WORDS OF FAITH
“… nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine …”
1 Tim. 4:6
Central Church of Christ
January 08, 2012
Is Baptism Necessary For Salvation?
Correctly answering this question means the difference
between an eternity in Heaven or an eternity in Hell. One’s
salvation hangs in the balance. Therefore, one cannot be undecided
about this issue. Some in this world say that baptism is not
necessary for salvation, others say that it is altogether necessary.
The rules of logic demand that one side or the other be correct and
not both, that rule being the law of excluded middle. This rule
states that every precisely stated proposition is either true or false.
Any middle ground is excluded, there is no maybe. So, the
question as to whether baptism is necessary for salvation or not can
be precisely answered. And it is to that answer, that this article
shall be devoted.
First of all the word baptize needs to be defined. The Greek
root word “βαπτίζω” or “baptizō” can be defined in the following
way: “1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels
sunk) 2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make
clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe 3) to overwhelm.” The
above definition is from Thayer’s Greek lexicon as found on the
computer program E-sword. Lexicons and dictionaries only give
the usage or usages of a word. The context where a word is found
reveals its intended meaning. In order that the Biblical meaning of
baptize/baptism (particularly as it refers to salvation) can be found,
the Scriptures must be consulted. “Know ye not, that so many of us
as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like
as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father,
even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been
planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also
in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man
is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that
henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:3-6). Paul relates
baptism to a burial, the burial of the Lord after His crucifixion.
Jesus said that His burial would be in the “heart of the earth”(Mat.
12:40). The Gospel accounts confirm that Jesus was buried (Mat.
27:59-60). Paul’s comparison must fit, therefore, the only way that
can happen is that baptism is an immersion; because, it is factual
that all of Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb. If baptism is not
immersion then it must logically follow that not all of the Lord’s
body was put into the tomb. One may categorically say that
baptism is not sprinkling or pouring, but rather an immersing or
burial in water.
Now that baptism has been defined, the question as to
whether it is necessary for salvation shall be answered. “He that
believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not
shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). Jesus gave this command just
prior to His ascension to Heaven. He was giving the conditions that
every accountable person must meet in order to be saved. Within
this statement by the Lord the word “and” is very important. “And”
is a coordinating conjunction. “Coordinating conjunctions join
words, phrases, or clauses of equal grammatical rank.” Chapman’s
handbook of grammar gives the above definition, therefore, one
may correctly conclude that believing and being baptized are equal
in the Lord’s statement. Both are equally necessary for salvation.
Peter made the following statement concerning baptism, “The like
figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the
putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good
conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1
Peter 3:21). One should answer the question of what is “saving
us.” It is certainly baptism. Peter is illustrating the likeness of
Noah and his family being saved by the Flood and the salvation
which comes through being immersed or baptized in water.
The foregoing passages of Scripture are plainly given statements.
If one will accept these for what they are, then the message
is certain. Salvation depends on baptism. Walking in newness of
life depends on baptism. The crucifixion of your old sinful way of
life depends on baptism. Can one be saved without baptism? No.
Therefore baptism is necessary for salvation. – John, Dalton Defender, 2008.