A friend of mine and I have been discussing the issue of baptism and even
after reading your description of the "purpose" of baptism, I was
still a little confused. We are both really struggling with this question,
"Do you have to be baptized to get to heaven?" If you could please
answer this question to the best of your ability, that would be great! We have
searched in the Bible for the answer, and we can argue the question both ways.
Please, give us some insight on this issue.
No, you do not have to be baptized to get to heaven. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9, "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." We are saved by "faith" and not by any external "work" or action such as baptism.
In addition, in Revelation 14:6, ". . . the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth . . . " The gospel is "eternal" which means unchanging and everlasting. Adam and Eve, and Noah, and King David, and everyone along the way to the very last person saved during the 1,000 year reign of Christ are saved by the very same gospel--no exceptions. Now, look at the thief on the cross who was saved, notice the fact that he was not baptized. This was not an exception because it was impossible to be baptized, no it was because baptism is not a requirement for salvation.
Baptism is simply the very first command that the Lord Jesus gives to a "brand new believer". Baptism is an outward expression of an inward reality--that a person has died to sin and was buried with Christ and rises to a new life, as a new creation. In the New Testament you always see belief (faith) followed by baptism (the outward act or the inward reality of being saved). Baptism is a public declaration that we are no longer slaves of sin and Satan, but now slaves of righteousness and Christ.
When I witness to someone I tell them that baptism doesn't save them, but an unwillingness to be baptized at the first opportunity "after" salvation is a strong indication that the person's heart is not ready to be saved, because of their unwillingness to follow the commands of Christ. Salvation is all of God, and when the Holy Spirit is leading someone to be saved, then they will repent of their sins, believe in who Jesus claimed to be, and have a heart that is submissive to His commands, to include water Baptism (by immersion) "AFTER" salvation.
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Tony Capoccia's Questions and Answers" by:
Bible Bulletin Board
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
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