Water Baptism — Is it Necessary for Salvation?

Note:  Many people have emailed asking what my motives were in writing this article about water baptism. For those interested, I’ve given a brief explanation in my blog.

Recently I’ve met a few people who have become convinced that water baptism is necessary for salvation. This page responds to that issue specifically.

First, I’m not a biblical scholar but I do attempt to discover truth through the Word of God. So, I’ve looked up every verse in the Bible that has the word “baptize” (including its other forms) and attempted to categorize them. I’ve discovered that there are a number of different baptisms (Hebrews 6:1,2), such as the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16, Acts 11:16 I Corinthians 12:13 & others), the baptism of Moses (I Corinthians 10:2), the baptism of John (Luke 20:4, Acts 18:25, 19:3 & others) and the baptism of Jesus (Luke 12:50, Mark 10:38-40, Acts 2:38, 19:5 & others). However, I want to focus on the subject of water baptism. Among the categories listed above, John’s and Jesus’ refer to water baptism. So we’ll go over these two categories.

Let’s show how Scripture differentiates between the baptism of John and the baptism of Jesus. We’ll look at Acts 19:3-5. Here are these verses:

And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 19:3-5 (NKJ)

If John’s baptism was the same as Jesus’ baptism, then why did these people need to be re-baptized? The answer is obvious. John’s baptism was not the same as Jesus’ baptism.

Now, let’s talk about some Scriptures that people might use to defend their position that water baptism is indeed necessary for salvation and respond to those verses. Let’s look at Mark 1:4. It says:

John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Mark 1:4 (NKJ)

This verse seems to say that the baptism of repentance was for the remission of sins. Who am I to argue with Scripture? But as we’ve discussed already, John’s baptism IS NOT THE SAME as the baptism of Jesus. So we can discount the baptism of John for our purposes, because we are baptized in the name of Jesus, not in the name of John. It is Jesus’ baptism that is for us today, not John’s. If we’re supposed to be baptized into John’s baptism, then why were the people in Acts 19:3-5 re-baptized? The answer is plain. Because once Jesus had come on the scene, it was HIS baptism that is relevant. So for us to decide what we need to do, in this present age, we need to focus on the baptism of Jesus.

Here’s a set of verses that people use to defend the idea that water baptism is necessary for salvation. They are John 3:1-8. Let’s look at these verses.

1)There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2)This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3)Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4)Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5)Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6)That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7)Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.’ 8)The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3:1-8 (NKJ)

People taking the stance that baptism is necessary for salvation will say, “See, look here! This verse says that ‘unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'” And I must agree that is does say that. But what does “born of water” mean? It this phrase referring to water baptism? Upon first glance, it may seem so, but let’s take a closer look at the surrounding context. Read the entire passage again, starting from verse 1. Nicodemus is asking Jesus how he can possibly enter his mother’s womb again and be re-born. So he’s talking about physical birth. He can’t understand the concept of physically being re-born. Obviously that’s an impossibility. But Jesus isn’t talking about physical rebirth, He’s talking about spiritual rebirth. Look at what He says in verses 5 and 6. I’ll repeat it.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
John 3:5,6 (NKJ)

You see? So “born of water” in this context looks to mean “physically born” not “baptized.” Let me re-phrase it. “I’m telling you that unless you’re physically born and then spiritually reborn, you can’t enter into heaven. If you’re physically born, you’re just a lost human. If you’re spiritually reborn, you’ve entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ.”  (Eric’s version)

Let’s look at yet another common verse used to defend the idea that the salvation of our souls requires water baptism. Here it is:

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38 (NKJ)

Obviously, the controversial phrase here is after the word “repent.” We all agree that repentance is necessary for salvation. Let’s look at the Greek word εις translated “for.” In the original Greek, in the New Testament, this word has several different meanings. One is “aim or purpose.” An example of εις being used in this manner is I Corinthians 2:7, which says

No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for (the aim or purpose of) our glory before time began.
I Corinthians 2:7 (NKJ)

In another usage, the Greek word εις means “at,” or “because of” as in Matthew 12:41. Let’s look at it:

The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
Matthew 12:41 (NKJ)

Both of these uses are good Greek, and so the next logical question would be “what drives your choice of translation?” For me, it is the larger context of Scripture. For instance, in Acts 10, we see that people had already been saved before being baptized. Let’s look:

46)For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 47)”Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48)And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
Acts 10:46-48 (NKJ)

These people were speaking in tongues and had received the Holy Spirit yet they had not been baptized. Another example is the thief on the cross who went to Paradise without baptism. Let’s read about that.

