Does baptism save? That is the issue. It is the purpose of this study to examine the Bible's teaching regarding water baptism and salvation. Does baptism save is a sincere question, asked by many.
Does Baptism Save, According To Scripture
Since there are several groups, some of which are very zealous, that stress the necessity of water baptism for forgiveness of sins, this automatically makes this subject very important to: (1) Those proponents; (2) Those to whom this view of water baptism is presented; and (3) The Christian worker who desires to prevent religious deception.
CLICK To See Why It Is NOT Logical To Believe One Is Saved At Baptism
CLICK FOR PROOF That Mark 16:16 Does NOT Teach Salvation At Baptism
The groups that teach that one MUST be water baptized to get his/her sins forgiven are: Church of Christ, Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, Roman Catholics, Russian and Greek Orthodox, Mormons (LDS), Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS), Apostolics (Jesus Only or United Pentecostals), Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God, Lutherans and others. Some of those groups believe in baby baptism and some don't! Some that do practice infant baptism also teach babies are born again when sprinkled. The Catholics and Lutherans believe that, while Presbyterians and Wesleyans baptize babies, but reject baptismal regeneration.
IF the proof texts used by these groups can be Biblically refuted, while harmony is maintained with other verses on both water baptism and salvation, then logic would declare that these groups are disseminating "another gospel," Gal. 1:8,9. IF this can be shown, then such a teaching is lethal to the individual who accepts it.
Furthermore, this would also identify those who teach such as "deceitful workers" (2 Cor. 11:3-15). Before we proceed, it MUST be mentioned that many SINCERE and WELL-MEANING people, who never took the time to think these things out, believe this way! Some were raised believing this way, while other adherents never CAREFULLY considered all pertinent Scriptures on this topic.
Finally, let it be noted that LOVE AND CONCERN FOR THE TRUTH are the motives in this expose. Please bear this in mind as YOU consider the points made in both the defensive and offensive parts of this study. Thank you.
Saved Before and Without Water Baptism
Acts 10:43Before we move to the most commonly used verses to support the thesis statement does baptism save you, baptismal regeneration (or the concept that baptism is imperative for one's salvation), let's take a close look at HOW and WHEN Cornelius and his household were saved. As we carefully examine this, please remember that for those of us in New Testament times there is but ONE WAY to get saved (Jn 14:6)! THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS! This means that YOU and I are saved the SAME EXACT WAY that Cornelius and his household were saved (Acts 15:9,11)!
To get the full impact of how they got saved and at what point God purified their hearts, we must consider these related Scriptures: Acts 10:1-48; 11:1-18 and 15:7-11. If YOU study those verses, you will see that the reason the angel came to Cornelius was to tell him where to find Simon Peter so he and his entire household could be saved through a message from Peter's lips (Acts 11:13,14; 15:7). THIS MAKES THAT MESSAGE VERY IMPORTANT. It BEGINS at Acts 10:34 and ENDS with verse 43, when Cornelius and his household received the "gift of the Holy Ghost." AFTERWARDS, they were water baptized (Acts 10:44-48).
The KEY VERSE in Peter's salvation sermon is ACTS 10:43, "To him (Christ) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." After Peter spoke these important words, his sermon (which brought instant salvation), was interrupted by the Holy Ghost because those gathered "believed" (TRUSTED) IN JESUS FOR THEIR SALVATION, as Peter just declared.
At this point, and most importantly, BEFORE water baptism, Cornelius and his household had everlasting life as Jesus promised (Jn. 6:47). Also, in the "light" of Acts 10:43, their sins WERE FORGIVEN. ALL THIS OCCURRED BEFORE THEY WERE WATER BAPTIZED (Acts 10:44-48)! This also means they contacted the blood of Jesus Christ BEFORE water baptism! How can we be SURE of this? The clearest way to know that baptism was and is EXCLUDED from the TRUE MESSAGE THAT BRINGS SALVATION and FORGIVENESS OF SINS, is to go to Acts 15:7-11! These verses refer back to the event that is recorded in Acts 10, that is, Cornelius' salvation.
