Catholic Q&A

I am attracted to the teachings of Jesus Christ, but I am unable to move to the point of receiving Baptism. Is Baptism necessary for salvation?

You ask me if baptism is needed for salvation? Do you realize what “Baptism” is? Do you realize what “Salvation” is? You ask me if we need to move to the point of receiving Baptism in order to be saved? Your question reminds me of students trying to give the right answer to an examination question. My answer is that Baptism would not be absolutely essential. God desires the salvation of every human being. Since he guides every person in his or her own way, even those who are not baptized, even those who have lived their entire lives without having any knowledge of Christianity will be saved, as long as they in their own way have lived according to the guidance of God. The question is, what sort of guidance will God offer the person concerned?

The Gospel of Christ is conveyed to the world through the Church, but the aim of the Church is not to baptize all the world’s people and make them Christians. Baptizing everyone in the world is impossible, and besides, it is unlikely that all mankind will become Christian by the end of the world. Rather, the Church of Christ seeks to transform the world through the Gospel. What it hopes for is that the Word of God be conveyed to the world, and that it transforms each person as well as the whole of society, from within.

Hence, the one who calls out to the heart of every person is God Himself, who created each one of us. The calling may be done by means of the evangelistic mission of the Church, but nevertheless the one calling out to us is God Himself, who guides each and every one of us in his or her own way. Also, for some people, to live by following Christ is a strong inward stimulus, and they feel moved to make this way of life public, in the form of a “confession of faith” in front of others. Such people receive baptism, become Christians, and form a little group they call the “Church.” They then offer themselves as instruments, to carry out God’s work of salvation in the world.

Hence, I feel there is no need to rush. There is every possibility you may feel you are being called by Jesus Christ, while you study Christianity. You may think you are being asked the questions, “wouldn’t you like to follow me?” or “how about working with me?” On not responding to that call you may feel unable to contain yourself, or you may feel there is no other means to happiness for you. If you sense such a yearning within your heart, and if that yearning seems to increase day by day, then please go ahead and apply for the reception of Baptism.

Baptism is an act whereby we become the body and soul of Christ, through his death and resurrection. The old life we had dies, and we are born again to a new life in Christ. We receive a new community of life, a new fellowship of the children of God. It is not a compelling obligation, but a special call and invitation. It is not an issue of meeting minimum requirements, but a special grace.

The Gospel of John tells a tale of Jesus encountering a Samaritan woman, and how he brought her to the faith. He said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10). When you become aware that the authentic happiness of mankind lies in the life of God, when you realize that you have an irreplaceable treasure, and when you come to know what a perfect blessing the invitation of Christ is, Baptism will then become “necessary” for you.

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