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.

  • Doreen

    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.

    Doreen

  • Tony Scialdone

    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!

  • Tracey

    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?

  • Tony Scialdone

    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.

  • Darin

    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.

  • Tony Scialdone

    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.

  • Colm

    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 ?

  • Tony Scialdone

    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.

  • leticia

    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..

  • Tony Scialdone

    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.

  • Marc

    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.

  • Marc

    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.

  • Tony Scialdone

    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.

  • Keonna

    I didn’t get baptized, but I believe in Jesus Christ. Does that mean I’m still going to hell?

  • Devin hasty

    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.

  • Tony Scialdone

    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!

  • Mike

    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.

  • Tony Scialdone

    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.

  • http://godwords.org/475/do-you-have-to-be-baptized-to-go-to-heaven/#comment-803 Jan

    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)

  • Mike

    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 3:20-21.you 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.

  • Mike

    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.

  • Tony Scialdone

    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.

  • Paul

    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 .

  • Mike

    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

  • Tony Scialdone

    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.

  • Veda

    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

  • Tony Scialdone

    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.

  • Veda

    Thank you So much for your reply! I appreciate it! May God continue to Bless you!

  • Joan

    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

  • Harold Robinson

    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 Acts..read 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!

  • Tony Scialdone

    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.

  • Tony Scialdone

    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!

  • Tanya Olivia

    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.

    .

  • Kim

    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!

  • tonyscialdone

    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.

  • tonyscialdone

    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.

  • tonyscialdone

    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.

  • Tanya Olivia

    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.

  • tonyscialdone

    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?

  • John

    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.