Baptism Basics

Here are some answers to common questions.

Baptism is a ceremony in which a person is dipped under water to demonstrate his or her faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism before witnesses is a public confession of one’s personal commitment—an outward, physical sign of an inward, spiritual work.

There are two good reasons to be baptized: (1) Baptism is one tangible way to obey the Lord, who said that new believers should be baptized as a first step in their discipleship; (2) Like “showand-tell,” baptism lets others know about the new life we have in Christ. It’s the perfect time to invite others to witness your commitment.

Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has asked for forgiveness of sins, and who has made a commitment to follow the Lord should be baptized. (Note: We dedicate babies to the Lord but do not baptize them since they do not yet have the capacity to repent from sin or make a decision to follow Christ. One should be able to understand both sin and forgiveness—as well as Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross—before being baptized.)

The original New Testament word baptize literally meant “to immerse, to dip, to cleanse.” This is why we baptize by immersion—by dipping the person completely under the water. In this way, baptism signifies the burial of our old, sinful nature (going under) and our resurrection to a new life in Christ (coming up). Baptism identifies us with Christ’s death and resurrection. It is a symbolic picture of a spiritual reality—we have died with Christ and are now raised to new life in him.

Some emphasize the choice of specific words for the baptism ceremony, but we see the spiritual significance of baptism as being more important than any verbal formula. Typically, we simply use the words Jesus gave: “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

When a person first recognizes the need to surrender to the Lord, he or she should follow the Lord’s instruction to be baptized. Baptism should be an early step of obedience for new believers. It is a mistake to think of baptism as a sign of Christian maturity. Rather, it indicates a change—a new direction for those who want to go God’s way instead of their own way.

We admire those with the conviction to have their babies baptized, but we believe the Bible calls for something more. Baptism can be an early step in a person’s journey of faith, after repentance from sin and receiving God’s free gift of salvation. Those who confess their sins, receive Christ’s work on the cross for their salvation, and turn away from their previous life are ready to be baptized. This personal decision goes beyond relying on a parent’s faith.

Since we are saved by grace through faith alone, a person’s salvation does not depend on baptism. But baptism identifies us with Christ—as though clothed in a new uniform. A person’s spiritual growth and development can be hindered if he or she avoids this step of obedience. In addition, baptism can have a positive impact on others: your baptism encourages believers as you join them in following Jesus; it also challenges unbelievers to consider the claims of Christ.

What will happen at the next baptism

You will receive detailed instructions about the procedures for the baptism service, which may vary from time to time. Feel free to ask the one doing the baptizing any specific questions you may have. You may want to ask the person who led you to the Lord or the one who has had significant impact on your spiritual life to baptize you.

As part of your testimony, be prepared to answer questions such as: How did you decide to commit your life to Christ? How has the Lord worked in your life? What does being baptized mean to you? Be sure to pick up the Water Baptism Basics brochure at the Welcome Center or Kiosk in the Lobby and fill out the enclosed card recording your personal information prior to baptism, which will be used to provide you with a certificate of baptism. You may also use the links below to upload the brochure and Baptism Record card.

Wear a shirt or blouse (heavy or dark enough so it will not become see-through when wet) over a swimming suit. Also bring an extra change of clothes and a towel.

Want more information? Call the church office at 218-879-6765