Select Wisdom Brand

Do I have to be baptized to be saved?

by Stephen Davey

In Mark 16:16 and John 3:5, Jesus seems to suggest that we must be baptized to be saved. Is that a correct interpretation of these passages?

The only requirement for salvation is true belief in Jesus Christ as the One who died for sin and rose victoriously over death. Since we reject a works-based salvation, but believe in sola fide—faith alone—we know that baptism is not a requirement for salvation.

Many people throughout the years have been saved on their deathbeds, with no opportunity to be baptized, but they are still saved. The sinner on the cross next to Jesus, who Jesus told would be with Him in Heaven, died before any chance to be baptized, yet Jesus pronounced him saved.

Paul clearly lays out salvation when he told the jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). He also wrote to the Romans, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

To respond directly to the references in the question, Jesus’ interaction Nicodemus in John 3, Jesus contrasts being born of water (literal birth) with being born of the Spirit (salvation). Nothing in this passage speaks of baptism, but being born of the Spirit is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when a person becomes saved, not anything to do with water baptism.

Its worth noting that the end of Mark—verses 9-20—are disputed as to whether they were written by John Mark in his Gospel, or were added later. Historians and theologians have found some early manuscripts that include these verses, and many that don’t. The ESV translation puts brackets around these verses to indicate that their inclusion in Scripture is disputed.

But even taking these words as an inerrant part of the Bible, the truth of salvation remains the same. Belief is salvation, and baptism is an important symbol of salvation that has been given to us by Christ to symbolize our regeneration with Him.

Baptism symbolizes salvation; faith in Jesus Christ is salvation.

Add a Comment


Jarrod says:
Love so many of the sermons! Thank you. I get so much out of them. I do disagree, however, about your stance on Baptism. I was a bit surprised that you used the example of the Thief in the cross. Of course Jesus has the “Authority” (Matthew 28:18) to say to anyone he chooses that “today you will be in paradise with me.” He is God in the flesh. Also, “don’t you know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been Baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” Romans 6:3-7

Even if the thief had been taken off the cross at that moment and was baptized, it would not have been to participate in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, because Jesus had not yet died, been buried or raised again from the dead. He would not have been able to participate in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. When we are Baptized, we are not performing a work…baptism is not a “work”. It doesn’t earn us our salvation. The waters of baptism symbolize the waters that flooded the earth and cleansed it from its Sin in the days of Noah (1 Peter 3:20-22). When the thousands of Jews were celebrating Pentecost in Acts 2, they heard the first gospel sermon preached by Peter…the message of Jesus cut them to the heart and they asked, “What shall we do?”? What must we do to respond to this good news? Peter answered them, “Repent and be Baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins AND you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (very important piece to all this). The promise is for your, for your offspring, for all who are far off for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” It’s really hard to argue or debate these scriptures. I know this is not a disagreement that will be settled with a comment on your comment board…I know that I will not convince whoever receives this…it just saddens me how Satan has been able to use Baptism to divide and how so many have come to the conclusion we read in your blog.

I love listening to your lessons and most sermons I get so much out of…how is it you can’t see this issue, which is SO important and so clear in the scriptures. Thanks for taking the time to read. With deep sincerity and Love. Jarrod
Jose' Hernandez says:
There was a person named Jarrod, who had made a comment, about Water Baptism. I as a Believer in Jesus Christ, I have to agree with what brother Jarrod had said. I also agree with the scriptures, that he had reference too. They were not taking out of context. If it's alright, I would like for Brother Jarrod, to get hold of me, please..
Neal Stafford says:
Seems to me you are saying baptism is optional for the Christian as you stated "baptism is not a requirement for salvation." Where in Scripture does it state this. Is this what you church teaches....baptism is optional?

This article just brings confusion to new Christians who are taught baptism is not necessary.