What happens to a Christian who dies without having been baptized?

Imagine for a moment that someone is in the hospital, days from death when she turns to Jesus trusting Him to forgive her sin and give her peace with God. Her impending death makes baptism impossible, so what happens to her when she dies? What about in the case of a healthy young man who gets saved and refuses to be baptized. He goes his entire life showing all the signs of being a genuine Christian but is never baptized. What happens when he dies? In both cases the answer the same. They go to heaven. One of the key components of true, Biblical teaching is that salvation is in no way dependent on anything the person does. None are ever saved, or kept saved, by any ritual, good deed, regulation or lifelong habit. Salvation is fully given to one who trusts Jesus. No other things are necessary. In the book of Galatians Paul says that any attempt to add anything else as necessary to salvation is a denial of the gospel. One who is saved, is saved by Jesus regardless of whether or not the person has been baptized.

A portion of the account of Jesus’ death on the cross highlights this truth. When Jesus was crucified, two other men were executed alongside him. Luke 23 tells us about these men, and the response of one of them in particular. “ And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” The criminal beside Jesus was not going to come down from that cross alive. The Roman soldiers surrounding the crosses would have killed him themselves before letting him come down (in fact, the Bible tells us the soldiers broke the legs of the two criminals to speed up their death so they could be taken down that day). This man was never going to be baptized. However, what did Jesus promise him? Jesus assured the believing thief that he would enter into heaven with Jesus. The lack of baptism was not going to keep him from heaven, because baptism does not save. The thief was saved because he believed Jesus to be God and Savior.

Should a Christian be baptized? Absolutely. To refuse baptism is disobedience to the commands of the Bible. However, salvation is no more necessary to anyone’s salvation than attending Sunday School or giving in the offering. Salvation is completely accomplished by Jesus apart from any work an one does.


2 thoughts on “What happens to a Christian who dies without having been baptized?


    Can involuntary baptism wash away your sins? Is involuntary baptism a Biblical concept? Does involuntary baptism play a role in your salvation? The answer is no, no, and no.


    Faith:John 3:16

    Repentance: Acts 2:38 (repentance is making the commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God)

    Confession: Romans 10:9-10

    I know of no one who involuntarily baptizes adults. Why would they, then, force infants to be baptized against their will? It not only is nonsensical, it is not according to the Scriptures.

    There are some Biblical accounts of involuntary baptisms.

    A couple thousand demons were involuntarily baptized.(Mark 5:12-13 The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.” 13 Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drown in the sea.

    These demons confessed that Jesus was the Son of God, however, they did not repent. (Mark 5:1-13) These demons were not saved. They were not forgiven of their sins. Involuntary baptism drown the swine, but did not wash away any ones sins.

    A few unbelieving, unrepentant Egyptians were involuntarily baptized in the sea. (Exodus 14:27-28) The Egyptians who were involuntarily baptized were not saved, all they got was dead.


    The Ethiopian eunuch heard Jesus preached from the Scriptures. He believed and confessed Jesus Christ as the Son of God. He asked to be baptized in water. He went away rejoicing. (Acts 8:27-38) The eunuch had his sins washed away by the blood of Jesus. The eunuch was saved. He was added to the Lord’s church. The eunuch was part of the body of Christ. The eunuch was baptized into Christ.

    If you were baptized before you believed, all you got was wet.
    If you were baptized without repenting, that is if you did not make the commitment to turn from sin and and turn toward God, all you got was wet.
    If you were baptized without acknowledging that Jesus is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead, all you got was wet.


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    • You are correct, baptism apart from salvation has absolutely no spiritual value. Baptism is an act of obedience following salvation. Without salvation baptism, voluntary or involuntary, is just a dunking.

      However, comparing what happened to the Egyptians and the demon possessed swine to “involuntary baptism” is a lot like comparing what happened to Bonnie and Clyde to kids in the backyard playing cops and robbers.

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