[quote=Randy]What I want to know - from a non-Catholic Christian perspective - is whether water baptism is considered necessary for salvation?
[quote=Doug]I used to believe that it was, but I believe now that there is sufficient evidence in the bible to have changed my understanding.
Hmmm - that sounds like shifting sand instead of solid rock…
[quote=Doug]Now I believe we must only be born again as Jesus says. And since he baptizes with the spirit I believe that is all we need.
Of course Doug, but that’s what water baptism is - it’s being born again. It’s a visible sign of the invisible regeneration that it effects through the Spirit. I thought you said you were Catholic - didn’t you know that water baptism was being born of water and spirit? How do you suppose those who are too young or too cognitively impaired to truly appreciate Christ and the gospel are saved? Are they born saved?
[quote=Doug]When Jesus explains to Nicodemus that we must be born of water and spirit, I believe he is talking about our natural birth and our regeneration or baptism of the spirit.
Why Doug? When has “natural birth” ever - in the history of man - been referred to as “born of water”? It hasn’t, except by relatively modern Protestants such as yourself. Furthermore, have you considered Titus 3:5:
“…he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit…” Please note how in this verse - which almost exactly parallels John 3:5 - the bath of rebirth and the renewal in the Spirit are separate, but together, and both salvific. Baths happen in water…
In Acts1:5 John baptizes with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.
That is proof that John’s baptism was not a Baptism by the Holy Spirit. So what?
If you want proof of the value of Baptism in Acts, how about the day of Pentecost and Peter’s advice to the Jews:
Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?” Peter [said] to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.
Please note that Peter suggests it is something that they should do (ie have done to them.)unlike the “born again” scenario you described. Furthermore, being baptized and receiving the “gift of the Holy Spirit” are not synonymous in the manner you suggest. According to Peter, repentance followed by baptism results in the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.
They were water baptized and “added” to the number of the “saved”. The evidence is overwhelming really…
I must say that it was Pauls letter to the Romans that really convinced me. His teaching on circumcision and uncircumcision in chapters 2 and 3, also Galations 6.
Since water baptism has replaced circumcision I find these letters very enlightening.
Enlightening how, exactly? I don’t follow you…I’ve read them all many times and find them perfectly consistent with the understanding of water Baptism as being salvific.
And how do any of them obviate the Great Commission by Christ himself in Matt 28:
“Go therefore and make disciples of every nation (by) baptizing them…and teaching them…”
I fully believe that our salvation has to do with the condition of our heart towards Jesus.
Of course it does! But what if Jesus also taught his Apostles that water baptism is very important and His normal means for communicating grace to us in order for us to become his disciples? What would it say about the condition of one’s heart toward Jesus who rejects baptism because they think they know better than the Church he built upon Peter based upon the reading of some letters He didn’t even write and never even mentioned as being necessary for your salvation? I think you are unwisely rejecting the testimony of Scripture and the first 1600 years of Christianity …