Is baptism a sign of church membership or a salvific event?

I have been thinking about the practice of Baptism within the church and the various denominational practices of it. I currently fellowship with a Baptist Church and am enjoying it very much and will soon become a member. The minister in asking me about becoming a member, asked me if I had been baptised…I grinned and laughingly said; twice…as an infant and then later on as an adult in a muddy dam.

This passage stood out to me this morning in my daily readings.

1Co 1:14  I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
1Co 1:15  so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.
1Co 1:16  (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
1Co 1:17  For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. esv

It’s clear that Paul did sometimes baptise people; it’s also clear that he thought it had nothing to do with the preaching of the Gospel. If it has nothing to do with the preaching of the Gospel; it seems that for Paul, there is no connection between salvation and baptism.

Perhaps baptism is more of a sign of belonging to a local church and in of itself is not part part of the salvific event itself… though church participation is an ongoing part of the salvation journey.

About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
This entry was posted in Baptism, Church Discipline, church fellowship, Theology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Is baptism a sign of church membership or a salvific event?

  1. MAT 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come
    one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He
    will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

  2. T.C. R says:


    What you’re waiting for? Become that Baptist and join me. 😀

    At any rate, yes, given the context of 1 Cor. 1-4, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that baptism function as a community experience, signifying a belonging. But in Corinth, they were aligning themselves too much with their baptizers, instead of Christ and the cross.

    • Craig Benno says:

      T.C… it will happen soon, or perhaps it already has happened or is happening… 😉 Yes; Paul was making the point of being aligned with Christ and not the baptiser….

      a friend replied the following to me on FB

      I have heard Baptists speak of it as if it were salvific. It is not what saves a person, but kind of completes the process. I think that Baptists (and maybe others who insist on believers being baptized) struggle a little with a proper explanation of how baptism is necessary, but not salvific.

      I think your passionate about believers baptism; how do you explain it without crossing the line of it being a salvific event?

  3. Jonny says:

    I think that Jesus being baptised was a significant event. I mean, clearly he didn’t need to be baptised to be “saved”…

    Jesus was baptised by John. John was the son of a priest, and therefore was to be expected to serve in the temple when he became of age. But he didn’t. Instead, he went out into the wilderness and lived like Elijah. This was what God called him to do, and he was a prophet, challenging the religious structure of the day.

    Now I’m a fairly rusty with all of this, but I think John was baptising people out of the social norms, that rather than just being in the world and of the world, they were to repent of this and become in the world but not of it. So the when they were baptised, it was basically a statement of turning from following the institutions of the world to following God’s rule.

    I guess for me, this explains why Jesus was baptised, because he was submitting to a different authority, and showing allegiance to it too. You’ll also notice that this was the beginning of his ministry.

    This stuff also makes me think about who it is I was baptised by.

    I haven’t looked at this stuff in years, so maybe I should find my resources, but I hope this is helpful.

    • Craig Benno says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting Jonny.
      Certainly the baptism of Christ was a significant event and one that I think John was saying this is God’s spoken servant…and is pertinent to why Jesus later asked the Pharisees about whether John’s baptism was valid or not.

  4. Edward says:

    Here are my two cents in three silly points:
    Baptism is a sacrament. It is an outward and visible sign of an inward and Spiritual Grace. Baptism is not salvific but it is commanded by Jesus because it signifies and appropriates the salvation accomplished for us by God’s grace upon grace.
    Christians are not baptized because Jesus was baptized; Christians are baptized because Jesus died, was buried, and was raised from the dead (Romans 6).

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