sin) by the flood waters through their being in the ark, so believers are saved (from God’s judgment on their sin) by baptism (not the physical purification, ceremony, or ritual, but what baptism stands for/represents/symbolizes – and expression/appeal/pledge/answer of a good conscience to God, because the believer knows his sins are already forgiven) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (proof of the fact that God had already accepted Jesus’ death as being sufficient for man’s sins, 1 Pet. 3:18).

Acts 22:16 There are two commands (be baptized and wash) and two participles (arising and calling) in the verse, and they pair off like this: arising, get yourself baptized; calling on the name of the Lord, wash away your sins. In other words, the washing away of sins and the baptism are not connected as cause and effect. The washing away of sin is due to calling on the Lord’s name (for salvation – Rom. 10:13). Those who call on the Lord Jesus Christ – His name – are saints/believers (Acts 9:13-14), and believers are forgiven of their sins by faith (Acts 15:9).


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