In your question, I see two possible answers.  First, does one have to be baptized in order to be saved?  To that, I say, ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Let us look at a few verses that speak to us of how to be saved.

  • Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
  • Acts 16:30-32, “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”
  • Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
  • John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

These verses (and many more) make it clear that salvation comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, apart from any works or acts.  Paul the apostle said in 1 Corinthians 1:14, “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius.”  If baptism was a requirement for salvation, would not the apostle have sought to baptize all he could?  Rather, he sought to share the Gospel with all he could.

To look at your question in a different way, we consider, is baptism necessary for a believer in Christ to be obedient?  To that, I say, ABSOLUTELY YES!  Baptism is an act of obedience for the believer. Let us look at a few verses that speak to us of the importance of baptism.

  • Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
  • Acts 8:36-37, “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 
  • Romans 6:4, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” 

These verses show us that the Lord directed us to teach (by sharing the Gospel) others and then to baptize them, thus making them to become disciples of the Lord themselves. We also see the importance and purpose of baptism for the believer.  In this act, we identify with the Lord Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection.  With this act of outward profession of faith in the Lord Jesus, we are then exhorted to “walk in newness of life.”  Knowing this is the will of our blessed savior, why would we hesitate to be baptized according to His Word.  While baptism has nothing to do with our salvation, it has much to do with our obedience to the Lord and our becoming effective disciples.  (CC)  (546.6)