Does Water Baptism Save?


A Biblical Refutation of Baptismal Regeneration


8.    Passages That Seem to Teach that Water Baptism Saves

We have examined the mass of Biblical evidence which clearly teaches that a person is saved at the moment of faith, and not at the moment of water baptism. The verses we looked at were simple and clear and unmistakable in their meaning. How can it be put any more simply or any more clearly than this: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31); “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47); etc. ?

We now want to look at a few verses which at first glance may seem to teach that water baptism saves. Do these verses really teach baptismal regeneration or do these verses actually harmonize with the scores of passages which we have already looked at?

Mark 16:16


He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).


In light of this verse consider the following groups of people:


1)       Those people who have believed on Christ and who have been baptized in water. According to Mark 16:16, these people are saved.


2)       Those people who have believed on Christ but who have not been baptized in water. Nothing is said about this group of people in Mark 16:16. If this verse had said, “He that believeth and is not baptized is not saved,” then this would be a strong argument for those holding to baptismal regeneration. But it doesn’t say this. Actually unbaptized believers were practically unheard of in the days of the early church. According to the book of Acts, when people believed on Christ they were baptized in water, and this usually took place without much delay. So it is not surprising that this verse in Mark has nothing to say about unbaptized believers. The believers of the first century were willing to go so far as to die for Christ, and they were certainly willing to be baptized. I can find no example in the book of Acts of true believers who refused to be baptized in water after they learned its importance and its symbolism.


3)       Those people who have not believed in Christ and who have not been baptized. According to Mark 16:16 such people are damned (condemned, judged).


4)       Those people who have not believed in Christ and yet have been baptized. These people will be damned also. Mark 16:16 clearly implies that all unbelievers will be damned whether they have been baptized or not. This is in harmony with John 3:18 and 2 Thessalonians 2:12 and other passages which teach that men are condemned because of their unbelief. In Acts 8:9-24 we have an example of an unbeliever who was baptized. He is known as Simon the Sorcerer. Even though it says he believed (v.13), verses 20-23 indicate that his faith was not genuine saving faith. He was a professing believer but not a true believer. Does water baptism save? One thing we know for sure! Water baptism has never saved an unbeliever. Those who do not believe will die in their sins (John 8:24).

One final word about Mark 16:16. It is absolutely true that the person who believes and is baptized shall be saved. This is true in my own life. I believed in Christ and I was baptized in water, and I am saved. But the Scriptures teach, as we have previously established, that the essential ingredient and requirement of salvation is not baptism, but faith. Faith is essential for salvation. Water baptism is essential for obedience because as a believer I must be careful to observe to do all things whatsoever Christ has commanded me (Matthew 28:19-20), and water baptism is one of the first things He has told me to do. However, the water did not save me, Christ did (Matthew 1:21)!


Does Water Baptism Save?

A Biblical Refutation of Baptismal Regeneration

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