At Jerusalem, the Apostle Peter reports that his sermon to Cornelius (Acts 10:34-43) is the "Gospel," Acts 15:7. Peter then stated that God, who knows man's heart, including Cornelius' and his household's, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them. Again, this happened BEFORE they were water baptized. This shows that those Gentiles' hearts WERE PURIFIED BY FAITH (Acts 15:9) prior to their water baptism and God gave a sign (tongues) to the Jewish Christians gathered as verification of His acceptance of them! Then in verse 11, Peter explicitly affirms the truth that ALL (Jews and Gentiles) are saved as Cornelius and his household were, when they placed ALL (100%) OF THEIR TRUST IN JESUS FOR THEIR SALVATION.
Related: Book Review of David Bercot, Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up
Read: Is Infant Baptism Christian?
To summarize, we just learned: (1) That the "Gospel" does NOT include water baptism; (2) Forgiveness of sins, everlasting life and a purified heart occur at the moment one places ALL (100%) of his/her TRUST IN JESUS ALONE FOR SALVATION; (3) Jews and Gentiles are saved the same way. Also, God gave an outward sign that Cornelius and his household's hearts were purified by faith BEFORE water baptism! Therefore, we know that water baptism is EXCLUDED from the message of FAITH IN JESUS FOR SALVATION! Peter afterwards baptized these new adult Christians. [The Bible does NOT teach baby baptism!]
Cornelius Was Forgiven Before Baptism
Most importantly, don't ever forget that we today are saved in the SAME WAY as Cornelius was, Acts 15:9,11! Remember also that "the gift of the Holy Ghost" that Cornelius received BEFORE baptism shows that God had filled him with the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:4). To argue that Cornelius was NOT saved until he was baptized is to say indirectly that God fills unsaved people or "children of the devil" with the Holy Spirit. This is ludicrous to a student of the Bible.
Finally, according to Acts 2:38, one receives forgiveness of sins BEFORE the "gift of the Holy Ghost." Since Cornelius received the "gift" BEFORE water baptism, we, therefore, know his sins were forgiven BEFORE water baptism! In other words, if A comes before B and B comes before C, then A comes before C. (Also, see explanation on Acts 2:38). Before YOU move on, please reread these points as YOU verify them FOR YOURSELF IN YOUR OWN BIBLE. (These Scriptures clearly refute the theory that the blood of Christ is contacted in the waters of baptism.)
Forgiveness of sins COMES BEFORE the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38).
The gift of the Holy Ghost COMES BEFORE water baptism (Acts 10:43-48).
Therefore, forgiveness of sins COMES BEFORE water baptism.
Donít Be Misled By The Acts 10:48 CommandSo he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days. (Acts 10:48)People who stress the water gospel try to nullify the scriptural truths showing what happened to Cornelius by confusing the issue with a distortion of Acts 10:48. So be on guard. The timing of Acts 10:48 was spoken after Cornelius and his household had already been saved. That doesn't change though they were commanded by Peter to be water baptized. Again, they had already been forgiven without water baptism, because they believed on Jesus (Acts 10:43-47). In their case, they also were filled with the Holy Spirit and were baptized afterwards by command.
Similar to Acts 10:48 is the command in 2 Thess. 3:6-12 to Christians to keep away from the idle who weren't earning the bread they were eating. Likewise, Cornelius was already forgiven and a born again Christian before he obeyed the command in Acts 10:48 to be baptized. Remember, initial salvation and forgiveness comes instantly at the point of a trusting and submitting faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There are subsequent commands to be kept afterwards, including water baptism. Let's move on to some other verses you probably have in mind:
Liberal Church Taught Saved at Baptism But Not Salvation
Saved At Baptism Chief Scriptures
Acts 2:38This important verse in our study reads, "Then Peter said unto them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.'" This verse, along with Mark 16:16, is probably quoted more than any other verse by the groups mentioned in the beginning of this study to support the erroneous teaching that water baptism plays some role in our soul's salvation. But does it really teach such? Let's take a close look at it. Some important points about this verse and its three clauses are:"The American Standard Version (1901) renders Acts 2:38 as follows: Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."... there are three clauses in this sentence, and the modifying phrases must stand in their respective, individual clauses, according to the rules of grammar. Consequently, if 'repent' is in a distinct clause from 'be baptized for the remission of sins,' the modifying phrase cannot modify both 'repent' and 'be baptized'"The three clauses are --(1) 'Repent ye:''ye' -- subject, second person plural number.(2) 'be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins:'
'Repent' -- verb, second person plural number, aorist imperative active voice.'be baptized' -- verb, third person singular number, aorist passive imperative voice.(3) 'ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit:'
'unto the remission of your sins' -- modifying phrase.'ye' -- subject, second person plural number."For the claims of Campbellism to be upheld, the first and second clauses would have to be connected so as to allow 'for the remission of sins' to modify both 'repent' and 'be baptized.' However, this presents the following grammatical problem: In the first clause, the person and number of the verb 'repent' do not agree with the verb 'be baptized' in the second clause. 'Repent' is second person plural number; 'be baptized' is third person singular number.
