IS SALVATION BY WATER BAPTISM?

Self-ImprovementSpirituality

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published May 19, 2023
  • Word count 1,574

16

GOSPEL MESSAGE #4: IS SALVATION BY WATER BAPTISM?

SALVATION BY WATER BAPTISM: CAN AN UNBELIEVER BE SAVED BY BEING SPRINKLED OR IMMERSED IN WATER?

Some would call this salvation message water baptism regeneration. There are at least eight major church denominations that believe in this doctrine. It has quite an acceptance. What is water baptism regeneration? This is a church doctrine that proclaims water baptism by sprinkling or immersion along with the person of the Holy Spirit causes an unbeliever to become a child of God.

How did they come up with this view, and is it scripturally sound?

According to them, when a baby is sprinkled with water or an adult is immersed, this baptism actually forgives the believer of their sins along with allowing them to enter into communion with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. And while this is going on, the priest and the congregation prays to God the Father so that through His son Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit may be sent upon the water, which they would say confirms what constitutes the components of this salvation message, i.e., being born of water and the Spirit.140 The arrival of the Holy Spirit is important because they allege, He provides the believer with a new heart. Therefore, water baptism, along with the Holy Spirit, causes an unbeliever to become God’s son or daughter. And hence, they’re allowed to enter the kingdom of God.

There’s a lot to consider here. Let’s begin by looking at the scriptural basis for each of the ingredients of salvation. It’s true that we’ve looked at some of these verses earlier in this study. But we have to restate them here, as they pertain to the gospel at hand.

WATER BAPTISM AND THE HOLY SPIRIT ARE THE INGREDIENTS FOR ENTERING THE KINGDOM OF GOD

John 3:5

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

They would say that this verse is pretty clear. Unless a person is born of water (albeit water baptism) and of the Spirit, they cannot enter into the kingdom of God. At this time, a child or adult becomes a child of God. That’s it.

WATER BAPTISM FORGIVES SINS

Acts 2:38

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

This verse presents two important factors with respect to salvation. The first is that the adult or baby needs to Repent (a confession of sins; a hearty purpose [of turning] from them141) of their sins. And second, they need to be baptized (in water), which is the basis for the forgiveness of their sins.

WATER BAPTISM AND THE SPIRIT ARE THE BASIS FOR REGENERATION

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

When someone is baptized in water with the presence of the Spirit, they’ve become regenerated or made a new person.

THE BAPTISM THAT SAVES SOMEONE IS WATER BAPTISM

1 Peter 3:20-21

Which sometime were disobedient, 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:

They would claim that as Noah and his family were saved by the water of the flood, water would be a type to pre-figure the baptism that now save us, which is water baptism.

There we have it. I’ll admit that if these were the only verses available pertaining to salvation in the Bible, then this gospel would have strong support. Another thing that came to my mind is that if it appears that two different things stand for the same thing, then only one of them must be true. Right. I’m going to present two contrary arguments to this gospel.

Please go to the book of Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:12-13 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

These verses tell us that when an unbeliever hears the gospel of Christ, which encompasses repentance and belief in Him as to who He is and what He has accomplished and believes it, they’ll receive the indwelling Spirit.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

And the result of such is that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The word power means that the gospel is the way that God exerts his power in the salvation of people.142 Some churches might argue that they believe in Jesus as evidenced by their belief in the Trinity of one God in three persons. While this doctrine is true, the focus of salvation should only be one member, and that’s Jesus.

The other concern about this gospel is found in the book of Acts.

Suggested Reading: Acts 8:5-40

Acts 8:35-37 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 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.

Philip, one of the seven deacons of Jerusalem, traveled to Sychar in the region of Samaria. While there, he preached the gospel of Christ to the Samaritans. These were people who held to both Jewish and pagan rites. When they heard the good news, they believed in Jesus and were baptized in water.

After which, the Spirit led Philip to proceed southward on the route from Jerusalem unto Gaza.

At some point, he sees a chariot, the occupant of which was a eunuch under Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians, who was reading out loud from the book of Isaiah. Being directed by the Spirit to join up with him, as he approached the transport, he heard him reading from this book and asked him if he understood it.

He basically replied, no. Then Philip told him about whom these passages were about, and that was Jesus. Essentially, he shared with him the gospel. As they approached a water source, the eunuch asked him if he could be baptized with water. Philip responded that the only way he would allow this was if he believed in Christ. He answered and said that he believed He’s the Son of God.

It’s clear that the eunuch made a personal decision to respond to the preaching about Christ. According to the gospel of water baptism, a baby can repent by means of the faith of their parents, which some describe as household salvation. Is this biblical? Let’s take a look at this in the next chapter.

Before we go there, I want to mention one more thing. Earlier, I said that if two different things mean the same thing, then one of them is true and the other isn’t.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Based on what we’ve learned, there’s one camp that says the basis for salvation is water and the Spirit. The other camp says that the basis for salvation is the gospel (repentance and belief) and the Spirit. Which one is correct? Is there a verse or verses that support one of them?

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, these verses support the view that the basis for salvation is the belief of the truth (gospel) and the Spirit. This means that the word water from John 3:5 isn’t to be taken literally for water baptism but figuratively for the gospel.

Are you ready to take a look at whether an adult Christian can repent for their child or even for family members or friends? I’m ready. Let’s find out.

Endnotes

140Catechism of the Catholic Church - The sacrament of Baptism ˂www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a1.htm>

141Barnes.

142Barnes.

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New Covenant Ministries - Ministerios NuevoPacto - Harbor Church, Block Island

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My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).

Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

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