A Reflection on Baptism and Salvation

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Perhaps no one can argue it’s been quite a fiery discussion in the comment section of “The Necessity of Baptism for Salvation” post. With over a 100 comments, there have been many agreements, many differences, and a few who can’t have a dialogue on a subject without belittling, condemning, and resorting to personal attacks. But as I try to do my best to show everyone through my respectful responses, our words to one another should always strive to reflect the kindness of love we are called to. Otherwise what makes us any more different than the rest of the world who when faced with something that inflames them with disagreement, they seek to tear down a person rather than engage in a respectful dialogue. Nonetheless, in the midst of all these comments I’ve reflected on a few common themes in the differences expressed on my baptism post worth addressing.

Only salvation through Jesus

Many of the most common differences stem from a belief that in stating baptism is a necessary part of receiving salvation; one is denying the truth that Jesus gives us the opportunity for salvation. What I would suggest to all of my very open-minded readers, is that it’s important not to conflate two different issues. There’s the issue of who has given us the opportunity for salvation, and what causes one to receive the gift of salvation. For those of us who practice Christianity, we all agree Jesus gives us that opportunity. The focus of question in the article is not who’s responsible for one having the gift of salvation, but instead how one receives that gift, which leads to the next common theme of difference with my post.

Only receive through belief

So getting past the conflation of the first common difference, we then come to the next point of difference, that it’s only belief that saves. One can point to numerous verses showing baptism is a necessary part of one receiving salvation (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Galatians 3:27, 1 Peter 3:21, etc.) But some who think differently will do one of two things. Some will cite Romans 10:9-10 to outrank the verses showing baptism as a part of receiving salvation, which of course we don’t believe one verse over another, we believe every verse, or some will find a way to completely discredit the clear statement of the verses expressing the importance of baptism for salvation. This instance is where we arrive to our final common theme of difference.

Disbelieved shall be condemned

Mark 16:15-16 states “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” A common difference expressed discrediting baptism’s necessary role in our salvation is some will say it only states disbelief shall condemn, so therefore baptism is not necessary. It seems like a logical point at first glance, but it’s only logical if one inserts their own understanding of disbelieved merely meaning one who does not believe Jesus rose from the dead and confess Him as Lord shall be condemned. But that’s not what’s in this text, and it’s important to base our understanding on what’s in the text.

In doing so, the disbelief would more closely seem to be disbelief of the gospel to be preached, belief and baptism in order to be saved. Let’s recall what 2 Thessalonians 1:8 states, “8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” So the gospel of Lord Jesus must be obeyed to avoid retribution. Mark 16:15-16, Jesus states preach the gospel then immediately states commands to be obeyed (belief, baptism), which that appears to be the gospel to be obeyed. One other alternative thought on theses verses different from my conclusion, there are well respected commentaries that state there would be no point in reiterating not be baptized as part of what condemns, because a person who doesn’t believe is not going to be one who gets baptized. But beyond this alternative thought, we can agree that one can’t use the latter part of a verse to disregard the first part of the verse which ties the words “baptized” and “saved” together. Perhaps a really great question to ask would be why include the word “baptized” in this verse and other verses at all relating to salvation if only belief/confession were necessary? All interesting to ponder.

What are people fighting against?

One of the things I’ve found most intriguing to reflect on in all of the comments of difference with my baptism is necessary for salvation post, is figuring out what exactly people are fighting against? What is it that’s so important to push back vigorously in denouncement of this belief to make sure people don’t think they really need to go out and get their body wet? Is it really that much of a dangerous thing to believe that baptism is necessary for salvation? It would seem in in the heart cries of people’s words of difference is that they want to make sure as many people as possible can be saved, which is a very beautiful desire to have. It’s a beautiful desire that I think we all certainly have. I would suggest that we can trust God being a just God set up the perfect parameters for salvation that as many as possible will in fact get saved.

Conclusion

My only goal in all of my posts is to expand thought and knowledge to hopefully help anyone come to the best conclusion of beliefs and practices of Christian faith. Maybe I’ll be the one that helps a specific person reach to the best, or maybe someone else will. But it’s my hope that in my words that I’ve been a stepping stone in helping someone get one step closer to the truth. I’ll close with the same thing I said in my baptism post that sparked so much conversation. I think even the person who thinks differently on this topic can agree with me on this one statement. I have nothing to lose in believing baptism as a necessary part of receiving salvation, and acting in belief of that as truth by getting baptized. If one doesn’t need to be baptized for salvation, then they’ll still be with God for eternity anyway. But on the other hand, someone who believes it’s not necessary for salvation, and has not been baptized in belief of its necessity for salvation, it seems there’s only everything to lose. We all have the God-given freedom to make the choices we see are best, and it’s my sincerest hope and prayer that we will all make the best one.