'shall receive' -- verb, second person plural number, future, indicative voice.
'the gift of the Holy Spirit' -- direct object of verb."It is a rule of Greek grammar, as it is in English, that the verb agrees with its subject in person and number."Ray Summers in his book, Essentials of New Testament Greek (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1950), p.12 states:"Person is the quality of verbs which indicates whether the subject is speaking (first person), is being spoken to (second person), or is being spoken of (third person) ..."Number is the quality of verbs which indicates whether the subject is singular or plural" (emphasis his).Another relevant quote comes from Let's Study Greek by Clarence B. Hale (Chicago: Moody Press, 1966), p. 9:"If the subject of a verb is the person or the group of persons speaking, the verb is in the first person. If the subject of a verb is the person or group of persons spoken to, the verb is in the second person. If the subject of a verb is the person or the thing or the group spoken of, the verb is the third person" (emphasis his)."These quotations from 'standard' Greek grammars express the simple fact that subjects and verbs agree with one another."It is evident, then, that repentance and baptism in Acts 2:38 cannot be combined so as to have both modified by the phrase, 'for the remission of sins.' The proper grammatical construction of the sentence forbids it ...."The phrase, 'for the remission of sins,' stands and modifies in only one of the three clauses, namely, the second clause ..." (emphasis his).To understand Acts 2:38 without any Greek aids, please notice that the "gift of the Holy Ghost" FOLLOWS the remission of sins, according to this verse. Remembering this, note ACTS 10:45. There we see that Cornelius received the "gift of the Holy Ghost" BEFORE he was water baptized! Yet, according to Acts 2:38, one cannot receive the "gift of the Holy Ghost" unless his sins are forgiven! Acts 10 clarifies that the "remission of sins" in Acts 2:38 can ONLY refer to the verb "repent."
It is also commonly believed, because of faulty teaching, that the word "for" as used in Acts 2:38 MUST mean "in order to obtain." However, this is NOT true either! In LUKE 5:13,14 we read of a leper who was immediately healed when Jesus touched him and spoke. After his healing, Jesus told him, "... go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer FOR thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them."
Notice: the man ALREADY HAD his cleansing from leprosy when Jesus told him to go to the priest and bring an offering "FOR THY CLEANSING." If you tried to substitute "in order to obtain" in place of the word "for" in Lk. 5:13,14 it would NOT fit! Similarly, the common remedy, "take two aspirins FOR a headache," refutes the idea that "for" MUST mean "in order to obtain." (No one would take two aspirins "in order to obtain" a headache!)
NOTE: Peter spoke of forgiveness of sins two other times besides Acts 2:38 without mentioning baptism:Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, (Acts 3:19)All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." (Acts 10:43)Those substantiating truths also helps us better understand what Peter taught about forgiveness of sin, yet clearly without baptism.
IF one had to be water baptized in order to be forgiven (and born again), then he could NEVER get saved unless he could find: (1) enough water to be immersed in and (2) a Christian who was able to baptize him! Unless both were present he could NEVER get saved as would be the case if he was all alone on a deserted island or in a very dry area.
Galatians 3:27This verse reads, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." At this point, it is imperative to state that there are PLURAL "baptisms" referred to in the Bible (Heb. 6:2). Therefore, NOT every baptism refers to water baptism! This verse is one that does NOT. How then do we get "baptized into Christ?" The answer is found in 1 Cor. 12:13, which says, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body ..." It's NOT "by water" that we are "baptized into one body," but instead "by one Spirit." (See also Titus 3:5.) Galatians 3:27 has NO REFERENCE to water baptism! Also, the "one baptism" of EPH. 4:5 is related to 1 Cor. 12:13, which also has NO connection to water baptism. Furthermore, this "baptism" into the body of Christ occurs at the moment a person has repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). [Reader, is this what YOU have done?]
