The act of baptism is well recorded in Scripture. Not only was it a tradition among the Hebrew people for centuries, but it is what at least one Bible character was know by (John the Baptist) and it was something that Jesus the Messiah did himself. (Matthew 3:13-17) Some other questions about baptism have been answered through the BSF such as exactly what it is and what Scripture says about its purpose, but is baptism required or necessary for salvation?
HowScriptureanswers "Is baptism required for salvation?"
Salvation is a process beginning with God’s grace1 to all. However, it is only received by those that believe/accept Jesus Christ1,2 and live Godly lives1,2. Scripture is very consistent on the critical role of baptism4,6,7,8,9,10,12. Its requirement for salvation is stated emphatically3,6,13 and demonstrated over and over by new converts4,5,9 (Saul is another great case study). Specifically, it is the very first “work” of obedience4,6,9,12 and added to His church6,8,12. It is the moment we are cleansed and forgiven of sin and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit6,7,8 – exactly how Jesus appears to be defining being “born again” to Nicodemus11.
Many religious leaders today would say, “No!” To conclude that baptism is required for salvation, they would argue, would make salvation “works-based” thereby mitigating or eliminating God’s grace. Their “Scriptural basis” for this would likely come from Paul’s definitive statement in Ephesians 2:4-81 that we are “saved by grace.” A case in point follows:
From AllAboutGod.com – Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation – The Conclusion Is baptism necessary for salvation? If the question is concerning water baptism, the answer is no. We are not saved by ritual or works but by “grace through faith.” “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).”
This “Conclusion” from AllAboutGod is classic “Scripture weighting” – where a conclusion is drawn based on one or just a few verse/verses, then all other passages are interpreted through the lens of that conclusion. It also directly contradicts letting Scripture interpret Scripture. Paul says “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), not “some Scripture is more inspired than other Scripture.”
Maybe you can only get to a point of saying it’s “important” or will go so far as to say it’s “very important”? You aren’t alone! This is what many say, not willing to go so far as to conclude it is required for salvation. A recent national ad campaign for a website – FindingTruePeace – counsels believers to “consider baptism” — this is after they have been taught to say the ‘sinners prayer’ for salvation.
If that’s your position, where does that leave you? Isn’t that rather ambiguous when one’s eternal salvation/damnation is weighing in the balance? Is that the instruction we see given in any Bible example or the attitude we find in any new believer we read about in Scripture?
Just because one aspect of our salvation is emphasized in one part of Scripture (grace through faith in Ephesians1), doesn’t negate or minimize other aspects of our salvation mentioned elsewhere in Scripture2,3,4,6,7,8,9. In fact, there are many aspects of our salvation. Of course, these are only possible by God’s good grace! That is plain…but there are conditions to receiving it. It is not unusual or inappropriate for an inspired writer to emphasize one aspect of salvation over another given the broader context of his message and the overall point he’s trying to make. It explains why Paul would choose to emphasize grace (“grace through faith”)1 given his broader message to the Christians in Ephesus while James emphasizes works (“faith without works is dead”)2 in his letter to Jewish Christians.
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