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I have grappled with this for some time.

As the forerunner of Christ, John the baptist was baptising people, preparing them for the coming of Christ. After Christ came, he was baptised and commanded his disciples to baptise converts in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

It is believed that baptism is a physical washing of our sins (that may be wrong) and Paul said it symbolizes our being dead and buried with him and also risen.

I have this belief that after Jesus died and shed his blood, his blood does the work of washing sins away, so baptism is no longer necessary.

I still believe in the "being dead and buried with him...."

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closed as too broad by Peter Turner, fredsbend, Daи, El'endia Starman Sep 9 '13 at 6:14

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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It may be good to separate the two questions. –  Narnian Jul 23 '12 at 15:55
    
Voting to close as not constructive. As phrased, this is a Truth question. –  David Stratton Dec 22 '12 at 16:29
    
I assume the question means "has the sacrifice of Christ made baptism irrelevant", which I think is answerable from a broad Christian perspective. "Is baptism 100% essential to salvation" would of course be a Truth(tm) question. –  DJClayworth Dec 22 '12 at 22:46
    
Well, I'd say the baptism question can be answered from a Catholic doctrinal standpoint. But, the question as-stated does seem to be looking more for opinion than doctrine. –  svidgen Dec 24 '12 at 4:28
    
You need to add a doctrinal perspective. Also, Paul was converted AFTER Christ died and raised. That would mean he taught baptism as necessary despite also teaching that the blood washes our sin. –  fredsbend Sep 4 '13 at 19:41

9 Answers 9

up vote 18 down vote accepted

I would say that baptism is still highly "necessary", since Jesus Himself, in his final directions to His disciples, told them to:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

(emphasis added)

and the parallel:

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

If Jesus told His disciples, and by extension us, to "baptize", I think it's still "necessary".

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Good answer - hits on the spirit of the question (whether baptism is still applicable today), without getting into the murky/controversial topic of whether water baptism is a soteriological event. –  Eric Jul 24 '12 at 18:57
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If baptism is this important I think the hope some are somehow dashed. Why? Baptism should be done in a flowing water enough to submerge the baptised. Some areas don't have such water which have made some resort to sprinkling or swimming pool -which in my opinion contradicts what the bible portrays as baptism. Thanks for being authoritative and specific. –  tunmise fashipe Jul 24 '12 at 21:09
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@tunmisefashipe, furthermore, baptism is not meant to be legalistic. You will not find in the Bible a direct set of guidelines and rules for how to baptize. As Peter explains in 1 Peter 3:21, the physical act is not the important bit - what's important is an appeal to God for a good conscience. If the specifics of how baptism ought to be done were important, they would be covered in the Bible - they aren't. –  Eric Jul 25 '12 at 15:52
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@tunmisefashipe - Acts 2:41 strongly hints that "flowing water" is not necessary as baptizing 3,000 people in Jerusalem would be difficult with that restriction. –  Paul A. Clayton Dec 22 '12 at 16:37
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@tunmisefashipe: Acts 8:36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. –  Lawrence Dol Dec 24 '12 at 3:04

Believer's baptism is simply an act showing what the LORD has fulfilled in the Sinners life. That the Sinner died in Christ, was also buried and is now risen as a new creature in Christ. Romans 6 It is a picture, a symbol. Yet it still is very important, since it is the first command given to a new Christian to fulfil. Why?

Because it requires an act of obedience, because this road of being a Christian is a very hard and even lonely narrow road. You need to lear to say NO to the World and YES to Christ. So the Sinner, at this point after Salvation now a Saint, needs to take a public stand and proclaim that he has laid down the old man and will now serve the Lord Jesus as his King.

THAT IS WHY IT IS SO DIFFICULT for people, especially those who came from infant sprinkling backgrounds, to follow through with this first step of obedience, as it requires a public acknowledgement of yourself and your past being a failure. (By the way, when anyone calls himself a Christian, he is really stating that he himself is a miserable wretch who can only be saved by the almighty hand of God, nothing else. Which happens to be the truth for all of us.)

(It also shows the beautiful place something such as an "altar call" has as it teaches the Sinner to make a public acknowledgement of needing a Saviour from the very first.)

One needs to learn to be obey to the Scriptures, not learn how to wrest or corrupt them. See 2 Pet 3:16 and 2 Cor 2:17 in your KJV Bible.

From Acts 8:36,37 we learn the requirement for someone to be baptised is to first believe with all his heart. So if you can find a baby of a few days/months old who can declare that he believes in the Lord Jesus for salvation, then by all means go ahead and baptise him...

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In Mark 16.16, Yahshua made the following statement:

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

By a simple process of substitution then, we find that the question equates to this:

Salvation - is it still necessary?

