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Is baptism really essential for one to be saved?

Baptism is a topic that is widely disputed in the religious world but a topic that is given great emphasis in the New Testament, being mentioned more than 100 times.  Is baptism essential in order to be saved and to go to heaven?  Let us go back to the Bible and allow God to answer this question.

Baptism is essential to salvation for it always precedes salvation when the two words are used together in the New Testament. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). Peter wrote, “baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3:21).  Baptism comes before salvation and not salvation before baptism.

Baptism is essential to salvation as it is a command from heaven. Jesus commanded His disciples to teach all nations and baptize them (Matthew 28:18-20).  Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:7), “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5).  On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).  Jesus told Saul to go into the city of Damascus, “and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6).  We learn from Acts 22:16 that Paul was told that he must “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins.”

Baptism is essential to salvation for it is the only way to get “into Christ.” Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:10 that “salvation...is in Christ Jesus,” and he also revealed that in order to get into Christ (wherein is salvation) one must be “baptized into Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

Baptism is essential to salvation as it brings one not only into Christ, but “into His death” (Romans 6:3-4).  In His death on the cross, Jesus shed His blood, which washes “us from our sins” (Revelation 1:5).  It is only in baptism that this cleansing will take place, for the Bible plainly says, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16).

Baptism is essential to salvation as every account of conversion in the book of Acts demonstrates. Nine conversions are recorded in the book of Acts (2:1-47; 8:5-13; 8:24-40; 9:1-18; 10:24-48; 16:11-15; 16:25-34; 18:4-11; 19:1-7), and in every one, without exception, it is emphasized that they were baptized.  Only after they were baptized did they secure salvation and rejoice.

Baptism is essential to salvation for it places one into His kingdom. At the end of time, Jesus will deliver “the kingdom to God the Father” (1 Corinthians 15:24).  To spend eternity with God, one must be in that kingdom, and “unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Baptism is essential to salvation for it places one into His body, the church. “We were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13), the body being His church (Colossians 1:18).  Thus, when we are baptized and saved from our sins, God adds us immediately to His church (Acts 2:47), which is His kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19).

Is baptism essential in order to be saved and to go to heaven?  God, through His Word, emphatically and conclusively says, “Yes!”