Do you have to be baptized to go to Heaven?

That’s a good question. Most people are aware that there are different points of view on the question of whether baptism is required for salvation. Scripture, however, is abundantly clear. Baptism is NOT required for salvation.

Christian baptism has its roots in a much older tradition. Converts to Judaism were baptized in a ritual bath called a MIKVAH. This immersion was a public statement that you wanted to join a community of faith, that you believed as they did, and that you intended to live that way. There are other uses for MIKVAH, such as in preparation for beginning ministry as a Jewish priest, cleansing tools and utensils for use in the Temple, and so on.

When Jesus was baptized, He was beginning His ministry. When those who came after Him were baptized, they were making a public statement of their belief in Jesus as the Messiah, and of their intention to join the Christian community. There’s no part of the ritual that leads to salvation.

Of course, Christians were commanded to be baptized in Scripture…but not until they were Christians. While there are certainly a few verses that appear to teach that baptism cleanses a person from sin, closer inspection shows that they don’t. We have examples of people being saved before baptism, and that should clear things up. Certainly the thief on the cross comes to mind, as do the words of Romans 6:3-4

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Baptism symbolizes Jesus’ death and resurrection, and our decision to partake in the benefits of His sacrifice. Paul pointed to the fact that salvation doesn’t require baptism when he wrote to the Corinthians :

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Paul definitely would not say that if baptism were necessary to go to heaven. Possibly the most damaging evidence against the belief that baptism is a requirement for salvation is found in Acts 10 :

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

The Gentiles (non-Jews) believed the gospel and were saved…and then they were baptized. Again, Scripture is clear on the matter. If you have specific questions about particular verses, let me know.

74 Responses

  1. I do not cut my hair because I believe the bible says not to. This may seem silly, but I would like to style my hair by putting lots of layers but keeping it looking long. I am 54 and look 20 years older with long hair but feel like it is wrong to cut it in any way. I know one Pastor says never ever cut your hair and others just do not care one way or the other. What do you think? Thank you for your help and God Bless.


    1. Doreen:

      I applaud you for asking! Often, those who grew up with this kind of teaching are afraid to question whether they were taught properly. The idea that you should never cut your hair certainly isn’t Biblical. I’ve used your question to write a new article: Should Christian Women Have Long Hair?. I hope you find it helpful, and that you’ll follow up with any additional questions that might come up.

      It’s important that we question what we’re taught. That’s clearly found in Scripture: Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. Read this on BibleGateway!

      Any Bible teacher or preacher who gets upset when you question them should find another line of work. I hope this helps!

  2. I’m confused, the bible says baptism is not required for salvation, then in the above info page, it says in the scripture you must be baptised when you become a Christian… So is a person saved after they give their heart to the Lord without also being baptised or not?

    1. Matthew 3:5 ” JESUS answered, Verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

    2. Kay:

      Jesus wasn’t saying that you have to be baptized in water to enter the kingdom of God. He was talking about two different births…the one everyone knows about (water, meaning everyone’s physical birth) and the one that’s required to enter the kingdom (Spirit, meaning baptism in the Holy Spirit). John the Baptist spoke of Jesus when He said that one who is more powerful would come, baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The part about fire speaks of cleansing, or purification. Those who believe that water baptism is required for salvation teach that it’s the water baptism that cleanses us from sin, but that’s clearly not what Jesus and John the Baptist taught.

      Every person who becomes a Christian has already been baptized with the Holy Spirit and ‘with fire’. Every person who becomes a Christian should then be baptized in water, to tell the Christian community about their commitment to follow Christ and to be part of His church.

  3. Tracey:

    Thanks for visiting GodWords!

    A person is saved when they, as you say, ‘give their heart to the Lord’. They don’t have to be baptized to be saved. Baptism is a public act that tells people that you HAVE ALREADY become a Christian, and that you want everybody to know it. Non-Christians who get baptized are just getting wet, and Christians who get baptized are already Christians…so baptism doesn’t change whether you’re saved.

  4. Dear Sir,

    First I would like to thank you. Your zeal and obvious love for God is inspiring and has prodded me to respond (which I have never done before). However I fear that your understanding and teaching of baptism is incorrect. and here’s why.

    1. The thief on the cross
    The thief on the cross is a bogus example to the claim that baptism is not an imperative step toward salvation because the new testament church had not been established yet. Jesus was still on the cross, still ALIVE. He had not died, been buried, or raised from the dead yet. The new testament church was not established until the day of pentecost in Acts 2. So at this point the world was still under the Law of Moses.

    2. Rom 6:3-4
    It always boggles my mind how two people can use the same verse to make a point and those points be polar opposite. But here is something I pray that you will open your heart and mind to. Paul is talking about grace and living a godly life. This verse actually backs up the fact that something more happens when we are baptized than it just being a ceremony but at that moment we are put INTO Christ.

    Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized INTO Christ Jesus have been baptized INTO His death? Therfore we have been buried WITH Him THROUGH baptism INTO death, so that as Christ was rasied from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if WE HAVE BECOME UNITED WITH HIM in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also BE IN THE LIKENESS of His resurrection, knowing this that our old self was crucified WITH HIM, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died WITH Christ, we belive that we shall also live WITH Him. Romans 6:3-8 NAS

    You see we are baptized INTO Christ therefore meaning that before baptism we would have to be OUTSIDE of Christ.

    3. 1 Corinthians 1.
    When we read this chapter completely and take it into context we see that Paul it rebuking the church at Corinth and is pleading with them to have no division among them. Read carefully and you will find that Paul actually puts extra emphasis on Baptism and its importance. As for Pauls statement that he was not sent to baptize but to preach the gospel. Turn in your bible to Acts 22:14-16, we see here that this proves exactly what Paul says in 1 Cor., he was sent to preach, but it opposes the claim that baptism is not nessessary by clearly saying that baptism washes away sins. What this means friend is that the importance must not be put on who is doing the baptizing, who is getting baptized and why. 3

    4. Acts 10
    I will agree that the conversion of Cornelius and his family is slightly different than the other examples we have but if you will be so kind as to read all of chapter 10 and on into 11 this is easily explained. This was a time of great prejudice between the Jews(circumcised) and the Gentiles (uncircumsised). In verse 10 Peter is prompted(by God) through a vision to begin to break down these barriers and see the Gentiles as equals. God then used the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the spirit to give his approval of Cornelius and his family and prove to Peter that this was his will. However this in no way implies that Cornlieus or his family are in Christ yet in fact ther is one more difference between this conversion and any other is that the Gentiles are ordered to be baptized proving it’s importance.