However, given that the name Jesus is a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yahshua into Greek and the translation of Yahshua from Hebrew into English is 'Yah is salvation', the question in fact becomes:

Salvation - is He still necessary?

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Some groups teach that baptism is not necessary because it is a work, and we are saved on Faith alone. Most of the time, these groups will instead use something called the "Sinner's Prayer", which is only shown in scripture at best a single time (Luke 18:10-14 ...and it's debatable whether this is even the same thing). Aside from this single mention, the Sinner's Prayer is not shown again, whether by command, example, or allusion. How is the Sinner's Prayer any less of a work than baptism? Baptism, by contrast, is mentioned more than 80 times in the New Testament. Here are just a few:

  • Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matt 28:19
  • Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Mark 16:16
  • The eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?" ... And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. Acts 8:36,38
  • And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins ... those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2:38, 41
  • We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:24
  • one Lord, one faith, one baptism, Eph 4:5

One verse I think explains it well is I Peter 3:21:

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (ESV)

The idea I want to share here is not that there is any power in baptism, just as there is no power in prayer. Rather, the power is in the one to whom you pray. Baptism does not wash away your sins; the blood of Christ washes away your sins.

Baptism is shown numerous times in scripture as the correct proscribed way to ask God to save you, rather than any Sinner's Prayer. If you are not saved and moved to say such a prayer, you should consider being baptised as well, at any age. Can God still save you if you choose not to be baptised? Of course; he is sovereign. But if you want to be certain, baptism is uniquely positioned in scripture as the way in which you ask him to do so.

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I stumbled upon Mark 16:16 again today +1 –  tunmise fashipe Jul 24 '12 at 14:11
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"baptism is uniquely positioned in scripture as the way in which you ask him to do so" - I don't think that's correct. Whether it is positioned or not, it is certainly not uniquely positioned. There are far more verses that proscribe faith, belief, surrender, repentance, etc. –  Eric Jul 24 '12 at 14:37
    
Something bothers me now... some churches only baptizes if you are up to 18 years. My church lowered it to 15. If you were not baptize before then, I don't think it can be assumed that the person is not saved??? –  tunmise fashipe Dec 23 '12 at 19:33
    
Many other groups allow baptism at any age. –  Joel Coehoorn Dec 24 '12 at 2:57
    
John baptised with water, Jesus baptised with the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is symbolic. Mark 16:16 refers to the new birth, the new creation. A new spirit birthed within you. While we're commanded to baptise with water. The true baptism is of the spirit. Otherwise Jesus could not have said to the man crucified with him, today I will see you in paradise! –  Matt Sep 5 '13 at 23:32

What saves a person is abiding, continuing, in Jesus:

John 13:8 NET Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

One can find a number of abiding actions:

Believing in Him

Confessing (agreeing He is the Messiah)

Eating His flesh and drinking His blood

Baptism is not what you do, but what is done to you. Baptism is being received into Christ. It happens after confession, but before eating His flesh, drinking His blood, having your feet washed (all terms meaning agreeing with the deeper teachings of Christ):

Acts 8:36 NET Now as they were going along the road, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water! What is to stop me from being baptized?”

The problem is that one can believe that Jesus is proclaiming the Good News, and receive baptism, but as one continues to learn what the Good News is, one can stop ”abiding”:

Matthew 22:11 NET But when the king came in to see the wedding guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.

The thief on the cross was not baptised, but he was abiding in Christ. It's helpful to think of baptism as a stricture on the Church to teach the new believer the requirements of discipleship.

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You are really a footwasher! :) –  tunmise fashipe Dec 23 '12 at 19:24

Concerning Baptism I went right to the source—Jesus. Acts 1:5: "For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." After Jesus died we no longer need water but only must believe and the we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. John himself also referred to this in Luke:

John answered them all, "I baptize you with water, but one more powerful than I am is coming—I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

Also see these verses and and you will see that it was upon believing that the families were baptized: Acts 19:1-6.

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Welcome to the site! While I don't disagree with your answer, it doesn't quite fit with the purpose of this site. To be fair, neither does the question, really. I'd recommend reading the FAQ as well as meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/1379/… –  David Stratton Dec 22 '12 at 16:27
    
Then why did the Lord Jesus Christ upon his ascension into Heaven command that the Apostles should "go forth... and baptise them"...? –  McGafter Sep 3 '13 at 7:37

As with any many of life's questions, the answer to "Is water baptism still necessary?" is, "It depends who you ask."

Both Protestants and Roman Catholics recognize baptism; I'm not sure about the Eastern Orthodox church.

