Some groups and individuals hold that one cannot be saved unless he is baptized in the name of Jesus. They usually show the following verses for their doctrine, Acts 2:38; Titus 3:5; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:6, where it is implied that repentance and baptism are mandated for salvation. Hence please throw more light into this burning issue. Do we have to be baptized to be saved?
ESV - 5 He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
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John 3:16-17 clarifies that it is only through the death, burial and resurrection do we inherit eternal life. Baptism is an outward showing of an inward acceptance of the Lord Jesus. The thief that hung on the cross next to Jesus never was baptized and yet Jesus told him because he believed that he was the Christ “this day thou shall be with me in paradise” Luke 23:43. Now by no means am I saying that baptism is not important because it is. However accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior and being baptized are two different functions that transpires in a believers life. Basically what I am saving is, you can get to heaven without being baptized but, you cannot get to heaven without accepting Christ as the Son of God
The problem with baptismal regeneration is that it contradicts other Scriptures that state we are justified by faith. Justification is Yahweh's declaration upon a sinner that the person is declared righteous in Yahweh's sight. In other words, only Christians are justified; only Christians are saved. Oneness theology teaches that "obeying the Gospel" includes being baptized in water in order to be forgiven of our sins. It appears in the New Testament that belief is the primary way to access Yahweh's gift of grace. The Bible is replete with salvation tied to belief. In fact in Acts 16, Paul and Silas were asked the direct question: "what must I do to be saved?" Their answer: "If you believe upon the Lord Jesus, you and your household will be saved." Acts 8:37, the Eunuch was baptized because of his confession of Jesus Christ/Yeshua ha Mashiach, not for his sins to be forgiven. Simon Peter said their hearts were "purified by faith" (Acts 15:9) and that we are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ like they were (Acts 15:11); that is, before and without water baptism! Peter says later in Acts 3:19: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come. We also see in Acts 10 that there was a group of people who were saved prior to baptism. If this is true, then how is it that the converts of Acts 10 were saved by faith before and without water baptism? The Bible says in Acts 5:32 that only those who obey Yahweh may receive the Holy Ghost - so what did those in Acts 10 do to obey and receive the Holy Ghost and be saved? Simon Peter said their hearts were "purified by faith" (Acts 15:9) and that we are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ like they were (Acts 15:11); that is, before and without water baptism! Peter says later in Acts 3:19: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord," eliminating any baptism (is this a contradiction of 1Pet. 3:21?) Both are by the same author, as is Acts10:43; which explains they were saved - by faith without baptism. Salvation is of grace solely, and is received by faith and faith alone (Eph. 2:8, 9). "He that believeth on the Son of Yahweh hath eternal life" John 6: 47). The Bible plainly teaches that only Jesus’ precious literal Blood washes our sins away (1st John 1:7; Revelation 1:5). Baptism illustrates a believer's identification with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4). The action of being immersed in the water illustrates dying and being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christ's resurrection.
This is a "VERY" confusing subject and one that I've been praying on for a while. I believe in Jesus Christ, he is my Lord and Savior. I trust in him to lead me to the correct answer. I know that at this moment I am saved and my name is written in the "Lamb’s Book of Life". Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. If immersion baptism is the only way for us to be truly saved, we have just eliminated billions of people who were baptized by "sprinkling," mainly our Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you! I will continue to pray for us all through Jesus Christ that he will show his will to all. God bless!
Without His grace there would be no salvation available, but with grace and without obedience there is no salvation either. Also, I suggest you read beyond John 3:16, read the whole chapter and pay special attention to verses 35 and 36. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. This seems to me to suggest the doing of something. Unworthy Servants - Luke 17: 7-10, Parable of the Talents - Matt. 25:14-30, Because “baptism doth also now save us.” 1Peter 3:21; Mark 16:16 My issue with “Grace Only” is that it is contrary to scripture. To teach something either more or less than what the scriptures teach is a serious sin. It is an incomplete message given to one who is now lost, but thinks he is saved! Not a good place to be in. It all fits together and works together, but some chose to separate it into Grace only, Faith only, Belief only, Water Baptism only, Holy Spirit Baptism only, Works only. Works in some ways seems almost more important than some of the others in that Works supports one’s belief and one’s faith if done out of love. We can not earn our way into heaven by doing lots of good works, but we cannot get into heaven without works.
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