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John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." This verse is true in everything it says.
Folks who say that John 3:16 is all you need to be saved, however, are really saying that all you have to do to be saved is to just believe on Jesus. They conclude that obedience, especially baptism, is not necessary to salvation. This is the doctrine of "salvation by faith only." But is this doctrinal really what the Bible teaches?
Acts 3:22,23 refers to Jesus as a prophet saying: "...Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people." Now this says that we must pay attention to everything Jesus says, yet the Bible says much more about salvation than just John 3:16. How then can John 3:16 be "all we need"? If we need just one verse, why did God give the rest of the Bible? To take only part of what God teaches about a subject, while ignoring other inspired teaching, is to endanger our souls.
In Mark 16:15,16 Jesus told His disciples to teach everyone that, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved..." According to Jesus, both faith and baptism are essential in order for one to be saved.
John 3:16 truly teaches us that faith is essential. But when we learn "all things" that Jesus taught, we understand that we have a saving faith only when our faith leads us to be baptized for the purpose of having our sins forgiven (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 4/1996
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.