Baptism: A Basic Necessity

[Article written by Matt Nevins. Originally published in his email newsletter “The Lamp.”]

In life there are basic necessities in order to maintain life. Humans need food, water, clothing, and shelter-these are basic necessities. It is recognized that these are needs that are to be fulfilled, yet when it comes to spiritual necessities, people would rather be starving, thirsty, naked, and homeless rather than being obedient to God and be spiritually established. The text teaches that baptism is essential, thus being necessary, for the salvation of our souls. However, man will twist this simple truth to their own destruction and will lead many into error. What does the text teach concerning the necessity of baptism?

For the purpose of this study, we will not consider all the things man has said in the past. Rather, we will appeal directly to the text and make applications based upon the text, not upon any preconceptions or biases. In Acts 2:36 the apostles were speaking boldly teaching “this Jesus whom you have crucified, God has made him both Lord and Christ.” The pure reaction that is shown in the context is a reaction of a convicted group of people of their sin and they realize the truth. Therefore the question was raised, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) What was the answer given to this group of people? The text continues in verse 38, of Acts 2, with Peter plainly stating, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The answer given is repent and be baptized. Note this was not presented as an option, with other avenues, but presented as necessary.

This is not the only place where baptism is spoken of as being required. Mark 16:16 is a plain statement: “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned.” Who is the one that will be condemned? The text teaches the one that does not believe. Therefore, who is the one that will be saved according to the text? He who believes and is baptized is the one that will be saved. Our question is: Is baptism necessary for salvation? Here the text says yes. If this passage does not teach that baptism is necessary, then how should one need to change it to make Mark 16:16 say that baptism is necessary?

These passages show that baptism is necessary for salvation, but other things happen as well as a result of the salvation one obtains through baptism. We find that people are added to the Lord’s Church (Acts 2:47), one is put into Christ (Gal. 3:27), one becomes a child of God (Gal. 3:26), one is crucified, buried, and raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:1-4), spiritually circumcised (Col. 2:8-15), one is washed (1 Pet. 3:21, Acts 22:16), as well as one calls on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16). These are all things that happen as a result of baptism being practiced. Since God is not a liar, and the Bible is the word of God, therefore this must be the truth of the matter. If baptism is not practiced then one can’t be a part of the Church, or be a child of God as a result of being in Christ, or remove the old man to start anew, or to be washed, or even call on the name of the Lord. Is there another way for these things to occur without baptism? The text does not show or teach there is another outlet.

If you want to be cleansed and be free again to serve God, how are you going to do so? The Bible teaches that baptism is the means for this transformation and rebirth (Jno. 3:5, Tit. 3:5). Why would one want to deny a simple and basic command and neglect a necessity for our spiritual lives?

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