Water Baptism

    In our fellowship in China, where Christianity is supposed to be restricted to the official church/denominations, we were approached several times with questions concerning Water Baptism.
    Logistically, it can be a small problem, but in spite of the polluted rivers and other hindrances, we could still find a place to perform it. However, the main issue was: who is ordained or authorized to perform it? Many do not see in the official church/denomination a good steward of Lord's Spirit and resent to have only that option.
    Visiting "authorized" pastors and priests were rare, although some come around once in awhile.
    We made the following study on behalf of those who struggle to find someone who can "Baptize" them, and we were encouraged by the Word of God and assured that He has not forsaken those who live in parts of the world where churches, priests and pastors are rare: We came to the conclusion that accepting and confessing Jesus Christ, bypassing Water Baptism, is sufficient for Salvation, and that may even become a greater testimony of Christ's sufficiency:

    Christian without baptism?

    Acts 10:44-48 reads, "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
    Then Peter answered, 'Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?' And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days."

    In other passages of scripture, we see people believing before baptism (Acts 8:13), receiving the Word before baptism (Acts 2:41), hearing and believing before baptism (Acts 18:8), and in this passage, we see them filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues before baptism. Can an unsaved, unbeliever be filled with the Holy Spirit? Of course not. Can an unsaved person glorify God with the gift of tongues? Absolutely not. Therefore, we can safely conclude that these people were saved before their baptism.

    Paul puts baptism in proper perspective in 1 Corinthians 1:17. It reads, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect." If Paul wasn't even sent to baptize, then how can it possibly be a prerequisite for salvation? If it were, Paul surely would have been sent to preach the gospel and baptize.

    Did you know that Jesus Christ never baptized anyone? John 4:2 reads, "Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples (baptized)."

    Suffice to say that Jesus didn't come to baptize either. Therefore, we have the two most prominent and influential teachers in Christianity, who did not come to baptize (with water). How could baptism possibly be a prerequisite for salvation?
    The answer is simple. It cannot be.
    Mark 16:16 reads, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." This is an interesting verse and if you read it closely, you will understand it. Who will be condemned? Are the condemned the ones that don't get baptized? No, the condemned are the ones that don't believe. Mark 16:17 is an important verse, too. It reads, "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;" Will unbelievers cast out demons and speak in tongues to the glory of God? Of course not...

    Baptism of the Spirit

    People hear the word "baptism" and immediately they add the word "water" in their minds. "Baptism", in today's world, has become synonymous with "water baptism". And in Jewish society people would have thought the same thing, since water baptism was a Jewish custom. [Matthew 3]
    John the Baptist, who was in the Old Testament (see Luke 16:16 ), knew that Jesus was coming to bring a different understanding of baptism, just as he was going to do with so many of the old traditions and laws. Jesus' baptism was going to maintain the spirit of the old baptism, but without the outward religious ritual.
    This is what John the Baptist said of Jesus:
    " There comes one mightier than I am, after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water; but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. " ( Mark 1:7-8 , Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16 )
    Here is the man who was most famous for baptizing people with water, saying that Jesus' baptism would be a different baptism. And we know that Jesus did not baptize with water himself. (See John 4:2. ) So Jesus lived up to what John the Baptist had said of him, in that Jesus' baptism was spiritual, not a physical ritual. -

    "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them [with the Holy Spirit] in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20).

    Certainly water baptism does not feature heavily (if at all) anywhere else in what Jesus taught.
    But when you understand that the baptism Jesus was referring to was a baptism of the Holy Spirit, then the sentence makes much more sense... especially when you understand, that the teachings of Jesus are God's Spirit. (See John 6:63.)
    The instruction to teach people to observe what Jesus commanded, is not only clarifying what to teach, but it is also clarifying how to baptize people!
    When we present people with the teachings of Jesus, we are in effect presenting them (or 'covering' them) with the Holy Spirit. If they choose to accept (or 'drink in' which is what 'believe' means) the truth in His teachings, then they are being filled with the Holy Spirit. John 6:63 says that Jesus' words are Spirit and life. That is how we understand this command and that we take seriously.
    ... Jesus allowed his followers to baptize with water even though he himself didn't. (John 4:2) Intrinsically, there is nothing wrong with the practice (of baptizing people with water). It is a symbolic thing that hopefully represents something that is happening spiritually within a person.
    But there is nothing in the Bible to indicate that water baptism is essential to the Christian. The Baptism that is essential to the Christian is Jesus' baptism (through the Holy Spirit): accepting and receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior, after our repentance and ackowledging our need to be saved.
    So yes, it is essential to be 'baptized' or 'covered' with the Holy Spirit to become a Christian, but it is not essential to be water baptized. (Romans 8:9)

