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Baptism

The Bible teaches the church that making disciples of Jesus Christ involves “baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” What this implies is that baptism is part of becoming a follower of Jesus.

What is baptism? For centuries, believers have called baptism (along with the Lord’s Supper) either an ordinance or a sacrament. We believe the language of ordinance is best since the word “ordinance” communicates that baptism was ordained or commanded by Jesus, which is true, whereas the word “sacrament” normally communicates that saving grace is actually received through baptism, which is misleading. We are not baptized in order to be saved by our baptism; we are baptized because we want to testify to the saving faith that we already have in Jesus Christ. So baptism is an ordinance, a symbolic action ordained or commanded by Christ for every believer, in which the believer is immersed in water, into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What does baptism symbolize? Baptism stands at the outset of the Christian life as the visible symbol of our death and resurrection with Christ. “…all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4-5).

As such, it symbolizes that in Christ, we have already endured and been shielded from the judgment of God against our sins. "God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1Pet 3:20-21). In other words, baptism testifies to the fact that, just as God brought Noah through the judgment waters of the flood by means of the ark, so God has brought us through the judgment waters of God’s anger over our sin by means of Jesus Christ, our Ark.

Who should be baptized? Because baptism stands out the outset of discipleship to Jesus (Matt 28:19) and symbolizes that we have already been united with Jesus in His death and resurrection, we believe that baptism is for believers only. For this reason, we do not baptize infants. Therefore, if you were baptized as an infant but not as a believer, we would advise that, in obedience to Scripture, you be baptized as a believer. Any believer who is a candidate for baptism should be able to communicate the content of the gospel, including personal faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, and demonstrate consistent repentance from sin, making their personal confession of faith credible.

Our statement of faith on baptism and its relationship to church membership and the Lord’s Supper: We believe that Christian Baptism is the immersion in water of a believer, into the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost; to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem, our faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, with its effect, in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life. Because of its significance as the public display of obedient discipleship to Christ, we believe that baptism is pre-requisite to church membership. Because the Lord’s Supper is a weighty matter intended only for obedient disciples of Christ, and not wanting to participate in an unworthy manner ourselves, we believe that baptism is pre-requisite to participation in the Lord’s Supper, in which the church, by the sacred use of the bread and cup, commemorates together the dying love of Christ; preceded always by solemn self-examination.

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