Must You be Baptized to be Saved?
A truth-based answer to this question is absolutely critical (John 14:6). We must answer accurately and according to the Holy Bible - Sola Scriptura! So who is teaching corrupt doctrine? Someone is right and someone is wrong. But are those corrupting Scripture preaching what GOD calls “another gospel?”
Sola Scriptura ~ "by Scripture alone" ~ is the doctrine that the Holy Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands only those doctrines to be admitted or confessed that are found directly from Scripture. However, sola scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written Word of GOD. Sola scriptura was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation and is a formal principle of Bible-based Protestantism today (see Five solas of Reformation below).
1. Sola Scriptura ~ "by Scripture alone" (2 Timothy 3:16-17): Sola Scriptura is the teaching that the Holy Bible is the only inspired and authoritative word of GOD, is the only source for Christian doctrine, and is accessible to all—that is, it is self-interpreting. That the Bible requires no interpretation outside of itself is in direct opposition to the teachings of the traditions like Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglo-Catholic, and Roman Catholicism.
2. Sola Fide ~ "by Faith alone" (Ephesians 2:8-10): Sola Fide is the teaching that justification ("being declared just by GOD") is received by faith only, without any mixture of or need for good works. Saving faith is always evidenced, but not determined, by good works. Some Protestants see this doctrine as being summarized with the formula that true"Faith yields justification and good works" ... as contrasted with Roman Catholicism, "Faith and good works yield justification."
3. Sola Gratia ~ "by grace alone" (Romans 3:20-26): Sola Gratia is the teaching that forgiveness of sin and all aspects of salvation comes by Divine grace or "unmerited favor" only, not as something merited by the sinner. This means that salvation is an unearned gift from GOD through JESUS CHRIST alone (Matthew 1:23).
4. Solo Christo ~ "through CHRIST alone"(Acts 4:12): Solus Christus is the teaching that CHRIST is the only mediator between GOD and man, and that there is salvation through no other name, solo Christo, meaning that
salvation is "by Christ alone". Biblical Christianity rejects all other mediators between GOD and man. It rejects "sacerdotalism," which is the belief that there are no sacraments in the church without the services of priests ordained by the so-called "apostolic succession" under authority of the pope. "The priesthood of ALL believers" denies the exclusive use of the title "priest" to the so-called clergy (1 Peter 2:5-10).
5. Soli Deo Gloria ~ "glory to GOD alone" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20): Soli Deo Gloria is the Bible teaching that ALL glory is to be due to GOD alone, since salvation is accomplished solely through His will and action—not only the gift of the all-sufficient atonement of JESUS on the cross, but also the gift of faith in that atonement, created in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit. We believe that human beings are not worthy of any glory. That is, one should not exalt humans for their good works, but rather praise and give glory to GOD, who is the author and sanctifier of the saints and their good works.
2 Corinthians 11:3-4,
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve
through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from
the simplicity that is in CHRIST. For if he that cometh
preacheth another JESUS, whom we have not preached, or if
ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or
another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well
bear with him."
In his Pentecost sermon, did Peter urge his listeners to be baptized to wash away their sins? Are you confused? Is baptism essential for salvation or is it not?” Some would say, yes. Mark:16:16 says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”
In Matthew 28, JESUS said to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them. Apparently, you become a disciple before you get baptized. The Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, said to Philip, “Here is water; what would hinder me from being baptized?” Philip did not say, “Well, if you want to get saved, I’ll baptize you so you get saved.” No. He said, “If you believe with all your heart, then you may be baptized.” So baptism is for believers.
What does believing do?
“The gospel--the gospel is the power of GOD unto salvation to
everyone who believes.” So, again, baptism is for believers. It’s for
Christians—they have already believed, then they are saved. If you
believe in JESUS CHRIST, you will be saved!
“What must I do to be saved?” the Philippian jailer said. This is the essential question! Here is the vital answer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
Now baptism does accompany salvation—it does follow salvation. When a person is saved, they put their faith and trust in Christ alone—then they should be baptized. Baptism is symbolic and important because it’s a vital step of obedience to GOD. Nevertheless, it is not "salvific." It is symbolic of the fact that the believer has identified with JESUS CHRIST … been crucified with Him.
"Buried, and risen again with CHRIST to live a new life."
I grew up Roman Catholic. I was taught that it was through infant baptism that I had salvation and entered GOD’s kingdom. For example, the Roman Catholic catechism teaches, “The Lord himself affirms that baptism is necessary for salvation.” This is an utterly false teaching!
In another place the catechism says, “By baptism, all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.” And what’s their reference for this? Because they say so! But do they have any Bible basis for it within the context of Holy Scripture?” They may refer to John 3:5?
It reads: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of GOD.” This is not problematic. “Born of water” speaks of physical birth ...“born of the Spirit" ... speaks of spiritual birth into GOD’s Kingdom. But what about, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). “Hethat believeth is saved.” We have over one hundred (100) Bible passages that confirm it is by faith in JESUS ONLY that we experience salvation.
So, if when you believe you are saved, then certainly you believe and are baptized. But never is there a Bible verse that says you are saved by water baptism. If you ask a Catholic, “Have you been born again?” They’d probably say they were born again. In other words, they got saved and received forgiveness of sins at their infant baptism. But this is NOT a believers’ baptism!
An infant—a baby—cannot believe! They do NOT even know they are being baptized. But this false salvation isn't just a Roman Catholic idea.
There are other denominations within Protestantism that do infant water baptism. Martin Luther was a Roman Catholic monk. He carried infant water baptism over to the Lutheran church. Read Martin Luther’s Small Catechism from the Missouri Synod, which is nearest to evangelical doctrine. Lutherans go by Luther’s Small Catechism , and it very clearly says—you get a baptismal certificate for the baby that says,“In this act you have been forgiven all sins and become a child of God,” and so forth.
This is serious false doctrine from the one who accurately declared, “The just shall live by faith!”
1 Corinthians 1,
Paul says, “I can’t remember whether I baptized maybe some of the household of
Stephanus, and whether there are any others I am not sure, because Christ sent
me not to baptize but to preach the gospel.” Apparently, baptism was/is not
part of the gospel or “good news.”
In fact, you cannot find baptism in the gospel that Paul preached!
1 Corinthians 15,
“This is the gospel that I preached (apostle Paul) unto you by which you are
saved, wherein you stand, you know, if you believe what I said unto you, and
it’s how that Christ died for our sins, according to Scriptures, was buried and
rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures. This is the gospel.”
“That we must believe, and it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who
believes.” And you cannot find the gospel stated as including baptism! It would
be strange that Paul wouldn’t remember whether he baptized, and he doesn’t
seem to care. His disciples baptized, but He baptized few.
“Howbeit Christ baptized no one, but his disciples did.” Now, He’s the Saviour
of the world and He didn’t baptize. That’s a bit odd, isn’t it? Could it be that
Jesus deliberately baptized no one so that He, as the Saviour of the world,
would not endorse this as something essential for salvation?
1 Corinthians 4,
“You have many instructors, but you don’t have many fathers.” Paul said, “I am
your father in the faith.” Then he says, “Through the gospel I have begotten
you.” So, they were born again by the gospel, and how could Paul have brought
them into this faith? How could he have begotten them? How could they be born
again through Paul, if he specifically says he didn’t baptize them?
Here again, we have evidence that baptism does not save. But JESUS said, “GO into all the world and make disciples and baptize them.” So, we are to baptize as a sign to the world—that’s a public declaration, a public testimony, that we've been crucified with Christ and buried and risen with Him to walk in new life.
Now there are other tough verses. Again, to what Roman Catholics think about being “born of water.” They would NOT say this is a physical birth (John 3:5). That would not be their approach.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave
himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it-- cleanse it-- with the
washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious
church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be
holy and without blemish.”
1 Peter 1:22-23,
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto
unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart
fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the
word of GOD, which liveth and abideth forever.“
So we are “born again” by the Living Word of GOD. It’s straightforward!
Physical acts are often symbolic and will not bring spiritual blessing. GOD does not bless our physical rituals, unless they're truly prophetic and led by His Spirit. Remember Peter, he doesn’t want the Lord to wash his feet. JESUS says, “Well, if I don't wash you, you have no part with Me.” Then Peter says, “Well, not my feet only, Lord, but my hands and my head, you know, just bathe me completely!” Jesus said: “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.” Then HE says, “You are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).
We're talking about the washing of water by GOD's Word. It is the Word of GOD by which we're born again. JESUS is saying, "You must be born of the Word of GOD!" It comes back to Bible verses that talk about the remission of sins. The man-made error that many denominations believe in is “baptismal regeneration.” They say baptism washes away sin, but this is NOT according to GOD's Word!
Is this a small error? How critical is it? Sadly, it is part of a false “works salvation” deceiving many.
We are saved through faith in JESUS CHRIST alone … that is, faith in His finished work for us on the Cross and His resurrection. It is not by our works of righteousness that we’ve done, but according to His mercy that He’s saved us. It's like saying—“Christ’s death wasn’t quite enough. I need to add this.” In essence, you are rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). That is serious!
