After over 65 years of ministry, we have developed the top 27 questions people ask us so we would like to share these questions each week for our weekly blog and share the answers as a resource for you all to use in your ministry, churches, and family.
Top ? # 4 Must I Be Water Baptized in Order to Be Saved?
Answer: No, salvation is a free gift of God apart from any human effort. Water baptism has no role in God’s present program of salvation.
The question of the function of water baptism in the plan of salvation has caused tremendous controversy in the church for centuries. It seems that no two denominations can agree upon the timing, mode, and importance of this tradition. The key to understanding the appropriate role of water baptism is in recognizing that God has worked with mankind in different ways at different points in history.
Many people will point out that the Lord Jesus Christ commanded that those who believe the gospel should be baptized (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16). Therefore it is clear that at a certain point in time water baptism for those that believed the gospel was an essential part of God’s plan. However, at other points in history, God required many different works as evidence of the faith of those that trusted Him. These included animal sacrifices, abstaining from certain foods, observing special holy days, and many other requirements. Even while on earth the Lord Jesus taught that to be worthy of his kingdom his disciples must sell all their possessions and forsake their families. These were all necessary when God was working primarily through His chosen people, the nation of Israel.
Today we are living in a time when God is dealing with all people on an equal basis, it is called the dispensation of the Grace of God, and God’s special people are called the Body of Christ. He chose one particular individual to be the messenger through whom he revealed the truth about this special program he had for mankind. That messenger was the Apostle Paul and he wrote 13 books of the New Testament which explain God’s plan for the world today. Therefore to understand God’s will for us we need to examine the writings of Paul.
In 1 Corinthians 1:17, Paul describes that although he baptized some people it was not many, and he was glad about that. Furthermore, he goes on to say that “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel.” This is very different from the command that the Lord gave to his other apostles since they were specifically told they were to baptize all that believed.
Paul teaches about baptism, not about water baptism, but rather a baptism performed by the Holy Spirit. (The Bible speaks of more than a dozen different kinds of baptisms, which means an immersion – either literal or figurative) He tells us in Ephesians 4:5 that there is “one baptism” and in 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul describes that as a baptism of the Holy Spirit which places believers into the Body of Christ.
We can therefore see that water baptism is not a necessary part of God’s program for believers during the current age of the Body of Christ as it was in previous programs when God dealt differently with people.
Please read the following verses: Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:25-27; Colossians 2:9-12
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God bless you
Pastor Dwight Anderson