    Friend I hope that this message is not found to be offensive, that is sure not the intent. My goal is to strive for the unity talked about in 1 Cor and Eph 4. I recently finished a book that I hope you will read it is called Muscle and a Shovel. Thank you for your time. In HIS name, with HIS love.

    1. Darin:

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I appreciate it! I’m not offended by your disagreement at all. I welcome the opportunity to share our thoughts with each other.

      1. I disagree about whether the thief on the cross is a bogus example, but let’s set that one aside. I see your point. Let’s talk about some people (Cornelius’ family) who were saved without baptism AFTER Pentecost!

        •   You wrote that God used this situation to prove to Peter that God wanted to save the Gentiles. That doesn’t match what I see in Scripture. Look in vv 28-29. Peter said, “But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection.” Note the past tense…Peter was already convinced, and the matter was settled in his mind before he left. In v 34 he says, “I now realize”, but that doesn’t mean he learned it while he was with Cornelius. He learned it before he was invited to Cornelius’ house.

        •   You wrote that having the gifts of the Spirit does not imply that they were Christians. I couldn’t disagree more strongly. I see no evidence in Scripture that this is possible.

        •   You believe that this was a unique situation. I disagree. These Gentiles heard the Gospel and believed it, after which Peter said “they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” Rather than being an anomaly, as you suggest, this appears to be a normal occurrence. Peter said that they should be baptized because baptism is the next logical step after becoming a believer.

      2. Romans 6 is an important passage about baptism, isn’t it? I believe that you’re reading into the passage something that’s not quite there. You seem to be saying that Jesus’ death and our baptism are spiritually connected…right? That our baptism in the present connects to His death in the past and does something spiritual that can’t be accomplished in another way. That seems to make sense. Unfortunately, the parallel breaks down after that, when talking about resurrection. Paul made it clear that that part of the equation was still future when he wrote “we will be united with Him.” It doesn’t make sense that half of baptism would accomplish something spiritual RIGHT THEN and the other half would come at some undefined future time.

      . . . . . . . . . . .

      You appear to believe this is what happens:
      Hear the Gospel > Believe it > Get Baptized > Now you’re a Christian

      I believe this:
      Hear the Gospel > Believe it > Now you’re a Christian > Get Baptized

      The distinction is more pressing for you, of course. If we MUST be baptized to be saved, then you MUST make sure that everyone knows this is how it works. For me, it’s less pressing…our salvation isn’t connected to baptism, so people can be saved all over the place without being baptized. I understand why you might feel more strongly about this issue than I do, Darin. I urge you to read ALL of the verses related to this topic…not just the ones that address baptism, but also the ones that address salvation.

      Baptism isn’t an act by which people are saved. It’s an act by which saved people identify with Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s BECAUSE we’re saved that we’re baptized, not the other way around. Jesus died. We identify with that death by going down into the water. Jesus was resurrected. We identify with that resurrection by coming up out of the water.

  5. hi all im glad to see such positives comments on salvation just to confirm do you have to be fully immersed in water to be baptised and washed away of sin ?

    1. Colm:

      No, you don’t have to be fully immersed in water to be saved, and have your sins washed away. There are two baptisms for Christians listed in Scripture: water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism. Let’s look at John 3. A Jewish leader named Nicodemus came to Jesus to talk, and Jesus told him this:

      “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

      John the Baptist said, speaking about Jesus, I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

      Becoming a Christian isn’t a matter of water baptism. You have to be “born again”, which is something the Holy Spirit does in you when you decide to trust God with your life. Water baptism is something believers do to express this change to others.

  6. Hi, I’m having a hard time understand ing. My husbands grandma is very religious but she says that there is no heaven or hell…that we all just die and turn to dust. that when God comes again he will bring back the ones who followed him back to life. This bothers me because my grandma passed away not too long ago. I would appreciate it if you could help me figure out if my grandmas in heaven or just dust..

    1. Thanks for your question, Leticia!

      I’m not sure what religion your husband’s grandma claims as her own, but it certainly isn’t Christianity. Jesus (you know, the guy behind Christianity) spoke quite often about Heaven and Hell…so she must believe something else.

      After years of study, I believe that Christianity is true. Christianity teaches that your grandmother’s fate is the same as everyone else’s. Let me explain that briefly. God reaches out in love to everyone. Those who respond by trusting Him with their lives will spend eternity with Him. Those who want nothing to do with God will spend eternity without Him.

      I don’t know how your grandma responded to God. He is trustworthy, though: He is fair to everyone. The only way to know for sure if your grandma will be with God forever is for you to be with Him as well. Do you trust God with your life? If you have questions about how that works, please let me know. It’s my hope that you will be reunited with your grandma and spend forever with her.

  7. Acts 2:38 Repent and be baptized everyone of you for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

  8. Allow me to share my side sir. ^_^

    I believe that the Gospel of Christ has saved me.

    What is the Gospel? 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

    What can the Gospel do? Romans 1:16

    What is the Gospel to us?
    Jesus’ death means repentance on our part. Colossians 3:5
    Jesus’ burial means baptism to us. Acts 2:38
    Jesus’ resurrection means a new life to us. Galatians 3:27

    This completes the whole process God has given us through His son Jesus Christ in which we are to follow.

    Which means the pattern of the Gospel of Christ (His death burial and resurrection) can never be interchanged nor one of those will be omitted otherwise you will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  9. Marc:

    Acts 2:38 is in my Bible, too. The question isn’t “what does Acts 2:38 say?” but “what do ALL of the verses in the Bible say about salvation?”. You’re clearly under the impression that Acts 2:38 addresses salvation…so am I. What the difference between my understanding of Scripture and yours? I’m careful to read ALL of the relevant verses before deciding what it says.

    Here’s a fun exercise for you: look up all of the verses in the New Testament that deal with how to be saved. Not just the ones you already know, but all of them. Then count how many mention baptism, and how many don’t.

    The simple truth is that Acts 2:38 is TRUE. It’s 100% true. We both believe it. The difference is that you see baptism as “step 2” in Acts 2:38’s explanation of how to be saved. I see baptism as the other half of “step 1”. In those days, you repented and then you were baptized…you didn’t have one without the other. Baptism was the natural follow-up to coming to faith in Christ. When you read ALL of the salvation verses in the NT, the conclusion is easy: you do not need to be baptized to be saved.

    1. Keonna:

      People don’t go to Heaven because they’re baptized, and they don’t go to Hell for not being baptized. Heaven is for people who want to spend eternity with God, and surrender their lives to Him. Hell is for people who want nothing to do with God, and so reject Him.

      You should be baptized…but as a statement to your Christian community that you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, not as a way to go to Heaven.