39)Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” 40)But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41)And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42)Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” 43)And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Luke 23:39-42 (NKJ)

Clearly this man was never baptized. Yet he was saved because he believed. What did Paul tell the Philippian jailor? Let’s find out.

25)But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26)Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. 27)And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28)But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” 29)Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30)And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31)So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Acts 16:25-31 (NKJ)

Although the jailor’s family was baptized, they were saved when they believed. Paul plainly set forth only belief as a prerequisite for salvation.Further, in establishing the greater context of Scripture, we can look at numerous other passages where belief is the only requirement for salvation.

Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
Luke 8:12 (NKJ)

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
John 1:12 (NKJ)

15). . .that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16)For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17)For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18)”He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:15-18 (NKJ)

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John 3:36 (NKJ)

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
John 5:24 (NKJ)

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
John 6:35 (NKJ)

. . . “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:40 (NKJ)

”Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.”
John 6:47 (NKJ)

”Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
John 8:24 (NKJ)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
John 11:25,26 (NKJ)

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”
John 11:40 (NKJ)

. . . but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
John 20:31 (NKJ)

”To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
Acts 10:43 (NKJ)

This is Peter speaking. After he spoke these words, many people believed and they were baptized with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues. After that, they were then baptized. This shows that the belief saved the people (would unsaved people have the Holy Spirit and be speaking in tongues?) and then afterward, they were baptized.

. . .and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Acts 13:39 (NKJ)

Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
Acts 13:48 (NKJ)

”But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
Acts 15:11 (NKJ)

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Acts 16:31 (NKJ)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Romans 1:16 (NKJ)

9) . . .that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10)For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11)For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12)For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13)For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
Romans 10:9-13 (NKJ)

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
I Corinthians 1:21 (NKJ)

. . . knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
Galatians 2:16 (NKJ)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8 (NKJ)

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
I Thessalonians 4:14 (NKJ)

. . . that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
II Thessalonians 2:12 (NKJ)

However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
I Timothy 1:16 (NKJ)

For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, “They shall not enter My rest,”‘ although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Hebrews 4:3 (NKJ)

But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
Hebrews 10:39 (NKJ)

Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”
I Peter 2:6 (NKJ)

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.
I John 5:1 (NKJ)

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
I John 5:13 (NKJ)

These verses would be grossly misleading if baptism were a prerequisite for salvation! I’ve just listed a plethora of verses that tell us that we are saved if we believe, and are condemned if we don’t. This should help the questioner get a better idea of the context of Scripture regarding baptism, and, for that matter, what one needs to do for salvation (hint: believe). For more on this subject, check out I Corinithians 15:1-11, and read the whole book of John.

So, if you remember, we were discussing Acts 2:38, and I think the better translation of the Greek word εις is “because of” in this verse due to the greater context of Scripture. Scripture teaches baptism on the basis of repentance, and belief as the requirement for salvation.In addition, this verse presents us with a logic problem. Let me explain. If I were to say, “Eat and put gold under your bed, and you can live,” that would be a true statement. But the part that really allows you to live is the “eat” part. Putting gold under your bed may help you in your finances, but it doesn’t actually cause you to continue living. Eating does! The same logical argument can be used for this verse. Peter says, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Now, we know that if we repent and are baptized, we will be saved, according to this verse. But it doesn’t logically follow that both repentance and baptism are requirements for salvation, following the logic outlined above. And in the larger context of Scripture, we see that baptism is NOT a prerequisite for eternal life.

