What is baptism?
Baptism is the action of being submerged under water as the first obedient act of a new Christian. Sounds funny doesn’t it? But this is an ordinance that is rich in meaning! Many of the most profound truths of Christianity are represented and celebrated in this practice. Primarily, baptism symbolizes our union with Jesus Christ, and our reception of all the saving benefits that Christ has provided for us through His life, death and resurrection. Baptism is also a beautiful picture of the truth that our sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus. In addition to these meanings is the fact that baptism is also a public declaration of our allegiance to the Triune God. It is apparent, then, why baptism is a very sacred event in the life of the Christian believer. ”So through baptism we have been buried with Him in death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glorious power, so we too should live an entirely new life.” Romans 6:4 Williams
Why do we practice baptism?
There are three primary reasons why we practice believer’s baptism:
1. Our Lord was baptized as an example for us. Even though Jesus was without sin, and did not need baptism, He chose to identify Himself with those He came to save from sin by being baptized. This is recorded in Matthew 3:13-17. Therefore, He shows us His acknowledgement of the importance of baptism.
2. We see Jesus’ divine mandate for baptism in the great commission given to His followers in Matthew 28:16-20. Jesus declared His supreme authority in heaven and on earth and commanded Christians to baptize all believers. We dare not disobey this command.
3. All believers in the New Testament accounts were urged, commanded, and expected to be baptized. In every recorded instance of a person or group of persons repenting and following Christ there followed a record of their baptism. Baptism is most certainly commanded for us as Christians. “When they heard this, they were stabbed to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, ‘You must repent—and, as an expression of it, let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ—that you may have your sins forgiven…” Acts 2:37-38 Williams
Who is eligible for baptism?
The Bible speaks only of believers being baptized. The Great Commission says “make disciples… baptize them…” Obviously disciplined followers of the Lord Jesus are the only ones eligible for baptism. This means only those who have professed their faith in Jesus Christ for the pardon of their sin. Biblical faith demands repentance which is more than verbal agreement with some church teachings about Jesus and what He did for mankind. It is embracing the Person of Jesus Christ, God in human flesh who lived, died and rose again to purchase our pardon and save us from sin. This “faith” in Christ produces a loving relationship with God.
Why do we not baptize infants?
There are two basic reasons for not baptizing infants.
1. In each of the examples in the New Testament, infants are never mentioned as candidates for baptism. In every instance only disciples are recorded as proper subjects to be baptized. Remember, Matthew 28 says, “go make disciples … baptize them…” It does not say “go make disciples… and then baptize their babies…”
2. The very nature of baptism seems to prohibit infants from being baptized. Baptism is a sign and a celebration of new faith and life in Christ which a baby does not know or believe. Therefore, we find it wrong and not Biblical to baptize babies.
What about those who were baptized as infants and are now believers?
We can only view such so called baptisms as a child dedication at best. We recognize that the parents of these infants offered their babies to God, promised to raise them in the ways of the Lord, and to faithfully pray for them. In other words, all they did was publicly dedicate themselves to raise their child in the faith. We encourage and urge all such believers to obey Matthew 28 and be baptized as believers.
Why do we practice immersion as the mode of baptism?
The very word baptism means immersion. The Greek word “baptizo” is not translated but brought into the English language. A different word is translated sprinkle. In ancient secular Greek writings that have survived until today “baptizo” always meant to be submerged under. Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. You do not need a river to sprinkle. The examples and meaning demand immersion. Finally, the act of immersion best pictures the fundamental truths of baptism. It is the best representation of being symbolically buried and risen in Christ Jesus. If disability or age makes immersion impossible, we would immerse them by pouring water upon them instead of dipping them under water.
So what is the next step?
If you have been born again and now are in a relationship with Jesus Christ, you need to show quick obedience by publicly being baptized. This means you have changed your mind about living your life your way and have now received Christ’s forgiveness for disobedience to God’s law and surrendered to Him as your new boss. Please contact your pastor and request to be baptized immediately.