Response to: Isn't baptism required for salvation?

Hello Ralph.

I recently read your article entitled "Isn't baptism required for salvation?", and I just had a couple of passages I'd like to run by you. I think your article is a good one, and you make some good points, however I believe that baptism is required for salvation, and I would like to tell you how I came to that conclusion.

I believed for most of my life that all a person needed to do for salvation was believe in Christ, as you described early on in your article. I was raised by parents who taught me this, and I was raised in a church that taught this. I tell you this just to let you know that it took quite a bit of Bible studying to change my mind. I spent about 3 years really thinking it over, and studying every passage I could find that dealt with the subject of baptism. I had to look at the Bible with an open mind. I put aside any ideas I had before hand and really looked at what the Bible was saying. I didn't want to make up my mind first, and then try to force scripture to fit my idea. I wanted to really know what the Bible says.

The passage that finally showed me that baptism is a requirement was Romans 6:3-11. Paul says in this passage that when we are baptized into Christ we are baptized into His death (vs. 3). We are buried with Him in baptism, and we are raised with Him to live a new life (vs. 4). If we are united with Him in His death, we will also be united with Him in ressurrection (vs. 5). Our old self is crucified with Him, and we are no longer slaves to sin, because whoever dies is free from sin (vs. 6-7). If we die with Christ, we will also live with Him (vs. 8). Death no longer has mastery over Christ (vs. 9). Christ died once for all, and now He lives for God (vs. 10). We can consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God (vs. 11).

(I obviously paraphrased these verses. I would suggest that you read them yourself to see if what I have written is right or not.)

In studying this passage, I made it a negative instead of a positive. The passage uses the phrase "when we are baptized into Christ", and then it lists all of the things we have as a result of being "baptized into Christ". When we are baptized into Christ the following things are true:

we are baptized into His death (vs. 3)
we are buried with Him (vs. 4)
we are raised with Him (vs. 4)
we are united with Him in His ressurrection (vs. 5)
our old self is crucified with Him (vs. 6)
we are no longer slaves to sin (vs. 7)
we are free from sin (vs. 7)
we will live with Him (vs. 8)
we can consider ourselves dead to sin (vs. 11)
we can consider ourselves alive to God (vs. 11)

This is the positive form of this idea. We are baptized into Christ, so we have all of these things. The negative form of the same idea would be that if we are not baptized into Christ, then we do not have these things:

we are not baptized into His death
we are not buried with Him
we are not raisee with Him
we are not united with Him in His ressurrection
our old self is not crucified with Him
we are still slaves to sin
we are not free from sin
we will not live with Him
we cannot consider ourselves dead to sin
we cannot consider ourselves alive to God

When I looked at this passage this way, I realized that if I was not baptized into Christ, I would not be saved.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and so He is God. He came to Earth as a man and lived a perfect life. He died as the sacrifice for all, so that as He said in Mark 16:16, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned". I believe that Christ's message was so important that He died rather than change it (He died in part because the Pharisees didn't like His teachings, and so they conspired to have Him crucified). If His message was this important, we should do our best to follow all of His teachings, and He Himself said that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.

I urge you to look at the Bible without letting any ideas cloud what is there.

Thank you for taking the time to read what I have written.

My response is in Green:

Thank you for your concern, but I have looked at those passages, and without the bias of any doctrine, on my own. Here is the problem, you are making an assumption; the assumption is that the baptism that Paul is speaking about is water baptism. Is it? Don't be too quick to say yes. You have to look at all of Scripture before you determine what any single passage is speaking about. First let me show you that there is more than one type of baptism:

Hebrews 6:2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. [NIV]

'Instruction about BAPTISMS'

Matthew 21:25 John's baptism--where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?"They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' [NIV]

There was John's baptism, which was for repentance.

Mark 10:38 "You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said. "Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?" [NIV]

There was the baptism that Jesus was going to go through, meaning death.

Acts 1:5 "For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." [NIV]

There is baptism with the Holy Spirit, of course we know Jesus was speaking of Pentecost, not water baptism in this passage.

Acts 8:15-16 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, [16] because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. [NIV]

"Simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus" that is significant, that is speaking of water baptism.

Ephes. 4:3-6 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. [4] There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- [5] one Lord, one faith, one baptism; [6] one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [NIV]

Yet Paul says under the direction of the Holy Spirit that there is only one baptism. Hum, what does this tell us? It tells us that we need to be careful as to what we think is being said when we talk about baptism.

1 Cor. 12:12-13 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. [13] For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. [NIV]

We were baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, again this is not speaking about water baptism.

Galatians 3:26-29 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, [27] for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. [28] There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [29] If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. [NIV]

Notice in this passage that we were baptized into Christ, not baptized in His name, which would have meant water baptism, but this passage as well as the others I showed you are speaking of the baptism that does save us and that is done by the Holy Spirit when He baptizes us into the Body of Christ following our putting our faith in Him.

Now let me ask you a question. Do you think that in eternity there will be Old Testament Saints with us? Like Elijah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc...? Of course there will be, they were believers. But how were they saved? They were saved exactly the same way we are today, by faith. If baptism is required for salvation, then these men were not saved because water baptism in the name of Jesus was not instituted until after His death, but if salvation is by faith alone, then they were saved and they were baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit just as we are today.

So when I say that baptism is not part of salvation but a sign of our faith, I am strictly speaking of water baptism, but I will agree if a person is not baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit then they are not saved. With this in mind it makes perfect sense that Paul was glad that he had not baptized many people so that they could not claim having been baptized into his name. Also it makes perfect sense when he separates preaching the gospel from baptizing as he does when he says:

1 Cor. 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. [NIV]

If on the other hand water baptism is required then this would be a very strange statement by Paul. I would encourage you to look closer at this subject. I again thank you for your concern for my understanding, but I have looked deeply into this subject. Declaring that the act of water baptism is required for salvation is added a work to the requirement of faith alone. Either Christ did everything needed for our salvation on the cross or we are responsible for doing some work to obtain it and as Paul tells us if you work for something it is not longer a gift.



E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)

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