Summary: Salvation is through the blood of Jesus alone. Baptism is not essential for salvation. However, baptism is still essentia!
Is Baptism necessary for Salvation?
Expanded notes by Andrew Hoseason
29 July 2001 and 5th August 2001
for further research: Mtt 7:15-23 Heb 13:15-16 Ps 51
Brothers and sisters, today I would like to talk about Baptism and to answer the question ¡§Do I have to be immersed in water to enter eternal life and be saved in heaven?¡¨
I would like to begin today with some definitions. Salvation is often called other things. Sometimes it is called Righteousness. Sometimes, it is called "being saved". Sometimes Heaven is referred to, or eternal life, or others.
The underlying theme is one of us being released from a sentence passed against us and allowed to enter into something we previously did not have access. And the question today is, when reading the whole of scripture, what is the key to unlock this salvation?
The first thing we can say for certain is that God receives the thanks for us receiving salvation to enter eternal life in heaven. After all, every good thing comes from God!
God is necessary for Salvation!
Now consider the way in which all the other religions of the world suggest we can get to heaven.
They claim that we do it by our own actions, often called works.
For instance, Muslims claim that we get to heaven on the basis of how many good things we do or how many non-Muslims we kill. Jesus gives us an example to counter this: the prodigal son:
Having realised that he is at the lowest point in his life, the son decides to return to his father and offer to work for his position in the house. But the father pays no attention to this and receives the son into the household freely of his own choice, by his love. This is an attitude of mercy and grace toward the son who wasted every provision the father had given to him throughout his life.
Similarly all the other religions of the world do the same thing.
They attempt to influence their way to heaven by what they do. Sadly some within the Christian world try to do the same through. Through acts of penance or pilgrimage or sacrifice. And some use Immersion by water to try to do the same thing.
The logic is, that, by doing what is called for in the Biblical text, God will be impressed with us and admit us into heaven. This philosophy is popular because it gives us a sense of merit. It flatters us.
Some followers of that same Jesus in all honest sincerity believe that Baptism is necessary for salvation. It is not. I will read for you a common verse which such people use:
¡§He who believes and is baptised will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.¡¨ [NIV]
This verse is often quoted as supporting the teaching that baptism is necessary for salvation. However, a more careful analysis of the verse shows that it teaches nothing of the sort.
While the first clause says that all who both believe and are immersed in water will be saved, it does not say that all who neither believe nor are immersed will not be saved. In other words, while it does tell of a group of people who will be saved, namely, those who both believe and are baptised, only those who do not believe will not be saved. There is no condemnation of the group of those who believe but are not baptised. Thus, while the verse as a whole does teach that belief is essential to salvation, it does not teach that baptism is. Unless we wish to say that Christ was confused about Christianity.
Amongst sectarian elements of the worldwide church there is a common belief that only people who have been baptised will be saved, though the Bible does not say this.
In the study of Christianity the central doctrine is the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul understood the Gospel, the message of the saving work of Christ, to be so important that he said:
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
It is my contention that the Scriptures teach clearly that baptism is not necessary for salvation. To teach otherwise is to teach "another gospel" than that preached by Paul.
Here is another example of a scripture frequently quoted: