Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 13, 1969
NUMBER 40, PAGE 6b-7

Can One Be Saved Without Being Baptized

Don McWhorter

This is a pertinent question. All agree that baptism is taught in the Bible. Much preaching and uninformed discourse on this subject has confused people. Many have flagrantly preached contradictions to the teachings of the Scriptures.

Our greatest difficulty in answering of this nature is the tendency of people to form their conclusions before they have all the facts in the case.

Before we enter into the question of the necessity of baptism for salvation, we should first find out what scriptural baptism is: (1) Scriptural baptism required: Water — Acts 8:26; 10:47. Much water John 3:23. Going down into the water — Acts 8-38. Coming up out of the water - Matt. 3:16; Acts 8:39. A form of burial - Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12. Form of a resurrection — Rom. 6:4. Form of a birth -- John 3:5. (2) Baptism comes from the Greek word "baptidzo" meaning to immerse, dip, plunge, submerge. (3) Perhaps the three clearest passages concerning the action of baptism are Acts 8:36-38; Col. 2:12; Rom. 6:3,4. ("Buried" adequately describes the action.)

In the final court of appeals, God will be the judge and will offer the answer to this question. God never delegated the prerogatives of judgeship to me or to any other man. God will be the judge. However, we do know what the criterion of judgment will be: John 12:48; Rev. 20:12. We cannot pass eternal judgment on any man. God may decide to sidestep his eternal plan and save someone. However, all we know about the possibility of salvation is what we read in the Bible, and a person who fails to understand and obey God's commands is without the promise of eternal life. Man is held responsible for a conscientious response to available light.

Our sole source of information for a question of this nature is the Bible. Our opinions matter little or nothing. The popular view is not necessarily the correct view.

Today I want you to answer this question for yourself by simply asking you some other questions.

I. Can A Person Be Saved Without Obeying The Commands Of Christ?

The obvious answer is "NO." (Matt. 7:21-23; John 3:36; John 14:15; Luke 6:46.) Jesus Christ has the words of eternal life, and if we desire salvation, we must accept his teaching and obey him. Thus it is absolutely essential for us to keep the commandments of Christ. Likewise it is readily admitted that Jesus commanded baptism. John 3:3,5,7 here is the strongest sermon ever preached on baptism. Mark 16:16 -- the Lord's teaching here is plain. Matt. 28:18-20 here are the Lord's last words while here on earth. Through the Holy Spirit inspired apostles, Jesus commanded baptism: (See John 14:25, 26; Acts 2:38;10:48). Consequently, if a person can be saved without obeying the commands of Christ, he can be saved without being baptized!

II. Can A Person Be Saved Without Fulfilling All Righteousness

Definitely not. When Jesus came to John to be baptized of Him, John felt his unworthiness and wanted Jesus to baptize him. But Jesus said, "Suffer it not to be so, for thus (in this manner) it becometh US (not "me" but "us") to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15). If it were necessary for JESUS TO BE baptized to fulfill all righteousness, how can we miserable, corrupt, worthless, sinful creatures - hope to fulfill all righteousness without being baptized?

III. Can A Person Be Saved Without Being In Christ? Or Can A Person Be Saved Outside Christ?

Obviously not. (John 14:6) There are many theories about how to get into Christ, but since the Bible is our sole rule of faith and practice, we must find out what it has to say about this. Faith "into righteousness" (Rom. 10:10). Repentance "unto salvation" (II Cor. 7:10). Confession "unto salvation (Rom. 10:10). Baptism unto Christ (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27). There are only two places in the entire Bible that tell us how to get "into Christ" and both of these tell us that we are "baptized into Christ." Thus if we can be saved without being in Christ, then we can be saved without being baptized! Faith changes our affection. Repentance changes our mind. Confession changes our allegiance. Baptism changes our state.

IV. Can A Person Be Saved Without Having The Blood Of Christ Applied To His Life?

Everyone of course would say, "Absolutely not." (Heb. 9:22; John 1:7; I Pet. 1:18,19) Yet the Bible teaches that we must meet the blood of Christ in his death where it was shed. To come into contact with his blood we must come into contact with his death. We are baptized into the death of Christ (Rom. 6:3). Hence the blood of Christ is there applied to the sinner. The Bible cities not teach "water salvation" in the sense that there are any healing, cleansing properties in the water. In the water we meet the cleansing blood as we are united with the death of Christ. Therefore baptism is said to save. (Mk. 16:16, I Pet. 3:21; Acts 22:16) If a person can be saved without having the blood of Christ applied to his life then he can be saved without being baptized!

V. Can A Person Be Saved Without Obtaining The Remission Of Sins?

The Bible says "NO." (Rev. 22:17) Before we can enter into the heavenly home, we must be spotless and pure under the crimson flow of Jesus' blood. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin, and we appropriate the blood of Christ to our souls in Christian baptism. (Acts 2:38; 22:16; I Pet. 3:21) Thus if a person can be saved without the remission of sins, he can be saved without being baptized.

Brethren, why compromise it, why contradict it, why divert from God's plan, why not preach it and obey it? Accept God's word. Get right with him today. Come today in humble faith and whole -hearted repentance, coupled with a glorious confession of your faith and a picturesque burial with your Lord in baptism.

— 620 Hoke St., Gadsden, Ala. 35903