“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Is baptism essential for salvation? Jesus and his apostles were certainly under that persuasion. However, many argue that belief is all that is necessary to salvation because John 3:16 mentions no other condition for everlasting life. They deny the necessity of baptism because John 3:16 says nothing about baptism. So tell me this…
Is confessing essential? Paul wrote, “That if you shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” How these statements in Rom. 10:9, 10 are to be reconciled with John 3:16 since the latter makes no mention of “confessing with the mouth?” Can one have everlasting life by believing in the heart but without confessing with the mouth? No!
Is repentance necessary to eternal life? In Acts 17:30 Paul taught that God “commands all men every where to repent.” Jesus said, “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). Peter told sinners, “Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. . .” (Acts 3:19) But there is not a word about “repenting” in John 3:16-unless we include it in the “believing” in that passage. Does the “belief” that brings everlasting life exclude repentance? No!
Is baptism unnecessary for remission of sins? The Jews on Pentecost were told by Peter, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Ananias told Saul to “arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Again, the Bible says in 1 Pet. 3:21, “The like figure where unto even baptism does also now save us … by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Just as soon as we call attention to such passages as these, someone says, “But what about John 3:16? It says nothing about baptism.” And it says nothing about confessing Christ and repenting of your sins! If all these things are nonessential because they are not specified in John 3:16, why do other scriptures list them as essentials? Are we not obligated to understand John 3:16 in the light of the Bible as a whole? As the psalmist David wrote, “The sum of Your word is truth (Ps 119:160).
Paul said in his letter to the Romans, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom 10:10). Peter said on the day of Pentecost, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Jesus verily said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; he that believes not shall be condemned (Mk. 16:16). John 3:16 does not contradict these verses, but only proves that if one truly believes that Jesus is the Christ, they will do what the Eunuch did in Acts chapter 8:35-39:
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe (BELIEF) with all your heart, you may.”And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (CONFESSION) So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. (BAPTISM) Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing”.