necessary for salvation?
Is it necessary for assurance
Have I contradicted myself? Not at all.
Let's look at what the Bible
Jesus told us to baptize.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them
to obey everything I have commanded you.
Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is
baptized will be saved, but
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
In every case recorded in the Bible of a
person responding to the Gospel, the person was baptized.
…For the forgiveness of your sins
Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you
will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
…All who accepted
Acts 2:41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three
thousand were added to their number that day.
…When they believed
Acts 8:12 But when they believed
Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of
Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
…Simon believed and was baptized
Acts 8:13 Simon
himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere,
astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
…Even though the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon them
Acts 8:16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon
any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.
…“Why shouldn't I be baptized?
Acts 8:36-38 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to
some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" (37 omitted in NIV) 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot.
Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized
…He got up and was baptized
Acts 9:18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's
eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized
…Immediately sought even after receiving
the power of the Holy Spirit
"Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They
have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."
…She responded and got baptized
Acts 16:14-15 14 One of those listening was a woman named
Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper
of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. 15 When she
and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home.
"If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and
stay at my house." And she persuaded us.
…Immediately he and his family got baptized
Acts 16:33 At that hour of the night the jailer took
them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were
…Those who believed got baptized
Acts 18:8 Crispus, the synagogue
ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the
Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.
…When they heard of Jesus' baptism they
got baptized again!
Acts 19:3-5 3 So Paul asked,
"Then what baptism did you receive?"
"John's baptism," they replied.4 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." 5 On hearing this, they were
baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.
…What are you waiting for? Wash your sins away!
Acts 22:16 And now what are you
waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins
away, calling on his name.'
Baptism is the immediate and logical
conclusion to preaching “Jesus.”
Acts 8:35-36 35 Then Philip began with
that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came
to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't
I be baptized?"
Acts 16:32 Then they spoke the
word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour
of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he
and all his family were baptized.
Acts 8:12-13 12 But when they
believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God
and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13
Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip
everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
Acts 18:8 Crispus, the synagogue
ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the
heard him believed
and were baptized.
Even people who had already received the
Holy Spirit got baptized.
Acts 10:47 "Can anyone keep these
people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit
just as we have."
These believers were in a transitional
state which was not complete until they were baptized!
The person did not rejoice until he was
Acts 8:39 When they came up out of
the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away,
and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
Acts 16:33-34 33 At that hour of the
night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and
all his family were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and
set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to
believe in God—he and his whole family.
It is how we “put on Christ.”
Gal.3:26-27 26 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.
It is the moment of our spiritual
him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of
the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the
circumcision done by Christ,12 having been buried with him in baptism
and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from
It is how we obey, as Noah did, so that
our faith can save us.
… when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being
built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and
this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of
dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you
by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
You see, it's a matter of
obedience. The same water that saved
Noah destroyed everyone who was not in the ark.
In the same way Noah could not have expected to be saved if he
had simply “believed” God but had not obeyed, we cannot lay hold of the promise
of salvation if we do not obey.
We are buried with Him and are raised
with Him in baptism.
Romans 6:3 Or don't you know that
all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his
Romans 6:4 We were therefore buried
with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ
was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may
live a new life.
They explained to Apollos the way more
adequately — beyond the baptism of John.
Acts 18:24-26 24 Meanwhile a Jew named
Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a
thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of
the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though
he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the
synagogue. When Priscilla
and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained
to him the way of God more adequately.
The default position is that all
believers were baptized.
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the
name of Paul?
From Paul's statement we can conclude it
was simply true that all Christians were baptized. It was a matter of course. Paul is not saying we're not to be
baptized. He was saying it doesn't
matter who does the baptizing.
Baptism is one of the “elementary
teachings” about Christ.
Hebrews 6:1-2 1 Therefore let us leave
the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying
again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith
in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the
laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
The writer of Hebrews is saying he wants
to go deep and that his students should already have a good grasp on these
subjects. That we are to be baptized is
an elementary teaching. (See Hebrews 5:12-14) How is it that people who call themselves
Christians have such trouble accepting this clear elementary
teaching of God?
Jesus is the savior of all who obey him.
Hebrews 5:9 and,
once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
What about people who were saved without
These are exceptions and special
cases. We shouldn't focus on exceptions, but concentrate on the teaching of Christ and
the Apostles. We shouldn't base our
faith on hoping an exception will apply to us.
Our goal should be to obey God to the best of our ability, not to see
how far we can push the limit of His mercy. God will address exceptions as he
sees fit. Nevertheless, let's look at some
of the common exceptions people raise.
The “thief on the cross” (Luke 23:40-43)
is one case in particular where a person was not
baptized but was definitely “saved.”
There were some extenuating circumstances:
he was up on a cross. He couldn't act
even if he had to. This shows the mercy
of God extending to the person in his unique circumstances —to the point of his
ability to obey.
Christ had not yet died for anyone's sin.
You couldn't be "buried with Christ" because Christ had not
Jesus granted him special dispensation. However,
before Jesus spoke to him, the man had no assurance of salvation, or reason to
There are many cases where people who
were not baptized were probably saved or would have been saved if they had died
before they eventually were baptized.
For example: Apollos, as we saw above, in Acts chapter 18 starting at
verse 24, had been traveling around the region preaching Christ, but with an
incomplete gospel that probably originated from before Christ's crucifixion, or
at least from before the day of Pentecost.
If Apollos had died before he met Acquila and Prisca, I believe he would have been
saved. However, if he had refused to
accept the corrective teaching of Acquila and Prisca,
I believe his salvation would have been in question. The same is true for the
disciples Paul met at Ephesus, in Acts chapter 19 (see p.3).
In Acts Chapter 16, the jailer washed
Paul and Silas' stripes before he was baptized.
If he had died during that time, I believe he would have been
saved. The same would be true of any
such case today. I believe God's justice
and mercy is such that He grants salvation based on faith according to the
extent of one's knowledge and ability — as long as our
actions demonstrate our faith in obedience.
But do I know they were saved?
No, I do not, and neither does anyone
else. Were they assured of salvation
before they were baptized, according to the scriptures? No they were not —
according to the scriptures!
Baptism is a prescribed outward act that
marks, for the person and all who are in that person's presence, a moment of
change. It secures for that person a
reference point of assurance — a beginning.
If we are not willing to do this simple act of obedience, how
will we ever be willing to do more? If
we deny our Lord's authority over our lives in this, have we really accepted
his Lordship at all?
It doesn't stop there…
Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription:
"The Lord knows those who are his," and,
"Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from
for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
So, even if we are baptized, we have the
responsibility of pursuing righteousness and holiness. I do not believe God looks upon us favorably
if we do not.
…What are you
Copyright © Stephen
M. Golden, Mar. 4, 2004
Modified Date: March 17, 2023