Sometimes, we who are members of the church of Christ are accused of believing in "water salvation." When spoken, the charge makes it sound as if we think that we are saved by water and not by the blood of Jesus. The accusation is made because we teach that one must be baptized to be saved. However, the allegation that members of the church believe in "water salvation" is false.
While it is true that we who are members of the church of Christ believe that the Bible teaches one must be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16), it is not true that we think we are saved by water and not by the blood of Jesus. Over and over the Bible emphasizes that we are forgiven of our sins and saved, or redeemed, by the blood of Jesus (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 1:7). To deny salvation by the blood of Jesus would be to deny the Bible- the very book that we profess to be the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) and that we profess to follow.
Also, while it is true that we who are members of the church of Christ believe the scriptures teach that one must be baptized to be saved, we do not believe that the power that saves us is in the water. Water is not the Savior; Jesus is! However, we do believe that men must obey the commands of God to be saved (Hebrews 5:9)- even the commands to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), According to Paul, we are baptized into Jesus' death and raised to walk in newness of life with Christ (Romans 6:3,4). It is when we obey God's commands to repent and be baptized that God by the blood of Jesus forgives us of our sins.
Peter taught that by the flood "eight souls were saved by water" and that "the like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21,22). Notice, by the flood, eight souls were saved by water. How? "...the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters" (Genesis 7:16,17). The like figure, which is baptism (water), now saves us. How? Not by washing away the filth of the flesh, but by giving us a good conscience toward God. However, our conscience is made good when it is purged by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 9:14). Baptism is the means by which we are saved by the blood of Jesus.
When Naaman the leper was told by the prophet Elisha to dip in the river Jordan seven times to be cured of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-15), would he have been cured if he had not dipped seven times in the river Jordan? No! He had to obey to be cured. Would anyone accuse Naaman of believing in "water healing" because he obeyed the command to dip seven times in the water? No- Naaman, his entourage, and all who read the story know that the power to cure Naaman's leprosy was from God and that it was not in the water, itself. Still, Naaman had to dip in the river as he had been commanded in order to be healed by God.
We who are members of the church of Christ know that there is no power in the water of baptism itself to remove sins from the souls and consciences of men. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us of sin. But we must obey the command to be baptized before God will cleanse our souls with the blood (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). To charge members of the church of believing in "water salvation" is unfair. Those who make this charge are either misinformed or deliberately misrepresenting members of the church in order to prejudice the minds of people and turn them away from the simple truth-"repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus for remission of sins" (Acts 2:38).