Baptismal regeneration is the belief that a person must be baptised in order to be saved. Given that baptism is an important step of obedience for a Christian, but we adamantly reject baptism as being required for salvation. We do strongly believe that every Christian should be water baptised by immersion. Water baptism illustrates a believer identification with Christ death, burial, and resurrection. Romans 6:3, declares, you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. The action of being immersed in the water illustrates dying and being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christ resurrection.
Requiring anything in addition to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation is a works-based salvation. To add anything to the gospel is to say that Jesus death on the cross was not sufficient to purchase our salvation. To say we must be baptised in order to be saved is to say we must add our own good works to Christ death in order to make it sufficient for salvation. The Bible says that no amount of religious activity can save a person (Hosea 6:6; Titus 3:5); Jesus death alone paid for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus payment for our sins is appropriated to our account by faith alone (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8). Therefore, water baptism is an important step of obedience after salvation but not a requirement for salvation.
There are some verses that seem to include baptism as a requirement for salvation. However, since the Bible so clearly says that salvation is received by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8; Titus 3:5), there must be a different interpretation of those verses. Scripture does not contradict Scripture. In Bible times, a person who converted from one religion to another was often baptised to identify conversion. Baptism was the means of making a decision public. Those who refused to be baptised were saying they did not truly believe. So, in the minds of the apostles and early disciples, the idea of an un-baptised believer was unheard of. When a person claimed to believe in Christ, yet was ashamed to proclaim his faith in public, it indicated that he did not have true faith. In this way, baptism was closely associated with the decision to trust Christ.
If baptism is necessary for salvation, why would Paul say, Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power (1 Corinthians 1:17)? How could Paul possibly say that he was not sent to baptise if no one can be saved without baptism? If baptism is required, Paul would literally be saying, Christ did not send me to help you be saved….That, of course, would have been a ridiculous statement, especially for Paul. Further, when Paul lists the elements of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1–8), why does he neglect to mention baptism?
If baptism is a requirement for salvation, how could any presentation of the gospel lack a mention of baptism? Yet we find many invitations to be saved that never allude to baptism: the Philippian jailer (Acts 16), Cornelius (Acts 10), and the thief on the cross (Luke 23) were all saved before being baptised—the thief never was baptised!
Baptismal regeneration is not a biblical concept. Water baptism is the symbol of what has already occurred in the heart of one who has trusted Christ as Saviour (Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12). Baptism is an important step of obedience that every Christian should take, but it is not a requirement for salvation. To make it such is to question the sufficiency of Christ’s death and resurrection.