WHAT IS BAPTISM?
If the meaning of baptism could be boiled down to one word, that word would be identification. Baptism speaks primarily of a personal, public identification with Jesus Christ. In its practical aspects, it is a simple ceremony where a person gets submerged in a tank of water and is pulled up out of it. It is a symbolic ceremony – more on that later. In some cases where there is an issue of physical disability or medical condition, sprinkling with water may be used as a form of baptism.
IS BAPTISM COMMANDED IN THE BIBLE?
In Matthew 3:13-17 we have the example that Jesus, Himself, sets by getting baptized:
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
People should be baptized out of an act of obedience to Jesus!
“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.”
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
Jesus was baptized. He asked his disciples to be baptized. He asked his disciples to baptize others who believed in Him. When we love him we want to follow him and do what he commands us to do. He commands that everyone who chooses to follow him and to call themselves “Christian” should be baptized.
People should be baptized because it is a proclamation to others that Jesus is in their life.
The Philippian jailer brought Paul and Silas out of the prison and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved’ . . . He and all his family were baptized . . . The whole family was filled with joy, because they had come to believe in God.”
All of us can remember an occasion when we attended a wedding or watched one on T.V. A wedding is simply a symbol of a man and a woman’s love for each other. This symbol is an outward sign of their inward love. The ceremony is a way of showing friends and family how much they love each other. The wedding is not when they fell in love, just a sign that they are in love and commit themselves to each other. In the same way getting baptized is not “the” moment you fall in love with Jesus, it is an outward sign of the inward commitment that you have already made to follow Jesus. Baptism should take place very soon after you make a commitment to follow Jesus. When it does happen, it must happen AFTER you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and it is only a SIGN of what has already happened in your heart – that is the act of obedience to Jesus. This sign is for your friends, family, and the church to witness.
People should be baptized because it is a way of telling others that Jesus washed their sins away.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9
Baptism, as an act of obedience, is only a symbol of what God has already done in your life. It has no magic power or ability to wash away sins. The water we use in this church is the same stuff that comes out of your faucet at home! Only Jesus can wash away your sins. This happens when you ask Him into your life to be your Lord and Savior. The symbol of water is a cleansing symbol of what Jesus did when He saved you.
In Romans 6:3-4 the Apostle Paul puts the matter this way:
Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
WHY IS THE ACT OF GETTING BAPTIZED IMPORTANT?
How important is your baptism? It is your personal identification with the greatest act of human history—the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Baptism doesn't save you—salvation comes by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Your guilt before God is removed the moment you trust in Christ. But baptism is your personal testimony to, and the inward assurance of, your passage from the old life to the new life....
What, then, does baptism mean?
1. It means we have turned from the old life of sin to a new life in Jesus Christ.
2. It means we are publicly identifying with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
3. It means we are openly joining the ranks of those who believe in Christ.
When you are baptized, you are in fact visually preaching the gospel. As you stand in the water waiting to be baptized, A, you symbolize Jesus dying on the cross. As you are lowered into the water, B, you symbolize Jesus buried in the tomb. As you are raised from the water, C, you symbolize Jesus rising from the dead.
And since you personally are being baptized, you are also saying, "I died with Jesus Christ, I was buried with him and now I am raised with Christ to brand-new life."
WHAT DO I NEED TO GET BAPTIZED?
Firstly, you need to have received Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. Again, baptism doesn’t save you, it is a declaration of your choice to follow Jesus Christ.
Secondly, let the pastor, admin, a deacon, or your fellowship leader know! Our church performs baptisms typically twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. For special circumstances there may be a special baptism performed for individuals who are facing special life circumstances.
Thirdly, attend the baptism class. This class is designed to review the basics of the Christian faith and provides you with an opportunity to ask questions. At the class is where you will also fill out an application for baptism.
Fourthly, upon completion of the class you will be interviewed by the pastor. During this time details for the ceremony will be given to you. And then what’s left? The baptism ceremony!