John 3:5Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." It is assumed by some that the word "water" in this verse MUST refer to water baptism. However, this is NOT true! In Eph. 5:26 we read, "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of WATER BY THE WORD." Here we see that the Word of God is likened unto WATER. Also, 1 Peter 1:23 reads, "Being BORN AGAIN, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the WORD OF GOD, which liveth and abideth for ever."
It should now be clear to all that the Word of God is instrumental in one being "born again," and is also likened unto WATER. (See also James 1:18,21). Bearing all this in mind, we can now see that the "water" of Jn. 3:5 CAN be the Word of God. It must also be noted that the same Greek word translated "born" in Jn. 3:5 is translated "begotten" in 1 Cor. 4:15. This is IMPORTANT since Paul begat ALL at Corinth through the Gospel (1 Cor. 4:15), but he did NOT baptize ALL at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:14-16)!
Probably the CLEAREST and EASIEST way to resolve this enigma of the "water" in Jn. 3:5 is to focus our attention on JN. 20:31. THIS VERSE IS VERY IMPORTANT! In fact, it declares THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK OF JOHN, which obviously includes Jn. 3:5. It states that it was written so that we "might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." In other words, John was written so that we could learn about salvation and become Christians. Therefore, the MOST IMPORTANT book in the entire Bible to study to learn about salvation is John, and NOT ACTS as some would like us to believe so they can emphasize certain verses! (Were YOU taught this?)
Furthermore, Christian baptism is ONLY referred to in the beginning of chapter 4 in this Gospel, with NO POSSIBLE connection with salvation! (John's Gospel de-emphasizes water baptism. Conversely, it emphasizes an OBEDIENT-TRUST IN JESUS ALONE FOR SALVATION!) To add force to the importance of John's Gospel regarding this controversy about water baptism, it should be mentioned that it was written in about 90 A.D. This means it was written AFTER Pentecost, where Acts 2:38 was first preached. THIS TRUTH ALONE IS DEVASTATING TO SOME GROUPS!
Finally, the entire third chapter of John is summed up in Jn. 3:36, "He that believeth on the Son hath (present tense) everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." NOTICE: The emphasis is placed on believing in Jesus. (Repentance is understood in the meaning of belief in Jesus Christ which brings salvation.)
John 4:1,2Jesus' disciples started water baptizing at John 4:1,2, that is, long before he was crucified for our sins. Jesus afterwards preached salvation to people at various times (Jn. 4:10,14; 5:40; 6:28,29; 6:35; 6:40; 6:47; 7:37,38; 8:12; 11:25,26; 12:46-50; 17:20; etc.), but never stressed water baptism for forgiveness and even clearly pronounced people forgiven and saved, who were definitely NOT water baptized at that point!Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." (Luke 7:48)But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:8-10)Because both were saved without water baptism doesnít mean that the two of them were not water baptized later. Also remember that, besides the aforementioned two, the repentant thief was also forgiven without water baptism (Lk. 23:42,43).
Again, the mention of "water" in John 3:5 is NOT a reference to water baptism, but instead a reference to the word of God itself, which is likened unto water (Eph. 5:26). We are born again by the word of God (1 Pet. 1:23), which is also called water. That is how we must understand the usage of the term water in John 3:5, to find scriptural harmony with other verses on this subject.
Acts 22:16This verse reads, "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Several important points must be noted regarding this passage.
First, the "WASH[ING] AWAY [OF] THY SINS" is coordinated with "calling on the name of the Lord." In other words, it's the SAME ONE who calls on the name of the Lord that gets his/her sins washed away! A person getting baptized does NOT do this!
Second, if you'll read Acts chapters 9, 22 and 26, you'll get the full picture of what happened with Saul and Ananias. A VERY IMPORTANT verse relevant to the proper understanding of Acts 22:16 is ACTS 9:17. This verse tells us WHY the Lord Jesus sent Ananias to Saul (Paul)! Ananias said, "... Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost."