    Baptism background

    To understand the significance of baptism, let's first consider its historical background. The Holman Bible Dictionary explains: "At some point close to the time of Jesus, Judaism began a heavy emphasis on ritual washings to cleanse from impurity. This goes back to priestly baths prior to offering sacrifices (Leviticus 16:4,24).

    Probably shortly prior to the time of Jesus or contemporary with Him, Jews began baptizing gentile converts, though circumcision still remained the primary entrance rite into Judaism" (1991, "Baptism").

    Voltaire on the Quakers and Baptism

    On visiting a friend in France, I was shown a copy of Voltaire's "Lettres Philosophiques," published in 1734. These contain 4 very interesting letters about the Quakers.

    At the time the letters were written, Voltaire had already had two spells of imprisonment in the Bastille for his advocacy of toleration and enlightenment. He was released from prison on condition that he left France and he chose exile in England. He was taught English by a Quaker and became sympathetic to the Quaker outlook. The extract from the first letter (below) deals with the Quaker attitude to Baptism:

    'I believed that the doctrine and the history of such extra-ordinary people were worthy of curiosity. To find out about them, I visited one the most eminent Quakers in England (Andrew Pitt, a linen draper from Hampstead) who had been in commerce for thirty years, but had decided to limit his wealth and wants, and had retired to the countryside close to London. I went to seek him out in his retreat which was a small house, well-built and clean and without ornaments.'

    'The Quaker was a fresh-faced old man who had never been ill, because he had never known passions or intemperance. I have never seen in my life a nobler or more engaging countenance than his. He was dressed, like all those of his religion, in a plain coat without pleats in the sides or buttons on either the pockets or the sleeves. He was wearing a large hat, with turned down brim, like our clergy. He received me with his hat on his head, and came towards me without the slightest inclination of his body, but there was more politeness in the open, humane expression on his face than in the custom of drawing one leg behind the other, and carrying the head-covering in one's hand.'

    '"Friend," he said to me, "I see thou art a stranger. If I can be of any help to thee, thou hast only to speak."
    "Sir," I said, bending forwards and sliding one foot towards him according to our custom, "I flatter myself that my just curiosity will not displease you and that you will give me the honor of telling me the details of your religion."
    "The people of thy country," he replied, "make too many bows and compliments. But I have not yet seen any who have the same curiosity as thee. Come in, and let us dine together first.". '
    'I made still more unwanted compliments, because one cannot get rid of bad habits suddenly. After a healthy and frugal meal, which started and ended with a prayer to God, I set about questioning my host. I started with the question that good Catholics have put more than once to the Huguenots: '
    "My dear Sir," I said to him, "are you baptized?".
    "No," replied the Quaker, "and neither are my brethren.".
    "My God!" I replied, "then your are not Christians.".
    "My son," he replied in a gentle voice, "do not swear. We are Christians and try to be good Christians, but we do not think that Christianity consists of sprinkling cold water on the head.".
    "Good Heavens!" I replied, shocked at this impiety, "have you then forgotten that Jesus Christ was baptized by John?".
    "Friend, no more swearing," said the benign Quaker. "Christ received baptism from John, but he never baptized anybody. We are not disciples of John but of Christ.".
    "Alas," I said, "you would surely be burned in countries of the Inquisition, you poor man. For the love of God, how I wish I could baptize you and make you a Christian.".
    "Were that all," he replied gravely, "we would willingly submit to baptism to comply with thy weakness. We do not condemn anyone for using the ceremony of baptism. But we believe that those who profess so holy and so spiritual a religion as that of Christ must abstain, as much as they can, from Jewish ceremonies.".
    "What! Baptism a Jewish ceremony!" I exclaimed. ".
    Yes, my son," he continued "and so Jewish that several Jews today still use the baptism of John. Consult antiquity. It will teach thee that John only revived this practice, which was in use a long time earlier amongst the Hebrews, in the same way as the pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims is copied from the Ishmaelites. "Jesus was willing to receive the baptism of John, in the same way that he submitted to circumcision.

