Virtually all Christian churches practice the rite of baptism. They do so because of Jesus’ command to “go...and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matt. 28:19 It is almost universally agreed that baptism is connected with the beginning of the Christian life; it is a type of initiation into the universal, invisible church or kingdom of God as well as the local visible church. It is the first step of obedience a new Believer can make out of humble gratitude to Christ. Still, there is considerable disagreement among various church denominations concerning baptism. Baptists believe the following:
Baptism is an “outward expression of an inward change.” It is a symbolic act of obedience to Christ, identifying the Believer with their Lord, and giving testimony to the inner spiritual change that has taken place when the Believer put their faith, trust and hope in Christ.
Baptism serves as a public testimony that the Believer has been ‘born again’ (John 3:3). It is not a magical rite, nor does it produce any spiritual change in the one baptized; it is simply an act of obedience to Christ who commanded His followers be baptized.
Because baptism is an outward expression of an inward change, it is highly symbolic. A symbol is a visible picture or representation of another idea or event.
- identifies the Believer with Christ’s death and resurrection. (Romans 6:4ff)
- gives testimony that you have died to any old way of life and become alive to a new life through Christ, i.e. be “born again” (John 3:3, 1 Peter 1:23)
- is a promise and a commitment to God and to all those witnessing the event that you are committing your life to Christ for His use and to His Kingdom for all eternity.
- is a way of identifying with a local church and entering into a covenant-love relationship with a ‘body of Believers’. (Acts 2:41)
The predominant meaning of the Greek word for ‘baptize’ means “to dip or to plunge under water.”
The mode that best preserves and represents the meaning and symbolism inherent in baptism is immersion (completely submerging the candidate under the water) then raising them upright out of the water.
As Christ was laid in a tomb after His death, the new Believer is lowered under the water. And as Christ rose from the dead after three days, so too the Believer is raised upright out of the water to ‘walk in newness of life’.
Throughout the New Testament only Believers were baptized. This means that baptism followed conversion (repentance from sin and confession of Jesus Christ as Lord).
The conditions found in the Bible for baptism are 1) repentance of sin and 2) faith in Jesus Christ. This sequence is important: baptism following conversion. We call this “Believer’s Baptism”.
Repentance -> Belief -> Baptism
Baptism is a demonstration to others and to God that Jesus Christ is Lord of your life. If a person refuses to be baptized, they cannot rightfully claim that Christ is their Lord, because they refuse to obey His commands.
John 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.
John 15:10, 14 “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love…You are my friends if you do what I command”.