Therefore, the twofold purpose the Lord sent Ananias to Saul was (1) So he would receive his physical eyesight and (2) Get filled with the Holy Ghost. The point is: JESUS NEVER SENT ANANIAS TO HIS "CHOSEN VESSEL" TO GET HIM SAVED! He was already saved! IF Saul still needed to get saved when Jesus was informing Ananias what to do, He certainly would have known it and would have put that on the top of Ananias' list! However, Jesus NEVER EVEN INDIRECTLY MENTIONED SUCH as He sent Ananias forth! Can YOU see this? Also, when one is sent to another to get him filled with the Holy Ghost, as Ananias was sent, the person to be filled is ALWAYS A CHRISTIAN ALREADY (Acts 8:14-17)! These verses report that the Apostles in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to those in Samaria, WHO WERE ALREADY SAVED, so they might receive the Holy Ghost!
Thirdly, Paul stated about the Gospel, "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ," Gal. 1:12. IF Paul learned the Gospel (the plan of salvation) from Ananias, which would be the case IF Acts 22:16 means as certain groups interpret it, then Paul could have NEVER said this! (Finally, related to Saul's conversion on the Damascus road is Acts 26:17,18. When compared to 1 Cor. 1:17, this combination is devastating to those who think water baptism plays some role in our salvation! More will be said on this later.)
We can be absolutely sure that the word water in John 3:5 does NOT mean water baptism because that was spoken before the dying and repentant thief got saved (Lk. 23:42,43), yet he was saved WITHOUT water baptism.
Mark 16:16Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Does this verse teach the necessity of baptism for salvation? Many stress the first half of this verse to "prove" such.
Please notice that this verse refers to ONLY two types of people: (1) Those that believe and are baptized and (2) Those that don't believe. THIS VERSE DOES NOT REFER TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS, BUT HAVE NOT YET BEEN BAPTIZED. However, Jn. 6:47 DOES! Jesus said in that verse, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me HATH everlasting life." See also Jn. 3:15. The "light" from these verses added to the "light" in Mark 16:16 clarifies, once again, that baptism has NO ROLE in our soul's salvation. After all, since we are saved when we TRUST ON JESUS FOR OUR SALVATION TO THE POINT OF COMMITMENT (Jn. 3:15; 6:47; Acts 16:31), it should come as no surprise that we will be saved when we TRUST ON JESUS and get baptized as well, as Mark 16:16a teaches! Can you see this?
Also, the latter part of Mark 16:16 states what damns, that is, NOT TRUSTING IN JESUS! The latter part of Mk. 16:16 reveals whether it is BELIEVING and/or BAPTISM that is important for salvation. (This is probably why many who stress the first part of this verse often neglect to mention the last part of Mark 16:16!) A comparable sentence construct to Mark 16:16 is: "He that starts his car and puts on his hat will drive home; but he that doesn't start his car won't." From this comparison, it should be apparent that putting on a hat (likened to getting baptized) has nothing to do with driving home (likened to getting saved). Does that help you understand Mark 16:16? Remember, we MUST find A HARMONIOUS INTERPRETATION THROUGHOUT THE BIBLE before we can be sure that we understand any given verse. IF you still insist on stressing Mark 16:16a, then you must ignore JN. 6:47! Are YOU willing to do that?
Lastly, it must also be pointed out that many who stress Mark 16:16 will argue inconsistently to make their point. They contend that baptism is incorporated into BELIEVING, then later turn around and say that we must BELIEVE AND be BAPTIZED to be saved using Mark 16:16 while doing so! Mark 16:16 states that we "BELIEVE" BEFORE AND WITHOUT BAPTISM! Furthermore, those at Corinth clearly BELIEVED BEFORE they were baptized. This is shown in Acts 18:8 which reads, "Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him BELIEVED and were BAPTIZED."
So one believes, according to scripture, before and without water baptized. That is an important point to remember when dealing with a water gospel proponent. If one believes before he is water baptized, he is forgiven before he is water baptized, as was Cornelius.
Also, believing on Jesus is a package deal, including repentance, but excluding water baptism to be initially forgiven. Thatís why we have verses like Lk. 13:3; Acts 3:19; 17:30; 2 Pet. 3:9; etc. mentioning repentance for salvation and others just mentioning faith or belief in Jesus for salvation (Gal. 3:26; Acts 10:43; 16:31; Jn. 3:18; etc.).
REMEMBER THIS: it's the unbelievers (and seven other categories, according to Rev. 21:8) who get condemned, NOT the unbaptized! NOWHERE in the entire Bible does it say, "He that is not baptized is condemned!" Please reread this section on Mark 16:16.
