Why Baptism is essential for Salvation:

by David Lasseter


An evaluation of Baptist doctrine in light of the Scriptures

  1. The word “and”:  It is important to consider where “and” is used as we consider baptism and salvation.  And” is a coordinating conjunction, which is a word that connects two words or word phrases of equal value (Merriam-Webster’s dictionary).  I find the cake recipe example to be very helpful when considering “and”.  When baking a cake, if the recipe says “Add sugar and eggs and water”, if we fail to add any one of the necessary ingredients the cake will not turn out as we had hoped.  I haven’t found anyone who disagrees with this statement.

  2. Baptist doctrine regarding baptism:

  1. Proper subject: A Saved Person

  2. Proper Authority: Church of the Lord Jesus Christ

  3. Proper Purpose: To Show salvation, not procure it

  4. Proper Mode: Immersion

  1. Acts 2:38:  “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.”  What Peter says:

  1. Repent

  2. And

  3. Be baptized

  4. Every one of you

  5. In the name of Jesus Christ

  6. For

  7. The remission of sins

Conclusion:  Baptism is for the remission of sins.  This is contrary to Baptist doctrine, which states that baptism is to show salvation, not to procure it (point 3 above).

  1. “Repent and be baptized”:  As we’ve seen, Baptists teach that baptism is administered to a person who is already saved.  If that’s true, baptism is not necessary for salvation.  Peter uses “and” to demonstrate the relationship between repentance and baptism.  Since “and” connects words of equal value, repentance and baptism are of equal value.  If baptism is unnecessary for salvation, repentance must also be unnecessary.  If repentance is unnecessary for salvation, I have no reason to stop sinning.  Paul condemns this position in Romans 6:1-2 when he declares, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”

  2. Mark 16:15-16:  “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”  In these two verses Jesus demonstrates the relationship between belief and baptism.  Again we see the word “and” used.  Jesus tells us that belief and baptism are of equal value in Mark 16:16.  If Baptist doctrine is correct and baptism is unnecessary for salvation, then belief in Jesus as the Son of God is also unnecessary.  Jesus condemns this doctrine in John 8:24, which states, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”  The one who does not believe in Jesus will die in their sins.  Therefore, belief in Him is absolutely essential for one to have their sins forgiven.  Since Jesus tells us that belief and baptism are of equal value in Mark 16:16, baptism must also be absolutely essential before one will receive forgiveness of sin.  If belief is unnecessary for salvation, then forgiveness of sins is also unnecessary.  If forgiveness is unnecessary, then Jesus’ death was entirely in vain.  There was no need for Him to die so that my sins might be forgiven if it is unnecessary for my sins to be forgiven in order for me to be saved.  How repulsive!!

  3. 2 Timothy 2:10:  “Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”  Here Paul tells us where salvation is found:  In Christ Jesus.

  4. Galatians 3:27:  “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”  The NIV says, “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”  I find the suit of clothes analogy useful here.  When I got out of bed this morning, my uniform was hanging on a coat hanger.  What was the relationship between my body and my uniform at that time?  I was “unto” my uniform.  My body and my uniform were in close proximity, but my body was not yet “into” my uniform.  What was required for this relationship to change?  I had to put on my uniform.  After I put it on, my body was now “into” my uniform.  Paul uses the same analogy to tell us of our relationship with Christ.  He tells me that, in order to put on Christ, I must be baptized.  Baptism is the act that moves my spiritual being from a relationship “unto” Christ to one “into” Christ.  As we read in 2 Timothy 2:10, salvation is found “in” Christ Jesus.  Therefore, one who has not been baptized has not put on Christ.  One who has not put on Christ is not “into” Christ.  Since salvation is only found “in” Christ, one must move “into” Christ in order to be saved.  The only way one moves “into” Christ is by baptism.

  5. Romans 10:10:  “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  The NIV says, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”  The NIV mistranslates the Greek word eis in this verse.  The KJV correctly translates it “unto”.  As we learned in Galatians 3:27, one must be baptized before one gets “into” Christ.  Since salvation is found only “in” Christ, one cannot be saved at the point of confession since confession does not move one from a relationship “unto” Christ to one “into” Christ.  Only baptism does this.  In addition, if the NIV is correct in Romans 10:10, there is a contradiction within the NIV.  Jesus tells us that belief and baptism are necessary for salvation (Mark 16:16, NIV).  Paul tells us that confession is sufficient for salvation (Romans 10:10, NIV).  Both cannot be right.  The relationship between confession and salvation in the KJV is correct.  Confession takes me up to the point of salvation, but not “into” salvation.  Baptism is necessary for me to clothe myself in Christ and enter “into” salvation.

I pray this review of baptism has been helpful.  By considering these verses we understand the proper relationship between belief, repentance, confession, and baptism.  Belief, repentance, confession, and baptism are all of equal value.  If I fail to do any of the four, I am not saved.  However, it is only through baptism that I enter into Christ, where salvation is found.  Is baptism therefore more important than the other three?  No.  Baptism alone will not save me.  Baptism has this power only for the one who believes in Jesus as the Son of God, has repented of their sins, and has confessed before men their belief in His status as the Son of God (as we read of the Ethiopian eunuch doing in Acts 8:36-38).  A sinner who is baptized but doesn’t believe, hasn’t repented, or hasn’t confessed comes out of the water a “wet sinner”.  In addition, Paul tells us that it is by grace that I’m saved (Ephesians 2:5 and 8).  No work will ever save me, since salvation is a gift.  In order for me to earn something, the work I perform must equal in value the “pay” I receive.  No work I do could ever equal the value of salvation.  Therefore, I will never be able to earn salvation.  However, it is entirely possible for me to fail to do some work that God has required before He will give me the gift of salvation.  Many people fall into this trap.  By failing to do everything God has commanded me to do in order to receive the gift of salvation I will find myself standing in condemnation at the Day of Judgment.  By considering these verses we see the error found in the teachings of the Baptist church.  Please feel free to ask should any further questions arise.  You may reach me at this e-mail address.


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