Does Water Baptism Save Us? Scriptures on Water Baptism and What it Symbolizes

What is water baptism and does it symbolize? As professing followers of Christ we certainly want to acknowledge that we are called to be baptized in water as a public profession of our faith, but unfortunately some religions like the Pentecostal church have misguided believers to a works based salvation and a works based theology thinking that we can’t be saved UNLESS we are baptized in water first. Today we will discuss:

What is Water Baptism?
Do You Have to be Baptized to be Saved?
What it the Importance of Baptism?
Should Kids Get Baptized?
Types of Baptism – Water Baptism, Spirit Baptism

This idea of needing to be baptized in water to be saved is in deep conflict with what we read in Acts as we see Peter is sharing the gospel and the gift of the Holy Spirit WAS poured out on the Gentiles, right there on the spot. Having ALREADY been saved and ALREADY received the Holy Spirit Peter then asks the question “who could refuse them being water baptized since they had  ALREADY received the Holy Spirit JUST AS they did”.

[Acts 10:44-47] While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” 48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.

The people that teach this phony doctrine of water baptism for salvation seems to totally overlook those verses, and as we see Acts 10 this is more of a cult teaching. They take a small piece of the bible and build an entire theology out of it. Yet if we read Acts 2:3 we see that “tongues of fire came to rest on each of them”, and the Pentecostal church does not appear to be experiencing that so they omit it from their doctrine. Funny how that works, huh?
Note:  We are PRO water baptism, but……For different reasons.

Water BaptismThe Meaning of Baptism

The word baptized simply means to be “placed in”. So water baptism is being placed “in water”, and spiritual baptism is the Spirit being placed “in you”. So, yes, being water baptized is part of our faith. It’s what we do as we publicly state we are followers of Christ. But contrary to popular false teaching, water in no way saves us. Jesus does, through faith. This false religion that states you must be water baptized in order to be saved (implying your faith is not enough, and God needs water to finish it off). God sees the heart! ONLY blood cleanses sin. Jesus’  blood.
Some religions sadly take a couple verses from scripture, misinterprets them, then tells believers to get water baptized or they won’t be saved, all while ignoring an endless supply of scriptures that discuss how we are saved yet never mention ‘water’ baptism, but rather only ask you to believe in the Son of God. The bible is clear that through your faith (apart from works – apart from law) you will be saved. The scripture I shared from Acts 10 simply showed non Jewish people hearing the gospel, believing, and then receiving the Holy Spirit, BEFORE being water baptized.
So with that said , we hold that you do NOT need to be water baptized to saved, though we certainly should act in obedience and participate in this celebration. Nonetheless your true unwavering faith in Christ is enough.

Where it all Gets Messed up

As I said earlier, this same religion would teach that you must speak in tongue as evidence of being saved. Sadly, this is even more twisted and misunderstood doctrine. 1 Corinthians 12 tells us there are many spiritual gifts by the SAME Spirit. It never describes believers having ALL of the gifts. Note 1 Cor 12:11 says “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to EACH ONE individually just as He wills.” So we each get gifts INDIVIDUALLY as HE WILLS, not as we will. And vs 30 asks “All do not speak with tongues, do they?”. You see, speaking in tongues was about receiving a gift to share the gospel with others that did NOT understand our language. Guess who gets glorified there! Jesus! Every gift is to glorify Christ, and every gift should edify HIM, not us. Others are running around pounding their chest saying “look at me, I speak and tongues and you don’t so I’m saved and you’re not” and ” you need the gifts I have”. What  they should be saying is “all you need is Jesus, He is enough”.
My intent isn’t to tear down other beliefs, but it certainly is to make clear that there are many belief systems that claim the name of Jesus but put a lot of emphasis on human effort that is NOT scriptural, though when reading standalone verses it may seem that way. They are very much like Christian Pharisees (if I had to come up with a description). We teach Christ crucified and your true faith, apart from works is the only way anyone will ever be saved. In other words it’s not what you do that saves you…..it’s what you believe. Water is water. What we needed was life. A life that only comes through faith.