Another verse used to defend the position that water baptism is necessary for salvation is I Peter 3:21. Here is the verse (in its context).

 18)For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19)by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20)who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21)There is also an antitype which now saves us–baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22)who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.
I Peter 3:18-22 (NKJ)

Granted, this is a very difficult passage, and I make no claim to thoroughly understand it. However, I want to focus in on verses 20 and 21. We see here that Peter is comparing baptism to the time when Noah and his family were saved on the ark. And then Peter tells us that baptism saves us. But he’s quick to point out, in the very next phrase, that this baptism saves us symbolically, not actually. He’s saying that baptism doesn’t cleanse us physically in a literal sense, or if you want to take it metaphorically, it doesn’t cleanse our souls in a literal sense. But what saves us is the “answer (or inquiry) of a good conscience toward God.” This is the baptism which saves us. Peter tells us that baptism saves us, and then he goes on to define baptism as an inquiry of a good conscience toward God, or in other words, an open, honest inquiry and trust in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s not the act of immersion which saves our souls, it’s our trust in Jesus.

Yet another verse that often seems to promote baptism as a requirement for salvation is Mark 16:16. Here it is:

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Mark 16:16 (NKJ)

This verse also presents a logical question. It’s the same logic problem discussed above for Acts 2:38. Simply put, this verse in no way says that both belief and baptism are requirements for salvation. In addition, the second portion of this verse makes this quite clear without any external argument. It says, “he who does not believe will be condemned.” It does NOT say, “he who does not believe and is not baptized will be condemned.” It plainly sets forth the “believing” aspect of the statement as the requirement for avoiding condemnation.

In summation, I’d like to make some additional points. First, baptism is never given in Scripture as a COMMAND to Christians except in Acts 2:38 when Peter tells the Jews to “repent and be baptized.” This is the ONLY place where we are commanded to be baptized. So since we are told to, we should be. Yet this should never be construed as a command to all new Christians as a requirement for salvation. The New Testament makes this blatantly clear. What would happen if I were on the battlefield and I accepted Jesus and then was shot through the heart before I was baptized? As Scripture so plainly states, I would be saved, just as the people were in Acts 10 who received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues before they were baptized, and just as the thief on the cross was before he died (he was never baptized).

In addition, why did Paul tell his readers in such certain terms that he wasn’t called to baptize, but to preach? Look at this verse:

I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes I also baptized the household of Stephanus. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom and words, lest the cross of Christ be made of no effect.
I Corinthians 1:13-17

Paul tells us that Jesus didn’t call him to baptize (is Paul negating the Great Commission here? I think not!) but to preach. And Paul says he only baptized a few people. And thank goodness for that, he says, because otherwise people might be saying they were baptized in the name of Paul. The Great Commission is in Matthew 28:19,20 records Jesus’ words to his disciples to “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . .” This certainly doesn’t say we need to be baptized to be saved. And why did Paul say he wasn’t called to baptize? It must be because the church as a whole is called to baptize, not us as individuals. How could a wheelchair-bound person baptize someone? Yet we have many Christians who are in wheelchairs. And we have many Christians who are invalids as well. Are they disobeying Jesus’ command to baptize? I don’t think so. Jesus Himself baptized none. And then the kicker . . . why would Paul leave 99% of his converts half-saved, or, according to some, not saved at all? If baptism were a requirement for salvation, then the majority of people Paul preached to never entered the kingdom of heaven, because, as Paul says himself, he only baptized Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanus. Paul, in his zealousnous for preaching the gospel, and in his obsession for detail, would not leave so many people unsaved.

My hope is that this study has given you a glimpse of the truth of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He lives today and He loves you. Believe in Him, and in His words, and you will receive eternal life. That’s a promise we can all bank on.

25 thoughts on “Water Baptism — Is it Necessary for Salvation?”

  1. “In Baptism, the believer is making a public profession of his faith in Christ. He or she is outwardly displaying an agreement with Christ`s death, burial and resurrection by obeying Christ’s command to be baptized. Being baptized in water is simply and only an outward sign of the inner work of the Holy Spirit.”