    But circumcision and the washing with water must both be superseded by the baptism of Christ, this baptism of the Spirit, this washing of the soul, which is the salvation of mankind. Thus the fore-runner, John, said: "I baptize you to the truth with water, but another will come after me, mightier than me, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with fire and the Holy Ghost." 'Likewise, the great apostle to the gentiles, Paul, wrote in Corinthians:
    "Christ has not sent me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel." 'Indeed, this same Paul only baptized two people with water, and this was in spite of his inclination. He circumcised his disciple, Timothy. The other apostles also circumcised all who wanted it.
    Art thou circumcised?" he added.
    I replied that I did not have that honor.
    "Ah well," he said, "Friend thou are a Christian without being circumcised, and I am a Christian without being baptized." '

    NOTE: "Quakers don't believe in water baptism. 'Friends' eschew the importance of all external religious practice. There is no efficacy in water baptism, just as there is none in observing the "Lord's Supper" using bread and juice, or calling a minister "Rev." or processions, or liturgies, etc. etc. We [they] are 'baptized' by the Holy Spirit, as John the Baptist even clearly states "I baptize you with water, but the one who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Luke 3:16 'Baptism' means to 'be put into' or 'submerged into' something. Are we put into Christ by water? No. By His own blood we become a part of Him." (B. Daniels)

    The purpose of baptism is to wash one clean of past sins and of the power of sin, to leave one pure to go forward as a member of the body of Christ. Jesus plainly warned of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who washed the outside of the cup and left the inside unclean, or who whitewashed the outside of a tomb when the inside was corrupt. In the same way, outward washing with water, (even scrubbing with soap!) has no effect on the source of our defilement - the heart. Hitler, Stalin, the Spanish inquisitors were all baptized with water - it did not make their hearts pure! But Christ will wash us clean and make us pure, Christ "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Mt 3:12 This true cleansing is the baptism we recognize and humbly seek every day.

    Although Jesus submitted to baptism himself, he clearly stated that he did so to fulfill the scriptures. Once they were fulfilled, baptism by water, as the ministry of John the Baptist, was to decrease and the ministry and baptism Christ were to increase and take their place.

    Are you going to heaven? by Arthur S. DeMoss

    There's probably more uncertainty about the most important matter in the world than about any other. Let me illustrate: If you were to ask 100 people at random about the economy, politics, or pollution, you would get a fairly definite opinion from most. But ask the same 100 people, “Are you going to Heaven when you die?” The vast majority would answer with varying degrees of doubt — ”I don't know”...“I'm working on it”...“I have no idea”...“I'm not sure.” Many of these same people would tell you that they believe in Jesus Christ and that they believe in Heaven. Yet they don't know whether or not they are going to Heaven.
    What would your answer be?
    Most of us know definitely whether or not we are working and whether or not we are married. Yet we do not know whether or not we have eternal life. Most travelers know where their destination is. Yet ask them where their final destination will be — where they will be living forever — and very few know! This uncertainty comes from a misunderstanding of what is involved in attaining eternal life and going to Heaven. If you were to ask the average person what one must do to have eternal life, his answer would probably include one or more of the following:

    • Live a good life
    • Obey the Ten Commandments
    • Join a church and attend regularly
    • Love your fellow man
    • Be baptized and/or confirmed
    • Follow the teachings and example of Christ.

    All of these represent something that people do or try to do. They reflect the popular idea that eternal life in Heaven is a reward to be earned.

    But the Bible states clearly that we cannot win or earn our way to Heaven. Eternal life is not a reward for what we have done or tried to do; it is a free gift. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).

    So long as we think that we must earn our way into the presence of God, we can never be certain that we have done enough to deserve Heaven. Most of us realize that we are not good enough to measure up to God's perfect standards. And for us to say, “I know I'm going to Heaven” sounds like the ultimate in pride and boasting, if Heaven is reached through good works.

