Does a born again child of God HAVE to be baptized in order to go to heaven?
Luke 23:39-43 says, “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 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 repentant thief on the cross had no way to get baptized, and Jesus told him that he would be with Him in paradise (heaven), that same day. So the answer to your question is “No, a person does not have to be baptized to go to heaven.”
But if a person professes to be saved, but refuses to be baptized, then we must question how sincere he or she really was in their decision for Christ, because the Bible says in Romans 10:11, “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” If they are not willing to follow the Lord in believer’s baptism, then something is wrong somewhere.
When people got saved in the New Testament, they did not have to be forced to be baptized, THEY ASKED when they could do it. Acts 8:35-38 says, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 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. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”
I am convinced that part of the problem with people claiming to be saved, but having no desire to follow the Lord in baptism, is because they were taught a plan of salvation with no “repentance.” Notice how John the Baptist started his ministry in Matthew 3:1,2, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, REPENT ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus started His ministry with the same message in Mark 1:14,15, “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: REPENT ye, and believe the gospel.” The disciples’ message was the same in Acts 3:19, “REPENT ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Carefully read through the Book of Acts, and notice how quickly people were baptized after they were saved, and then compare it with today, and how that matter is put off by individuals and churches. Something is wrong.
To make sure that you understand that baptism is not a part of salvation, please print off the Salvation Bible Course from this Web Site, and then do the same with the Baptism Bible Course. Look up every Scripture verse, and fill in the blanks. Then, you will understand what salvation is, and also why baptism is not a part of salvation, but is a very important part of the obedient Christian life.