1 Peter 3:20,21, KJVThis saved at baptism argument only works by using the KJV. Those verses read, "... eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Unfortunately, some teachers have taken parts of these verses out of context and therefore misled their listeners. The KJV words, "saved by water," are an example. The context reveals that the subjects, the eight souls "saved," were those in NOAH'S ARK! Also, other reputable translations (NIV, Amplified, Revised Standard, ESV, etc.) read "saved THROUGH water," since the Greek work (di) translated "by" in the KJV also means "THROUGH." The eight people in the ark were "saved THROUGH water" as they were in the ark (a type of Christ). THEY WERE NOT SAVED BY WATER, AS THE CONTEXT REVEALS. Heb. 11:7 is very clear on this point.
At this point, it must be noted that every time the word "save" or its derivative is used, it does NOT always refer to one's immortal soul! A few examples are: "the prayer of faith shall SAVE the sick" (James 5:15) and "all hope that we should be SAVED was taken away" (Acts 27:20). Neither one of these last two cited references refer to the soul. They are just like 1 Peter 3:21 in this aspect!
WHAT does water baptism SAVE us from? Verse 21 says water baptism SAVES us from a bad conscience towards God. Having a good conscience (and holding on to faith) are important as shown by some rejecting these who consequently have shipwrecked their faith (1 Tim. 1:18,19). However, as important as baptism is, it still plays NO ROLE, direct or indirect, in initial salvation, or as we might also say, getting "born again." Baptism does NOT put away the "FILTH OF THE FLESH" (v.21). See Gal. 5:19-21 for a list of these sins. (Remember Cornelius, Acts 10:43-48 cf. 15:9-11).
What Does Baptism Save From
NOTE: The context of 1 Pet. 3:20,21 reveals that ONLY the righteous (Noah and his family) were DRY and therefore SAFE. In contrast, ONLY THE WICKED IN NOAH'S DAY CAME IN CONTACT WITH THE WATER AND THEY ALL PERISHED! Considering all this, does it seem to you that some are wresting 1 Pet. 3:20,21 out of context and, perhaps even "unto their own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:16)?
Romans 6:3-5These verses read, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection."
The KEY to the understanding of these verses are the words, "LIKE" and "LIKENESS." These words show that these verses are to be symbolically and NOT literally interpreted. We might say, "This person is like that person," but by this we are not saying he is the same as that person! In the same way, baptism bears some resemblance to Christ's death, burial and resurrection in that it identifies us with his death, but it is NOT His death or His burial or His resurrection. BAPTISM, THEREFORE, IS A "LIKENESS" AND NOT THE REALITY. The only way we can identify with Jesus' bodily resurrection from the grave is for this passage to be non-literal. By baptism, a person who is already saved identifies with Christ's death, burial and resurrection in a symbolic way.
The Twelve Disciples In Ephesus Were Not Saved At BaptismWhile Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied. Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. (Acts 19:1-7)
Observations Relevant To Saved At Baptism Error
- The Ephesian twelve were already disciples when Paul found them (Acts 19:1), which means they were already saved (Mt. 12:48-50; Luke 14:33).
- Paul's first words were a question, showing those men had already become believers (Acts 19:2), again showing they were saved (John 3:18; Acts 16:31; etc.).
- They had NOT been Christian baptized at that point, even though they were disciples and believers (Acts 19:3,4).
- They were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus after they had already become disciples and believers (Acts 19:5).
1 Cor. 1:17 will shed more "light," in an overall way, on this important subject of baptism. In this verse Paul declares, "For Christ SENT me NOT to baptize, but to preach the gospel ..." From this we see what Christ "SENT" Paul to do and what Christ "SENT" Paul NOT to do. Since Christ "SENT" Paul to preach the Gospel, but NOT to baptize, then it's impossible for baptism to be included in the Gospel! (The Gospel is the message that brings salvation, Rom. 1:16, 1 Cor. 4:15 and 15:2). This last reference reads, "By this gospel you are saved, IF you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. OTHERWISE, YOU HAVE BELIEVED IN VAIN," NIV. (Like it or not, this is what that verse teaches!)
