Summary: Dan Lirette of Moncton, NB, and Pastor of Revival House Fellowship, takes on the issue of whether water baptism is pre-salvation or post-salvation.
Do you need to be water baptized in order to be saved? by Dan Lirette
Water Baptism is not essential for Salvation as it’s a command to those who are already saved.
Jesus Christ’s Blood alone saves from sin and one appropriates that Blood Atonement by faith in the Cross alone as Ephesians 2:8-9 clearly state:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
1 Corinthians 1:17 “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”
Here we see that Paul specifically removes water baptism from what he calls “the Gospel”. He makes a clear and precise distinction between water baptism and Salvation. Advocates of Baptismal Regeneration have much explaining to do on this passage which is so full of spiritual meat.
Then we’re told in 1 Peter 3:21 that water baptism does not remove the filth of the flesh (ie, sin):
1 Peter 3:21 “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save 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.”
We see here that baptism does in fact save, yet not in a salvific role. Contrary to what Baptismal Regenerationists would have us believe, this passage of the Word of God states that water baptism is a “figure” which “saves” but is then clarified to state it doe snot save from the “filth of the flesh” but rather gives us the answer of a good conscience toward God.
I once baptized a Believer with a Pastor friend (who teaches water baptism is essential to Salvation) and the baptized Believer, who was clearly already saved, stated later that the guilt of a specific sin he had committed many years prior was gone, thus fulfilling 1 Peter 3:21 in his life. Praise God!
We then see the following in Acts 19 which shows that water baptism is not essential for Salvation:
Acts 19:1-6 “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.”
We see here that these were already disciples who who believed. Now Baptismal Regenerationists will twist the meaning of disciple and the word believed, yet a clear straightforward reading is all that’s required. They were disciples, meaning they followed Jesus. They were believers, meaning they believed in Jesus. Pretty clear.
Lastly, and the greatest of all passages refuting Baptismal Regeneration, is found in Acts 10:44-48 which states:
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”
In the previous verses we find the Apostle Peter preaching the Gospel as his listeners were not saved.
As he was preaching the Gospel, the Spirit of God fell on his audience and they were not only saved but also Filled with the Holy Spirit at the same time, Praise God!
Now it would be Biblically unjust and certainly inaccurate to suggest that a wicked vile lost sinner can be Filled with the Holy Spirit prior to Salvation. Regardless of how one sees the Filling, we do know that no wicked rebel can speak with genuine God-given Tongues, which comes from the innermost spirit of a man alive unto God, while that man is lost.
Yet, here we have non water baptized people speaking in Tongues from their innermost being, with Peter specifically stating: “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?”