A question that many people have is “are you saved once you’ve been baptized?” To answer this question we must go to God’s Word.
In John 3:1-8 the Lord Jesus tells a Pharisee named Nicodemus: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus was amazed at this. So the Lord clarified by saying “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
This passage tells us a few things when taken in context:
The Lord didn’t rest his case on his first statement “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit” (which could easily be taken out of context). He went even further by saying the same thing in other words “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” All who have ever lived are born of the flesh, but only those who put their faith in Jesus Christ are born of the Spirit.
Being “born of water” refers to the fetal water that “breaks” at birth. Being “born of the Spirit” is the moment in time when we are born again … saved … redeemed.
An important detail to point out is the fact that Nicodemus would not have even known what Christian water baptism was. It wasn’t given until after the Lord was crucified. The only baptism he would have known about was the baptism of John the Baptist and the ritual washing of the Jews. Yet, in verse 10, the Lord Jesus says “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?”
If a person were saved by water baptism, the teachings of the Lord Jesus would not make much sense. Nearly all of his parables and conversations were directed toward the heart and conscience of those who He was speaking to. He was preaching that God wants their heart … that God wants them to desire what is right, to reject what is wrong and to trust alone in Him.
To say that water baptism saves a person would mean that what the Lord Jesus said was false. It would mean that God isn’t concerned with our heart … that He just wants our religious works. This is exactly what the Pharisees thought. They thought as long as they professed faith and did good works, they were good.
Then they had Him crucified.
Salvation THEN Water Baptism
A person is saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). After a person is born again they should then receive water baptism to publicly profess their faith and salvation in Jesus Christ.
In Romans 8:9 Paul tells us “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
Here, Paul says the same thing the Lord said in John 3. He tells us that all who belong to the Lord are “in the Spirit.” All of mankind were born of the flesh. But only His children are born of the Spirit.
You must be born again to be saved. You should then be baptized by water to profess the Lord Jesus Christ with your mouth publicly.
When you’re Born Again, you know it!
My own experience is my strongest confirmation of this truth. I knew the most basic form of the Gospel and KNEW that I was a lost sinner deserving hell, but I had never heard about the reality of moment-in-time conversion.
I was heavily convicted of my sin and after reading Romans 7 and 8, one December evening in my bedroom, I realized that Jesus Christ received the wages that were due to ME when he hung on that cross at Cavalry. He is MY savior! He died for ME!
Before that moment in time I had only an intellectual faith. But at that moment in time I had faith of the heart and the Holy Spirit came into my heart and I KNEW IT! It was like God Himself touched me (Matthew 20:34, Matthew 8:3, Matthew 8:15, Matthew 9:29-30, Mark 1:41, Luke 5:13, Luke 7:14-15, Luke 22:51). I was healed. I was blind but NOW I see! I was lost but NOW I’m found. Ever since that moment in time I have literally been a new creature!
I have a new heart with new desires. I am able to reject sin like never before, because I have the help of the Holy Spirit, Who abides in me.
I was then baptized by water and accepted into a Bible believing Baptist church in Indianapolis, IN where I began, and continue, to grow in the Lord.
Once you quit trusting in yourself and transfer your trust to Christ, you will literally be born-again. Being “born-again” isn’t just a nice religious word, it is literal. You are not born-again because you are a Christian. You are a Christian because you are born-again. And that is not a work that you can do. It is an act of God that happens when you come to the Lord Jesus, a condemned sinner who deserves death, and trust that Jesus Christ paid it all for you, because He did!