Does Water Baptism Save?


A Biblical Refutation of Baptismal Regeneration



Baptismal Regeneration is the teaching which says that water baptism is an essential requirement for salvation.  According to this teaching, if a person desires to be born again (born into God's family) then he must be baptized in water.  Those holding to this doctrine teach that apart from water baptism, a person cannot be saved, cannot be born again, cannot see the kingdom, and cannot enter heaven. 




The following was written to some friends in the Church of Christ (a church that believes that water baptism is necessary for salvation):

Dear Friends,

I wanted to write to you concerning some of the things we talked about, especially concerning salvation and baptism. I’m sure that you would agree that there is no more important subject than that of God’s salvation and how a person can obtain this salvation. Our eternal salvation hinges upon whether or not we understand what God has revealed about the terms of salvation. Long ago the question was asked by a man who was in desperate need: “WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?” (Acts 16:30). How we need to see what God’s answer is to that all-important question! The issues at stake are nothing less than life and death, heaven and hell.

I greatly appreciate the desire of you both to follow what the Bible says and what the New Testament teaches, rather than to follow traditionalism and modern day teachings which in most cases have departed from the true teachings found in God’s Word. This is my desire as well. There is a great departure from the faith in these days, and our only hope is to go back to the Bible, which is the very Word of God.

I’m going to share several things from the Bible, and I hope that you will give this letter careful thought and that you might search the Scriptures daily to see whether these things be so (compare Acts 17:11). I’m not asking you to take me at my word. I simply want you to take God at His Word and receive whatever He has said as absolute truth. The only question we must ask is this: “What saith the Scriptures?” (Romans 4:3).

Let us now go to the Scriptures to see what the Bible teaches about salvation, about what a person must do to be saved and about the relationship between salvation and water baptism.

1. The Bible teaches that to be saved a person must “BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.”

In Acts 16:30 the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas this crucial question: “What must I do to be saved?” What answer did these men give to this needy jailer? Did they say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized and thou shalt be saved”?  If baptism is necessary for salvation, then why is nothing said about baptism in Acts 16:31? It’s true that this man was baptized (verse 33), and yet this does not change the fact that Acts 16:31 says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” If water baptism was a condition of salvation, then this would have been the perfect place for Paul to have said so.

2. The Bible teaches throughout the New Testament that FAITH and FAITH ALONE is necessary for salvation.

I would urge you to read carefully and prayerfully the following verses of Scripture:



John 1:12-13

John 3:15

John 3:16

John 3:18

John 3:36

John 5:24

John 6:35

John 6:40

John 6:47

John 7:38-39

John 11:25-26

John 20:31

Acts 2:21

Acts 10:43


Acts 11:17

Acts 13:38-39

Acts 15:11

Acts 16:31

Acts 20:21

Romans 1:16

Romans 3:22

Romans 3:26

Romans 3:28

Romans 3:30

Romans 5:1

Romans 10:9

Romans 10:11

Romans 10:13



1 Corinthians 15:1-2

Galatians 2:16

Galatians 3:2-9

Galatians 3:14

Galatians 3:24

Galatians 3:26

Ephesians 2:8-9

2 Thessalonians 2:10

2 Thessalonians 2:12

1 Timothy 4:10

2 Timothy 3:15

Titus 3:8

1 John 5:1

1 John 5:11-13


In all of these passages FAITH is mentioned as being essential for salvation. In none of these passages is water baptism mentioned. If baptism is a necessary part or an essential part of salvation, then why is nothing said about baptism in these passages? If a man must be baptized to be saved, then why do all these verses fail to say so? For example, in Acts 10:43 why didn’t Peter say, “whosoever believeth in Him and is baptized shall receive remission (forgiveness) of sins”?

3. EPHESIANS 2:8-9 is a passage which God has given to answer this key question: HOW IS A PERSON SAVED? This important doctrinal verse says nothing about water baptism.


How is a person saved? “For by grace are ye saved THROUGH FAITH, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” Why is there no mention made of baptism? Why didn’t Paul say, “For by grace are ye saved THROUGH FAITH AND BAPTISM . . .”?

4. Water baptism is a WORK (something that man does to please God), and yet the Bible teaches again and again that a person is not saved by works.

Here are some examples:


Titus 3:5—“Not by WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS which WE HAVE DONE, but according to His mercy He saved us.”


2 Timothy 1:9—“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, NOT ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS.”


Ephesians 2:8-9—“For by grace are ye saved THROUGH FAITH and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.”


Romans 3:28—“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith WITHOUT THE DEEDS OF THE LAW.”


Romans 4:5—“But to him that WORKETH NOT, but BELIEVETH on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

In other words, salvation is not DOING something; it is KNOWING someone (John 17:3). Salvation is not based on what we might do; it is based on what Christ has ALREADY DONE (John 19:30). Salvation is not TRYING; it is TRUSTING (John 6:47). If salvation could be earned by anything we do, then Christ’s death was a waste (Galatians 2:21). Salvation is not WORKING; it is RESTING on the WORK of Another (Romans 4:5). Good works are not what a man DOES in order to be SAVED; good works are what a SAVED MAN DOES (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5-8). God’s holiness utterly condemns the best man (Romans 3:10-23); God’s grace freely justifies the worst (1 Timothy 1:15)!

The Roman Catholic Church also teaches a form of Baptismal Regeneration.  The following is taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994):

Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the church and made sharers in her mission:  "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word."


This sacrament signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one "can enter the kingdom of God."    [Sections 1213, 1215]


Baptism is necessary for salvation [Section 1257].




Does Water Baptism Save?

A Biblical Refutation of Baptismal Regeneration

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