Saved At Baptism Demolished
We should also carefully compare ACTS 26:17,18 with 1 Cor. 1:17. This will help us understand baptism even more when we compare these verses. In 1 Cor. 1:17, Paul writes of what happened in Acts 26:17,18. Let's take a close look at these verses. There Jesus said, "... now I SEND thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive FORGIVENESS OF SINS, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." THIS IS WHY CHRIST SENT PAUL. (All this can be accomplished by preaching the Gospel.) Notice that one of the reasons listed as to why Christ "SENT" Paul was so others could "receive forgiveness of sins."
Now, look at 1 Cor. 1:17 again. Paul tells those at Corinth WHAT Christ SENT him to do. He said that Christ SENT him to preach the Gospel, not to baptize. This means that we "receive forgiveness of sins" WITHOUT baptism! This is just like ACTS 10:43. Can YOU see this? (This isn't to say that Paul never baptized anyone, for he did! Crispus, Gaius and the household of Stephanas were baptized by Paul, 1 Cor. 1:14,16). The point is: Paul was NOT "SENT" to baptize! Paul prayed, fasted, took an offering to Jerusalem, and drove a demon out of a girl with the name of "Jesus," but he wasn't directly SENT by Jesus to do these things either! However, he was "SENT" to preach the Gospel.) Please consider the following syllogism based on Acts 26:17,18 and 1 Cor. 1:17 ....
Christ SENT Paul forth so that others could receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 26:17,18).
Christ did NOT SEND Paul to water baptize (1 Cor. 1:17).
Therefore, one receives forgiveness of sins WITHOUT water baptism.
How was Paul able to get others to "receive forgiveness of sins?" Read his message to the unsaved in Acts 13:38,39; 16:30,31 and 20:21. This same truth is reiterated throughout the New Testament (Eph. 2:8,9; Titus 3:5; Romans 4:4-6, 9:30-10:4; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:9, etc.)
When a person teaches the necessity of baptism for salvation, by implication he is saying that the unsaved are at the mercy of the following conditions for their salvation: (1) Enough water to be immersed in for a Scriptural baptism, and (2) A WILLING and QUALIFIED person (a Christian) to do the baptizing before they can get saved! This would make the blood of Christ of NO EFFECT for him or anyone else who sincerely wanted to repent and get saved, but couldn't find a Christian who could and would baptize him in enough water to be a genuine Christian baptism!
Another Logical Conclusion About
The Baptism Saves You Doctrine
Hypothetically, this means that an unsaved person either in an arid place with a Christian friend OR stranded on an island by himself with a Bible, could NEVER get saved! This is the logical conclusion from the teaching that water baptism is necessary for salvation. This would also make the person doing the baptizing a MEDIATOR with Christ between the unsaved and God! However, 1 Tim 2:5 states that Jesus is our ONLY mediator. Furthermore, if baptism was a necessity for the salvation of the lone man on the island, then 2 Cor. 6:2 would also be untrue! This verse teaches that "today" and "now" is the time for salvation, which implies that we can get saved instantly on any given day, at any given place, even if we couldn't be baptized immediately! However, 2 Cor. 6:2 is true! And the stranded man on that island can get saved without a second mediator, because he can REPENT and extend a TRUSTING AND SUBMITTING FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST FOR HIS SALVATION.
It is important to remember that one becomes a disciple before he qualifies for water baptism (Mt. 28:19). Since disciples are saved (Mt. 12:48-50) and afterwards water baptized (Mt. 28:19), we know one is saved before his baptism, as was Cornelius (Acts 10:43-47).
A Trusting-Submitting Faith In Jesus Saves"But wasn't Jesus baptized?" someone might ask. Yes, but NOT TO GET HIS SINS FORGIVEN! HE DID NOT HAVE ANY! Why then was He? See Matthew 3:15, 16 for the answer. Also, Jn. 1:31 says, "I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel," NIV. "Aren't we commanded to get baptized?," others ask. Yes, but WE STILL RECEIVE FORGIVENESS OF SINS BEFORE AND WITHOUT WATER BAPTISM, as Cornelius clearly did!
Friend, only God knows how many are in "eternal fire" today because he/she sincerely believed a wrong plan of salvation, either before they could get saved or after their conversion (Gal. 5:2-4; 1 Jn. 2:24; 2 Jn. 9). If believed before, true conversion did NOT take place! If believed after true conversion, then such would "fall from grace" (Gal.5:2-4) and be without God (2 Jn. 9).
