Baptism

1. “Why is understanding baptism relevant and important at all?”
    The Bible makes it clear that being baptized in water is part of becoming a Christian — not something to be done afterward. Without it your relationship with God will be incomplete. With it, God can give you the full blessing He wants to give to all who call on Him.

2. “What is your source of information about baptism?”
    The Bible is our only source for God’s point of view on baptism. Ultimately we all must deal with God on His terms, not ours. He wants to help us to do this, and we want to receive His help.
    Over the years religious traditions have developed which do not accurately reflect the Biblical teaching. There is no guarantee that by simply going along with popular religion’s approach to baptism you will receive and act on accurate information. Fortunately, the Bible speaks quite clearly on this issue. Be sure to look up the references listed on this page, and at the end of this article.

3. “What is baptism?”
    In the original language the word literally means “immersion.” In the Bible, with very few exceptions, it always refers to an immersion in water. See Mark 1:9-10; John 3:22-23; Acts 8:36; Acts 10:47.

4. “What does it mean?”
    It basically means that the person being baptized is putting off something old and being initiated into something new. Colossians 2:11-12 states that baptism is the time when the old sinful nature is “put off,” when one is “buried and raised from the dead with Jesus.”
    Other ways of expressing this are found in Acts 2:38 (forgiveness of sins, receiving the Holy Spirit); Titus 3 (washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit); John 3:5 (born anew of water and Spirit); Romans 6:2-5 (baptized into Christ, into His death and resurrection).
    Baptism is the point at which a person leaves behind an old life and is initiated into new life, is “born again,” is “saved,” and becomes a Christian.

5. “Aren’t we saved ‘by grace through faith’?”
    Yes. Jesus Christ was sent by God to show us who God really is, to die for our sins on the cross, and to be raised from the dead for us. He did for us what no one else could do, what we couldn’t do for ourselves to bring us to God. Baptism is the physical expression of your faith in God’s grace-gift of salvation in Christ, the time and place where you “receive the gift.”
    Essentially, the Good News is that Jesus died for us and was raised (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Our response is to believe it and act out that belief in what Jesus did for us by “dying with him, being buried with him, and being raised with him to walk in new life” in baptism. (Romans 6:3-4)
    Baptism is very frequently directly connected with faith: see Colossians 2:11-12; Galatians 3:26-27; Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 8:12; Acts 16:31-34; Acts 18:8; Acts 19:4-5, etc.
    It is also connected with repentance (Acts 2:38); “calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16); washing sins away (Acts 2:38, 22:16, Titus 3:5); entry into Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27).
    Baptism is more than “one command among many to be obeyed”, more than a “symbol of salvation”: it’s the time and place where everything Jesus did for you in His death and resurrection happens to you.

6. “Who should be baptized?”
    Everyone who has decided to believe the Good News of Jesus Christ, wants what He has done for them, and is willing to let God be their Director (the meaning of “repent”). Notice the “every one of you” and “all” of Acts 2:37-41. Baptism is not presented as something optional. The first believers understood it as a command for everyone who “received the word.”

7. “When and where should a person be baptized?”
    As soon as you decide that you believe in the Good News of God’s gift of salvation in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and that you want to leave your old life and live a new life in obedience to God, you are ready. Our church building has the facilities and is available any time — but there are no “designated times or places.”

8. “Should my baby be baptized?”
    No. God loves your baby, and specially cares for him or her already. Baptism is always connected with believing, repenting, etc., and babies are simply incapable of this. Your child needs to be raised in an environment where he or she can hear the Good News, so that when they become capable of believing and repenting, they’ll have the opportunity to make their own informed decision and develop their own walk with God. Your baby is important to God. Part of our aim as a church is to help you provide that nurturing environment which supports the development of informed faith. Also, we are pleased to provide special prayer for your child and for you as a parent wishing to raise your child in a way that will help them come to know God when they are older.

9. “I was baptized as a baby. Do I need to be baptized again as an adult?”
    Yes. God wants you to have your own faith in Him. That faith needs to be on His terms, not yours. No one else’s decision in your place can generate that.

10. “I was born in a Christian country/Christian family. Do I need to be baptized?”
    Yes. God’s call to people is personal. Sometimes these can be very helpful in creating a supportive environment for informed faith — sometimes they are a hindrance. God’s love, forgiveness, and Spirit are personal gifts from Him — not inherited from one’s family heritage or nationality.
    Your decision to belong to God through the Good News of Jesus Christ is the only one God wants for you. His call is serious and urgent, and the results are permanent. To believe in Christ and be baptized is the most important choice you will make in your entire life. He created you with the capacity to respond to Him, and He values and respects you too much to allow someone else to make that choice in your place.

