Depending on where you live and what culture you were raised in, this question either comes up all the time or it’s never even been touched for you. It’s an important question to address with the Bible because there are many implications both ways with the answer. So is baptism necessary for salvation?
Scripture is both clear on what baptism is and if it is indeed necessary in order to be saved.
Most arguments claiming that baptism is necessary is found from Acts 2:38, “And Peter said to them, “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 throughout the book of Acts, we see the early Church starting to form and take place after Jesus ascends into heaven. Jesus commanded His disciples to go make disciples of all nations, to baptize them, and to teach them to observe all that He command them (Matthew 28:19-20).
Baptism is demonstrated in Acts as a sign of conversion, but not the means of it. Believers decided to trust in Jesus and follow Him for the rest of their lives, and at the moment, received the Holy Spirit…meaning they were saved because of trusting in Jesus. Then after that, they were baptized (Acts 10:47).
We even have an example of a thief on a cross next to Jesus as He was crucified. The thief clearly believed in Jesus being the Son of God and Jesus replied to him saying, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). He was never baptized, but he was saved by Jesus.
On top of that, we have multiple areas in the Bible as well talking about how we are saved by faith in Jesus, not by any work we can do such as baptism (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 1:17, Acts 16:30-31).
Lastly, baptism can’t be necessary for salvation. If it was, then what was the point of Jesus? Would it be for Him to complete part 1 of salvation, and then we complete part 2? That doesn’t make sense and puts way too much emphasis on something we can do to earn our salvation. Reality is, there’s nothing we can do to earn our salvation and that can only happen through Jesus.
Why Get Baptized Then?
So if baptism is not necessary for salvation, why should we even do it then?
- It is a public demonstration and a sign that you are a follower of Christ.
- Christ commanded it before He ascended into heaven.
- It sets us apart as believers and joins us into His Church.
- It’s part of our repentance and turning away from sin by proclaiming we are now His.
When Peter referenced that people could not be saved apart from baptism (Acts 2:38), he meant that if people were to genuinely repent from their sins and trust in Jesus, then an evidence of that would be their baptism.
If someone is a follower of Christ, it’s really a matter of why would you not get baptized? There’s no reason not to outside of fears or rejections that someone could face, but we must be reminded of the rejections that Jesus faced on our behalf. He went through much more pain and rejection than we ever will and is worthy of our praise and obedience to Him through baptism.
When we get baptized, it symbolizes that we are a follower of Christ. When the water rushes over us, it symbolizes Jesus’ blood shed on our behalf to pay the penalty for our sins. We are cleansed and made new because of Jesus as we rise out of the water. We get baptized as followers of Christ out of a joyful obedience for what He has done for us on the cross.
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” – Galatians 3:26-27
Here are other Frequently Asked Questions and how the Bible answers them.