  10. Hello, I also believe Cornelius is a great example, in the scripture it states that Cornelius and his family received the gift of the Holy Spirit prior to being ordered to be baptized, the key note there is they received the gift of salvation prior to being baptized, Peter said to the Jews, now since these Gentiles can speak in tongues, which gave proof that they had indeed recieved the Holy Spirit, then no Jew could speak against them being baptized in water which was to follow Jesus’s covenant in New Testament. If it were required that baptism come before salvation then it would have presented this scripture differently.

  11. Keonna:

    You don’t have to be baptized to become a Christian. It’s the other way around: you get baptized because you’re ALREADY a Christian! Baptism is a public ceremony where you say to the Christians around you that you believe in Jesus Christ, and that you want to be known as a Christian.

    You should be baptized. It’s an important part of the life of every Christian. Don’t be confused, though: baptism is not how we’re saved. It’s something we do because we’re saved. Please come back and tell us about your baptism!

  12. Dear, tony you corrected your on self in the letter to Colm about water baptism. jesus said one must be born of water and of spirit not just water and not just spirit but both that’s very clear. Also jesus told his disciples preach the gospol and he that believes and is baptized shall be saved. And that to is very clear.out of love I think you should not preach that water baptism is not necessary for salvation.

  13. Mike:

    The water that Jesus spoke of isn’t water baptism. It’s natural childbirth. Read the passage closely, and you’ll see the parallel. Nicodemus wanted eternal life, and Jesus told him that he must be born again. Nicodemus was confused about being born twice, and Jesus explained.

    As I’ve written many times before, it’s a mistake to consult only a portion of the Scriptures on as important a subject as salvation. I’m sure you would agree that salvation is a really, really big deal…so it’s crucial that we communicate the nature of salvation clearly. There are a handful of verses that appear to teach that baptism is required for salvation. There are a whole bunch of other verses about salvation that make no mention of baptism whatsoever. You should do a study of ALL of them, and let me know what you find. You’ll find what I found, I’m sure: there are a lot more that do not mention baptism than those that do. In the process, you’ll probably come to the same conclusion that so many before you have arrived at: baptism is not required for salvation. We should be baptized, of course…but baptism is for believers.

  14. I believe that according to scripture, a Christian is to be baptized. My main question is: Are people who have not made a commitment, who have faith without works…still have a chance of going to Heaven?

    He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
    (Mark 16:16)

    …”Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3-8)

    …Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…(Acts 2:38)

    And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name. (Acts 22:16)

    Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
    (Romans 6:3-9)

    Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
    (2 Corinthians 5:17)

    For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
    (Galatians 3:27)

    1. Jan:

      You’ve done a very good job of laying out the typical argument for those who believe one must be baptized to be saved. There are other verses you could add, but you’ve got the basics covered.

      Unfortunately, you’ve also done every reader a serious disservice. I’m sure it’s unintentional, but you’re misleading everyone here. It’s a very big mistake to take a few verses from the Bible and pretend that they’re the final word on the matter. That’s how cults get their start, and how they defend their false doctrines. How should we learn about salvation? By reading ALL of what the Bible says about it. Nothing less will do.

      In John 3:16, Jesus says that anyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. In Acts 16:30, Paul and Silas are asked “what must I do to be saved?”. Their answer? “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” In Romans 9, Paul wrote the following: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

      There are more verses that I could list, but the point is made with only a few: baptism isn’t part of salvation. It’s what people do AFTER they’re saved. Every Christian should be baptized, but baptizing a non-Christian only gets them wet.

      Please: if you’re going to teach from the Bible, make sure you do it responsibly. Don’t pick and choose the verses that support what you already believe…change your beliefs to match ALL of the verses. While there are some verses that tie baptism and salvation so closely that you appear to be right, you are clearly in error. When you look at ALL of the verses in the New Testament about salvation, it becomes abundantly clear that baptism does not save anyone, and that salvation is by faith alone. I wish you well, Jan.

  15. I still disagree with you. Let’s review john 3:3-6 again. Our savior said one must be born again…think about it jesus knows nicodemus has been born of the flesh see john 3:6. So if you think the water is the first birth then why did jesus correct nicodemus about going back to the womb the second time? And in john 3:3 he clearly states he is talking about being born again….think in spirit and in truth is how we got to study the holy bible it’s a must…born again has nothing to do with the 1st birth. Water is water..buried with him in baptism.the watery grave….tell you what ple read acts 19:1-7 Paul had some disciples re-baptized. Disciples now…who would have thought that? And he done this because thay had not received the holy ghost…also Romans 6:1-8 will tell you the important baptism both water and spirit. Also read acts 2:38 and 1peter know this has been a big deal between mostly church of Christ and baptist for years. So who’s rite? Gods word is………and again this is out of love.

  16. And I agree that we got to put all the bible together to fully under stand it. But think of this Jesus did not say anything to nicodemus about repentance. But we got to do it for sure. And we know that Jesus tells us to repent.Peter said in acts 2:38 repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. We got to trust and obey all of the gospel.and I know this to be Gods will. And this is a must for our salvation. And Jesus died on that cross for me and you and it was his love and our sins that keep him there not the nails.
    Sorry for not capitalizing in earlier post. And again out of love.

  17. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:16 KJV)
    Ok 1st off ….. Baptism is repentance for your sin. mark 1:4-5
    John refers to baptizing in water and Christ baptizing in the Holy Ghost. Mark 1:8
    Then Jesus is baptized in water by john. Mark 1:9
    Notice this if Jesus is sinless then why is he getting baptized? Easy he is showing the way to fallow and fulfilling prophecy of the messiah . (He will enter his ministry through water). It seems easy to make up a lot of things to try to make it so easy to be lazy . But fact of the matter is baptism is a public declaration of submitting yourself to the father the son and the Holy Ghost . It is not meant to boast but to glorify god! I say this with joy not anger but if the bible is read in context and with supplication it becomes a lot easier to understand . This also goes to say if the deciples were baptizing people in Pentecost. this is after the death of Christ and they were saved by “grace” . So I guess being saved by grace means Christians can break the commandments and it’s ok if you say sorry to Christ and ask forgiveness. Well that’s not biblical sorry because I know what my bible says sin is transgression of the law. 1 John 3 :4 so I guess it’s time to stop looking for Christ on the internet and start looking for him in scripture . Don’t let people say something that is not biblical and against gods word.
    John 1 1-5
    Jesus is the word and that’s where you should look for him not on the internet by holy rollers and one day a week Christians who get ideas formed by false doctrine .

    1. Paul:

      1. Jesus was baptized because He was about to begin his ministry. That’s what Jews did. It also fulfilled prophecy, and was an act of obedience.

