Do You Have To Be Baptized To Be Saved? 

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February 28, 2004

Dear Pastor Malone:

I have a friend that is adamant about baptism being as important as salvation.  In fact, she believes that a personís salvation is not complete until they are baptized.  Without being baptized you are still in sin and on your way to hell.  My question is, ďDo you have to be baptized to be saved?Ē 

Baptism is a very important part of a personís conversion experience.  It represents a person being buried and raised with Christ to newness in life (Colossians 2:12-14, Romans 6:4).  Since He was raised by God to life so will He raise us.

Should every Christian be baptized?  Certainly!  Is it an absolute part of salvation that must be adhered to or salvation is made void?  Not at all! 

Take a look at what Paul said regarding the importance of baptism in relation to salvation.  (I Corinthians 1:11-18).

1Co 1:11  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

1Co 1:12  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

1Co 1:13  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

1Co 1:14  I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;

1Co 1:15  Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

1Co 1:16  And I baptized also the household of Stephanas besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

1Co 1:17  For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel - not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

1Co 1:18  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.  

Paul is pretty clear that God sent him to preach the Gospel and not to baptize, ďFor the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.Ē   

Baptism is important in a Christianís life, but it is by no means part of the salvation process.  Paul was a great soul winner who went house to house (Acts 20:20) compelling everyone he came in contact with to be saved.  He was committed to leading people to Christ, but states in verse 14 (above) that of all the people he lead to the Lord he thanked God that he had baptized none except Crispus and Gaius.  He went on to list a few more people he may have baptized but thatís it. 

For a man whose entire life was consumed with leading people to the Lord, he can only recall baptizing a handful.  This man was responsible for leading multitudes to Christ but can only recall baptizing two men and a family.  To me that's a little strange.

Donít get me wrong, chances are that someone probably baptized all these men that Paul is speaking about in I Corinthians.  And it is a command for every Christian to be baptized, the Great Commission makes that clear (Matthew 28:19 & 20).  But Paul makes it equally clear that he was not sent to baptize but to preach the Gospel, which is the power of God.  This is coming from a man that said ďFor I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh (Romans 9:3)Ē.  He was so adamant about seeing his Jewish brothers come to Christ, that he was willing to be separated from Christ eternally if God would only save them. 

Itís also inconsistent with Bible doctrine that God would send someone to only do half the job of salvation (preach the Gospel) and not the other (baptism).  Nowhere in the Bible is there listed anyone who was just a baptizer, but there are plenty of references about those who preached the Gospel.    

The answer to your question is, yes, the Bible supports that every Christian is commanded to be baptized, but it is by no means a part of the saving power.  So no, you donít have to be baptized to go to heaven. 

I hope this is helpful.

Pastor Malone

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