Last Update: December 27, 2006

Baptismal Regeneration

Is Baptism Essential for Salvation?

Baptismal regeneration is a belief that water baptism in an essential for salvation. This belief is held both by some denominations (i.e. Church of Christ, Roman Catholicism) and by a number of cults (i.e. Mormonism).

Essentially the belief boils down to this. The proponents will say that they believe in salvation through faith in the blood that Jesus shed on the cross, but then they will say that even if you truly believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and accept Him as your personal Lord and Saviour, you must be baptized or you will still go to hell if you die first. The claims typically made by the proponents of this document are:

1)  You must be obedient to be saved and lack of baptism indicates lack of obedience and thus since you have sinned you are not saved.

The error in this is that if we have not sinned, we don't need salvation and thus this argument becomes a denial of the gospel itself. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and  1 John 1:8 says that if we say that we have no sin, then the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:10 says that if anyone says that they have not sinned, then the word is not in them. Thus by claiming that you must be obedient and thus not sin to be saved, they deny the gospel and scripture says that they are not saved.

2) The blood saves us, but we cannot be saved unless we "contact the blood".

The problem here is that there is absolutely nothing in scripture that says that we have to do anything but believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. Nothing we can do can add to that. There is nothing whatsoever in scripture about "contacting the blood". We owed a penalty for our sin, a penalty that we could not possibly pay, and it was paid for us on the cross if we simply accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and accept that free gift. If I owe a fine for speeding, and someone pays that for me, I don't need to touch the money and thus claiming the need to contact the blood to be saved is a teaching that no basis whatsoever in scripture. This is a doctrine of man, added to the word of God (Proverbs 30:5-6).

3) Simply being baptized is not enough. You must be properly baptized, either with certain words, and/or almost always by a clergyman from their specific sect. Typically if you have been baptized by someone else or without the belief in baptizing causing the remission of your sins, the sect will require that you be re-baptized "properly".

Scripture is clear that no work of man ever saved anyone, but rather the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was fully capable of paying the price for all sin. External appearances, external works mean nothing - it is what is in our hearts that concern God and being God, he can see into our hearts.

As you can see, this is a very legalistic doctrine.

This page will be expanded as time goes on to expose various aspects of this erroneous teaching as well as providing sound teaching regarding the doctrines of salvation, baptism and the gospel as found in the Bible.

Biblical Perspective on Baptism

First, what is the Biblical position on baptism? here is a brief introduction which provides an overview of baptism, both from an Old Testament as well as a New Testament  perspective.

Biblical Perspective on Baptism Looking back at the Old Testament from The New Testament

A serious problem for the proponents of baptismal regeneration is how those who were not baptized were saved (Old Testament saints, the thief on the cross, etc.). If they say that it was not through water baptism, then they have created two methods of salvation, one before and one after the cross. In any case, the Bible addresses this point also.

Biblical Perspective on How the Old Testament saints were Saved

Refuting Common Arguments

We have provided a few documents below which examine the key arguments of this doctrine versus the word of God. If there are specific arguments that you have been faced with, please feel free to contact us. There are few if any arguments which we have not heard and we will provide whatever support that we can in this regard.

Baptized for Remission of Sins (Acts 2:38)

Acts 2:38 is probably the best known verse used to support baptismal regeneration. 

Must we both Believe and Be Baptized for Salvation? (Mark 16:16)

This is probably the single most common argument after Acts 2:38 for those who believe in baptismal regeneration. They appear to believe that these two passages, Acts 2:38 and Mark 16:16 close the book on the whole argument, but do they?

One Baptism ( Ephesians 4:5)

We read in Ephesians that we have " Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all". What is that one baptism? Is it water or is it the Holy Spirit?

What Does it Mean to be Born of Water and Spirit (John  3:5)

Jesus was came by Water and Blood (John 5:6)

When it says that Jesus came by the water - what does this mean? Does it mean baptism?

Does Baptism Save us (1 Peter 3:21)?

This is one of the most commonly used references to justify baptismal regeneration.

Does the Water of Baptism Wash Away your Sins (Acts 22:16)?

This is a key verse for those who believe that it is baptism that saves. They believe that Acts 22:16 says that it is water, not the blood on the cross that washes away our sins.

Must we first be obedient in order to be Saved?

The doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration teaches that we must first be obedient to be saved, and that that means that unless we are obedient by being baptized, we cannot be saved.

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