      2. I’m not sure where you’re going with the whole “break the commandments” thing. Being saved by grace doesn’t give anyone a license to sin, and it’s not a substitute for obedience. The idea is that God is gracious toward us, and Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. What’s the alternative? That our actions save us, of course…that we somehow become more deserving of salvation by doing the right things. That idea is condemned over and over again in the New Testament.

      3. I’m with you: people should study the Scriptures for themselves…especially in discussions like this one.

  18. I guess I will help jan out here. Tony Your right Paul said those things and it is the truth you believe on Jesus you will be saved. And one who truely believes on him and loves him will obey his gospel. right? And am sure you know what Paul said In 2Thessalonians 1:7-8 when The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with his mighty angels,8 in flaming fire ,taking vengeance on them that know not God ,and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ .So is water baptism not part of the gospel? Sure it is!!! I don’t understand why folks can’t live and prech and do what Jesus said to do.not just some of the gospel but all of it. Jan water baptism is part of our salvation becsuse it is part of the gospel of Christ.and you just read what Paul said about folks who don’t obey the gospel. Maybe this will help Tony also…….I pray 1 day we all will see we got to Believe……..Trust……And OBEY……….for there is no other way to be happy with Jesus. Jesus is the solid rock I stand and all other ground is sinking sand…………….love to you all..Amen

  19. Hello! I have a question if you may. Is there any difference from being Baptised in the Name of Jesus, or being Baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? I have been Baptised in the name of Jesus! I know that i have been changed! I also know what it represents. My question is do i need to do it again and have the pastor to say Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Thank you

    1. Veda:

      That’s a good question…and a very common question. Unfortunately, many have been taught very poorly in this area. Let me speak as plainly as possible: there is no difference between being baptized in the name of Jesus and in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

      Some disagree, but Scripture isn’t on their side. Some say that certain words must be said in the right way, or the baptism doesn’t count. That’s silly, superstitious nonsense. Baptism doesn’t include a magical formula, where speaking the incantation properly determines whether the spell works. Baptism is a public declaration that you’ve become a believer. Jesus taught in Matthew 28:19 (the Great Commission) to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…”. For this reason, many teach that we must say exactly those words. 2000 years later, we can make up all kinds of explanations of what Jesus meant…but a more important question is this: how did the disciples, who lived with Him and traveled with Him and heard Him teach for three years, understand what He said?

      Peter: be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38)
      Peter: be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:48)
      Paul: baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:5)

      Were the disciples disobeying Jesus by not saying “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”? Of course not. They understood exactly what Jesus meant, and they acted accordingly. You see, the phrase “in the name of” isn’t a formula. God is never shown to work that way in the Bible. The phrase “in the name of” has to do with authority. An ambassador speaks “in the name” of his country’s leader. When you write a check to someone, you’re authorizing the bank to transfer funds “in your name”. When we baptize, we baptize by the authority of God, and on God’s behalf. There is only one God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptizing in the name of the Son is the same as baptizing in the names of all three.

      That’s all there is to it. You do not need to be baptized again, Veda.

  20. I have read some of the above and found it to be quite interesting. I was born a Jew, but after reading the book “killing Jesus, ” I know now that I am a true believer. It was disgraceful what happened in His days, and I cried at the end of this wonderful history book. I don’t plan on going to church. I don’t plan on being baptized. I do believe in Jesus and what he taught, and I have accepted him into my heart. I don’t think there’s any reason that I will not be “saved.” God bless you

    1. Joan:

      Thanks for visiting GodWords! I have a question for you. What do you mean by “I am a true believer”? I don’t mean to offend, of course. Sometimes, there’s confusion about what it means to follow Jesus Christ. It’s more than simply liking, or agreeing with, what He taught. It’s more than feeling strong emotions about His life and death and resurrection.

      Jesus said that He did only what His Father told Him to do. He said that He only spoke what His Father told Him to speak. Those who follow Him do the same: we have submitted ourselves to Him, and ‘seek first His kingdom’. We submit to God, rather than fight with Him. We surrender ourselves into His care, knowing that He loves us perfectly and would never harm us. We volunteer to follow Him wherever He leads us, giving up the idea of living for ourselves.

      Is that what you mean when you say “I am a true believer”? If so, I’d like to welcome you as my sister in Christ! If that’s not quite what you mean, let’s talk some more. Feel free to contact me at any time.

  21. I believe that baptism is essential to salvation, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved….Christ said this to his disciples at the begining of the their ministry. Its found in Mathew, Mark and Luke…baptism is essential for the remission of sins. Acts 2:38. Paul is addressing the church in Romans and Corithians…the assumption has to be that these people had already obeyed the commandment bo be born again of water and Spirit. The only example of conversion mentioned in the bible is in the book of it. The theif on the cross is the exception because the commandment for baptism was not given to the disciples untill after the ressurection. Dont confuse letters written to churches that often time needed direction,encouragement or admonishment for the salvation message of being born again. Water and Spirit. Read Acts!

    1. Harold:

      I applaud you for turning to the Scriptures for answers. There are two things in your comment that I’d like to address:

      1. You seem to contradict yourself. First, you say that Jesus taught about baptism and salvation at the beginning of His ministry. That’s true. Then, you say that the thief on the cross is an exception, because Jesus hadn’t given the Great Commission. That’s a bit confusing. Why would Jesus (as you claim) teach that salvation is dependent on baptism, and only instruct them to baptize people three years later? Was there a temporary hold on salvation during His ministry?

      The most reasonable conclusion is that Jesus (like every Jew before Him) believed that converts should be baptized as a sign to the community of believers. This fits every verse in Scripture. Baptism was the automatic response to belief, in Judaism and in Christianity. The thief on the cross wasn’t an exception…he was saved in exactly the same way that Abraham was saved, and you and I: by believing God.

      2. It’s great that you’re willing to look at the Bible for your doctrine. Let me encourage you to read ALL of the verses about salvation. You will see what I see: that while a few couple together faith and baptism, most do not. If salvation is important (and I’m sure we agree that it is), then it is certainly clearly laid out in Scripture. If salvation is important (and I’m sure we agree that it is), Paul wouldn’t have written that he didn’t baptize people. As a church planter and leader, he would have certainly taken the lead in baptizing as many people as possible.

      Let me know what your search through the Scriptures turns up!

  22. This article is taking the words of the bible out of context. John 3:5 CLEARLY states: Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he CANNOT enter the kingdom of God.


    1. Tanya:

      Christians on both sides of the argument agree that that is what John 3:5 says…but they disagree on what John 3:5 means. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born of water, he wasn’t talking about baptism. He was referring to natural birth, and contrasting it with spiritual rebirth. You may find that a quick reading of the comments will clear up your confusion.