    The only sure answer!
    The Bible, however, teaches that we cannot be good enough, that we cannot work our way to Heaven — and that we do not need to! We are to realize, instead, that Jesus Christ has opened the way to Heaven for us. No matter how bad we may be, any of us can qualify

    The Bible says, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his [God's] sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested...Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe...” (Romans 3:20-22).

    You see, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay for our sins — yours and mine — by His death on the cross. Having completely paid our sin penalty, He rose from the dead and now offers eternal life to you and to me as a gift. By simply recognizing our need for a divine Savior, and by ACCEPTING CHRIST'S PAYMENT for our sins and our salvation, the matter of our eternal destiny is immediately resolved.

    This is the way — the only way — to know for sure that you have eternal life.
    Do you have this assurance?
    If not, you can gain this assurance right here and now. How? The Bible says, speaking of Christ: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).
    Have you received Him?
    How, you still ask?
    Well, let me illustrate by comparing your life to your home. In the last book of the Bible, Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
    It's up to you to open the door of your life to Christ. Are you willing to invite Jesus to come in and change your life? Are you willing to place all of your trust and confidence in Him rather than in your own works? If so, let me suggest you complete the transaction by praying something like this:
    "Dear God, I know I am a sinner and unable to save myself. But I do believe You love me, and that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for my sins. Right here and now, I ask You to forgive my every sin and give me the gift of eternal life. Thank You, dear God, for hearing and answering my prayer, and for giving me eternal life as You promised You would. Amen.
    In closing, let me remind you that the Bible says, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life...” (1 John 5:13).

    Is Baptism a Dogma?

    The Bible says that salvation is a finished work wrought by Jesus Christ on the cross, and that all the merit's of the salvation Christ earned on the cross are available to the true believer by faith (John 6:29; Hebrews. 11). Furthermore, the Bible explicitly states that, "He [Jesus Christ], HAVING OFFERED ONE SACRIFICE FOR SINS FOR ALL TIME, sat down at the right hand of God...". (Hebrews 10:12).
    In reference to His redemptive work, Jesus Himself said on the cross, "It is Finished" (John 19:30). What is finished is finished, what is done is done. Some denominations say redemption is not finished, it is not done, and that they must re-create and partake in a ceremony in order to apply the work of Christ's redemption. This is not supported by the Scriptures but dogma.

    The Council of Trent (1545-63) stated that while Christ "merited for us justification by His most holy passion ... the instrumental cause [of justification/regeneration] is the sacrament of baptism .... If anyone says that baptism is ... not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema."

    (1)  Vatican ll (1962-65) reconfirms all of Trent (2) and reiterates the necessity of baptism for salvation, (3) as does the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church released by the Vatican in 1993. "Baptism is necessary for salvation ... the Church does not know of any [other] means ... that assures entry into eternal beatitude .... "

    Dozens of Salvation Passages

    When people discuss whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation, the tendency is to focus on a few passages of Scripture such as Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, John 3:5, and 1 Peter 3:21. However, there are many other New Testament passages which teach us something about salvation, and it is important to take those passages into consideration as well.

    Now, what does it take for a person to become saved so that he will go to heaven and escape hell? That's the basic question which we are trying to answer here. What we find when we study about salvation in the New Testament is that there are dozens of passages of Scripture which tell us that we must believe in Jesus for salvation, and these passages do not say anything about being baptized. For example, take a close look at the words of Jesus in the well-known John 3:16 verse:

    "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." ( John 3:16 )

    In this famous verse, Jesus said that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. Jesus said nothing about baptism here, He simply said that we must believe in Him. In fact, just one verse earlier Jesus said:

    " everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." (John 3 :15)

    So, again, we can see that Jesus said that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. Notice that He did not qualify this statement by saying that we must be baptized, but instead He went on to repeat His point that, whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (John 3:16, above). In fact, just a few verses later He repeated this same point again:

    " Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." ( John 3:18 )

    Once again Jesus said that whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already. The issue concerning salvation versus condemnation is our belief, not our baptism. Later in the same chapter Jesus made a similar statement:

    " Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life" (John 3:36)

