During my time in Theology school, I developed a lot of interest in the Christian doctrines that are always topics of debate, like water baptism and its connection to assurance of a place in Heaven. I immersed myself in deep studies about Water baptism last year, comparing different doctrines with the scripture, and I came up with conclusive evidence from the Bible about water baptism and salvation. So last week, in our interdenominational forum, someone asked why some Christians must get baptized by water. Some said it was because water baptism assured them of going to Heaven, while some said it was just a tradition to prove that you are converted to Christianity. Seeing the level of confusion, I decided to write a detailed article about the topic. So, is water baptism necessary to go to Heaven?
According to Ephesians 2:8-9, deeds like water baptism are not necessary to go to Heaven because salvation only requires faith, not works. There was a thief in Luke 23:43 who was assured of His place in Heaven because of faith in Christ, but he was not baptized. However, being baptized by water is a form of obedience to Christ’s teachings—part of the salvation journey, and the case of the thief is a special one. As a saved Christian, you should obey what Christ commanded even though it is not a requirement to go to Heaven.
Join me in this article, where I write about what the New Testament teaches about Baptism and its purpose in salvation. I will also discuss if you can go to Heaven without being baptized. Read on to find out more.
Does water baptism cleanse people of their sins and save them?
No, Baptism does not cleanse people’s sins and save them, but it is a symbol that shows a person’s will to leave by the teachings and serve God. It is suggested that water baptism does not wash away sins because Jesus to was Baptized by being immersed in water yet He was sinless. It is written in 2nd Corinthians 5:21 that Jesus Christ was sinless and only shared in our sins for our salvation. Also, the Bible is clear in Matthew 26:28 that forgiveness of sin is by the blood of Christ. Similarly, in Hebrews 2:9, it is written that forgiveness of sins is by the blood of Christ. Therefore water baptism does not mean you are cleansed of your sins.
Although you should note that the blood of Jesus is effective for people who accept His teachings and gospel, part of the gospel is water baptism which is done after undergoing teachings and accepting Christ as the Savior and then repenting. Water baptism then becomes an outward sign of being born again and accepting Christ.
What does the New Testament teach about Baptism and its purpose in salvation?
Mathew 3:13-27 teaches Baptism through full immersion in water. Jesus was baptized by being immersed in water, and when He came out of the water, the Spirit of God came in the form of a dove on Him. It means that once you are baptized, the Spirit of God is sent down to you just like it was down for Jesus.
Romans 6:3-6 teaches that Baptism is a form of regeneration of life or resurrection. It is written that Baptism unites us with Christ, and that includes His death. As we get baptized through immersion in water, we are burying our sins and dying in Christ in the hope of resurrection. And because Christ resurrected, we share in His eternal life when we come out of the water.
Acts 2:38-41 says that Christians should first repent and then be baptized in the name of Christ, and this manner, our sins are forgiven, and we can now receive the Holy Spirit as God’s gift. The command to repent and then get baptized goes hand in hand with having faith in God. You need to believe in God first to believe that you can repent and get forgiveness for your sins. When you get baptized, it symbolizes your faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, repentance and Baptism are necessary as part of a Christian’s journey to salvation. Also, as written, after being baptized, the Holy Spirit can now dwell in you and guide you.
Ephesians 4:4-6 talks about one body, Spirit, Baptism, faith, Lord, and God who dwells in all. This emphasizes the Trinitarian doctrine among Christians. One Baptism implies the way Christians get baptized to be one body as written in 1st Corinthians 12:13. In this case, Baptism can be said to mean the regeneration of oneself by the Holy Spirit after deciding to genuinely follow Christ. Therefore it is suggested that water baptism is the symbol of inward regeneration done by the Holy Spirit, which leads to being one in Christ. When we are one in Christ, we believe in Him, and we get saved by our faith.
Galatians 3:27 says that being baptized in Christ is forming a union with Him, which allows you to be clothed in the life of Christ. Being baptized requires faith and repentance, which is why it is a way of being united to Christ Spiritually. When we get baptized, we go into the death of our old version, laws, and sins, and coming out shows that we are part of the new creation in Christ; that is how we share in His eternal life as written, “clothed…with the life of Christ.”
What is the purpose of water baptism according to the Bible?
Water Baptism is an outward sign of a Christian’s commitment to obey Jesus Christ and full reliance and trust in Him. Christ commanded in Matthew 28:19-20 that believers should be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Also, it shows a Christian’s willingness to be united as one body with other Christians in the world.
Water baptism also shows that we accept that we are sinners who can only be redeemed by God’s love and mercy. This is the reason we have to repent first before being baptized. In addition, it shows our belief that Jesus died for our sins and He conquered death so that we can share in His life. Being baptized shows the death of ourselves and the beginning of living in Christ.
Baptism also symbolizes the sacrifice Christ has made for us, and by doing it, we are symbolizing our belief in sharing in Christ’s life. When we get immersed in water, it symbolizes the burial of Christ, meaning we are sharing in his death. Consequently, we are no longer slaves. When we come out of the water, it shows we are resurrected into a new life—born again in Christ.
Does getting baptized guarantee me to go to Heaven when I die?
According to the scriptures, getting baptized does not guarantee a place in Heaven. Baptism does not assure you of your salvation; rather, it is a sign of obedience necessary for any saved person. The only way to be saved is to have faith in God and confess that you accept Jesus as your personal Savior. Also, a good reference is a thief who was crucified with Jesus and guaranteed a place in Heaven, yet he was not baptized; he only showed His faith in Christ. Therefore, having faith and believing in God is important, but remember obeying the word of God is also a sign that you are a follower of Christ.
What happens if you don’t get baptized?
It is suggested that if you do not get baptized, you are not obeying the word of God. If you claim that you believe in Jesus Christ’s teachings, obedience should be part of it. Being baptized shows your willingness to kill your old self and live a new life in Christ. Therefore, if you do not get baptized, it could mean that you are not willing to be genuine in sharing in the life of Christ.
Can a person go to Heaven without being baptized in water?
Some people believe you cannot go to Heaven without being baptized in water. Their argument is based on the book of John 3:5, where it is clearly written that no one will become part of the kingdom of God without first being ‘born of water’ and the Spirit. Being born of water implies that you must be baptized first to think of being part of the Kingdom of God—Heaven. Also, in Luke 13:5, Jesus clearly says that if you do not repent, you will die; dying implies eternal death. If your fate is eternal death, then it means you won’t see Heaven because Heaven is full of life. In that case, you must repent, and you are supposed to do it as written in the book Acts 2:38. Peter told members who were part of the first Christians to turn away from their sins and repent; to get forgiveness, they must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. In addition, when a person is not baptized, they have not received the Holy Spirit to guide them, and their sins are not forgiven. Therefore, it means that full repentance is followed by Baptism, and Baptism should be by water and in the name of Jesus so that you may not perish. However, Baptism alone will not get you to Heaven; you must have faith which is taught before being baptized.
However, some Christians do not believe you need to be baptized because they interpret the scripture differently. They say that water baptism does not help in the process of cleansing sins, as others suggest, but it is a symbol of how God forgives His people. Therefore they believe that it is possible to go to Heaven without being baptized, provided you have faith and ask for forgiveness, as it is written in 1 John 1:9 that confessing our sins to Christ will help forgive our sins, and He will purify us. The most common example is about the thief who was assured of a place in Heaven because of his faith, yet he was not baptized. However, you need to remember that once you are saved, you need to follow what Christ commands as a sign of obedience. Therefore accepting to be baptized is a sign of obedience.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.