Fountain of Grace

A Christian and Missionary Alliance Church

881 McQueen Smith Road South

Prattville, AL 36066

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Is Water Baptism Necessary For Salvation?

Part One: The Primary Issue and Verses

by Pastor Tony Butler

This topic is extremely important and must be taken with the upmost seriousness. What a person believes on this subject may impact their future eternal destiny. There are many groups within Christendom that teach water baptism is necessary for salvation. I am making a list below to help you have an idea of professing Christian churches that require water baptism for salvation:

Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Church of God, Greek Orthodox, Apostolic Churches, Most Church of Christ churches, Holiness churches, Anglicans, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Russian Orthodox, Church of God In Christ – Church of God of Holiness – Worldwide Church of God - There are many more smaller groups that teach the same doctrine.

United Methodists are a bit sketchy about so I am listing their own statement as found in the report of the Adopted UMC Baptism report of 1996:

Baptism as New Life. Baptism is the sacramental sign of new life through and in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Variously identified as regeneration, new birth, and being born again, this work of grace makes us into new spiritual creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). We die to our old nature which was dominated by sin and enter into the very life of Christ who transforms us. Baptism is the means of entry into new life in Christ (John 3:5; Titus 3:5), but new birth may not always coincide with the moment of the administration of water or the laying on of hands. Our awareness and acceptance of our redemption by Christ and new life in him may vary throughout our lives. But, in whatever way the reality of the new birth is experienced, it carries out the promises God made to us in our baptism.

There are also many groups within Christendom which do not teach that water baptism is necessary for salvation. These groups are primarily referred to as Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and Reformed. The following is a list to help you have an idea of some professing Christian churches that don't require water baptism for salvation: Christian & Missionary Alliance – Presbyterian denominations - Assembly of God - All Calvinist groups – Baptists - Evangelical Free – Calvary Chapel and all groups that believe in “Reform Theology. There are multitudes of these groups in the U.S..

What’s The Big Deal

On one hand one might think, “So what, What is the big deal about water baptism? Almost all Christians believe in baptism and practise baptism in one form or another. Why make a fuss over it?” The reason why it is a big deal is because people who emphasize water baptism as a means of being saved fundamentaly change the gospel of of Jesus Christ. It insults God, diminishes the value of the blood of Jesus, and attacks Christ's finished work on the cross. Belief in such a doctrine declares to God that the death of His Son which He sent to die for the sins of the world and the blood He shed on the cross isn’t sufficient within itself to save us and is the means by which Christians are initially cleansed/forgiven of their sins.

Every group that teaches that salvation is faith + baptism = salvation always include other necessary steps that are needed to stay saved; such as keeping Christ’s commandments. (There are over 1400 in the N.T. - Good luck!) Professing Christians that adhere to such teachings have no assurance of salvation. They believe at any time they can lose their salvation if they fail to live according to God's standards. They live in fear that they could die without being able to confess their sins for forgiveness and go to hell.

For Roman Catholics, their only hope is to have a priest handy to absolve them of their mortal sins (unless they are wearing a "Brown Scapula" when they die - see under "Pastor Tony's Corner - apologetics - Roman catholicism - Assurance of salvation in the Catholic Church). For the rest of the Roman catholics who have only committed "venial sins", they have to go to purgatory and burn in flame for unknown periods of time until they have been properly punished for their sins. Faith in Christ isn't enough to get them directly to heaven when they die according to Roman catholic dogma. Their time in purgatory is completely determined by how many sins they have committed, how bad they were, and how faithful they had been in life.

Almost all the groups listed above that teach baptism is necessary to be saved, also teach that baptism must be administered by their own denomination with a particular confession. For instance, in the Church of Christ anyone who had been baptized previously in a Baptist Church would have to be re-baptized and declare that they are being re-baptized specifically for the remission of sins. According to some of the groups above, baptism must be done according to their mode of baptism otherwise the person will go to hell.

