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Discussion Forum : General Topics : Water baptism essential to salvation.

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Joined: 2006/11/13
Posts: 121

 Water baptism essential to salvation.

I am having an issue with a Christ loving gentleman that believes you aren't saved until you are baptized in water. I won't at this time post all of his arguments. I have debated a good deal with him on the issue. Water baptism is an act of faith and a good witness but you can be saved without it. Such as the man on the cross and such.

I must say he has lots and lots of scriptures upon which he has built his doctrine. So as much as a try to correct him I can't get through. This is a very deep and very scriptural debate.

Any help or advice on scripture would be greatly appreciated. This man has a great heart for God but is not seeing the truth on this point. I would especially desire a spirit led reproof if the Lord speaks to you on this. Please share.

This man understanding this point is very important for this man to be in one accord with the rest of our church.

Thank you God bless.

Matt Chenier

 2007/10/10 2:29Profile

Joined: 2007/1/30
Posts: 926

 Re: Water baptism essential to salvation.

This is a round-about, lengthy response. The link at the bottom is really good, too.

Romans 4:14 states that Abraham "received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also."

Circumcision was given as an outward sign of an inward, sovereign act of God; the cutting-off the old man and the giving of faith. Inward circumcision was and is only possible through election and regeneration. Though circumcision of the body did not guarantee circumcision of the heart, God never-the-less commanded Abraham to circumcise all who were in his household, including infants and children too young to understand what was being done to them. Consider it again: Children that had made no commitment to Abraham's God were given the external "seal of righteousness of faith" while they were "yet uncircumcised" in heart and without faith.

Unavoidably, some of those who were circumcised in the flesh by Abraham and his descendants were reprobates. For some reason, God commanded the elect and non-elect together to be circumcised into a community who had that sign in common. Why? This sign of circumcision, to my estimation, functioned in several ways to help the society of Israel. First, the sign of circumcision established a certain visible "boundary" of Israel, within which the true and invisible Israel was generally contained. This allowed the institution of laws necessitating faith to be more freely given to all people in that group. I can explain that more fully, but will move on.

More importantly, through circumcision a man received a promise from his youngest years that God imputes righteousness to all who believe, as Abraham did. Though he was born estranged from God by sin, in another sense he had upon him a promise - that Abraham, his father by blood, might also be his father in faith if God should grant him grace to believe and be "cut off" in the heart. In this way God's visible covenant people had a gracious sign commending God's favor upon them as a group. Circumcision was a testimony to the young men that "though they be not circumcised [in heart]... righteousness might be imputed unto them also [if God should grant them repentance and faith]." As the men matured they could read the scriptures and identify whether or not they had been born again.

In what way does this differ from the practice of infant baptism, which is also given to both the elect and non-elect in order to establish the boundary of the visible church, within which is generally the invisible? I find the arguments used against infant baptism come directly against God's command of infant circumcision for the Jews. Peter writes that the baptism which saves is not the external washing of the flesh, but the inward cleansing. Therefore the command to be baptized extends primarily to regeneration, which is to be buried and raised with Christ. In this way even the thief on the cross was baptized!

This same Peter writes regarding baptism, "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. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call." Therefore I am considering that perhaps the commandment of baptism may be fully a New Testament version of Old Testament circumcision - infants may receive the external sign as a testimony of grace extended to a family, just as the "households" of Abraham, Cornelius, and the Philippian jailer were grouped together under family headship - so long as they are taught that the baptism which saves is internal and sovereignly dispensed. This enables children to grow up with an understanding that God's covenant of grace often continues from parents to children, though sometimes skipping to those "afar off", and that God's free offer of grace is made to them especially.

Dennis Johnson of Westminster Seminary described the differences between "infant dedication" and "infant baptism" in terms of what a child is told by his or her parents about the experience:

"As "infant baptist" parents look back on the day of their child's baptism, they say to her, "On that day long ago, the Lord Jesus promised to you that if you trust him he will wash away your sins and give you a heart to love and serve him by the power of his Spirit. Just as the water 'cleansed' your baby skin, so the Holy Spirit will make your heart clean if you trust in Jesus, because Jesus died for the sins of everybody who trusts in him." You can see the difference. Both sets of parents are calling their kids to respond in faith and both sets do so by teaching the Gospel about what Jesus did for us in his sacrifice on the cross, but children baptized as infants have received a sign/symbol that points directly to that gift of God's grace."

