Understanding Baptism

  1. Baptism is an outward symbolic testimony of the inward reality of what God has accomplished in us at salvation. It’s a powerful visual proclamation of what God has accomplished by uniting us or immersing us spiritually into Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
  2. Baptism is commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20) and practiced by the early church (Acts 8:38;10:44-48;16:31-33;18:8).
  3. Baptism by immersion is the best symbolic means of testifying to our union with Christ in death, burial and resurrection. It was most assuredly the mode practiced in the early Church. Immersion is the mode that most fully preserves  the meaning of baptism (baptizo – to dip or immerse). John baptized “at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism” (John 3:23). When baptized by John, Jesus “came up out of the water” (Mark 1:10). Upon hearing the good news, the Ethiopian eunuch said to Philip, “see, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized? Then they both went down into the water, Philip baptized him, and they came up out of the water” (Acts 8:36,38-39).  
  4. Baptism after belief in Christ is the order found in the New Testament. “Believe and be baptized…” (Acts 2:41; 8:30-38;16:33,34). Baptism is not something that happens to you without being aware of it. It is something you choose to do in faith and obedience. Therefore, we only practice baptism of believers. Baptism does not contribute in any way to a persons salvation (Luke 23:40-43; Ephesians 2:8-9;Titus 3:5-7).  
  5. Baptism of children is not advised. We do not baptize infants or children. While we encourage children to take believing steps toward the gospel, we take seriously the matter of belief happening in a context of personal ownership. Children often profess to believe out of a desire to do what pleases their parents. Years of experience and wider research have led us to conclude that it’s best to wait until at least age 14 for baptism. This is not meant to be an arbitrary rule but a thoughtful pastoral guide.

Steve Cornell

This entry was posted in Baptism, Christian life, Church, Church membership, Disciple-making. Bookmark the permalink.

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