    Whom did Jesus say has eternal life? Those who believe in Him. Therefore, if we believe in Him then we have eternal life. Jesus didn't mention baptism at all here. Here's another place where Jesus repeated this fact:

    "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life ." ( John 5:24 )

    Jesus said that if we hear His Word and believe Him who sent Jesus then we have eternal life and we have crossed over from death to life. Jesus did not say anything about being baptized. Here's another place where Jesus said essentially the same thing:

    "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life , and I will raise him up at the last day." ( John 6:40 )

    Again, everyone who believes in Jesus shall have eternal life. And again, no mention of baptism. Here's another place where Jesus repeated this same fact:

    "I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life ." ( John 6:47 )

    Who has eternal life? Those who believe in Jesus. In fact, Jesus gave added emphasis to this statement by saying, "I tell you the truth." Therefore, if we believe in Him then we have eternal life. Jesus didn't mention baptism at all. Here's another one: "I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins ." ( John 8:24 )

    What is it that causes us to die in our sins? Not believing in Jesus. Therefore, believing in Jesus is a requirement for salvation. But the New Testament never says that if we are not baptized then we will die in our sins, which means that baptism is not a requirement for salvation (more on this in Part Two of this series). Here's another one: "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"" ( John 11:25-26 )

    Whom did Jesus say will live (i.e. will have eternal life)? Those who believe in Him. Whom did Jesus say will never die (i.e. will have eternal life)? Those who believe in Him. Therefore, if we believe in Him then we will live forever (we will have salvation and eternal life). Jesus didn't mention baptism at all here. Now notice what the apostle John wrote: "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name ." (John 20:30-31)

    How do we have life (eternal life) in His name? By believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Nothing about baptism is mentioned here. The apostle Peter echoed this same fact: " everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." ( Acts 10:43 ) Who receives forgiveness of sins? Everyone who believes in Jesus. Peter said nothing about baptism here. Later Peter repeated this same fact: "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses." ( Acts 13:38-39 ) Who receives justification and forgiveness of sins? Everyone who believes . Baptism is not mentioned at all in this passage. Now, here is a passage in which a man specifically asked how to become saved: ""Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?" They replied, " Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved --you and your household."" ( Acts 16:30-31 )

    The apostle Paul and Silas were specifically asked what must be done in order to receive salvation. Notice that they did not mention baptism at all. They specifically said that we must believe in the Lord Jesus and we will be saved. The apostle Paul said essentially the same thing in the following verse: "You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. " ( Acts 20:20-21 ) What did Paul preach and teach? That we must turn to God in repentance and have faith in Jesus. He said nothing at all here about being baptized for salvation. In another passage Paul repeated the fact that we receive salvation by faith: "I am not ashamed of the gospel , because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." ( Romans 1:16 ) Paul said that the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes , and he did not say that baptism is required. Paul went on to say that we receive righteousness by faith: "For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." ( Romans 1:17 )

    How did Paul say that we receive righteousness? By faith. Paul said nothing about baptism here. Once again Paul repeated the fact that righteousness comes through faith to all who believe: "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe ." ( Romans 3:22 ) Again, there is no mention of baptism here, only faith. Here's another one: "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-- he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus ." ( Romans 3:25-26 )

    Notice how we appropriate Christ's atonement: Through faith in His blood. Notice how we receive justification: Through faith in Jesus. Once again there is no mention of baptism here. In fact, just two verses later the apostle Paul repeated the fact that we are justified by faith: "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law." ( Romans 3:28 ) How are we justified? By faith. Paul didn't say that we are justified by faith and baptism. One chapter later, Paul repeated this fact once again: "However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness ." ( Romans 4:5 ) How are we credited with righteousness? By our faith, and notice that baptism is not mentioned at all here. Several verses later, Paul said the same thing: "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them ." ( Romans 4:11 )

    Again, how did the apostle Paul say that we have righteousness credited to us? By believing. Baptism is not listed as a requirement here. Two verses later, Paul repeated this fact: "It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith ." ( Romans 4:13 )

