What about Baptism?

What about Baptism?

By John Holmes
Baptismal Pool at Ephesus (Source: Logos Media)
          Christian Baptism is one of two ordinances of the local church. It is an act of obedience to the Lord and provides a public witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Baptism does not make you a believer; neither does it save you. Baptism testifies that you already believe. As such, every believer should follow in baptism as soon as possible after they have believed. In doing so, a believer publicly gives his or her testimony to their faith in a crucified, buried, and risen savior—the Lord Jesus Christ—while signifying their own spiritual death to an old life filled with sin and rebellion against God. Baptism portrays the old man or woman as having been spiritually buried and raised to a newness of life, washed by the Spirit of the living God. In this way, baptism provides a lasting testimony to a person’s faith in the final resurrection of the dead.  The baptismal event bears witness to what Christ has already done in the participant’s life (lest their baptism depict a lie).

          At FBC Moriarty, obedient observance of baptism is required before granting the privileges of church membership. Throughout church history, baptism has served as an initiatory rite into the Christian church. Baptisms occurring before becoming a Christian (or as an infant) necessitate re-baptism in truth and Spirit (portraying truthfully the life-changing transformation that has happened by the power of the Holy Spirit).  As for its proper mode, baptism should occur by immersion in complete obedience to the Lord’s instruction.1 

          Believers should be baptized for at least four reasons: 1) to follow the example set by Jesus, 2) because Jesus spoke with the force of a ‘command’ as He directed its observance as part of making new disciples, 3) it publicly testifies to the truth of Christ’s Gospel and 4) it publicly shows one is a believer and illustrates their new life as a follower of Jesus.

          When it comes to younger children, there is no age stated in Scripture. Parents aided by pastoral leadership will prayerfully assess a child’s understanding of their relationship with Christ. Children should understand that accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior is giving the rest of their lives to Jesus. They must recognize themselves as sinners and that Jesus is saving them from the penalty of sin, which is death. They need to 'admit' their status as a sinner, 'believe' in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and 'confess' Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.
Acts 8:38  (Source: New Testament Unical (Angelicus) 020 GA from the 9th Century)
Acts 8:35-37:
          35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, he preached Jesus to him.
          36      As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
          37      And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
          38      And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Acts 8:35-37.   



   [1] The Lord’s instruction βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς in Matthew 28:20 unambiguously means ‘to immerse’ or ‘to go under’ or ‘to plunge’ in water.  The word "Baptizo" is inconsistent with sprinkling. See William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.  Also, see Matt 3:16 ("came up immediately from the water"), Matthew 8:38 ("they both went down into the water"), and Matthew 8:39 ("When they came up out of the water").

   [+] If you're interested in learning more, a helpful book to read is: Believer's Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ by Schreiner and Wright





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