Question: In John 3:5 Christ told Nicodemus that "...Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Is this referring to water baptism for salvation?
Answer: "Water," here, is referring to the Word of God. Peter, in his first epistle, clarifies "born again" in 1:23.
"Being born again, NOT of corruptible seed, (All the good we do, including water baptism, church membership, etc., will never produce the new birth) BUT of incorruptible, by the WORD OF GOD, which liveth and abideth for ever."
In John 15:3 we are told,
"...Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken to you."
We are cleansed by believing the word of God, not by baptism.
Again, in Ephesians 5:26, "water" is referring to the word of God.
"That he (Christ) might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word."
Let us return to John, Chapter 3, where synonymous terms such as: "everlasting life," "not being condemned," "eternal life," and "being saved" are all used in reference to entering the kingdom of God.
"...whosoever BELIEVETH in him (Christ) should not perish, but have eternal life."( 3:15)
"...whosoever BELIEVETH in him (Christ) should not perish but have everlasting life."(3:16 )
"...but that the world through him (Christ) might be saved." (3:17)
"He that BELIEVETH on him (Christ) is not condemned..." (3:18)
"He that BELIEVETH on the Son hath everlasting life..." (3:36)
"...He that heareth my WORD, and BELIEVETH on Him (Christ) that sent me, hath everlasting life." (5:24)
"...He that BELIEVETH on me hath everlasting life." (6:47)
Christ told the Samaritan woman at the well, in John 4:14,
"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
This spiritual water is the Word Christ gave her when He told her He was the Messiah (v.25,26), and He was the Christ, the Savior of the world (v.42). She believed Him.
Ephesians 1:7 makes it perfectly clear we are saved by the blood which Christ poured out on the Cross to pay for our sins, not the water!
"In whom we have redemption through his (Christ’s) blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."