Is it still necessary for a born-again Christian to be baptised?
The short answer is: “Yes – if you have put your trust in Jesus, you must be baptised!” Listen to Jesus’ own words:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Does Jesus restrict His command to be baptised to any particular place, race or time? No: baptism is for disciples of “all nations,” from the 1st century right through until “the very end of the age.”
The first Christians were very quick to obey Jesus’ command! The book of Acts may surprise us when we see how soon new Christians got baptised when they first believed. For example:
- “Those who accepted [Peter’s] message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41).
- “But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptised” (Acts 8:12-13).
- “As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptised?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him” (Acts 8:36-38).
- “Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptised” (Acts 9:18).
- “The Lord opened [Lydia’s] heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptised, she invited us to her home” (Acts 16:14-15).
- “At that hour of the night the jailer took [Paul and Silas] and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptised. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family” (Acts 16:33-34).
The rest of the New Testament agrees that all true Christians should have been baptised: see, for example, Romans 6:3-4; 1 Corinthians 1:13; 12:13; Galatians 3:27; and Colossians 2:12.
Of course, baptism isn’t in itself necessary for salvation – the Bible is clear that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) entirely because of Jesus’ atoning death for sinners (1 Peter 3:18), and the exceptional circumstances of the thief on the cross remind us of this (see Luke 23:39-43). However, baptism is necessary for obedience to Jesus Christ, because our Lord and Saviour has commanded all of His disciples to be baptised as a picture of the salvation He has graciously given to us.
If you are a Christian and have not yet been baptised, you should tell your pastor and begin to make arrangements.
How does this Bible passage speak to you? Please share your thoughts below!
Also read What kind of baptism does God accept?