Is baptism truly a removable outward form, unnecessary for salvation?


Basically, you state in your writings that baptism is simply an outward form representing an inward cleansing. I’m not saying this is untrue, I just cannot find any scriptures which really say this. I find removing baptism from the Gospel is wrong. In Acts 2:38 Luke links baptism and repentance with salvation and 1 Peter 3:20-21 talks of having a good conscience toward the Lord and of baptism saving us. I make these comments not as criticism but in all honesty, and wonder why baptism is no longer required.


Let us examine the idea of baptism being an outward form by considering the original command to “baptize” as stated in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” —Matt. 28:19-20

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” —Mark 16:15-18

From the above texts we note that baptism alone and of itself did not avail to salvation. Two points illustrate this.

1) According to the record of Matthew, the disciples were to teach all Jesus had taught them, as well as to baptize. This suggests baptism alone was not sufficient to assure salvation. Those baptized had to “observe all things” commanded by Jesus. Thinking over the numerous teachings of Jesus (i.e. Sermon on the Mount, His parables, His sermon on the night of the Last Supper, etc) we realize there was much more to be done than a simple immersion in water.

2) In Mark’s record of the commission, salvation is predicated on two points: baptism and belief. The point made is basically the same as gleaned from the Gospel of Matthew, that new converts must be taught to observe all of Jesus’ teachings for only the obedient could be said truly and fully to believe. (see John 13:17 and Matt. 7:24).

Galatians 3:27 reads: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This shows definite inward change and spiritual significance, for no one could literally put on Christ. It is the likeness of Christ, or Christ’s manner of thinking and speaking which Paul refers to, not the literal Christ. The baptism he speaks of is also more far-reaching than a mere dipping in literal water. A man or woman baptized in literal water may or may not have “put on” Christ; it is the person brought into Christ’s family by the “one” baptism (not the literal baptism, but the inner cleansing of the heart) that will have a new likeness. It is this inner cleansing from sin, the baptism into Christ’s death that will ensure eternal salvation, of which the literal rite was a “type” and of which the book of Acts and 1 Peter speak.