[1 Peter 3:21] “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—NOT THE REMOVAL OF DIRT from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”

What Does Water Baptism Symbolize?

Water baptism is a public profession of  faith. It’s a spiritual picture of us in agreement with God that the old us has been crucified (getting dunked) with Christ and we are a new creation that has risen, just as Christ has risen (being lifted out of the water. The type of baptism that saves us is when we put our faith in Jesus  and we are baptized by the Holy Spirit. God knows your heart and thus hears our appeal and He baptizes us (places His Spirit in us) when He sends His Spirit to Abide in us, and He washes all of our sins away. Further, we too are baptized into Christ (Gal 3:27, Rom 6:3).

So Why Get Water Baptized?

Baptism is a public celebration  of our new identity as followers of Christ. When you get married you have a wedding. On your birthday you have a party. All cultures celebrate events that have substance and meaning and water baptism is a celebration of our new identity in Christ. We are publicly and enthusiastically celebrating what God has already done to us. Who wouldn’t be excited about that!

What Does Water Baptism Represent?

I have come to realize that many Christians are baptized because it’s what religion tells us to do. Heck, I did the same thing 12 years ago. I walked up an aisle to accept Jesus, then with little understanding of what water baptism really represented  I found myself getting dunked in water two days later. Praise be to God that my knowledge of what water baptism represented was not what saved me, but rather my faith alone was. So what does water baptism represent?
Death: First we are submerged under water. This is the picture of the old self being crucified with Christ. What many believers fail to realize is that this is not just symbolic. The old you is dead. Gone. Buried. Not coming back.
Our sins have been washed away. Not to be remembered ever again.
Life: We are then lifted out of the water, and I really think this is a part of baptism that so many Christians fail to really understand. The “dunk” is only the first part of the gospel. When we are lifted out of the water we see a picture of being “born again” and receiving a new life, a life that was lost in the garden which has now been restored. So not only is the old you buried, dead, and gone, but the new has come.

[ 2 Corinthians 2:17] Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

What does this mean to the believer? This means you are new. You have a new heart, a new spirit, with new desires. You see, it was never rules and behavior that could save you. You were dead in Adam in need of life (not rules). The moment you put your faith in Jesus you were “born again”. It’s a spiritual birth, not a flesh birth. Sure, you still struggle with sins but you are 100% heaven ready and just as the flesh can’t be unborn, neither can your spiritual birth be undone.

Should Kids get Baptized?

Some churches will not let a child get baptized because they decide that the kid is not mature enough to understand what Christ did for them. They think God might be displeased if they water baptize children that may not really know Jesus and about His work on the cross. This leaves many parents asking should I get my child baptized? If so, how do I know when it’s okay? Here’s my thoughts on the matter. Regardless of how old your child is, the moment they say they believe in Jesus is the moment you should permit them to be baptized. I know, you might be thinking, ‘but what if my kid is not actually a believer yet and he’she’s just repeating what we taught them’. Listen. It’s just water baptism. There’s no curse if you get it wrong. Water baptism does not save anyone and nothing bad will happen if they’re end up being baptized prematurely. Don’t overlook what’s going on. It’s a celebration. If your kids grow up and realize their faith was not real at that time, well, they simply get baptized again. But I would never deny anyone the tight to be baptized if they profess the name of Jesus – no matter ho immature their minds may be.

Final thoughts on baptism for Salvation theology

Some people greatly distort John 3 as Jesus telling Nicodemus that he needed to be water baptized to be saved. In verse 3 Jesus tells Nicodemus “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”, and them Nicodemus asks Jesus “How can a man be born when he is old”. The confusion comes from verse 5 when Jesus replies “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”. So some people say this means you must be water baptized to be saved. Jesus continues by saying “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”. I believe Jesus simply means you’re born the first time in the flesh (from mom – i.e. born of her water), and when we put our faith in Jesus are born a second time. A spiritual birth (i.e. born of the Spirit). Keep in mind, one must be born as a human before it’s possible to be born again in the Spirit.
The water is the celebration of something big that has already happened to you. The faith in Christ has made you alive with Christ!