    This is the Baptist/evangelical doctrine of the “Ordinance of Believer’s Baptism”. There is a small problem, however, there is not one single verse in the Bible that makes this statement. However there are many verses that say:

    “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins”
    “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved”
    “Why do you wait, get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins”
    “Baptism now saves us”

    You can twist and contort the Bible to say most anything. However, the plain, simple interpretation of the Bible says that God saves and forgives sins in Baptism. Orthodox Christians have believed this plain, simple interpretation of God’s Word, that God saves in Holy Baptism, since the days of the Apostles. Numerous historical records from the first three centuries of Christianity confirm this interpretation of Scripture. The Baptist/evangelical belief that Baptism is simply and only OUR act of obedience/OUR public profession of faith is a sixteenth century false teaching of Swiss Ana-Baptists, and in the seventeenth century, the Baptists. There is no historical evidence whatsoever in the first 800-1,000 years of Christianity of ANYONE believing this concept of Baptism.

    Baptism is GOD’S act of saving sinners. He does all the work of salvation, you and your “decision for Christ” are not needed or allowed to help save you. God does 100% of the saving! Period.

    For more information on the true means of salvation, I encourage you to visit the official website of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, an orthodox Christian Church that adheres to the doctrines of the Early Christian Church.


  2. Your comments reflect a major misconception that evangelicals and the Reformed have of orthodox Christians. Lutherans do not believe that baptism is necessary (mandatory) for salvation. Not even the Roman Catholic Church believes this. All the saints of the Old Testament, the thief on the cross, and thousand of martyrs down through the centuries have been saved without Baptism. Baptism is not the “how” of salvation!

    Lutherans believe that baptism is one of several “when”s of salvation, it is not the “how” of salvation. The “how” of salvation is and always has been the power of God’s Word/God’s declaration of righteousness.

    A sinner can be saved by the power of God’s Word when he hears the Word preached in a church, preached on TV or radio, reading a Gideon’s Bible in a hotel room, or reading a Gospel tract that contains the Word. Salvation is by God’s grace alone, through the power of his Word alone, received in faith alone. In each of these situations, the sinner is saved the instant he or she believes. Baptism is NOT mandatory for salvation to occur.

    However, the Bible in multiple passages, also states that God uses his Word to save at the time of Baptism.

    It is the work of the Holy Spirit, using the Word of God, that works salvation in the sinner’s spiritually dead soul, according to the second chapters of Ephesians and Colossians, and the third chapter of Romans. Your “decision for Christ” does not save you, neither does your decision to be baptized.

    God saves those whom he has elected, at the time and place of his choosing. Sometimes God saves them while hearing a sermon in church, sometimes at home reading the Word, and sometimes by the power of his Word spoken during Baptism.

    God does 100% of the saving. The sinner is a passive participant in his salvation. There is no passage in the New Testament that asks sinners to make a decision for Christ. The Bible states that God quickens sinners, gives them faith, and they believe and repent.

    The sinner does not decide to be saved. God decides to save the sinner!

    Baptism is not an automatic ticket into heaven. Although salvation is entirely God, there is no “decision” by man to be saved, sanctification requires the believer’s participation. God is not in heaven keeping track of our good deeds and our sins to decide whether or not to let us into heaven, but the Christian who turns his back on Christ by outright rejection (converting to Islam) or by ongoing willful sin/neglect of his faith, should be warned by the Church that he is “skating on thin ice”. He may wake up one day in hell to eternal damnation!