Remember Rom. 3:22, "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." Please note the word, "believe" here is a continuous tense! We are NOT saved by good works, Eph. 2:8,9. However, good works will IDENTIFY a saving faith in Jesus (Jam. 2:14; Tit. 1:16 and 1 Jn. 2:3,4).
Also remember this important verse: Acts 20:21, "... they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus," NIV. Did YOU know that the Greek word translated, "believe" (which we must extend towards Christ to be saved) means: TO TRUST IN; RELY UPON AND CLING TO? In other words, IF we are really "believing on Jesus" for our salvation, then we are placing ALL (100%) of our TRUST in Him ALONE. This means that we canNOT mix in good works, church membership, the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, communion, confirmation, Saturday-Sabbath keeping, Mary and/or BAPTISM with our TRUST IN JESUS for our salvation!
Remember, Jesus is our LIFE (Jn. 14:6), our SWEETNESS (Matt. 11:29), our HOPE (1 Tim. 1:1), our ONLY mediator (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 9:15), our HIGH PRIEST (Heb. 7:23-28), the TRUE vine (Jn. 15:1), the ROCK (1 Cor. 10:4), the DOOR to Heaven (Jn. 10:9), and the ONLY WAY to the Father (Jn. 14:6). He died ONCE for ALL sins (Is. 53:6, Acts 13:38,39; Heb. 10:10-14) and has the ONLY name under Heaven in which salvation is found (Acts 4:12). He invites ALL to come DIRECTLY to Himself for eternal life (Jn. 5:40; 6:35; 7:37; Matt. 11:28-30). He won't reject YOU (Jn. 6:37). He loves YOU! He wants YOU to spend eternity with Him.
However, IF YOU refuse His invitation and His Gospel, you are saying indirectly that YOU don't NEED Him, WANT Him, or YOU don't think He is ABLE to save you BY HIMSELF. IF YOU "reject" Jesus (Jn. 12:48) by rejecting His Gospel, then HIS very words will be your judge and they will condemn YOU (Jn. 12:48, Rev. 21:7,8)! The choice is YOURS. YOU MUST DECIDE. YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY HINGES ON YOUR DECISION. WHAT WILL YOU DO? Remember friend, since Jesus is the Judge (Jn. 5:22), YOU can't possibly go wrong or be deceived by accepting His plan of salvation! (Remember His words in Jn. 6:47 and Lk. 13:3.)
Sincerely and Humbly Pray This To For Instant SalvationFather in Heaven, humbly I ask you to have MERCY ON ME A SINNER (Luke 18:13). I am now willing to totally turn from my all 100% of my sins, and FOLLOW JESUS UNASHAMEDLY in this wicked age (Lk. 9:23-26; 13:3; Jn. 8:12; 10:27). I believe in my heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead and I now confess Him as "Lord" (Rom. 10:9,10). Lord Jesus, I now ask you for eternal life (Jn. 5:40). I will FOLLOW you, Lord, ALL the days of my life (Luke 9:23), then heaven will be my home. Jesus, ALL (100%) of my TRUST is now in you ALONE for my soul's salvation. I believe that you are the ALL-SUFFICIENT Savior and I submit to you, to do your will now and forever. Amen.
It's Very Important For You ...Friend, don't stay in a congregation because you were raised there or because its location is close and convenient to attend! Find a Bible-preaching, Bible-teaching, Christ-exalting church that lovingly spreads and boldly stands for the TRUE Gospel, where the pastor is zealous, fears God, and doesn't compromise the truth to please man or build his own ministry over the Kingdom of God. Also, make sure eternal security is NOT being taught there. This is also very important. The lie of once saved always saved has certainly sent multitudes to Hell! Remember also that true worshippers of God MUST "worship in SPIRIT and in TRUTH" (Jn. 4:23,24). See also Rom. 16:17,18.
Finally, if YOU have decided to turn from your idols to serve God (1 Thess. 1:9) and trust Jesus ALONE (100%) for your salvation, you need to be water baptized by immersion, even though you are not forgiven by baptism to become born again. Being water baptized by immersion is the Biblical way and part of Christian beliefs. This is important for ALL saved people to do, as soon as possible, after conversion. Remember, according to scripture, one gets water baptized AFTER he becomes a Christian, not to become a Christian! Again, the answer to, does baptism save is, NO.
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