We believe that Christian baptism is a public declaration of and identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection signified by immersion in water.
(Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-4; I Peter 3:18-22).
Symbols are powerful tools that both capture and express meaning. Jesus used and commanded the use of specific symbols to help preserve key points of His teaching and ministry. Two of these symbols were both commanded by Christ and then practiced by the church in the New Testament: Communion (“The Lord’s Supper” or “The Eucharist” which is Greek for “thanksgiving”) and Baptism.
This first symbol and its two components, the bread and the wine, represent the body and blood of Christ offered on the cross. Each time we partake of these elements or symbols, we “do this in remembrance” of Christ’s ultimate demonstration of love—His life for ours. (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)
Communion illustrates the very real “co,” meaning with, and “union,” meaning fellowship, that we as followers of Christ share with Him and with each other. Communion reminds us of the cost of our spiritual liberation, the life-giving sacrifice of Jesus, and the hope that it offers us. It is a simple but powerful ceremony where we remember Christ's sacrifice, reflect on our heart condition and confess sin, take care of any relationship problems we may have with others, and celebrate our new life in Christ. Definitely powerful and purposeful symbols.
Like communion, baptism also plays a purposed role in the life of the follower of Christ. The Greek word, “baptize,” simply means “to plunge, dip, immerse” something in water. Baptism symbolizes and represents our personal identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection into newness of life. There is both a symbol of cleansing and a symbol of dying, being buried and raising again to new life
The symbol of water cleansing us helps to illustrate what the power of Christ does in “cleansing us from all defilement of body and spirit.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
So baptism is celebrating this new life and showing, like Christ we too have died, been buried, and are now raised as new creations, no longer held in eternal bondage to the power and consequence of our sin.
Romans 6:3-4 says it this way,
“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” (See also Colossians 2:12.)
Baptism is commanded for every follower of Christ—for every person who has personally professed to be a follower of Jesus. If you have confessed Christ as your Lord and Savior (Romans 10:8-11) and have not yet been baptized, this is for you!
As we look through the Scriptures (check out Acts 2, 8, 9, 10 & 16) it was the normative practice of the church regarding baptism that after someone believed that God was who He said He was, that Jesus was who He said He was and did what He said He would, they would repent and then be baptized as a step of commitment and confirmation.
Like the symbol of a wedding ring, baptism is simply the external and visible indication or representation (a symbol) of the internal and unseen choice of the will. Just as wearing a wedding ring doesn’t make someone married, baptism does not get someone saved. It is simply the external reference point for the internal life change. Baptism is therefore not necessary for salvation, but should be the obvious result of it. In fact the question "do I need to be baptized to be saved" would haven't even been asked in the New Testament ... it was just assumed that repentance and baptism were both always present in the life of a new believer!
We recall that Christ’s ministry was inaugurated with His baptism by John in the river Jordan. (Mark 1:9-11) and that He commanded us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…”(Matthew 28:19). It was then the message and practice of the early church. Acts 2:38 says, "Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”
So Baptism is for all those who have repented and come to faith in Christ Jesus.
Because of the pattern we see clearly presented in Scripture, we often refer to our understanding of this process as “believers’ baptism.” In every case of baptism we find in the New Testament, it is only after someone believed that they were then baptized, hence, “believers’ baptism.”
So the first step is to determine if your child has made their own decision to place their trust in Christ. Second, take some time to walk them through what baptism means and doesn’t mean. While we certainly want them to be obedient to the command to be baptized, we do not sense a need to rush it either. Children eager to be obedient should be commended for their desire. Seize the opportunity to say, “I’d love to see you take that step and want to have a chance to walk through some Scripture together with you to remind us both what this symbolizes.”
Some reasons that might provide cause for pause:
- They are not able to articulate or profess their faith clearly.
- “That looks cool. Can I do that?”
- You have not seen fruit in their lives to suggest they are, in fact, walking with Christ.
