Biblical Practices

Sean Mortenson / January 22, 2016

Baptism

What is baptism?

Baptism is a sign of initiation into God’s family. It is a ritual act where a person associates himself/herself with Christ, reinforcing the covenant of grace in which God grants salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is a celebratory event and an act of personal confession that God has changed a person’s heart and called him/her to know, love, and follow Him.

Who should be baptized?

At Redemption Church we practice “believer’s baptism”. This means it is our conviction that baptism is appropriately administered only to those who give a thoughtful profession of faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, we believe that baptism should come after faith in Jesus, rather than before.

Why should a person be baptized?

We believe that baptism is ordained by the Lord Jesus, who Himself was baptized (Matthew 3:13-16). Before He ascended into heaven He commanded that those who would become His disciples be baptized (Matthew 28:19). This emphasis can be seen throughout the New Testament, a good example being Peter’s command at Pentecost: Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 2:37-38) Ultimately though, as an opportunity to publicly confess our faith in Christ, to affirm our submission to Him as Lord, and give glory to Him for what He has done in our lives, Christians should joyfully desire to take part baptism.

How should baptisms be performed?

We believe full immersion in water is the form of baptism that is most faithful to Scripture and, subsequently, the original intent of the act. The Greek word used for baptism in the New Testament means to plunge, dip, or immerse in water. This word was used, for example, to explain such things as the sinking of a ship that had been submerged in water. In addition, John the Baptist immersed people in water (Mark 1:5), selecting the Jordan River as the place for conducting his baptisms because there was plenty of water (John 3:23). When Jesus was baptized He was immersed in water (Mark 1:10). We also see in examples in Scripture like the Ethiopian eunuch, whom Philip baptized by immersing him in water (Acts 8:34–39).

Perhaps more importantly, Scripture teaches us that baptism is a tangible representation of the Gospel. The act of being submerged in water and emerging from it again in symbolic cleanliness (the forgiveness of one’s sins having already been secured) is an act of association with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:1–10; Colossians 2:12). Baptism by sprinkling of water, for example, loses some of this meaning.

Is baptism necessary for salvation?

No. Salvation is a gift given by God and is obtained by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. He has done the work of our salvation and there is nothing we can do to earn it, pay it back, or lose it (Ephesians 2:1-10). Therefore, the act of baptism has no saving power in itself, nor can its absence prevent salvation. A good example of this truth can be seen in the thief who died on the cross next to Jesus. He was promised by our Lord that, “Today you will be with me in paradise,” though he had not been baptized (Luke 23:43).

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