    2. By saying that baptism is not necessary is denying Christ! What does baptism mean and represent???

      John the Baptist, baptisted with repentence. He also explained that someone greater than he will come along…. he baptizes with the HOLY SPIRIT.

      The holy spirit is very necessary for salvation. John 3 explains the whole situation very clearly. John 3:3 Jesus says: I ASSURE YOU, UNLESS SOMEONE IS BORN AGAIN, HE CANNOT SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD. Nicodemus was still unclear( John 3:4) Nicodemus asked “How can anyone be BORN when he is old? Can he ENTER HIS mothers womb a second time and be born? Jesus answered again VERY clearly. :”I ASSURE you: Unless someone is born of WATER and the SPIRTI, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

      If that is still misunderstood. Then how about these?

      Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

      Roman 6:1-23 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

      Let me know if you have any more questions.

    3. Tanya:

      You seem to have missed the point. The question is about water baptism, not spirit baptism. Ancient Jews and the 1st-century church baptized believers, not unbelievers.

      I see that you (like so many others) have picked a few of your favorite verses on this subject…you know, the ones that seem to say what you want them to say. How about dealing with Acts 10, where unbaptized people were filled with the Spirit? Are you going to tell me that they were spirit-filled before they were saved, and that they were only saved afterwards…when they got wet?

  23. I am currently attending a church that is firm in its belief that baptism is necessary for salvation. I have grown up thinking that baptism wasn’t required to consider oneself as Christian. But…in Acts 2:38 it clearly states, “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”‘ Please, I would love to hear your thoughts on this because I am so confused and not sure what to believe. Thank you!

    1. Kim:

      Thanks for visiting GodWords! Let me assure you that there’s no reason to remain confused. Don’t take my word as the answer to this question…as I’ve stated again and again, you should do your own homework!

      Yes, repentance and baptism are mentioned together in Acts 2:38. That’s not surprising, as those who repented were almost always baptized, and apparently soon afterwards. The question is whether baptism is required to BE saved, right? There are plenty of Bible verses about being saved, and this much is clear: if everyone must be baptized to go to Heaven, it would be abundantly obvious. The fact that there are plenty of Bible verses about salvation that don’t mention baptism at all is strong evidence. Take them all together and you’ll see while baptism is part of the whole ‘becoming a follower of Jesus’ process, it’s not required for salvation. Let me know if you have any questions.

  24. I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior- I know that I am Forgiven by His Blood, shed on Calvary for my sins- I acknowledge that only His Blood brings me to The Father, and only His Blood has purchased my pardon- But, I am still having a hard time w/ the issue of Baptism, basically due to Mark 16:16- I have talked w/ a couple of ministers who have assured me Baptism is NOT a pre-requisite for Salvation- I have even asked them to Baptize me, just because of my uncertainty, but they have told me that I have no need for Baptism, because my Faith in Jesus and His Finished Work on the Cross is what I need for assurance of Eternity w/ Him- So, I want to clarify one more time, through your counsel, that I am indeed Saved and in His Presence for Eternity because of my acceptance of Him into my heart as Lord and Savior, in spite of not being Baptized- Thank you for any help you can give me on this.

    1. FaithGUY:

      Let me see if I understand you correctly. Are you saying that, when answering the question of whether baptism is required for salvation, you’re ONLY interested in John 3:5?

      That makes no sense.

  25. I have a question. Where in the Bible in the New Testament does it say being gay is a sin? I have tried to change my sexuality for years, and I do believe that I was born this way and cannot change. However, where does it imply that I must remain celibate and never be in a relationship with another man? I feel that if I wait till marriage and am a Christian like everyone else, that I will end up in heaven. Please help me out with this.

    1. Jared:

      I appreciate your question. Too many times, people are confused by a combination of Biblical ideas and human tradition. I don’t care much about human tradition…I’m only concerned with learning God’s point of view.

      First, the Bible doesn’t say that being gay is a sin. So, whether you were born gay or not, experiencing same-sex attraction isn’t sinful. Attraction is simply desire. Sins are action-based, not desire-based. Being tempted to do something isn’t wrong at all, which the Bible makes clear. One verse that shows this is Hebrews 4:15:

      “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.”

      Jesus was tempted, and He never sinned…so, we aren’t sinning when we WANT something. Being gay isn’t a sin.

      Second, the question of celibacy. God hasn’t called you and me to lives of heterosexuality. He has called us to lives of holiness in every area, including our sexuality. Some believe that homosexuals should be celibate until they can be married, while others believe that homosexuals should be celibate for life. With respect to my homosexual friends, I believe in celibacy for life.

      The reason that I believe this way is that I can find no way around what the Bible teaches about sexuality. Look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

      “…do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

      God hasn’t singled out homosexuals in this passage. As you can see, there are a lot of different ways to live in rebellion to God. To put it simply, both you and I are called to listen to God and to follow His instructions…in every part of our lives. That includes what we do with our time, with our money, with our bodies, with our relationships, and everything else.

      If you’re a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives in you. You have God with you, all the time. He will enable you to live as you should. If you’re not a Christian, then – this might surprise you – you can’t live as you should. We were designed to be in relationship with God, and our lives are incomplete without Him. Once our relationship with Him is in place, then we can worry about the everyday decisions like what to watch on TV, who to have sex with, and what’s for dinner.

      Please let me know if you have more questions, or would like to talk about this further. I’m here to help, not to judge. My only goal is for you to understand how much God really loves you.

  26. 1st Peter 3:21 The like figure where even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh) but the answer of a good conscious toward God.

    1. Kellye:

      Thanks for commenting. It’s always good to use Scripture when discussing theology, and I appreciate it.

      The implication of your comment appears to be that water baptism saves. Certainly that appears to be what this verse says, right? What happens when one verse appears to contradict another? We should, of course, look at ALL of the passages to make sure we haven’t misunderstood anything. I’m sure you would agree, as I do, that Scripture doesn’t contradict itself…so we have to adjust OUR understanding to resolve these apparent conflicts. Some read that verse and conclude that water baptism saves us. Others read it very differently. Let’s ask the most famous baptizer in history about this subject, okay?

      The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” (John 1:29-31)

      John didn’t baptize in water for salvation. He did it to reveal the Messiah to Israel. Let’s read more:

      The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:15-16)

      You’re right to post 1 Peter 3:21 when discussing baptism. Peter was right to write it. I agree 100% with that verse. Where you and I differ (so far) is that you see it in a self-contained way…other verses don’t impact how you read that verse. I read about baptism saving us and ask where ELSE we can read about salvation and baptism…and combine what I learn from all over God’s Word. Jesus baptized, but not with water (John 4:2). Jesus baptized, as we hear from John over and over, with the Holy Spirit. THAT is what salvation is.