    No faith—>no salvation—>no eternal life

    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

  3. Greetings.
    You listed 29 verses to prove that faith is needed to be saved and I accept them all, but you have failed to list even one verse that states that we are saved by faith alone.
    You then try to explain away the many examples of baptism being part of the plan of salvation. You even state that the Bible only once commands us to be baptized (Acts 2:38) and your response is that we “should”? How about if the Bible commands, we “must”. 1st Peter 3 states that baptism is an answer of a good conscience and without that answer we are lost. Remember, God said that we are to knock and the door will be opened, seek and we will find, so I say to you that just standing at the door and having faith that it will open is foolishness. Seekers are to follow the Bible, even if it does not agree with our views and sensibilities. I hope that you will see that “faith alone” may sound good to this generation but the Bible is full of examples of people “doing” the works of God and being rewarded

  4. Greetings.
    You state that Jesus meant a physical, natural and normal live birth when he told Nicodemus, a person must be “born of water”. Really? Where in the Bible, both Old and New Testament is a physical human birth ever described as “born of water”, or even present day or in the past of human history has that term been used for a physical birth. Did Jesus just decide to invent a new way of stating human birth or is he stating the more obvious, “baptism”. This is just another example of not wanting baptism to be part of the plan of salvation and refusing to accept the Word of God at face value. I know that those of the “Faith Alone” belief want to explain away anything other than faith, but Jesus was talking about baptism not a natural human birth. Nicodemus was confused, he did not know what born again meant so Jesus simply told him to be baptized (born of water) and be filled with the Holy Spirit”. Jesus would not have said you must first be born of a woman, of course not.

  5. Greetings.
    You mention that the thief on the cross was not baptized, how do you know that? I am sure you know that John the Baptist and his followers baptized many people and during the three years of Jesus’s mission the apostles baptized many. John’s baptism was one of repentance for (eis not dia) the remission of sin, it is possible that the thief was one of the many who believed. I can not prove or disprove it either way, it is an assumption both ways. Besides the promise that was made by Jesus to the thief was meant for him only, we can not claim a promise between two people. The promise we can hold on to is Acts 2:38 because it was given out to the public and I quote “this promise is to you and your children and to those IN A FAR LAND”. The promise is clear, repent and be baptized so that you will have your sins forgiven and get the Holy Spirit. You should repent and be baptized to get the promise not to publically proclaim that you have already gotten the promise.

  6. I must say, for as many scriptures as one can find debate within, those involving baptism seem to get the most attention. Seemingly, rediculous! For years, I have spent numerous hours studying trying to decide whether “water baptism” was necessary for salvation,due to marrying someone who had been raised within a “Church of Christ.” As a result, I have concluded that “the Enemy” will use debatable issues to take our eyes off of the “truth” of our mission as Christians. This will never be a winnable debate. Simply, a distraction of our goal, as Christians. You believe the way you were taught to believe by someone sharing the Gospel with you. Can someone change your mind? No, not someone, YOU, have to concede or reject what is being taught. Does it sound logical, after hearing these great debates that God would make something left to interpretation, be a means, by which one is saved? Critical Thinking Skills necessary! It will ultimately be between you and God! For I am called to LOVE!

    1. Greetings.
      After reading your comments, I must ask “So what is important enough to debate?” If baptism is not, what is? Paul clearly states “bearing one another in love, we should endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Eph 4: 4-6). Paul puts baptism on the same list as faith, God (Father), Spirit, body (church) , Lord (Jesus). There are those of the “trust only” sect that will boldly claim that baptism is a option, and not an issue of salvation, yet how can Paul make such a powerful statement? Baptism cannot be a simple ritual done by people already saved. Baptism for the remission of sins is important, clearly taught and is not debatable. Those who refuse to accept this have hardened their hearts to the truth and are leading many to their doom. They will label baptism a work and not an answer to God’s message.

      1. Is the one shared baptism a baptism of water or a baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire and John the Baptist had prophesied? John the Baptist did not see these two baptisms as the same thing. There is a baptism of water. There is a baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. I think it is the later that is the mark of the King and His kingdom and submit that most likely it is this baptism that Paul is referencing when he speaks of one baptism. I cannot imagine that Paul would go back to the lesser baptism of water when the King has come and is now baptizing believers with the Holy Spirit.