Most Protestants recognize two sacraments: Baptism, and the Lord's Supper. See Westminster Larger Catechism, questions 161 - 177, esp. 164, 165. Note that, in the diversity of beliefs among the many Protestant denominations, not all denominations agree with the statements of the Westminster Standards, though a significant number do. Whether or not baptism is strictly necessary for salvation is, I believe, a question that would need to be asked of individual denominations.

The Roman Catholics, on the other hand, recognize seven sacraments, including baptism (see Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church #1210). Their beliefs about the necessity of baptism are outlined in statements #1257-1261 of their catechism. Essentially, their teaching (as outlined in those catechism statements) is as follows:

Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church:

  • 1257: Baptism is strictly necessary for salvation for anyone who 1) has heard the gospel, and 2) has had an opportunity to be baptized;

  • 1258: Anyone who dies "for the sake of the faith" is counted by Christ as having been baptized, whether or not they received the sacrament;

  • 1259: A catechumen who dies before receiving the sacrament is saved, if they meet a few conditions;

  • 1260: Anyone who never heard the gospel, but "seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it" can be saved without baptism;

  • 1261: In the case of infants who die before being baptized, the Roman Catholic church will "entrust them to the mercy of God" with the expectation that God will save them.

See also this C.SE question: Biblical basis for baptism as a prerequisite for salvation

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With regards to Protestants and also the true Church who's never been part of the Roman Catholic idolatry: Baptism and the Lord's Supper are not sacraments as they are not sacred, but rather ordinances to commemorate sacred events. They reflect on the death, burial and resurrection of the Saviour and also to the same, in a spiritual way, for the Sinner. –  McGafter Sep 3 '13 at 7:35
    
Hello @McGafter. From your profile, it looks like you're new to Christianity.SE. While we all have our own beliefs about who gets the Bible right, and who gets it wrong, you might find the meta post "Brothers, we are not Christians!" to be informative re what C.SE is about. Take care. –  Philip Schaff Sep 4 '13 at 1:28
    
Hello @PhilipSchaff, I always think that one should not be oversensitive and be able to debate issues to be able to understand it in the end. Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Psalm 119:165 –  McGafter Sep 5 '13 at 9:24

The question I think actually comes back to what saves you. Are you saved by Faith alone, or does God require you to perform some works. If it is by faith in Jesus' Death and resurection alone (the belief that you described in your question) then water baptism is not required of a believer.

There are plenty of verses that tell us that faith alone saves. For example:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)

And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him recieves forgiveness of sins through his name." Acts 10:42-43

There are plenty of other examples which show that there is no mention of water baptism with people coming to believe.

In fact in that Acts passage the holy spirit is recieved before the people there are baptised.

While Peter was still saying these thigns, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles (Act 10:44-45 ESV)

God chooses to dwell in people who have not been baptised in water. We know from elsewhere that the spirit garuntees our salvation

...Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it (Ephesians 13-14 ESV)

Finally, after God has done his saving work AND garunteed their salvation by pouring out the Holy Spirit, then Peter says:

Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have recieved the Holy Spirit just as we have?" (Acts 10:47 ESV)

So water baptism is just a sign of salvation. It does not contribute to our salvation, however it does seem to be something helpful to do after being saved to publicly declare that we are saved.

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The answer might depend on which group of Christianity you're asking.

In general, yes, it is still necessary, and is a requirement to be raised to 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.

There are a few related points of doctrine accepted by different Christian faiths in various combinations:

  1. The blood that Jesus spilt does not make baptism unnecessary.

  2. By receiving water baptism, the cleansing power of Christ's Atonement begins to take full effect

  3. By receiving water baptism, we become eligible for all the blessings of following Christ.

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Matt, this answer is wrong unless you specify the tradition from which you are speaking. –  San Jacinto Jul 23 '12 at 18:33
    
@SanJacinto Sorry, could you clarify? Which part of it is wrong? I make it clear that the answer varies widely depending on tradition, and the question doesn't specify a sect. –  Matt Jul 23 '12 at 18:41
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The blood that Jesus spilt does not make baptism unnecessary. By receiving baptism, the cleansing effect of Christ's Atonement takes effect and we become eligible for all the blessings of following Christ. You are making 2 claims here. Some groups believe in both, some in neither, some only one of the two. When you make these claims, you a speaking from a tradition. This is valid, but the claims are not valid unless you specify the tradition(s) from which you are speaking –  San Jacinto Jul 23 '12 at 18:46
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I see your point. The question as it stands is too general to narrow it down specifically. I will edit my answer and attempt to separate these statements so that they don't appear to be so cohesive. This way, there will be flex in the answer to compensate for the different combinations of beliefs. –  Matt Jul 23 '12 at 18:49
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There is considerable question over where John 3:5 is equating being born of water with water baptism. –  Narnian Jul 23 '12 at 21:27

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