      I hope that I’ve given you something new to think about. Let me know if you have more to discuss!

    1. Leandro:

      Acts 10, where Peter witnesses to Cornelius’ family, is a good example. They believed the gospel and were filled with the Holy Spirit BEFORE they were baptized in water. Certainly the thief on the cross comes to mind as well. If baptism were required, neither of these situations would make any sense. People are saved today in exactly the same way as always: we believe God, and it is credited to us as righteousness.

  27. John posted something on April 1st about ministers telling him there was no need for him to be baptized because he was already saved.

    REGARDLESS of our belief of whether baptism is essential for salvation or not, to tell anyone there is no need whatsoever to be baptized flies in the face of scripture; speaks of open rebellion of what Jesus Himself taught; and could cost someone a soul.

    John, if you ever felt that you should be baptized then do so or you will violate your conscience.

  28. David P:

    We agree completely. As I’ve posted many times, we are commanded to baptize believers, and to be baptized. While it is not a prerequisite for salvation, it is a matter of obedience. To quote myself: “You should be baptized. It’s an important part of the life of every Christian.”

  29. If baptism is not necessary for salvation, why did Christ instruct it (Mark 16:15-16)? Surely, God is not in the business of instructing for no reason. There is a purpose attached to water baptism. Romans 6:4 teaches that one is baptized in order to be raised together with Christ in start of a new life. If this is the purpose for baptism then does one rise to walk in newness of life without baptism? There is no scripture that states that the water baptism instructed by Christ is to declare to others that one has already been saved.
    Romans 6:8 teaches that, “He that has died is freed from sin.” In Romans 6:4 we are told how one dies – through baptism. So, if one has to die in order to be freed from sin and one dies through baptism, then is one freed (saved) from sins without baptism? This question is not withstanding the grace of God or the blood of Christ being shared for the forgiveness of sins; however, it does factor in that one has to obey Christ (Hebrews 5:8-9) in order to be a recipient of God’s gracious offerings by the blood of Christ. Therefore, we have the questions in Acts 2:37, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” And we have a response by the apostle of Christ, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Those who inquired were not saved at the time of their inquiry even through it was indicated that they had already believed because they were “cut to the heart” (v. 36); for Peter kept on persuading them with many other words to “save yourselves from this untoward generation.” The apostle knew that those on the day of Pentecost were not saved without water baptism, or else why the robust persuasion? Those who heard Peter also knew that they were nor saved without water baptism; for “they that gladly received his word were baptized and that day about three thousand souls were added to their number.” I believe the problem with a lot of people today is that they have lost the pristine quality of gladly receiving the word of God, but that’s another debate. Notice when those on the day of Pentecost were added to the church; not before, but after baptism. Is one saved without the church of Christ? Is one added without baptism? For both questions the answer, not according to the scripture. So, is one saved without water baptism?: not according to the Scripture.
    Galatians 5:24 “All those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” If the flesh or body of sin has not been crucified (put to death) one does not belong to Christ. Paul was crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20) and he indicated the all those who have crucified the flesh belong to Christ. How and when does one crucify the flesh? The answer by friends is at the point of baptism (Romans 6:5-6). And it is at that point one realizes belonging to Christ. Time will not allow me to go further for now.

  30. [Response to a comment that didn’t pass moderation]:

    Dear twgillespie:

    While I appreciate your visit to GodWords, your comment is neither helpful nor instructive. By simply saying that you know I’m wrong, you serve only yourself. If you wish to serve others, including me, you might want to provide a rebuttal from Scripture, using logic and common sense. A strongly-worded “Nuh-Uh” isn’t going to help anyone. If you think this topic is important, please take the time to study it thoroughly and teach, right here where everybody can see it, the truth. Should you convince me (which is certainly a possibility), I will be forever in your debt.

  31. Hello, What are your views on Mark 16:16 “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…”, John 3:22-25, Acts 16:31-33 and finally Acts 8:34-36. Baptism and faith go hand in hand with faith coming first. Jesus did NOT say, “He who believeth upon me is saved. Amen” but he added the necessary baptism. There is no instance in the bible were I can find them not going together. With batism literaly meaning dying and be reborn in Christ, the thief on the right hand side was the perfect example of baptism through blood, as all the holy martyrs have won, the oppurtunity to die for Christ’s sake. The baptism of John is clearly set aside from the baptism of earlier Jewish fathers because he received his baptism from God. John’s deciples inquire of Jesus’s baptism and he informs them that he is just an instrument for God’s glorification.

    1. Cyril:

      Thanks for your comment!

      >> What are your views on Mark 16:16…[etc]? Baptism and faith go hand in hand with faith coming first.

      You’re absolutely correct: baptism and faith do go hand-in-hand, with faith coming first. There are some who say that every conversion in the New Testament includes baptism, but the evidence says otherwise. You’ve brought up one great example in the thief on the cross. You say that he was baptized ‘through blood’, but I don’t find anything like that in the text. It’s a ‘cheat’ to say that he was baptized in any way without textual warrant. We should teach what the Bible teaches, and be silent where the Bible is silent. My example from Acts 10, where believers are filled with the Holy Spirit prior to baptism, strongly undermines the idea that baptism is part of the salvation process. To preserve their preferred beliefs, some have suggested that the Holy Spirit was, in this unique situation, given to non-believers…and that they were only saved after baptism. This is a very troubling way of dealing with Scripture, to be sure.

      >> The baptism of John is clearly set aside from the baptism of earlier Jewish fathers because he received his baptism from God.

      Again, we should rely on the Bible for this kind of information. Where do you find the information that John received his baptism from God, while the Jews did not?

      Baptism is a command. We should baptize people. We should, along the way, be faithful in our handling of Scripture. When one says that one must be baptized to be saved, they must ignore not only those in Acts 10, and not only the thief on the cross, but also every faithful man and woman who died before Jesus’ death and resurrection. Baptism is what you do to Christians, not non-Christians.

    1. jermainenash:

      The phrase “walking in faith” refers to living as Jesus taught us to live. The New Testament says that we ‘live by faith, and not by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5:7). That means trusting God to lead us in the right direction, even when we don’t completely understand why.


    [Edit: how about taking part in the conversation, Steve?]

    1. Steve:

      First, thanks for visiting GodWords. I’m always curious about how people find me…what brought you here?

      Second, I’ve edited your comment. I don’t like hearsay, and I don’t like rumor, and I don’t like gossip. I do like when people do some research, and share their findings with others. The reason I’ve edited your comment is that I won’t allow anyone to malign someone without evidence. You may have the evidence that the people on your list believe as you say they do, but you didn’t post it…so I removed the names.

