Last updated on November 30th, 2019
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.” Is water baptism essential to be born again? Perhaps no one can argue it’s been quite a fiery discussion in the comment section of my post, “Is Baptism Nescessary For Salvation? Yes! Please do it!”.
With over a 100 comments, there have been many agreements and differences. Some And a few who can’t have a dialogue on a subject without belittling, condemning, and resorting to personal attacks. But I try to do my best to still be respectful to everyone. 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. In the midst of all these comments I’ve reflected on a few common themes in the differences expressed. And I’m going to address them in this post.
Only salvation through Jesus
Many of the most common differences start like this. Because one says water baptism is a necessary part of receiving salvation; they are denying the truth that Jesus gives us the opportunity for salvation. But two things can be true at once. It’s true that water baptism is necessary for receiving salvation. And that we have the opportunity for salvation because of Jesus. If it’s not this argument, this next common theme of difference usually comes up in my comments.
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.
Commentaries also dispute this argument
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 thought, we can agree that one can’t use the latter part of a verse to disregard the first part of the verse. Perhaps a really great question to ask would be why include the word “baptized” in this verse? Or 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 is this question. 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 water baptism is essential to be born again?
I understand what the deeper is here. People want to make sure everyone has much of an opportunity as possible to be saved. 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.
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. Helping someone get one step closer to the truth.
So is water baptism essential to be born again? I think even the person who disagrees on this topic can agree with me on this one statement. I have nothing to lose in believing baptism is a necessary part of receiving salvation. Nothing to lose in acting in belief of that as truth by getting baptized. If one doesn’t need to be baptized for salvation, they’ll still be with God for eternity anyway. But on the other hand, that’s not true for the person who doesn’t believe. someone who doesn’t believe baptism is necessary and turns out to be wrong is in trouble.
If you haven’t 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.