Question:

Hello. I have spent some time on the Internet this evening looking at baptism. In the search engine I typed in the question: "Is baptism necessary for salvation?" Naturally several hits came up. I've only looked at a few and for the most part all seem to say NO it is not necessary.

I was baptized because, based on what I read in the Bible, this is required. I believe that it is necessary forgiveness/salvation. It is a command given byJesus, not before he died but after he rose from the dead and just before he ascended to heaven. It is very troubling to me reading these sites because there are so many out there in the religious world that teach that baptism is not necessary for forgiveness or salvation. I don't understand why? It does lead me to a question sometimes of who is correct?

I took time this evening to revisit the passages on baptism as well as look at a commentary. I will confess that I am not a greek scholar. I don't know any greek (and I probably should). Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, I Peter 3:21 all speak of baptism and washing away or remission of sins. I looked at three different translations (NIV, KJV, NASV) and the wording, although slightly different, is pretty much the same. If you read it as it is written it seems pretty obvious. Am I being too simplistic? Who is right? Who is wrong? It is troubling and concerns me. It isn't that I'm doubting, I'm just troubled by all of this. I just want to follow what is true.

It seems that those who refute or disagree with baptism being necessary must go into long discourses to justify why they don't believe in baptism. In the end they seem to be saying that "the translations don't mean what they say." I have difficulty with some who use I Corinthians 1:11-17 as proof that baptism is not necessary. The claim is made that because Paul says that Jesus didn't send him to baptize but to preach he is saying baptism is not necessary. Based on my understanding this is a misrepresentation of the text and context. I don't believe that Paul is giving any teaching on baptism but rather pointing to the issue of division within the Corinthian church. It seems obvious that people were being baptized but not understanding it properly. Paul said what he saidbecause he didn't want people saying they are his followers instead of Jesus' followers. "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?"

Some of my thinking is that if baptism were as unnecessary as so many claim, why then is it included in the scriptures? Why were so many baptized, including Paul? Why did Peter instruct the people on the day ofPentecost to be baptized? Why did Jesus give the command in Matthew 28? If it is not necessary then why is it there?

I don't know why there is much division on this topic which is what troubles me. It does lead to the question of which one is correct? I have been a Christian for many years and as I said I was baptized because I believe that is necessary in order to be forgiven and be in Jesus. It seems that the majority of the religious world rejects this which is what is troubling. I just want to know the truth and follow it. Based on my understanding I believe baptism to be necessary and without it sins are not washed away. Baptism is both an ending and a beginning. An ending (death) of the old life and the beginning of the new life in Christ. It is not the only requirement of salvation but part of it.

As for it being a work, a work is something a person does themselves. When a person is baptized they are not doing the baptizing. It is someone else doing it. Although we are not saved by works we are required to do them. They are an expression and result of our faith.

I just don't know why there is so much division on this topic. It ishard sometimes to know who and what to believe and not to believe.My desire is to follow the truth of God's word. Why does most of the religious world denounce the need for baptism.? Are there other groups out there that also believe that baptism is necessary for salvation? I welcome your thoughts.


Answer:

There is only one source of truth. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). It is this truth that every Christian is to understand. "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17).

There are a variety of answers as to why people are not teaching the simple truth found in the Bible. It all depends on the angle you look at the problem.

Satan doesn't want people to be saved, so if he convinces many that even one part of what God requires isn't necessary, then he keeps people from truly becoming Christians.

Much, though, of today's environment is a result of laziness among the denominational leaders. They want large "conversions" to report, but they don't want to spend hours talking to people because it would consume too much time. Thus you have people claiming that "all you have to do is believe" and perhaps pray "the sinner's prayer" and they will declare that you are saved even though the people had not even fully heard the message of salvation.

Not that it is completely the leaders' fault. People are looking for quick solutions to getting to heaven without much commitment on their own part. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (II Timothy 4:3-4).

Then there is the fact that many people simply do not love truth. They are willing to accept whatever someone tells them instead of learning it for themselves. "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (II Thessalonians 2:9-10).

It really doesn't matter why false doctrine is being taught. We were warned that it will happen. "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). The majority will not make it to heaven. "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).

You can open your Bible and see the truth contained on its pages. That is what is important. It doesn't matter that millions rather make up myths to soothe themselves. What does matter is find others who want unadulterated truth to share the gospel with them.