        1. Greetings.
          You are fighting the obvious. It is the same baptism that Lydia, the Philippian jailer, the Ethiopian official, Cornelius, the 3000 in Acts2:41, those in Ephesus in Acts 19:5, Crispus and the Corinthians in Acts 18:8, Jesus Christ and the author of the verse himself, Paul. WATER, of course. It is the SAME baptism that Peter commanded in Acts 2:38 and Jesus proclaimed in Mark 16:16. It is the same baptism that you already knew before you wrote your reply. It is the same baptism that you were baptized with, WATER. What are you trying to say, that Paul was wrong and there are really two baptisms or that water baptism is no longer valid because it is the “lesser”? You have these odd answers because you accept general verses like John 3:16 as definitive and verses like Acts 2:38 as poor translations. You are on the wrong side of this most important issue and I fear, like many others of the “trust alone” sect, can not open your minds to these clear scriptures. Open your eyes.

          1. Do you not accept that there is a baptism by the Spirit of God that places us into the body of Christ? Paul is not using “one baptism” in the sense that there was only one baptism. Paul in fact rebaptized some at Ephesus because they had been baptized in the baptism of repentance (Acts 19:3-5). There are more than one baptism in Scripture, as Hebrews 6:2 tells us and Paul knew. John the Baptist promised that the coming King would baptize with the Holy Spirit in contrast to water baptism. Jesus Himself told His disciples that they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days later (Acts 1:5). He was not speaking of water baptism, but in the context He was speaking of the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. Paul picks up this same idea and applies it to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 12:13 where he says that they were all baptized in one Spirit into one body. I am only suggesting that when we consider what one unifying baptism Paul has in mind in Ephesians 4:5, that a more likely candidate is the baptism in the Spirit that John prophesied Christ would do.

      2. If Baptism saves us, then did it become part of salvation after Jesus declared, “it is finished’? Does it require a mediator between Jesus and us? Without a man performing a baptism would we not be saved? You cannot add to the atonement. One lord one faith and one baptism, is the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I am all for baptism and I baptize in the Name of Jesus Christ which is totally symbolic of the ONE BAPTISM of the Holy Ghost. Why do we not wear a baptismal around our neck on a gold chain? why not replace the cross in our church for a baptismal tank that hangs on the wall as a reminder of the great work and sacrifice of the guy who baptized us?

  7. Greetings.
    To answer your question, of course there is a baptism that places us in the body of Christ. Read my post, Acts 2:41 is all about those after WATER baptism being added to the church. You are trying very hard to not see the obvious. Water baptism for the remission of sins is the baptism of Christians today. You are simply trying to cloud the issue with talk of the baptism of the tongues of fire or the baptism of Jesus with the Holy Spirit coming down like a dove. None of your examples apply to any of us today. I have seen hundreds of baptisms in my life and none of them appeared any different then the others. They were all a request to God of a clear conscience. You need to rethink your acceptance of the “trust only” theology, it is based on the belief that verses like John 3:16 are definitive which they are not.
    Read Proverbs 22:6 and ask yourself would you tell a parent that this verse is definitive? Of course not, it is a general statement and should be seen as such.

  8. Many like yourself teach that to be born of water is the natural birth.However,Jesus did not say,”Except a Baby be born of water and a man be born of the Spirit”.Jesus said”Except a man be born of water and of the spirit,he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”.People like yourself who teach that being born of water is being born into the world (a natural birth) are incorrect. Thank-you.

  9. Peter, with the authority of an apostle, “commanded” Cornelius and his household “to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48). In fact, New Testament preachers took the command of Jesus about baptizing converts so literally that they almost invariably baptized the converts the same day they professed faith in Christ, often the same hour. Paul and Silas baptized the Philippian jailer and his family “the same hour of the night,” even though it was past midnight when they were converted! Our modern custom of waiting until once a year, or at best until the close of a revival meeting to baptize people, is unscriptural and must displease the Saviour. People ought to be baptized as soon as possible after they are converted. Baptism is important

  10. In your rendering of John 3:5-6, you say that Jesus made physical birth a requirement for entrance into the Kingdom of God. Such is not only a misinterpretation, but also a doctrine which condemns the most innocent members of the human race to a Devil’s Hell. Consider the multiplied millions of unborn children aborted over the years; killed before ever leaving womb. They have not been “born of water” as you take the phrase to mean, therefore they cannot enter the kingdom. Perhaps your interpretation could be altered to mean “conceived” rather than “born” but this would only make Jesus’ statement nonsensical. Why would Jesus have to clarify that one must first exist in order to be saved? Or why would a non-existent person need saving anyway?