      You and I clearly disagree on the issue of whether baptism is required for salvation. That’s okay…we can share passages of Scripture and discuss (and even debate) what they mean. What I don’t appreciate is that you’ve tried to use my blog to promote your own while ignoring the context where you’ve placed your comment. Were you to address points raised in the article, or some of the previous comments, I would leave your comment largely untouched. Unfortunately, your comment is unworthy of someone who purports to be a teacher. Here are my suggestions…both as a Christian, a long-time blogger, and a web professional:

      1. Don’t copy and paste a post from your own blog and pretend it’s a comment.
      2. Do take part in the actual conversation.
      3. If you disagree, provide reasons.
      4. When you make a claim, back it up.

      You’re not welcome to do a hit-and-run by posting your own article as a comment and not actually engaging. You’re certainly welcome to come back and join in the conversation.

    1. Florian:

      I find your comment both presumptuous and rude. I was baptized almost 30 years ago. That’s not a matter of pride, it’s just a fact. My comments here aren’t based in pride, and they’re not intended to keep anyone from being baptized. You would know that if you’d actually read it.

      When someone makes a claim about the way God works, like “God won’t bring you to Heaven unless you’ve been baptized”, it’s very important to know that that’s how God works. We shouldn’t place our own beliefs ahead of Scripture, and we should ‘reason together’ as the Scriptures tell us to. We have lots of examples of people in the Bible who are certainly in Heaven, but who never had a Christian baptism.

      Maybe you should examine your own comment, to see if it’s pride that motivated you to write it. Maybe you’re more convinced of your own opinion than you are of Scripture. If that’s the case, you have some serious thinking to do. I wish you well, and I hope you take this reply not as a slap, but as an exhortation to closely examine what you believe in the light of Scripture.

  33. Hi, great article! I have recently (for about a year) accepted that Christ is my saviour and began to get more involved with becoming a christian. I am currently 19 and new to the scriptures and praying, but I always believed in God. Sometimes I feel like I am not praying right and sometimes I lack words to say out loud when I am praying. Please help me. Where do I start? How and what words do I say and use? Also, I have read about praying in tongues, is that better than praying normally? Please explain everything, if you have the time. God bless you

    1. Tori:

      Thanks for writing! I’m very happy to call you my sister in Christ.

      I will try to answer your questions as simply as I can.

      1. Prayer is simply talking to God. Tell Him everything…what you think, what you feel, and so on. Don’t hold back. He already knows your heart and mind better than you do, so nothing you say will surprise Him…and avoiding certain things in prayer is silly, because He knows all things. Just talk to Him.
      2. There is no magic formula in prayer. There are no special words that make it more likely that God will give you what you ask for. Even the “Lord’s Prayer” is just an example of how to pray, and not a script of what to say. Tell God what you want to tell Him. Ask Him for what you want, recognizing that He will give you exactly what you need when you need it.
      3. The question of praying in tongues is a bit controversial. I’m going to tick off my Charismatic and Pentecostal friends (CharisPentals, I call them) when I say this: don’t bother. Prayer is talking to God. Just do that and don’t worry about tongues. If, at some point, God gives you the gift of tongues, THEN it will be time to study the Bible to learn what that means, and how to avoid misusing that gift. Until then, it’s not really an issue. Nobody can exercise a spiritual gift that they haven’t been given, so just talk to God in your native language.

      It’s important to remember that prayer isn’t a ritual. It’s a way to grow in your relationship with God. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

  34. So i have noticed that baptism is agreed on both sides.. I believe you do have to be baptized to enter heaven.. to what some are saying that a hand full of apostles did say to be baptized and others didn’t the ones who said you do! does that mean they were miss lead were they wrong? Because I don’t know how more clear they could of said it.. And wouldn’t it make since if your Christian and you believe Jesus died for your sin’s that you would want to get baptized in the name of Jesus because I don’t see were it says you won’t enter heaven for being baptized brothers and sisters the end is upon us its time to settle this dispute baptizing is the key to heaven and that’s why the devil has used this against church’s please ask God to show you this I don’t exspect my word to be taken I my self have been on the journey to find answers and by the Grace of God found them thank you and God Bless you all

    1. Jay:

      Your comment is a bit garbled. I’m not sure that I know exactly what you’re trying to say…but I’ll try to respond.

      Yes, ‘baptism is agreed on both sides’. Those who believe in baptismal regeneration (that baptism is the means by which our sins are forgiven and eternal life is given) and those who do not agree that baptism plays an essential role in the life of the church. You seem to be suggesting that because we all agree that baptism is good, we should settle the issue by saying that everyone should be baptized…and leave it at that.

      Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

      I get emails from readers all the time, asking questions like, “My baby died at birth, and we were unable to baptize him. Is he in hell?”. No, this isn’t an academic exercise in splitting hairs. It’s not a side issue. It’s at the very heart of how we understand God. While we all agree that baptisms should be performed, the real question is about God, and what He wants, and what He insists on. Those who believe in baptismal regeneration claim that God will send to hell every unbaptized person, because they cannot be saved without baptism. They make this claim despite having clear Biblical evidence to the contrary. I’ve tried to outline some of this evidence for all to see, but – because the traditions of men can be a strong and persuasive force – this evidence can be difficult for some to accept.

      Let me encourage you to consider that, for some, this is an issue of eternal life and eternal death. For that reason, I cannot and will not ‘settle the matter’ by simple telling people to be baptized. I must teach what the Bible teaches, and fight against the unbiblical idea that we must be baptized to go to Heaven.

  35. It’s simple We must “Believe” to be saved being Baptised gives us the Gift of the Holy spirit and we will do this because we Love Him. God says knowone has any excuse. God himself shows and draws everyone to him. When we seek Him he will reveal his son Jesus to us. It is our choice to follow and Love Jesus when we do he will teach us about his father and how we can return to him someday. So believe in The God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Love him and he will Love and Adopt you. And we cry Abba Father the spirit will testify with ours that we are the sons of God and Heirs with Christ!!

  36. The way I see it is as follows:

    If someone accepts Christ, and dies the next day, before being baptized, I believe that person would be saved. However only God truly knows their heart, and based on God knowing that person’s heart, is how GOD would decide if the person truly had accepted him.

    If someone accepts Christ, and doesn’t die the next day but rather has ample time to be baptized, but chooses not to be baptized, is that person really saved? Look up the word FAITH in Greek. the word is Pistis or Pistos or Petho. Pistis is translated as Trust, Hope, OBEDIENCE.

    the word Baptize comes from the word Baptizo which means SUBMERSION in water.

