Is water baptism necessary for salvation?
Faith and trust in my Lord are not a work as my Lord has done the work for me at the Cross. When I believe in Him as my Lord, I am simply acknowledging my inability to save myself and placing complete reliance upon what Jesus did for me, nothing else, no one else. Jesus tells me that this is the KEY to the Father’s heart, “believing” in what the Son has done by shedding His innocent blood for the redemption of my sin thereby making me “positionally right” by receiving the imputation of Jesus’ righteousness into and over my life (John 6:29; 2 Corinthians 5:21). There is NOTHING I can do in and of myself to initiate the imputation of Messiah’s righteousness other than “believe” (John 3:16-18). It is that belief that initiates the Covenant of Grace in my life and the Gift of the Holy Spirit who takes up residence within me as the Guarantor of relationship with the Father, forever (Ephesians 1:13-14).
There is no work on my behalf that I can undertake to initiate the salvation process but to repent of my sin, agree with God that I’m a sinner in need of forgiveness and believe Jesus died for me to pay my sin-debt (John 3:16-18).
Once I have been redeemed and sealed by the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit then begins a work of obedience within me and daily walks me in the process of sanctification where I am incrementally transformed into the spiritual image of Jesus Christ concerning a pursuit of obedience to God’s will; this process of sanctification is necessary as the Holy Spirit prepares me for service in the New Jerusalem. It is important to note at this juncture that all of my works, efforts, philanthropy, to attain God’s favor are as a bloody, filthy, menstrual cloth, in the nose of God until such time I have entered into relationship with the Father by grace through faith in Jesus as my Lord (Isaiah 64:6).
My obedience to my Lord’s will SUBSEQUENT to having been redeemed by grace (a gift that cannot be earned) through faith (trusting-believing) in Jesus as my Lord, my obedience to God’s will is then accounted to me as substantiation-validation that my faith is true and my confession authentic. Baptism following redemption/salvation is one such “work” of obedience as it is an outward manifestation of what has already manifest in my life and in my heart in response to my confession, my belief. Baptism, nor any other work, saves me but only validates and substantiates outwardly what has manifest inwardly by grace through faith.
If one has received the Holy Spirit through confession of Jesus as Lord, they are SEALED, GUARANTEED salvation at that point via Covenant. There is NOTHING else that can be done to seal and provide salvation from that point forward…the process is complete. It is by “believing” in Jesus as Lord that one receives the Gift and Guarantee of the Spirit…not by any work including water baptism. Water Baptism following our confession of Jesus as Lord is commanded by Messiah, but baptismal waters do not provide atonement, salvation, redemption, justification.
“16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”