    But not only this, you say that the context is pointing to physical birth when Jesus say’s “born of water.” Why then do you say that “Jesus isn’t talking about physical rebirth, He’s talking about spiritual rebirth.”? Jesus says that you must be born again (spiritual birth). Nicodemus asks how one can enter again into his mother’s womb (physical birth). Jesus must then clarify what the second (spiritual) birth is. What is the second (spiritual) birth? Water and spirit. The very thing that Jesus is talking about is the second birth (spiritual), not the first one (physical).

    I wish more could be said, but these comments must be short and I don’t want to spam. Baptism in water is in order to obtain remission of sin. I Peter 3:21 is clear

    1. Aaron,

      I think Tim’s view can make space for unborn babies. If he were here, I suspect he would point out that Jesus is responding to Nicodemus’s reference to physical rebirth as a means to enter the Kingdom of God (3:4). Jesus’ correction is that the second birth is not another physical birth (“born of water”) but a spiritual birth (“born of spirit”) (3:5).

      For my part, I actually think there is a better view than seeing this as water baptism or physical birth. I think Jesus says “born of water and of spirit” because he is referencing Ezekiel 36:25-27. Check it out:

      “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will be careful to observe my ordinances.”

      This is a reference to the New Covenant that Jesus would inaugurate, something that Nicodemus should have known and taught others about (3:10)! Jesus was telling him that entrance into the Kingdom of God could only come through cleansing from sin (“born of water”) and a new spirit/Spirit (“born of Spirit).




    Max Lucado
    T.D. Jakes
    John MacArthur
    Charles Stanley
    Billy Graham
    Joel Osteen
    Rick Warren
    Jimmy Swaggart
    Chuck Colson
    Charles Swindoll
    Jerry Falwell
    Joyce Meyer
    And all “Faith Only” preachers.


    The Apostle Peter
    The Apostle Andrew
    The Apostle James the son of Zebedee
    The Apostle John
    The Apostle Philip
    The Apostle Bartholomew
    The Apostle Thomas
    The Apostle Matthew
    The Apostle James son of Alphaeus
    The Apostle Simon the Zealot
    The Apostle Thaddaeus
    The Apostle Matthias

    Acts 2:37-38 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren,what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    All twelve apostles believed water baptism was essential to the forgiveness of sins.

    Ananias believed water baptism was essential to be saved.

    Acts 22:1-16…..10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me , ‘Get up and go on to Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do’……..12 “A certain Ananias …..16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized,and wash away your sins, calling on His name.

    Ananias, a spokesman for Jesus, told Saul to be baptized to wash away his sins.

    The Apostle Paul believed water baptism was essential for the forgiveness of sins.

    Colossians 2:12-13 having been buried with Him in baptism, ……13 ….He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,


    Jesus, the Son of God, believes water baptism precedes salvation.

    Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; ……..

    Shall be saved does not mean already has been saved.


    If you are looking for answers about faith and practice of Christianity under the New Covenant, should you look to Ananias, the apostles, and Jesus or should your spiritual guidance come from men who deny that water baptism is essential to forgiveness from sin? Do you really want to follow the teaching of men who say you can be saved before you are baptized in water? THERE ARE NO DRY-CLEANED CHRISTIANS!

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

  12. Matt 3:13-17 Then came Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of You, and come You to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becomes us to fulfill all Righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when He was baptized went up straightway out of the water and lo, the Heavens were opened unto Him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him. And lo a Voice from Heaven, saying, This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. IF JESUS WAS WATER BAPTIZED, THEN ALL THAT SAY THEY FOLLOW HIM SHOULD BE WATER BAPTIZED!!! 1Peter 3:21 says water baptism gives us a good conscience towards God.