    Jesus says “Go forth, therefore, BAPTIZING in the name of Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to OBEY all that I have commanded you.”

    So if I am saved, why would I NOT be baptized? Wouldn’t I WANT to be baptized because I love Jesus and have faith in him and want to obey him?

    I also read a lot of comments about children being baptized. God’s word makes it very clear that children are exempt from any rule of salvation until they are at an age they can determine what is GOOD and what is EVIL. and determining what is Good and Evil is different than determining what is right and wrong.

    1. Rob H:

      I see your point, of course. That kind of approach, however, suggests that all people understand all things in the same way at all times. The question is whether an unbaptized person can go to Heaven. There are a number of reasons why a believer might not be baptized immediately, or even at all. Some of those reasons are easy to understand. For example, some are unable to be immersed. I heard a story last week about a man with an external electric device that monitored and maintained his heart rhythm. Dunking him would likely be fatal. Is he being disobedient by not being baptized by immersion? I think one would be hard-pressed to make that case. Other situations – much more common – might be that someone is unaware of Jesus’ command to be baptized, or that they are misled about the need to be baptized. Is anyone disqualified by God because they are ignorant? I see no evidence of that. Instead, we are responsible for what we DO know.

      It’s perfectly valid to ask a believer why they haven’t been baptized, and to question their desire to obey God fully if they persist in avoiding it. What’s not perfectly valid is to say that the Bible teaches that the unbaptized aren’t believers, or that failing to be baptized automatically sends you to Hell. I see no Scriptural warrant for such a claim, and that is the reason for my article. Should we be baptized? Yes. Do we have to be baptized to go to Heaven? No.

      Thanks for writing…and don’t hesitate to follow up with another comment. I’d like to hear from you!

  37. Sorry, I’m kinda a goofy guy that loves debate. I’m posting this simply as a little bit of relief from the intense debate going on, so if you find it to distracting go ahead and remove the comment, though it does have some interesting questions.

    So for those who believe you have to be baptized to be saved, say you are only baptized as a little baby then later when you can talk you declare Jesus as Lord, are you still covered by that first baptism or do you have to be baptized again? Because both requirements are met at that point are you saved?

    And for those who believe baptism is not necessary to be saved, if you are to live with heaven in mind, and baptism doesn’t get you into heaven nor as far as I can tell, help you draw closer to God, then why even bother with it? As born again Christians I can’t be the only one that thinks it kinda creepy we dunk each other in water to say I believe in Jesus.

    P.s. And as kind of a joke could I theoretically get baptized in soda, or does it have to be water?

    1. Levi:

      I’m goofy too…nice to meet you.

      >> So for those who believe you have to be baptized to be saved, say you are only baptized as a little baby then later when you can talk you declare Jesus as Lord, are you still covered by that first baptism or do you have to be baptized again?

      The question combines two separate understandings of baptism…I’ll call them IB (infant baptism) and BB (believer’s baptism). In IB, baptism is an act of consecration by the parents. In BB, baptism is an act of confession by the believer. Most people don’t combine them. Proponents of IB generally see no need for a BB, and proponents of BB consider IB to be spiritually meaningless for the baptized.

      >> why even bother with it?

      Because salvation isn’t our only concern! Baptism is – as it’s understood in the context of Scripture – an essential part of community, of ministry, and how we ceremonially identify with Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s not required for salvation, but neither is communion, or regular Bible study, or constant prayer, or a thousand other things that are a part of following Jesus.

      >> could I theoretically get baptized in soda, or does it have to be water?

      Jews had to be baptized in very specific ways. For example, the water had to be “living” – that is, coming from a fresh source and not just a stagnant pool. The details were a very big deal. For Christians, we should understand baptism in light of Jesus’ coming – that is, that He gives us living water, and that He cleanses us, and that He ushers us into ministry. There are no spiritually meaningful formulas in Christianity, so baptism can have the same meaning without being a duplicate of Jewish baptism. You could theoretically be baptized in soda, or in any other medium. The point isn’t the water, it’s the meaning behind it all.

  38. Hello Tony. I want to commend you for your great responses to all comments to your article. It is really important for me to read this. I also believe you are right. I have a couple of questions for you, that are more specific in nature.

    1) I was an atheist until the age of 40. Then, I met God through a series of events. I gave my life to him, declared him Lord and Savior of my life (in my livingroom one night). I quickly felt the urge to be baptized. But I live in a Lutheran country, Denmark. I didn’t know anything about churches. So, I went to the local church, and was baptized (sprinkled) during a church service.
    Am I saved? I would suppose you say yes, and of course I am aware that you do not know the condition of my heart, only God does. But IF I am a true believer, has truly repented and given my life to him, is the sprinkling enough for me to go to heaven?

    (Note: I personally feel and believe the answer is yes)

    2) After I was saved, I had a child. We child-baptized him in the same church. I am aware of the huge responsiability this puts on our parenthood, to bring him up to a point where he willfully chooses Christ on his own when he is of age to do so. But he was baptized as an infant. If he repents and chooses Christ as Lord and Savior later, should he then be baptized again as a sign.

    (Note: I personally believe that the prior baptism is OK, if he chooses Christ later, or else of course I wouldnt have done it.)

    Thanks again.

    1. Thomas:

      Thank you for your kind words!

      >> 1) I went to the local church, and was baptized (sprinkled) during a church service. Am I saved?

      Baptism does not save us. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). All four of the Gospels express that Jesus would baptize His followers with the Holy Spirit, and with fire. Water baptism doesn’t actually cleanse a person spiritually…it only symbolizes the cleansing done by the Holy Spirit. The “fire” is an image of cleansing. Your sprinkling means nothing if Jesus hasn’t baptized you with the Spirit, and it means a lot if He has. Because you have given your life to Him and choose to let Him be both Lord and Savior, I have no doubt that you are my brother in Christ. Your obedience in being baptized is commendable, as is your desire to make sure that you’re right with God. Rest in the knowledge that your salvation is not dependent on your baptism…it’s the other way around.

      >> But he was baptized as an infant. If he repents and chooses Christ as Lord and Savior later, should he then be baptized again as a sign[?]

      Yes. Baptism isn’t a rite by which one joins the church, as so many have been taught. One joins the Church (the Body of Christ) by grace, through faith. We see this in (for example) the Acts 10 passage I mentioned in the article:

      While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

      You see, it was by believing the Gospel and then trusting in God that these people were saved. They were baptized in response to their salvation. Should your son choose Christ as you have, he should then be baptized to let his community of faith know of his allegiance and commitment.

      Does that make sense? Let me know if you have any further questions. I’ll be happy to help in any way I can.

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