- They are a “good kid” wanting to do the right thing, but may not have yet connected the act of baptism with the meaning behind the symbol. Maybe they know they should do it, want to do what is right, but don’t really grasp what it means. In this case, take the opportunity to fill in the substance behind the symbol.
- They just want to please their mom or dad
As your child’s parent, we trust you to work that through with them—you know them best. For some kids, seven years old is the time, while some interested 12-year-olds cannot clearly communicate the basics of the Gospel.
Lastly, we do not believe Scripture is explicit on who must do the baptizing. And so, when possible, we love to see a believing dad take that role within his family. 1 Peter 2:4-10 reminds us that we ought to consider each person who has professed Christ as Lord and Saviour, a priests among God’s people.
Because baptism is commanded for all believers, it represents a step of obedience. John 14:15 states it quite simply, “If you love Me, you will obey My commandments.” To love, therefore, is to obey.
Again, an antique or incorrect notion that’s developed within some faith traditions is that baptism has some role in securing one’s eternal destiny. As if after being baptized, someone is presented with their “Get out of Hell free” card, required for all presuming to enter Heaven’s pearly gates.
But what we see in Scripture is that baptism is in no way a part of salvation but rather what results from salvation. It is not a means by which God distributes grace, but a step of obedience taken by the believer.
And so in many respects, baptism is the true step of membership in the local church through your union with the head of every church, Jesus Christ. And because of the significant role baptism should play in your walk of obedience, and that is is in some ways one of the few “rights of passage” we have, we are excited to celebrate that with you as the family of God, as Christ’s church.
If you are a follower of Christ and have never been baptized as a believer, Scripture is clear that you need to as a step of obedience.
If you were baptized as an infant, you need to be baptized. There is, in fact, not one passage in Scripture in which baptism and children are in context...not once. While I do not think this matter need divide believers as there are those who we love and respect who differ on their understanding. Why the difference in understanding? In short, they believe that baptism is the corresponding symbol of identification as God's people in the New Testament to the Old Testament symbol of circumcision. Just as all males were circumcised, regardless of personal profession of faith, so should all be baptized who are being raised in a household of faith. And so while we as a church are not going to make it an issue of division, we do not see it explicit in Scripture—not taught by Jesus, Paul, Peter or anyone who touches on the topic. As one of my favourite theologians who does hold to infant baptism (R.C. Sproul) says in a debate with John MacArthur on the subject of baptism: the only place I can go for a defense of infant baptism is church tradition ... not Scripture.
But that said, it’s not so much of a “have to” as it is a “get to”! God is giving you, through baptism, an opportunity to publicly give Him credit for the work of salvation that has been produced in your life. If we told that the first job of a believer is to "confess it with your mouth" (Romans 10:10) then this is a great place to start!
Baptism literally means “to immerse.” And yet, some churches don’t send their people for a swim, but instead a sprinkle—a few drops of water placed on the forehead symbolizing the death, burial, and resurrection ceremony.
As I hope you’ve come to understand, it is not the religious ceremony we are looking to, but its meaning that makes baptism and communion important. Both are to be done as a result or indication of a changed heart condition.
If you truly gave your life to Christ and desired to illustrate that through being baptized, and your church or faith tradition “sprinkled” instead of “immersed” we would say, "Amen!". It is not so much the “mode” of baptism that is important, as it is your heart in the matter. Clearly from Scripture when someone was baptized, they were immersed under the water … picturing that powerful process we go through when coming into a relationship with Christ (death, burial and resurrection).
That said, I have seen people “re-baptized” who were sprinkled and expressed a desire to be immersed. But don’t do it again because you believe that it didn’t “take” because the mode “wasn’t biblical.” God doesn’t look on the outside, but on the heart.
If you haven’t, how about taking the plunge?! Let’s get ready to give God glory!
If you are a follower of Christ and are interested in being baptized, complete our Baptism application by clicking here.