On the other hand, to emphasize grace and genuine faith in Christ alone in order to be saved declares the sufficiency of Christ’s finished work on the cross as the means of forgiveness. It glorifies God and places the value on Christ’s blood and not in baptismal water. It declares to God that the blood of His Son was the only provision for the forgiveness of the sins of the world forever. Faith in Christ's death, burial, and resurrection alone justifies the believer before God (Rom.5:1). True believers should understand that any act of obedience on their part is done because they are already saved and never to get saved. There is no amount of human obedience that could result in the justification/righteousness of the believer apart from faith. True Faith in Christ (Jn. 2:23-24) brings assurance to the believer that he/she is saved now and can have full assurance that he/she will go to heaven when he dies (I Jn. 5:13).

It is important for a Christians to know the foundational verses that false teachers use out of context to make their deceptive arguements concerning the necessity of water baptism for salvation. I am listing them for you below:

Verses Frequently Used To Prove That Water Baptism Is Necessary For Salvation

The following verses are pretty much all the verses that are used by groups that believe one has to be baptized to be saved. They are very limited in scope and are cherry picked as pre-texts for this false teaching.

Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, 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.

Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mar 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? V. 38 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

Act 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord

Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 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. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

I Pet. 3:20-22 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save (sozo) 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: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ

Col 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Verses Frequently Used To Prove That Baptism Isn’t Necessary For Salvation

The following are some of the verses generally used to prove that water baptism is not the means of forgiveness of sins. There are literally hundreds of scriptures in the N.T. that can be used to show that true salvation is accomplished through faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross by the shedding of His blood. Many other supporting scriptures will be used later but for now it is important that you be familiar with these I have listed in "part one" of this paper.

John 3:16 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.

Acts 2:21 And it shall be that everyone who shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

Romans 10:12-14 For there is no difference both of Jew and of Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call on Him. (13) For everyone, "whoever shall call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (14) How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without preaching?

Acts 10:39-41 And we are witnesses of all things which He did, both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed Him and hanged Him on a tree; (40) but God raised Him up the third day and showed Him openly, (41) not to all the people, but to witnesses hand-picked before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. Acts 10:42-43 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. (43) To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins….(while Peter is still preaching Cornelius receives the Holy Spirit)

Acts 10:44-47 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those hearing the Word. (45) And those of the circumcision, who believed (as many as came with Peter), were astonished because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles also. (46) For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, (47) Can anyone forbid water that these, who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we, should not be baptized? (Peter speaking about Cornilius in Acts 11)

Acts 11:13-16 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; (14) Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. (15) And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. (16) Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

Acts 16:30-31 And leading them outside, he said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (31) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, and your household.

1 Corinthians 1:17-18 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel; not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. (18) For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those being lost, but to us being saved, it is the power of God.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.

I Pet. 3:20-22 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save (sozo) 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: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

What Can Wash Away My Sins? Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus!

The blood of Jesus is payment for all sin, for all time, for all people, even for those who had already died in the past, from Adam on. However, it is only applied to the lives of those who had believed properly under the Old Covenant and those who have believed properly in Jesus under the New Covenant. Water baptism doesn’t cause any removal of sin. See if you can find a hint of water in the following verses:

(Romans 3:25 – “whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness through the passing by of the sins that had taken place before, in the forbearance of God;

Hebrews 9:15 - “And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new covenant, so that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, those who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

1 John 2:12 – “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.”

Ephesians 1:7 – “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace,”

Hebrews 10:12 – “but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God …

Matthew 26:28 – “for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

Acts 13:38-39 – “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.”+

Hebrews 8:12 - “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more

Hebrews 9:26b – “… but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself

Hebrews 9:12 – “and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9:22 – “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness

Hebrews 10:18 – “Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin” (not even prayers)

1 John 3:5 – “And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.”

“And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

Revelation 1:5 – “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood… Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book and to open its seals, for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation.

Notice, all the verses above are in the past tense. Forgiveness isn’t something God will do; it is something He has already done in the life of the believer.

Go to Part Two: John 3:5

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