    Again, righteousness comes by faith, with no additional requirements such as baptism. Ten verses later, Paul repeated the fact that righteousness is credited to us through our faith: "The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness -- for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead." ( Romans 4:23-24 ) Over and over we have seen that salvation, eternal life, forgiveness of sins, justification, and righteousness all come by faith, and baptism is not mentioned at all in these passages. Here's another one: "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith , we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." ( Romans 5:1-2 ) Justification is by faith. Nothing is said about baptism being a requirement. Here's another place where the apostle Paul said that righteousness is by faith: "What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith ; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works." ( Romans 9:30-32 )

    Again, righteousness comes by faith. Baptism is not mentioned here at all. Here is another place where the apostle Paul said that righteousness is for everyone who believes : "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes ." ( Romans 10:4 )

    Again, righteousness is for everyone who believes, and baptism is not listed as a requirement. Here's a place where the apostle Paul was more specific about how to receive salvation: "That if you confess 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 confess and are saved ." ( Romans 10:9-10 ) In this passage, the apostle Paul was very clear that we need to believe and confess (notice that baptism is not mentioned at all here). For example, ( John 12:42-43 describes some people who believed in Jesus, but they were unwilling to confess their faith because they loved praise from men more than praise from God. The implication is that they did not have saving faith. If we truly have saving faith then we are willing to confess Jesus as our Lord, but the point here is that baptism is not listed as an element of salvation. A few verses later Paul repeated this point: " Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved ." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in ?" ( Romans 10:13-14 )

    Paul said that everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved, and then Paul pointed out that we can't call on the Name of the Lord if we don't believe in Him. Again, if we truly have saving faith then we will be willing to confess Jesus as our Lord and call on His Name (notice that Paul did not mention baptism at all here). The apostle Peter echoed this same fact: "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved " ( Acts 2:21 )

    Again, everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. The apostle Peter said nothing about baptism here. Here's another verse which says that those who believe are saved: "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe ." ( 1 Corinthians 1:21 ) Once again we are told that God saves those who believe . Nothing about baptism is mentioned here. The following passage tells us that we are justified by our faith in Jesus Christ: "We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ . So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." ( Galatians 2:15-16 )

    How do we receive justification? By faith in Christ. Baptism is not listed as a requirement here. A few verses later, the apostle Paul repeated this fact: "Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith." ( Galatians 3:7-9 ) Once again we are told that we are justified by faith, and baptism is not mentioned at all here. Later, Paul said that we are all sons of God through faith: "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus " ( Galatians 3:26 )

    How do we become sons of God? Through faith in Christ (it doesn't say through faith and water baptism). Here is another place where the apostle Paul said that we are saved through faith: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith " ( Ephesians 2:8 ) How have we been saved? Through faith (it doesn't say through faith and baptism). And again: "and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ --the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith ." ( Philippians 3:9 ) Over and over we have seen that salvation, eternal life, forgiveness of sins, justification, and righteousness all come through faith in Christ. None of these passages has said anything about water baptism as a requirement for salvation. Here's another example: "But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth." ( 2 Thessalonians 2:13 )

    How are we saved? Through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. It doesn't say anything about baptism. Here's another passage which says that we receive eternal life by believing in Jesus: "But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life ." ( 1 Timothy 1:16 )

    How do we receive eternal life? By believing in Jesus. Baptism is not mentioned here at all. The apostle John pointed out that everyone who believes in Jesus is born of God: " Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God , and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well." ( 1 John 5:1 )

    Notice that we are born of God by believing in Jesus, and nothing is said about baptism. Here's another one: 1 John 5:4: "for everyone born of God overcomes the world . This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:5 : " Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God ." In 1 John 5:5 (above), the apostle John said that only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God can overcome the world. In the previous verse (1 John 5:4, above), John said that everyone who is born of God overcomes the world. Putting these two verses together tells us that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God is born of God. Again, it is our faith in Christ which saves us, and baptism is not mentioned here at all.

    We have seen that there are literally dozens of passages in the New Testament which say that we can receive salvation, eternal life, righteousness, justification, forgiveness of sins, and so on, through faith in Christ. Notice that baptism was not mentioned in any of the above passages, good works were not mentioned, penance was not mentioned, church membership was not mentioned, and so on, because those things are not necessary for salvation.

How about the water baptism described in the book of Acts? Read HERE