The Meaning of Baptism
It is important that we understand what this ordinance means. It is not a way of earning favor with God. The Bible makes it clear that sinners are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone, without any dependence on good works, including things like baptism. So what is it then?
Baptism is a beautiful picture of what Christ has done for us and what He has done in us.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, - 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Baptism is an act of obedience.
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
Baptism is a proclamation of repentance.
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 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. – Acts 2:37-38
In baptism, we are agreeing with God about our sin and what it deserves.
That we have sinned against God and deserve His just wrath.
That we cannot erase our guilt or do anything to make up for our sin or earn our salvation.
Baptism is a proclamation of faith.
He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. – Mark 16:16
In baptism, we are saying that we believe that Jesus is an able and willing Savior for us.
That Jesus is fully God and fully Man.
That Jesus lived the life we could never live (perfect love to God and man).
That Jesus died the death that we deserve to die (on the cross).
That Jesus rose from the dead as the only Lord and Savior.
That Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to enable people to believe and to live for Him.
That Jesus rules over all things for the glory of God and the good of His people.
That Jesus will return one day to judge all men and to bring in the kingdom of God in all its glory.
That God offers the forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the gift of eternal life through faith alone in Jesus.
That God calls us to turn from sin and to trust in Jesus as our Savior and Lord.
Baptism is a plea for mercy.
Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, - 1 Peter 3:21
In baptism, we are asking God for mercy because of Jesus and His cross alone.
We are calling on God in the name of Jesus for mercy, for the forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation to God.
Baptism is a presentation of our lives to God.
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. – Romans 6:3-4
In baptism, we are presenting our lives to God to do His will according to His Word with His people.
We are dying to our old life and seeking to live a new life of trust and obedience to God.
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:8-13
In the early church, at their baptism, believers expressed their faith in Jesus and their commitment to trust and obey by the simple but profound confession, ‘Jesus is Lord!’
Who is Baptism For?
We believe in believer's baptism.
It is for all those who want to publicly testify to their repentance and faith and plea to God for mercy through Christ and the presentation of their lives, as described above.
For those who are new believers, baptism is a testimony to their recent repentance and faith.
For those who have been believers for a while and have not been baptized as a believer for various reasons, baptism is a testimony to the repentance and faith that has already been a part of their lives during that time.
The Personal Testimony
So what happens at the actual baptism?
We believe in immersion - that believers are to be completely immersed in water, if at all possible.
It’s also important to give those being baptized the opportunity in word and deed to testify to their faith as expressed through this baptism.
While the person being baptized is in the water, the person baptizing them will say something along these lines and the person being baptized will respond:
By this baptism, …
Are you agreeing with God about your sin and what it deserves?
‘Yes, I am.’
Are you saying you believe that Jesus is an able and willing Savior for you?
‘Yes, I am.’
Are you calling on God for mercy because of Jesus and His cross alone?
‘Yes, I am.’
Are you presenting your life to God to do His will according to His Word with His people?
‘Yes, I am.’
As you are baptized today, what is your confession?
‘Jesus is Lord!’
Then, it is my pleasure and privilege, (name of person being baptized) to baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Then the person is baptized.)
Let’s pray. (We conclude with a prayer of thanksgiving to God for His saving grace and His provision through the cross of Jesus and for God's mercy and grace in the life of the person baptized.)
If you have an interest in being baptized as a believer in Jesus, please let us know.