Is Water Baptism Necessary for Salvation? -- By: G. Michael Cocoris
CTSJ 3:1 (Summer 1997) p. 8
Is Water Baptism
Necessary for Salvation?
[*Editor's note: G. Michael Cocoris earned a B.A. degree at Tennessee Temple University and a Th.M. degree at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). He has pastored in Texas and California. Dr. Cocoris was vice-president of EvanTell Inc. and an adjunct professor at Dallas Theological Seminary from 1974–1979. Mike has written numerous magazine articles, authored two books, and for 13 years ministered on radio. In 1984 Biola University bestowed upon him an honorary doctorate. For additional doctrinal studies by Mike, you may reach him at Clear Communications, 1007-20th Street #6, Santa Monica, CA 90403, or call 310–828-7504.]
For almost forty years, I have been engaged in evangelism. Soon after I trusted Christ, at age 18, I began to tell people the wonderful news that simple faith in Jesus Christ is all one needs to obtain the gift of eternal life. From the beginning of my evangelistic experience, I encountered people who insisted that baptism is also necessary for salvation. Is water baptism necessary in order to get to heaven? A large portion of Christendom says that the answer to that question is “yes.” How do we who believe that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone answer them? What follows are approaches I have used over the years to address this question.
Salvation Is at the Point of Faith
The New Testament teaches that justification takes place at the point of faith. At the point of faith a person is said to be saved (Acts 16:31), given eternal life (John 3:16), becomes a child of God (Galatians 3:26; John 1:12), passes from death to life (John 5:24), is justified (Romans 3:28; 5:1), receives the righteousness of Christ (Romans 4:3–5; Philippians 3:9), is forgiven (Acts 10:43; Luke 7:48–50), etc. A person who believes that baptism is necessary for salvation (baptismal regeneration) will agree that a person must have faith, but they want to add that after faith it is necessary to be baptized to be saved. The scripture, however, does not teach that one must believe, be baptized, and behave a certain way to be justified. It teaches that a person is saved at the point of faith.
Suppose a fellow we will call “Sincere Sam” went for...
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