Is Baptism Really Necessary for Salvation?

Do you have a go-to Bible passage – you know, the one your fingers instinctively turn to without thinking? If you’ve attended services with us here at Beaver Dam church of Christ, you may have already discovered which one is mine. My go-to passage is Acts 2, and for good reason.

There’s so much going on in this chapter, but let’s consider the section when Peter’s preaching to the Pentecost crowd (Acts 2:14-41). This is the first gospel sermon following the ascension of Christ, and Peter makes it emphatically clear that they (the audience) are responsible for the death of Christ. Talk about a tough message to deliver! However, in the same breath Peter informs them God’s will was fulfilled. Peter builds on this message by showing that even king David realized there was One coming that would overshadow him. This too would be a challenging thing to hear coming from a Jewish background (a lot of Jews present – Acts 2:1, 5).  As Peter concludes his sermon, he again emphasizes the crowd’s responsibility for Jesus’ crucifixion (Acts 2:36). 

With Peter’s difficult message presented, how do you think the crowd responded? We read in the next verse they were “cut to the heart” and asked Peter and the other apostles, “what shall we do?” This is a beautiful example of conviction! While they couldn’t bring Jesus back, they were still guilty of sin and they knew it. They wanted to know how to rectify the situation.

So what was Peter’s answer? Acts 2:38-39, “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. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” We then read that nearly 3,000 souls obeyed by being baptized that day! Thus began the Lord’s church. 

Let’s look even deeper. Peter’s answer is actually the same as Christ’s command before His ascension. Jesus told Peter and the others to make disciples by “baptizing them” in Matthew 28:19. Furthermore, numerous examples abound in the book of Acts (following Acts 2) where the person being taught the gospel responds by being baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Here are some examples to see for yourself: Simon (Acts 8:9-13), Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40), Saul (Acts 9:18), Cornelius (Acts 10), Lydia (Acts 16:11-15), and the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:25-40). 

So, when Peter said, “the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off…” we can rest assured he’s even speaking of us today. If the promise is constant, why wouldn’t the method by which one is saved be constant? Baptism for salvation isn’t a suggestion or even a theory, it’s a Biblical fact. Jesus and His first disciples taught and practiced it. To teach anything different for one’s salvation would be false teaching…and the Bible has plenty to say about that too.

P.S. In the span of eight days, we’ve had three wonderful teenagers baptized for the forgiveness of their sins! Praise God! If they can see the Truth and the importance to obey, can’t you? Let us know if we can help you in your obedience to the Gospel!