Peace to all those who are in Christ.

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14 thoughts on “A Reflection on Baptism and Salvation

  1. In Luke 23:42-43 we have a violent thug asking Jesus to remember him when Jesus comes into his kingdom. Jesus tells him that on that same day, the thug will be in paradise with Jesus. The thug was saved despite the fact that he could not be baptised (he was hanging on a Roman cross). Water baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. It points to the baptism of the Holy Spirit (conversion or new birth). The reality is all that is required to be in Christ (saved), but baptism is a public associating of one’s self with the Lord Jesus. This public association is to be done if possible, but it is not necessary to salvation. Paul (1 Corinthians 1:17) subordinates water baptism to receiving the gospel from the heart.

    • Hi Don’t. Thanks for your comment. Respectfully that’s out of chronological order from when Jesus first stated the term “saved”. From the time after Jesus death and resurrection when he first stated “saved”, everyone was baptized. It’s inaccurate to state the thief was “saved” person in the context of within when the term was first stated by Jesus. He was a person granted paradise by the authority that Jesus had to forgive sins of people in front of him during his lifetime. And with regards to 1 Corinthians 1:17, I’m curious to what your thoughts are in my addressing of that verse in my post?

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

      • I’m not sure I understand the distinction that you are making. Luke 19:10 — Jesus said, referring to himself, that ‘the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost’, after having said that ‘today, salvation has come to his house.’ Earlier, Jesus said to the woman with the flow of blood (Luke 8:48), after he had healed her, that ‘your faith has saved you’. The Greek word is ‘saved’ not healed. The Greeks had perfectly good words for ‘heal’ so the use of that word ‘saved’ I think is significant. We do not know, because the bible does not tell us, whether the woman or Zacchaeus were baptised at that point. Re: 1 Corinthians 1:17, is that in this post? Kind regards.

      • Sure. Let me see if this helps. There was a point in time Jesus was resurrected, in that point in time he gave an instruction to the Apostles to preach the gospel, and commands on how one can be saved. What I’m talking about is within that context, after Jesus was resurrected, baptism is the necessary part of becoming saved. So for clarity and being specific, we’re not talking about any context before that time. That’s all irrelevant to the central point. We’re only talking about this context, of this point in time.

        Now in the context prior that you are discussing, Jesus had the power to forgive people’s sins in front of them in his lifetime (Mark 2:10). And the command which he would later give for forgiveness of sins had not been given yet. Hope this helps clarify things.

        My mistake, I address 1 Corinithians 1:17 in my necessity of baptism post. I took the liberty of just copying the main point I made on it to you here.

        “Paul in this passage was talking about divisions and wanting people to be united. He was glad that he didn’t baptize some of them so they wouldn’t proclaim they were baptized in his name, increasing those divisions. But it does not say they never got baptized, because as we’ve seen already, Paul illustrated that it is a necessity when we read Romans 6:1-4. Some people will say, well he says Christ did not send him to baptize but to preach the gospel, which is true. But question, is the whole of the preached gospel baptism? No. That’s a part of the gospel, and he’s making the point that Christ did not send him to just baptize people, but to get them to hear the Word, believe in Christ, repent of their sins, and confess Christ as Lord as well. All of these are necessary parts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which saves humanity.”

        Peace in Christ. 🙂

    • My church’s official stanc Is that salvation comes by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ. Baptism however was commanded by Jesus and baptism is the outward sign of the N-word change that has taken place in us by putting our faith in Jesus Christ and making him our Lord and Savior. So while it is not required for salvation it is definitely commanded by Jesus of believers.

      • Hi thethingswehideinside. Thank you for your comment. I hope you’ve studied the issue for yourself and not just followed what your church teaches you. Respectfully, since I don’t see the phrase “outward sign of inward change”specifically stated of baptism, but I do see the words “baptized” and “saved” together in numerous verses, I conclude scripture does teach baptism is necessary for salvation. I hope you will reconsider someday.

        Peace in Christ. 🙂

      • With no disrespect intended to you or your and family, and only just sharing my thoughts out of the kindness of my heart for everyone’s potential increased knowledge and understanding, but to be candid I think it does matter. The people who were baptized in Acts 2 were baptized with the belief in their mind that it was for salvation as Apostle Peter told them. So if one does it without that belief, I would think that baptism is not legitimate. But everyone has to make their own conclusions and be confident of what they think on these matters. I’m glad we can have a respectful dialogue even though we have a difference of conclusion. 🙂

      • Amen! And I don’t subscribe to any denomination. I just consider myself a member of the Church of Christ/Church of God identified in scripture. And you?

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