Join us as we answer these questions and more.
Is Water Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
1. The biggest and most dangerous example of not “rightly dividing” the Bible is all the different plans of salvation that pastors and churches teach to be saved, yet most use the same Bible. Some say you have to believe but also be baptized, some say you have to believe and do works to keep it, others say you just have to believe and accept Christ as your saviour. So how do we know which one is biblically correct today? Answer: We have to rightly divide the word of God.
2. There are three essential guidelines that you need to follow to rightly divide the scriptures:
#1. Who the portion of scripture is from
#2. Who the passage was addressed or written to
#3. Does it doctrinally apply today?
We are commanded by God to rightly divide: [2nd Timothy 2:15] “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
3. What are the divisions God is referring to? There are three classes of people God deals with in the Bible. Everyone in the world are in one of these three classes. These classes are found in [1st Corinthians 10:32] “Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God.”
1. The Jews: Includes anyone of the Jewish race.
2. The Gentiles: Includes anyone that is not a Jew.
3. The Church of God: Includes both Jew and Gentile that have accepted Christ as their Saviour. Once you are “born again” [John 3:3] you are spiritually neither Jew nor Gentile but you are in the Church which is Jesus Christ’s body [Ephesians 1:22-23] “And hath put all things under his feet and gave him (Jesus) to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body…” So there are local churches all over the world that have both saved and lost people in them, but this church God is talking about is an organism not an organization. We are put into the church, his body once we accept Christ as our saviour and receive His Spirit [1st Corinthians 12:12-13] “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also in Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free: and have been all made to drink into one spirit.” This baptism here is the spiritual baptism (no water) that John told us about in [John 3:11] “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost…”
4. The Gospels: The new testament wasn’t in effect until Jesus Christ died [Hebrews 9:16-17] so up until [Matthew 28] everyone is still under the old testament law including Jesus Christ [Galatians 4:4-5] and this is why many times in the book of Matthew, Mark and Luke Jesus answers someone’s question about how to be saved with an answer which included them having to do works and keep the commandments. Before Jesus Christ died and rose again, if someone had died without keeping the old testament law and sacrifices they would have went to hell since the new testament hadn’t taken effect yet. Jesus Christ came to His chosen race first (The Jews). Examples: [Matthew 15:22-26], [Matthew 10:5-6], [Romans 9:4-5], [Romans 15:8]. Christ came to set up his physical literal kingdom for the Jews. This is the kingdom God promised the nation of Israel all throughout the old testament since Abraham. John the baptist preached it [Matt 3:1], Jesus Christ preached it [Matt 4:17], the 12 apostles preached it [Matt 10:7]. The apostles all were looking for the kingdom, and couldn’t understand that Jesus had to die: [Matt 19:28], Luke 22:29-30] We must then be careful not to get our plan of salvation from the Gospels since the majority of it was to the Jews and under the old testament law. We can still find many church age doctrines in the gospels such as “ye must be born again”, but because Christ first came to set up His kingdom, much of it has to do with the Kingdom age salvation (millennial reign of Christ) which you find in the sermon on the mount and also the event that will take place before the kingdom which is the 7 years of tribulation such as “he that endures to the end shall be saved.” The Gospels give us an amazing account of our Lord’s ministry and death, burial, and resurrection. [2nd Timothy 3:16] tells us that all scripture is profitable but does not mean it all doctrinally applies to us for salvation today.
5. So then where do we get our doctrine of salvation for us today in the Bible? We today get our doctrine for salvation from the apostle Paul (the Pauline epistles). Why Paul? Because after you see the Jews reject the last offer of the kingdom in Acts chapter 7 by stoning Stephen you see in the next three chapters three men representing the three races of the entire world getting saved right in a row: Ham [Acts 8:37], Shem [9:4-6], Japeth [Acts 10:44]. The message now is directed to the Gentiles. [Acts 13:46]. The kingdom is now not available to the Jews until the 1,000 millennial reign of Christ that will take place when “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” [Romans 11:25-26], [Luke 21:24].
Why Paul? Because Paul is the apostle of the Gentiles [Romans 11:13], the gospel of the uncircumcision (Gentiles) was committed unto Paul [Galatians 2:7], we will be judged by Paul’s gospel [Romans 2:16], and the mystery of the church was revealed to Paul that was not revealed to anyone else before [Colos. 1:24-27], [Ephesians 3:1-11].
6. What about the book of Acts? The book of Acts is a transition book. It is a time of transitioning from Jew to Gentile, from Law to Grace, and from the apostle Peter to the apostle Paul. The book of Acts sends many to Hell because they do not rightly divide. Let me show you what I mean, I am going to show you 5 different ways to receive the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. In [Acts 2:38] you had to repent and then be baptized in water to receive the Holy Ghost. Then in [Acts 8:12-22] they had to believe, repent, and be baptized in water, but didn’t received the Holy Ghost until they had hands laid on them. Then in [Acts 10:43-48] they had to believe, and repent to receive the Holy Ghost but they did not have to be baptized in water or have hands laid on them to be saved. In [Acts 16:31] all they had to do to receive the Holy Ghost was to believe. Then in [Acts 19:2-6] they believed, repented, and were baptized but didn’t receive the Holy Ghost until Paul laid his hands on them. So here you see very plainly that God slowly transitioned from Law to Grace and from Jew to Gentile and it is recorded in the book of Acts.
7. How to be saved today Understand that you are a sinner and deserve Hell. [Romans 3:10], [Romans 3:23], [Romans 6:23]. Repent of your sins [2nd Corinthians 7:10], [Acts 20:21], [2nd Peter 3:9]. Believe in your heart that Christ died for you and rose again and call upon Him and Him alone to save you [Romans 10:9-13].
8. What about being baptized? Water baptism is the “like figure” of what has happened to us inside. It is an outward showing of what has happened inside of us once we are saved. [1st Peter 3:20-21]. What about [Acts 2:38]? Again Acts is a transition book but many people teach that this verse shows us today how to be saved. But this was addressed to the Nation of Israel not to the Church of God or the Gentiles vs’s 5, 22, 36. This is not to the Gentiles and the question is not how can we be saved but what do we do now that we (the Jews) have crucified our Messiah? Peter preaches now again in [Acts 10:43] but instead of telling them they had to be baptized in water he preaches “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Cornelius received the Holy Ghost and then gets baptized afterward. Salvation now has turned from National (Jews) to individual, and the Gentiles salvation is now the way to heaven. Paul then preaches in Act 13:39 and preaches the same thing as Peter had in [Acts 10:43] but Paul didn’t receive it from Peter but from a revelation from God Himself [Galatians 1:12]. So now there is no baptism involved in salvation. Why stay in [Acts 2:38] when the plan of salvation has changed? [Acts 15] is where a big meeting was held to address the issues that some taught you had to do something such as be circumcised (like baptism) to be saved. In [Acts 15:11] Paul says “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we (the Jews) shall be saved, even as they (the Gentiles). So salvation is no longer by the Jewish method of [Acts 2:38] but by the Gentiles method revealed in Acts chapter 10 and on. So water baptism is only a public profession of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and it always is performed after you are saved [Acts 10:47], [Acts 8:36-38], [Acts 16:31-32].