Quora Question: Does Baptism save you?
Sadly, far too many people are under the impression that Baptism saves you. This answer is not a treatise on Baptismal Generation in toto, or on infant baptism, but it does answer in short order the heretical notion that Baptism has anything to do with salvation itself.
Does Baptism save you? The simple answer is NO. Contrary to some of the foolish notions evidenced with other responses to this question, Jesus in John 3 does not refer to water baptism when he spoke of being “born of water”, it is actually made very clear within the passage itself.
A Short Exposition
In expounding a text we first derive understanding from the passage, this is called ‘Exegesis‘. What we never do is attempt to imply meaning to the passage, that is called ‘Eisegesis‘.
- First is the order noted: “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit”
- Then the explanation of what he refers to: “that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit”
- Conclusion: That which is born of water refers to that which is born of the flesh, that which is “born of the spirit” is “Spirit”.
This is very often the way the Lord teaches us the meanings of terms and words as he uses them is specific contexts, he employs synonymous readings with a certain exchange of words he desires to teach are synonymous, e.g. “born of water” = “born of the flesh”.
We are all born of the flesh, but just prior to our birth was something that broke within the womb, we cannot be born UNTIL the ‘waters break’, we are all thereby “born of water” literally. But none of us are born of the spirit, quite the contrary; “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;” (Eph 2:1).
If this were not so then we would have tremendous problems reconciling Jesus statement to the thief on the cross, who did no works neither is there any reference to him being taken down from the cross, baptised and put back up to complete his penalty before Jesus could say “today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:43).
Baptism is that which FOLLOWS one being saved, it is an ordinance and not a sacrament.
When the Ethiopian eunuch asked Phillip the evangelist “See here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptised?” (Acts 8:36), Phillip understood that there is ONLY one hindrance to baptism and that is that the man has believed the Gospel (Sadly the answer he provides is deleted in the vast majority of modern translations, a perfect travesty enabling people to think nothing hinders their baptism), there is a hinderance to baptism and Phillip provides the answer to which the eunuch gives confession in the very next verse;
“And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (v37)
Another examples is when the Jailer requested of Paul the answer to his most pressing question, we see Paul did not give a ‘2 step program’, but only one thing being needful, after which he was baptised;
“Then he (The jailer) called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
Again, no ‘2 step program’, only believe in thine heart, it was only after this that the man was Baptised. Baptism in the Bible is the public evidence of saving faith. It is what men attended to AFTER repentance unto salvation, and not to obtain it.
Many people to often apply narrative to doctrine, which is never a great idea. And though I have employed narrative in these instances, we see the doctrines employed in the Epistles that actually present the instruction and clarity as to what baptism is.
- Baptism is a symbol. 1: “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.” (Rom 6:4)
- Baptism is a symbol. 2: “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” (Col 2:11–12)
It is clear that no physical burial was made, but through the waters of baptism a likeness to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ is symbolised, so too we see in the Romans example “buried with him by baptism”, buried, not in the earth, but fully in the water, as a symbolic reference to the death of that Old Man.
For the full proof of the doctrine we conclude with Peter’s epistle as he likens baptism even to that which Noah endured;
“… when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 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 Pet 3:21–21).
Baptism does not put away the filth of the flesh, but is “the answer of a good conscience toward God”, just as Jesus stated to John the Baptist when he baptised him (ie: John baptised Jesus), recall;
“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.”(Matt 3:13-15)
Jesus had no need of being Baptized to be “Saved”, he is God manifest in the flesh. Jesus symbolized that which he would do for the world literally, when we are baptized we have symbolized through the waters of baptism that which has occurred to every born again individual literally, that is, we died and rose to newness of life (Rom 6:4), it is no longer I who lives “but Christ liveth in me” (Gal 2:20).
- If baptism saves you, death bed conversions are impossible.
- If baptism saves you, then you had at least something to do with your salvation which contradicts all the Bible teaches, that salvation is “BY FAITH” (Rom 3:28, 3:30, 5:1, 9:32, 11:20, Gal 3:22, 3:24, 3:26 Hebrews 11 et al).
- If baptism saves you Jesus did not.
Baptism Has Value
Nevertheless, do not be mistaken into thinking it carries with it no value. Though baptism is not salvific, it is certainly that which is good to “fulfil all righteousness”, to which we see Jesus himself submit (Mat 3:14–15).
It is primarily what is taught that refers to the first step of obedience toward the Lord, a public confession of Christ, symbolising the transformation that has occurred in the believer.
There are two ordinances for the Church, one is baptism the other communion. The first is attended to where possible once only, the other as oft was we choose to when the local church gathers.
The consequences to believing Baptism is needed for salvation are astounding, the Papal church is evidence of it, securing a false security in the minds of multitudes that baptism opens a door to heaven to which when considered alone, only locks it. Far too many have been damned by this error alone.
I pray that helps.