Must I be baptized to be saved?

To answer this question, observe the reason for water baptism in the first place:


John 1:31-34 (NKJV)

31 I did not know Him; but THAT HE SHOULD BE REVEALED TO ISRAEL (as Messiah), therefore I came baptizing with water.” 32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I DID NOT KNOW HIM (to be the Messiah), but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”


Here, John tells us clearly that water baptism was to point Jesus to John and Israel as the Messiah. John was to keep baptizing with water till he met One whom the Spirit would descend upon like a dove when He was baptized. So water baptism was not supposed to be a CONTINUOUS OCCURRENCE. It was to end once Jesus was identified as the coming Messiah.


But what about John 3?


John 3:5 (NKJV)

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water AND the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.


Many have tried to use this text to justify the doctrine of water baptism. They say unless you are born of water, that is, baptized by immersion, you cannot see the kingdom of God. Some even say that there is no salvation without immersion in water. But observe that water in this text is merely metaphorical. The word “and” (“kai” in the Greek) is used copulatively here. That is, the text should better read:


Unless a man be born of water, THAT IS, the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.


The water being referred to is THE SPIRIT! This speaks of the New Birth not water baptism! Do you see that? The succedent text proves this:


John 3:6 (NKJV) 

6 That which is BORN of the flesh is flesh, and that which is BORN of the SPIRIT is SPIRIT. 


Not referring to water baptism but being born again of the Spirit.


John 3:5 (NKJV) 

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and (kai- that is) the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 


Hence Paul says:

1 Corinthians 1:13 (NKJV) 

17 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.


He didn’t send us either. We are to preach the Gospel. Simple!


But weren’t people baptized in the Book of Acts?

Yes. But only because the Early Church was still growing in knowledge. The Church we find in Acts is one evolving in her practices. This is why most practices in Acts are not normative. Water baptism was later WELL UNDERSTOOD over time, especially after Paul came on the scene.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2021.

1 Comment

  1. Richard Kusi Dartey

    Good stuff. Thank you, Sir.

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