thanks for the email and the question. Actually I do believe in water baptism. I
believe it is commanded in God's word that believers in Jesus Christ should be
baptised. But I do not believe as you do that this is a definite requirement
for salvation. I believe it is an outward symbol of an inward reality.
I believe that it is very important on topics such as this to weight what the
Bible teaches concerning salvation as a whole. If Acts 2:38 (and a couple of
other verses) were all we had then possibly I would teach like you probably do
that the forgiveness of sins is by repentance and baptism. But obviously this is
only one of hundreds of verses on the topic and I believe that it is quite clear
when the weight of scripture is viewed that salvation comes by grace through
faith to those that believe and that water baptism is not a means of salvation.
While I won't go into each point in much detail (and I have a feeling that if
this is an important topic for you that you would have heard these points before
anyway), here are some of the verses and thoughts that form the basis of my
belief that it is not essential to be baptised to be saved. This is what I
believe the Bible teaches...
Firstly, we have clear incidents of people in the Bible being 'saved' without
being baptised. The thief on the cross was granted salvation without ever being
baptised. Now you may say that he couldn't be baptised as he was dying on a
cross so God must have made an exception. But does God bend the rules concerning
salvation? We have other accounts of people being saved without being baptised.
I am thinking specifically of Acts 10:40-48 where people listening to Peter
preach obviously believed his message and were saved for they received the Holy
Spirit and spoke in tongues. Upon recognising that they had already received the
Holy Spirit Peter then said they should be baptised. Clearly, baptism FOLLOWS
salvation - they received the Holy Spirit by believing the message (which is
what the weight of scripture consistently teaches). This verse alone shows the
fallacy of thinking that a person CANNOT be saved if they have not been baptised. The
Bible in fact speaks of many others who had their sins forgiven WITHOUT any
baptism such as the penitent woman (Luke 7:37-50), the paralytic man (Matthew
9:2), and the publican (Luke 18:13-14).
The weight of evidence is that
salvation is by faith, not outward works. For example, here are a list of
scriptures (there are obviously far more) that show salvation to those that
believe... John 3:15-18, John 3:36, John 6:47, John 11:25-26, Acts 10:43, Acts
13:39, Rom 1:16, Rom 10:9-13, Gal 2:16, Eph 2:8, 1 Thes 4:14, 1 Tim 1:16, 1 Pet
2:6, 1 John 5:1 etc.
Clearly there are far more verses that
teach that salvation is through believing in Jesus Christ. Obviously none of
these mention water baptism. On top of this, consider the folowing:If water
baptism was an essential requirement for salvation would Paul have not said so
when the jailer asked in Acts 16:29-31?
"The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and
Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be
saved?" 31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you
and your household."
It is true that upon believing he and his household went and were then baptised
as baptism followed salvation closely but the answer is clear - salvation is
through believing. If water baptism was an essential requirement for salvation
then do you really think that Paul would say the following...
"I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so
no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the
household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone
else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not
with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1
Now, we know that the gospel is the power of salvation for anyone who believes
(Rom 1:16). And that is what God called Paul to do as he states - preach the
gospel which is the power leading to the salvation of any who believe. Now with
that in mind, WHY WOULD PAUL SAY THAT GOD DID NOT SEND ME TO BAPTISE if it is a
essential requirement for salvation? Paul clearly differentiates giving the
gospel and salvation from getting baptised. You would think that Paul was going
mad if he didn't care to do something that was essential to their salvation!
The Gospel (which is the power of salvation) is briefly defined for us in 1 Cor
15:1-4 but again there is no mention of baptism.
Now I know there are a few verses that people use to try and teach that baptism
is required for salvation. Some of these are addressed briefly in the following
site if you are interested.
Anyway, I hope that helps explain why I believe as I do (as you did ask!)
All the best,