Anyways, I'm not close to decided on this point, but interested in your perceptions and insight. Did our Puritan grandfathers understand something lost by our Baptist uncles?
- Mike:.

Here's the article that prompted this... a bit lengthy, but useful if you're interested in some of the arguments and verses used by this camp, coming from someone who was on both sides.

 2007/10/10 5:11Profile

 Re: Water baptism essential to salvation.

Brother Matt,

There have been other threads on this matter, where much debate was offered. The posts by philologos and ReceivedText are most useful. These brethren have a formal training as well as personal experience of the Holy Spirit.

I recommend you also search but here's a start:



 2007/10/10 6:28


The long and the short of it is... baptism is commanded of us, but it is not what saves us. It was an outward public testimony of what has already happened within the heart.

Jesus said to the theif on the cross "This day you will be with me in paradise." Faith in Christ is what saved this man. He didnt have a chance to be baptised.


 2007/10/10 8:53

Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA


My two bits -

Just do it.

This day and many of it's constituents can reason and\or argue themselves to death over or out of such straightforward matters.

Besides, it is one of the most powerful and beautiful things there is in this world.

Mike Balog

 2007/10/10 9:24Profile

Joined: 2006/3/22
Posts: 963
Wheaton, IL

 Re: Water baptism essential to salvation.


I've run into the same people... but here's where their perfectly formed arguements from scripture break down: the criminal on the cross.

As a Baptist myself, I must of course urge you that if you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, you should follow in Baptism by immersion, that is scriptural and has been part of the Christian tradition since John the Baptist (ie. before the Cruxifiction).

Now this may be cliche... but what would Jesus do? (I can't believe I just said that). Jesus was baptised in the Jordan, if it's good enough for Him, it's good enough for me.

That being said, you won't go to hell for not being baptised, but there are certain benefits spiritually to having the expierience to draw upon in times of doubt and frustration. It is a personal and public declaration of your commitment to Jesus Christ.

Ian Smith

 2007/10/10 10:09Profile

Joined: 2007/8/22
Posts: 462

 Re: Water baptism essential to salvation.

Jesus Christ said:

Mark 16:16 He that believeth *AND is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

"AND" is a conjunction, he is joining believe and baptism-which he says that if one continues to believe and is bapzted they shall be saved.

John 3:3-5 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, F7 he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 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.

Jesus makes it plain that one cannot be born again unless they are WATER AND Spirit baptized.

Regarding the thief on the cross, we must remember and acknowledge that Christ had not yet given the commandment for us to be batized until AFTER he rose from the dead, in which, the thief died before this. We must also remember that before Christ ascended into Heaven, he descended into the heart of the earth (hell)FIRST.

 2007/10/10 11:41Profile


Jesus makes it plain that one cannot be born again unless they are WATER AND Spirit baptized.

Read Acts chapter 10, I didn't know God was in the business of regenerating men through the indwelling Holy Spirit when they are not as you put it "born again". The Holy Spirit came upon the believers and they praised God before they were water baptized...


Regarding the thief on the cross, we must remember and acknowledge that Christ had not yet given the commandment for us to be batized until AFTER he rose from the dead, in which, the thief died before this.

Jesus and His disciples had been baptizing throughout His ministry. The theif on the cross was saved the same way that EVERYONE from Abraham to you and I are, by faith, not by outward washing.

Jesus is the resurrection and then the life, doctrines and doctrinal rules are not. He who has Jesus has life, he who does not have Jesus does not have life but the wrath of God abides on him. My salvation is through faith in Jesus alone and because faith without works is dead I can not help but obey the comamnds of my glorious master.

To sum it up

As Mike said, just do it... it is a command, though if you are on your way to get baptized and are killed along the road your salvation did not rest on it as some religous ways of thinking would have us believe. Jesus is life.

In Christ - Jim

 2007/10/10 12:19


How about that... I agree w/ Jim again.


 2007/10/10 15:02


Jesus makes it plain that one cannot be born again unless they are WATER AND Spirit baptized.

Your paraphrase is wrong, thats not what scripture says. However, when it speaks of man being born of water many good commentaries by theologians who were light years beyond any of us in regards to understanding scripture seem to indicate that "born of water" refers to the actual physical birth... like when your wife tells you "my water broke!"


 2007/10/10 15:04

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