11. “I was baptized as an adult in another church. Do I need to be baptized again?”
    That depends: Was the “Good News” you believed and your previous baptism the same as the ones described in the Bible? See Ephesians 4:4-6. See also Acts 19:1-6 for an example of people as adults being “baptized again.” In our experience, some do need to baptized, and others don’t. If you are uncertain about this, you’re welcome to ask us for help in finding out.

12. “Does being baptized mean that I’m joining the church?”
    Yes. Specifically, you are “baptized into Christ” (Galatians 3:26-28), into the “body of Christ.” God adds you to this local gathering of believers, and other Christian communities all over the world (Acts 2:41,47; 1 Corinthians 12:13). (This doesn’t mean that you should consider yourself a part of organized religion generally.) God puts us into His faith communities so that we can experience Him, grow, and serve Him in a dynamic way.

13. “When am I baptized in the Holy Spirit?”
    The Biblical evidence indicates that being “baptized in the Holy Spirit” is an experience that is given to everyone who is baptized into Christ in water (Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13). “Baptized in the Holy Spirit” appears to be the same thing as “receiving the Holy Spirit,” it is related to the Spirit “coming upon” a person (Acts 2:38; 8:15-17; 10:47; 11:15-16) at the time when one is baptized in water. This does not appear in the Bible as a normally separate experience, either before or long after water baptism (John 3:3-5; Titus 3:3-7).
    In the normal “new birth” you are given forgiveness (release) from sin, and the presence and power of God for your new life, through the Holy Spirit. You will grow and change as you mature in Christ, and God may from time to time give you special blessings and “gifts.” But you are “born complete,” with everything you need provided by God through His Spirit, the message of the Bible, fellowship with other Christians, and His new purpose for you.

14. “I’ve experienced a deep sense of personal closeness to God/unusual spiritual events/answers to prayer/major life changes because of my present faith in God. Should I still be baptized?”
    Yes. Many of these things do happen to some people before they are baptized. These events should be understood as blessings from God, designed to lead one into a full relationship with God via the Good News, faith and baptism into Christ — not as evidence that one is already a Christian.
    See Acts 10 for a Biblical example of Cornelius, who was devoted to God “as he understood Him” and had very unusual experiences. His response to these events was to seek out God’s Good News (10:33), to believe and to be baptized — rather than to assume that he already had everything from God that he needed.
    God gives all kinds of blessings to everyone, in order to draw attention to Himself and initiate relationship (Acts 14:16-17; 17:25-31): One must allow His blessings to fulfill their function of leading one to Him — not to become an end in themselves: Jesus warns that relying on unusual spiritual manifestations as evidence of right standing with God is potentially deceptive and dangerous — see Matthew 7:21-23.
    As we said earlier, the Bible is our authoritative source of information — our experiences are not. Regardless of special experiences (or the lack of them), God builds genuine relationship with people who have obedient hearts, who want to do whatever He wants. That’s ultimately the attitude that water baptism expresses: “dead to self, alive to Christ.” (Romans 6)

15. “Can a person be ‘saved’ without being immersed in water?”
    No one in the Bible ever asked Jesus or any of the inspired apostles this question — because no one in the first century had our modern misunderstandings about the place of baptism in the process of conversion to Christ. But certain things are quite clear:
    We affirm that God Himself is the final Judge regarding who is “saved” and who is not. However, to say “Yes” to this question is to disagree with the clear teaching of the Bible that water baptism is part of becoming a Christian.
    The Word of God on baptism isn’t hard to understand. To believe the Good News of Jesus Christ and to “repent” (making God the supreme authority of your life and changing the direction of your life) are the requirements to qualify to do it.
    We believe that the best way to deal with this question is to: determine to obey God as He has expressed Himself in the Bible regardless of what anyone else says or does, and call others to the same clarity of faith and obedience. This doesn’t compromise the Bible’s teaching, and it lets God be the final Judge.
    If you are interested in being baptized, let us know. We’ll be glad to help you make an informed choice about it.


A Closer Look

    This is a straightforward, more literal look at some of the New Testament verses mentioning baptism, referring to the original language.

  • Matthew 28:19: “baptize them into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit …”
  • Acts 2:38: “… be baptized, every one of you, upon the name of Jesus Christ, into the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
  • Acts 8:16, 19:5: “… baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus …”
  • Romans 6:3-4: “… baptized into Christ, baptized into His death? … buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as He was raised … we too may live a new life.”
  • 1 Corinthians 12:13: “… for in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body …”
  • Galatians 3:27: “… for as many of you as were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ …”
  • Colossians 2:11-12: “… you put off the sinful nature, having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him …”
  • 1 Peter 3:21: ” … [the water of Noah’s ark] symbolizes baptism that now saves you also … It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ …”