Is Baptism Essential for Salvation?


To understand fully that baptism is a God decreed part of the plan of salvation, consider Isaiah 59:1-5 where we are told that God can save and hear our pleas but our iniquities have separated us from God. God will not tolerate sin nor allow sin in his presence. This is a universal declaration. But, because of His perfect love for us, God devised a plan whereby we might be cleansed of our sins, thus restoring us to His fellowship and allowing us to be saved and our prayers heard. This is grace…God did have “have” to provide mankind with any plan at all…He did so because of His grace. Jesus was the instrument through which this plan was to come to fruition. This plan was first alluded to by God in the Garden of Eden when man sinned and God told Satan that one would come who’s heal Satan would bruise but would crush his (Satan’s) head. (Genesis 3:15) Jesus said in Luke 16:16 to “Go ye unto all the world and preach the gospel…those who believe and are baptized are saved but those that believe not are damned”. This preaching began on the Day of Pentecost immediately following Christ’s resurrection. The apostles were given the power to preach this Gospel without error.
baptism 1 soft edgeOK…to answer this question let’s turn simply to the Bible. If we just turn to the scriptures, then we don’t have to read very far before we see that baptism is an essential step in the salvation of a person’s soul. This does not mean that baptism alone saves a person from his or her sins. Nor is there any thing in the water that saves us. God chose baptism as a way to symbolize our turning our backs on the sinfulness of the world. We show that we are “dead to the world” and have become a new individual. In doing this we are symbolically following the steps of our Lord Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. We are literally “buried” and rise again. Baptism is an action of our conscience due to our faith and in so doing brings us into contact with the blood of Christ which He shed for the sins of the world. Peter explained this in I Peter 3:20-21 when recalled that God rescued the human race by saving Noah and kept him safe in the ark in the midst of the great flood. Peter tells us that in this same figure…”baptism now saves us (not by putting away the filth of the flesh, but in the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “
Think about this: 
Suppose someone told you to “get up and go to a ballgame and be entertained while cheering on your favorite team”.
  • “Getting up”, “Going”, and “Cheering” are all actions on our part.
  • “Cheering” can be described as the “over-all” action being performed. 
    So how hard is it to understand that in
    Acts 22:16, when Paul said he was told to “arise and be baptized, washing away his sins, calling on the name of the Lord” that:
  • “Arise” and “be baptized” are actions on Paul’s part . 
Being baptized is part of “calling on the name of the Lord”.

Paul wrote that “as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Paul also wrote in Romans 6:4 “Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”. Baptism then is part of God’s plan for us to follow sybollically in the Savior’s death, burial, and resurrection. Our “death” is the burying of the “old man of sin”. Our new spiritual life begins when we are raised from the watery grave of baptism. 

Baptism is part of God’s plan for entering into the church and we, as men, have no right nor power to choose otherwise. Consider the account of Paul’s conversion as he told it in a Roman court. Paul told how Ananias, a Christian, was sent by God to Paul and told him what he had to do. In Acts 22:16 we read that Ananias said to Paul; “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” HOW MANY TIMES HAS IT BEEN SAID THAT ALL A PERSON NEEDS TO DO TO BE SAVED IS TO CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD? Yet, here we see what the scriptures say a person must do in order to “call on the name of the Lord”. Calling on the name of the Lord must include baptism!

After preaching the first Gospel sermon, Peter and the other apostles were asked “men and brethren, would shall we do?” Immediately following this question, Peter answers the people in Acts 2:38 by telling them “Repent and be baptized every one of you for the remission of your sins…” notice two things about this passage:
The conjunction “and” that connects repentance together with baptism. This indicates that both are required of a person that wishes to become a Christian. It is strange that those who claim that baptism is not essential to salvation never claim that repentance is not essential either. Yet, repentance and baptism are inseparably linked together as essential elements of God’s plan for man’s salvation.
If a person argues the word “and” does not indicate that baptism is a necessary component, on man’s part, for salvation, then they must also admit that repentance is unnecessary as well.  The conjunction forever links the two together meaning that the act of one without the other leaves an individual noncompliant with the instructions of the Apostle Peter.
In Acts 2: 38, the word “for”, which in the original Greek language used in writing the book of Acts, was the Greek word “eis”. 
In the ancient Greek, “eis” could have two meanings; one was “because of” and the other was “in order to”. Anytime a word has two meanings, a person should look to the context in order to understand the correct usage. In this case, and in comparison to Romans 3: 26-27, it is clearly understood that the correct usage of the word “eis” is to signify the meaning “in order to”.
So we can see that baptism is an integral part of the plan of salvation instituted by Jesus Christ as part of His Gospel, the Good News. Baptism, along with faith, repentance, and confession, is part of God’s grace. So, the Bible declares that “By grace we are saved” (Ephesians 2: 5,8) and so we are because the plan of salvation, which includes baptism, is part of the plan provided by God which we did not deserve. This plan is a result of God’s love for us and His desire that we should be in a relationship with Him. We certainly invite you to read what the scriptures say about God’s love and His plan for us. Please free to contact us if you have questions or comments.
A person of good conscience would have to conclude that baptism is an essential step in what God would have us do by simply observing the numerous examples. In fact, every example of conversion recorded in the scriptures includes baptism. Consider the following accounts of “conversion”:
Occasion/Example of Conversion

On the day of Pentecost, Peter tells those listening “repent and be baptized”..

Those in Samaria were baptized

Ethiopian is baptized by Philip

Saul (later the apostle Paul) is baptized

Cornelius, the first “gentile convert”, and his household are baptized by Peter

Lydia and her household were baptized

Jailer and his whole house baptized

Crispus,and his household baptized

Paul says he was told “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins,..”

Acts 2: 37-41

Acts 8: 12-13

Acts 8:26-39

Acts 9: 17-18

Acts 11:47-48
Acts 16:14-15

Acts 16: 30-33

Acts 18: 7-8

 Acts 22:16