Is Being Baptized Enough to Gain Eternal Life?
Being baptized is an essential part of salvation. Jesus defined the terms for entrance into His Kingdom: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Here are presented two requirements made of those who accept the gospel proclamation—faith in Jesus, and baptism. The first is the inward acceptance of the salvation so graciously provided by the vicarious death of the world’s Redeemer; the second is the outward token of an inward change of life (Romans 6:3-6).
Jesus added, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Therefore, lack of baptism would simply be an outward token of an inward disbelief, which disbelief, of itself, is sufficient to bar a man from the blessings of salvation. A believer must be baptized to be saved unless baptism is not possible as in the case of the thief on the cross, who was sincere in his faith, but due to his death sentence was unable to receive the service of baptism.
The Need for Transformation
Getting baptized in water without the transformation of life does not save anyone. Those who are born from above have God as their Father and resemble Him in character (1 John 3:1–3; John 8:39, 44). Jesus said, “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
The apostle Paul also speaks of “them that are perfect” (1 Corinthians 2:6) and of “as many as be perfect” (Philippians 3:15). At the same time he sees that there are new victories to be gained and that he himself has not reached the ultimate perfection. Perfection does not here mean absolute sinlessness in this life for sanctification is a progressive work.
Henceforth, Christians strive, by the grace of Christ, to live above sin and do not yield their wills to commit sin (1 John 3:9; 5:18). Paul wrote, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts… but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead… For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey…” (Romans 6:12–16).
Thus, a person must believe in Jesus as his personal Savior from sin and this faith in God will bring the fruits of obedience to God’s Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) because faith alone is not enough “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Faith and works must go hand in hand.
Baptism does not insure that we are saved but its repentance from sin that does. The Bible teaches, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). Repentance means that a change must take place in the thinking of a person. Since God never forces the will, this act must be voluntary, but the Holy Spirit is given to help in this work. It is impossible for a person on his own to bring about transformation. But when he chooses to make the change and in his great need asks the Lord for help, the powers of the soul are empowered with divine grace and transformation takes place.
In His service,