Do you have to be baptized to be saved?

      No, baptism is not a prerequisite to being saved. Baptism is a sign of repentance and of the washing away of an individual's sins by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, Acts 1:5, 11:16, 22:16). It is a combination of John's baptism by water and Jesus' baptism by the Holy Spirit.

        Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
        Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off -- for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:38-39)

      Baptism is done in obedience to the command of Christ (Matthew 3:13-15, 28:19-20) and as a way of receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39, 10:47). Jesus received the Holy Spirit when he was baptized (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22), and so did many others after his death and resurrection (Acts 19:1-7), although it in itself was not the reason for receiving the Spirit (Acts 10:44-48). At Pentacost the disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5, 2:1-4), yet not with water. Thereafter the Spirit was given to the Gentiles who believed (Acts 11:15-17), sometimes even before being babtized by water (Acts 10:44-48). The act of baptizing, then, was no more the reason for salvation than for the receiving of the Holy Spirit. It was done, rather, as a sign, both of salvation and of the receiving of the Spirit.

        While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:44-48)

      John's baptism by water was a symbol of repentance and forgiveness of sins (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:4-5), as well as a revelation of the baptism of Jesus (John 1:31, Acts 19:4), but the baptism of Jesus was by the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11-12, Luke 3:16-17, John 1:33), for salvation as well as judgment (John 16:7-11). Jesus himself did not baptize with water (John 4:2), though he does give living water to those who ask (John 4:10, 7:37-39, Revelation 22:17). It is men who baptize with water, and it is Jesus who saves, not water (John 5:1-9, 9:1-33). It is baptism in water that confirms the faith of the believer.

        John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Luke 3:16-17, Matthew 3:11-12)

      The few places where salvation is mentioned in relation to baptism (Mark 16:16, Acts 3:38, Titus 3:4-7, 1 Peter 3:20-21) do not directly imply salvation through baptism, but salvation through believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:2-4). It is the water and blood that testify with the Spirit about Jesus Christ (1 John 5:6-9). Baptism is simply a display of this faith. It was faith that saved the sinful woman who washed Jesus' feet with perfume and her hair (Luke 7:36-50) and faith which sanctifies those who believe (Acts 26:18). The prerequisite to being saved comes through believing in Jesus ("Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household." Acts 16:31), which baptism then ratifies (Acts 16:31-34).

        "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24)