  13. Replying to Janice
    You say, water baptism give us a good conscience towards God, must mean, if we are not baptized we cannot have a good conscience toward God. Then base only on that thought, if we don’t have a good conscience, then we can never lived with God. This makes baptism a “must” not a should, if we want to live with God, which mean we cannot live with God if we are not baptized because we are in sin. So, the circle is complete when we are baptized. Now the apostles were right all along. WE must be baptized for the forgiveness of sin, so we can live with God.

  14. There is so much obviously wrong with the theology of this article. For good reason James warns, “Let not many of you become teachers.” If the “for” in Acts 2:38 means because of, then it would also teach salvation apart from repentance. And why does not one of the 50+ translations of the Bible have it translated that way? The thief’s request on the cross happened before the resurrection, therefore before Christian baptism was ever even commanded. You must agree with abortionist or believe unborn babies go to hell is you thinknow Jesus taught being born out of the womb is a prerequisite of salvation. Either unborn children never exist or go to hell if that’s what Christ was teaching. I could go on for hours pointing out the gaping…

  15. Paul had others do most of the baptizing of new converts, but clearly from the scripture you referenced made sure they were all baptized. The scripture in Peter about Noah and “baptism which now saves us,” says that Noah being saved through water was the symbol of the real thing which is Christian baptism. It absolutely doesn’t teach baptism is the symbol. Exact opposite. Etc, etc, etc

    My real question is, why would a follower of Jesus go to such great lengths to prove to others why they don’t need to do something that Jesus clearly commanded them to do, the Apostles clearly commanded them to do, and the people in every example in the Bible of Christian conversion clearly did? Strikes me as extremely odd, My Friend.

    1. Travis,

      Sorry that Tim is not longer with us to answer your question himself, but speaking for myself, I would tell you that we are not trying to discourage any professing Christian from being baptized. On the contrary, we believe that baptism is something that every believer should do in obedience our Lord. The difference is that we don’t believe that baptism is necessary for salvation, as you know.

      Thanks for sharing your view.


  16. Every encounter we have of Salvation in the New Testament is accompanied by Baptism except the Thief on the cross. Remember he died before or slightly after Jesus and Jesus had yet to rise from the dead. Baptism is a representation of this event. Prior to this event a different standard existed.

  17. Copied rom this article-
    “I’ve just listed a plethora of verses that tell us that we are saved if we believe, and are condemned if we don’t. This should help the questioner get a better idea of the context of Scripture regarding baptism, and, for that matter, what one needs to do for salvation (hint: believe). ”

    Copied from James 2:19
    19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

    Both things can’t be true. One came from the Bible and one from a man. Choose wisely.

  18. “What drives your choice of translation? For me, it is the larger context of Scripture.” Well, that is a good standard to go by. But if one were to apply this rule properly, then Acts 2:38 should be correctly interpreted as “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” and not “because of the remission of sins.” In a parallel passage in Matthew 26:28, Jesus said “For this is My blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (NKJ) Now, did Jesus shed his blood “for” the remission of sins or “because of” the remission of sins? I think we know the answer.
    As for Mark 16:16, the old “it-does-not-say-he-who-is-not-baptized-will-be-condemned” line is used. The explanation for this is simple: baptism is not mentioned in the second clause because it is unnecessary to mention it. Why? Because belief is a prerequisite for baptism, and if one doesn’t believe in the first place, then neither can he be baptized. This truth is born out in Acts 8:36-7: “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’” (NKJ) The rest is history.
    Concerning the passage of John 3, it appears the author is just as confused as to the nature of being “born again” as Nicodemus was. Of course being “born of water” is talking about baptism, not physical birth. Being “born of water” is stated as a prerequisite to entering the kingdom of God in conjunction with “being born of the Spirit.” There are other passages in the Bible which state the connection between baptism and the work of the Holy Spirit, including the aforementioned Acts 2:38 as well as Titus 3:5: “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” – an obvious allusion to baptism.
    You can use as many semantics as you like in order to twist and turn the scriptures, but that doesn’t change the meaning of God’s Word.

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