Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? Part Deux

As promised, here is the second post regarding the topic of baptism and it’s relationship to salvation.  To get caught up with the discussion, you can check out the first installment here.

Immersed in Proof Texts

There is no doubt that baptism is an important part of the Christian experience and the New Testament is awash with texts regarding this sacrament.  What about the passages that seem to indicate that baptism was required, like Mark 16:15-16 and Acts 2:38?  Are they not part of the Gospel?

They most definitely are part of the Gospel accounts, but must be taken into consideration of the whole of scripture.  Let’s look at the first of these two.

“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned,” Mark 16:15-16.

This is a very simple one to exegete.  Jesus tells us to preach the Gospel to the whole creation and that whoever believes and is baptized is saved.  From whence comes the condemnation?  We find the answer in the same verse:  unbelief.  Not for lack of baptism; that is just an outward sign of an inward work.

Peter’s Perfect Pentecostal Pitch

As Christ ascended to heaven, instructions were given to the apostles:

“He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, He said,’you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance.  Appalled at such a display, the Jews gathered around mocked them saying they were drunk.  What ensued was the first post-crucifixion Gospel sermon given by an apostle (Acts 2:14-36).

The New Testament church was born.  Gatherers had one question when Peter was finished with his exposition: what shall we do?  Peter’s reply was short, sweet, and exactly correct:

“And Peter said to them, ‘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,'”(Acts 2:38 ESV)

There it is, huh?  That is the passage that puts the icing on the cake and clinches it for those who believe baptismal regeneration.

Let me defer to a more intelligent man than I who has many years of Biblical exposition under his belt and the same amount of years in the original Greek language.  Who better than Dr. John MacArthur.  He has this to say about the Greek construction in this ostensible hiccup:

[T]here are several plausible interpretations of this verse that do not connect forgiveness of sin with baptism. It is possible to translate the Greek preposition eis–’because of,’ or ‘on the basis of,’ instead of ‘for.’ It is used in that sense in Matthew 3:11; 12:41; and Luke 11:32.

It is also possible to take the clause ‘and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ’ as parenthetical. Support for that interpretation comes from that fact that ‘repent’ and ‘your’ are plural, while ‘be baptized’ is singular, thus setting it off from the rest of the sentence. If that interpretation is correct, the verse would read ‘Repent (and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ) for the forgiveness of your sins.’ Forgiveness is thus connected with repentance, not baptism, in keeping with the consistent teaching of the New Testament (cf. Luke 24:47; John 3:18; Acts 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18; Ephesians 5:26).  Emphasis mine

This interpretation matches with the rest of the New Testament doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.  Peter’s admonition was to point those listening to repentance toward God and…faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).

Stay tuned for the next installment in this series dealing with more proof texts of the baptismal regeneration view.

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  1. It is certainly not necessary for infants, children not having reached the age of accountability, those who lived pre New Covenant, and those with diminished mental capacity. And with the exception of the pre New Covenant folks, faith and repentance aren’t necessary for the rest, either.

  2. Nowhere does scripture say “saved by faith “alone”. James does tell us we are NOT saved by faith alone but also by works, that if we produce no works, our faith (through which we have access to grace) is dead and there is no salvation if our faith is dead.

    Also, Jesus said “he who believes and is baptized shall be saved” but he that believes not will be damned” is not grammatically or logically saying that we are damned by unbelief alone and not also because we haven’t been baptized. The lack of faith would eliminate the pairing of believing AND being baptized Jesus said results in our salvation.

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