tombstone - died on the way to be baptized

If baptism is required for salvation, what happens if a believer gets killed on their way to be baptized?

Will that person be saved?

Welcome to part 17 of my biblical baptism series on baptism. Since these posts build on each other, here are links to the previous posts, in case you need to catch up:

  1. Introduction
  2. Is Scripture Descriptive or Prescriptive?
  3. Defining 'baptism'
  4. The Baptism of John
  5. Why Was Jesus Baptized?
  6. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
  7. The Baptism that Jesus Commanded
  8. The Biblical Purpose of Water Baptism
  9. Is Baptism a Public Demonstration?
  10. Harmonizing Grace, Faith and Works
  11. Is Baptism Required?
  12. Is Sprinkling the Same as Baptism?
  13. Does it Matter Why You Are Baptized?
  14. Should I be Re-baptized?
  15. Should Baptisms be Scheduled?
  16. What if Baptism isn't Necessary? What if it is?

...

A question that frequently comes up when discussing salvation and baptism is:

"What if a person believes and is on their way to be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, and they get killed in a car wreck? Is that person saved?"

When I'm asked about this, I give a two-part answer to this question.

"Can GOD make a rock so big He couldn't pick it up?"

First of all, who is GOD? Is He not the One who commanded baptism in the first place? Is He also not the Creator and Sustainer of all things (see Acts 17:24-28)?

And this GOD's greatest desire for each person is that they be saved (see 2 Pet. 3:9).

If these things are true—and they are, then will this holy and righteous GOD not sustain the life of the one who is in the process of obeying Him?

Thus, I think it highly unlikely that the scenario mentioned here would ever take place.

This is not to say that one who believes and yet delays obeying GOD's command to be washed in baptism in order to receive salvation will not be killed while they yet delay.

In fact, the gospel—whenever it is preached—must include the warning of hell and convey a sense of urgent need on the part of the listener.

Whose opinion matters: ours or GOD's?

Second, suppose GOD did allow one who was "on the way" to be baptized to die.

Is GOD not the righteous Judge of all men who shows no partiality?

What does GOD desire above all else?

Our heart.

He wants us to love Him with all that we are—our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Therefore, it is my personal conviction that if the scenario mentioned did occur, GOD would save the person because, from the moment they gave GOD their heart, they were doing everything in their power to obey Him (i.e., on their way to receive salvation during baptism).

Yet, only He can determine what is just and righteous, for His thoughts and ways are infinitely higher than man's.

As Job said:

15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.
16 He also shall be my salvation,
For a hypocrite could not come before Him.
(Job 13:15-16 NKJV)

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Read Part 18 here:

Continue to part 18, "Baptism and a Wedding."

Tim Harris
Author: Tim Harris

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