It is saying; “Well, I’m saved by faith plus baptism.” In other words, faith in JESUS is not sufficient! However, we have too many Scriptures that declare, “We are ALL saved by grace through faith, not of yourselves, it is a gift of GOD … Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Over and over again, we’re very clearly taught that salvation, the new birth, being born again, is through believing in JESUS CHRIST alone! Baptism is experienced by one who has already believed. It is in identification with JESUS that one has been crucified with Him to walk in newness of life.
Often, people develop or follow religious rituals contrary to GOD's Word. They are man-made traditions that claim to have some special kind of spiritual power. But they really deny what Jesus Christ did for us (Colossians 2:6-10). Growing up as a Roman Catholic, I know with infant baptism that it isn’t just seen as ritual - the water itself is special. It is supposed to be "holy water."
It’s like the process itself is efficaciousness, and the value of it is in the element itself. But it’s only human tradition that profits nothing, according to GOD and His Word - The Holy Bible. Their Latin term for it is “ex opere operato.” And if you deny that the Catholic sacraments are efficacious in the act itself, this is anathema to you—in other words, they say you are condemned to eternal judgment. Again, false doctrine!
When discussing infant baptism, there are basically two Scriptures used to support it. One of them concerns the household of Cornelius. His household was baptized, but it’s instructive that there were no infants.
Acts 10:33, “I’ve never gone into the house of a Gentile.
This is really unusual for me, but I had this vision, and
God told me that someone would be at the door directing
me, and I should go with them, and they brought me here
to your house.” This is a Centurion Gentile. He says,
“Immediately therefore, I sent to thee.”
Now, this Roman is telling a vision of an angel who told him where Peter was. “So I sent to you, and you’ve done well to come here. Now therefore, are we all here present before thee to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” There couldn’t have been any babies present because they don’t hear the gospel. And, they certainly don’t understand it, if present.
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive God is no
respecter of persons: But in every nation, he that feareth God, and worketh
righteousness, is accepted in Him” and so forth. And so he goes on, and he
preaches the gospel. Verse 43: “To Him [to Christ] give all the prophets
witness, that through His Name whosoever believeth in Him shall
receive remission of sins.” Then it says, “While Peter yet spake these words,
the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” So, he is preaching the
gospel, he is telling them about CHRIST, and there’s transformation … a
These people are "born again of the Spirit" and began to speak in tongues. Peter says in verse 47, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” They have received the Holy Spirit; they have been born again of GOD’s Spirit, without baptism. And then they were baptized. So again, it’s the believer’s baptism, but no babies there. If you go over to chapter 16, only those who heard GOD’s Word, understood it, believed it, and were filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues—they were baptized.
Obviously, no babies!
The other place people try to teach infant baptism or “household baptism” from is the Philippian jailer passage in Acts 16. It says, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? They said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Nothing about baptism! “And they spake unto him the Word of the Lord,” they preached the gospel “to all that were in his house.”
So, there couldn’t have been any babies present, because he preached the gospel to all these people. “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and he was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” They apparently believed the gospel and were baptized. But there were no infants present … everyone in the household heard and understood the Word preached to them.
The false doctrine of infant baptism has caused very serious problems, whether it’s with Presbyterians, Catholics, Calvinists, Lutherans, whatever. As I know from my own experience as a Roman Catholic—they teach you are born again, you receive forgiveness of sins, you became a child of God through your infant baptism. The next thing to deal with is with the Protestants, the Lutherans, or Calvinists--confirmation.
Why preach the gospel to children growing up in homes or churches that make them “children of God” by baptism or confirmation? After all, they’ve been “confirmed” and received a baptismal certificate that says they became a child of God -- forgiven? They don’t need the gospel preached to them--right? After all, they’re already a child of God? Wrong!
Supposedly, if they die right after baptism, they go straight to heaven--no purgatory. Many people in many countries have had their infant baptism give them a totally false sense of being a child of God. They have a false sense of salvation--another gospel! This will ONLY eternally damn one's soul, if one is not truly "born again"! This is no small matter. Read, John 3.
Multitudes have been infant water baptized, yet still have not been saved according to GOD's WORD! They don't know or haven't experienced the power of CHRIST's gospel—they haven't even heard the gospel in their church where they were baptized. Often, it's not until years later that they hear the gospel and believe in JESUS CHRIST alone for salvation (Ephesians 2; John 1-3).
Then, they are water baptized as true believers. And then, many are thrown out of their churches and homes because they deny the efficacy of infant baptism. This has caused some very serious problems. I should also say that many have gone to an eternal HELL because they thought they were saved by infant baptism.
In fact, they never believed in the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST … which alone can save! ~ see ... Romans 1:16
Dr. Joseph Grubb ~ December 4, 2013