1. The basics of baptism. What exactly is baptism?
The word "baptism" as it appears in the Bible means immersion (the process of submersion in water followed by emergence from the water). Scholars agree that the baptism of the Bible is immersion. The following examples from the Bible substantiate that conclusion:
"As soon as Jesus was baptized, He came up out of the water." (Matthew 3:16)
"Then Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water..." (Acts 8:37,38)
Note the descriptions of the baptisms - "down into the water", and "came up out of the water".
2. The significance of baptism.
Baptism is the outward expression of the inward miracle. It is a visible, tangible, physical expression of what is happening inside spiritually. Our baptism is a picture to be seen by others revealing what is happening within us.
Two descriptive word pictures are given in the Bible to explain what happens at baptism:
"Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Romans 6:3, see also Colossians 2:1) We are identifying with Jesus' experience and demonstrating outwardly in our baptism that we are dying to our old life and the ways of sin. We are burying our old life of sin and we rise to live the new life. "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (Galatians 3:27) We are demonstrating by our baptism that we are: taking off our old clothes of our sinful nature and lifestyle and putting on new clothes of Jesus' nature and lifestyle. We put on Jesus' values and His priorities. We surrender to Jesus' way. We make Him Lord of our lives, as well as Savior. That means - I'm no longer the boss of my life; Jesus is. (Galatians 2:20)
3. Why should I be baptized?
To follow the example set by Christ. "At that time Jesus came from Nazareth and was baptized by John in the river." (Mark 1:9)
Because Christ commanded it. Jesus said, "Go then, to all people everywhere and make them my disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and then teach them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
It demonstrates that I really am a believer. "We know that we have come to know Him, if we obey His commands." (1 John 2:3)
4. What is the meaning of baptism?
Baptism illustrates Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Christ died for our sins…He was buried…and He rose again. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
It also illustrates my new life as a Christian. When someone becomes a Christian he/she becomes a brand new person inside. The old life has passed away and a new life has begun. (2 Corinthians 5:17) "We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Romans 6:4)
Baptism does not make you a Christian. Only your faith in Christ does that. Baptism is like a wedding ring – it is the outward sign of the commitment you have made in your heart. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
5. Why be baptized by immersion?
Because Jesus was baptized that way. "As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water." (Matthew 3:16) Every baptism in the Bible was by immersion. For example: "…then both Philip and the man went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water…" (Acts 8:38-39)
The word “baptize” means to dip under water. It best symbolized a burial and resurrection. (Romans 6:1-11)
The founders of the major denominations agree:
Martin Luther (founder of Lutheran denomination): “I would have those who are to be baptized to be entirely immersed, as the word imports and the mystery signifies.”
John Calvin (founder of Presbyterian denomination): “The word baptize signifies to immerse. It is certain that immersion was the practice of the ancient church.”
John Wesley (founder of Methodist and Wesleyan denomination): “Buried with Him alludes to baptizing by immersion according to the custom of the first church.”
6. Who should be baptized?
Every person who has believed in Christ; who the Bible says Jesus is and what He accomplished on the Cross. A believer is someone who has realized that their sin separated them from God. They have given up all efforts to reach God through good works or religious activity. They have in faith believed that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for their sins is the only thing that can bridge the gap between them and God. A believer is someone who trusts Christ alone for their salvation. If you have come to that point in your spiritual journey, then you are ready to be baptized. (Acts 2:41; 8:12-13)
7. What about children?
The New Testament shows no example of baptism when the candidate did not request it. All instances of baptism followed an individual’s decision to trust Christ alone for their salvation. (Acts 2:41; 8:12; 10:47-48) At Stafford Crossing, we wait until the child is old enough to believe and understand the true meaning of baptism before we baptize them. When a child makes a decision for Christ, we gladly baptize them in the Christian faith.
Some churches practice a “baptism of confirmation” for children. This custom began about three hundred years after the Bible was completed. This is a time when the parents pledge their commitment to raise their child according to Christian values and beliefs. While a very meaningful event, this is not Christian baptism. Stafford Crossing offers a similar opportunity for parents through our parent/child dedication services. This is a time when families and the church family commit to doing everything possible to nurture a child to faith in Christ. As the purpose of baptism is to publicly confess your personal commitment to Christ, every Christian should be baptized as a believer, even though some were dedicated or confirmed as children.
8. What about infant baptism?
In the Bible we find parents bringing children to Jesus. He held them and prayed for them and told us to welcome them. But He did not baptize them. And He did not tell anyone else to baptize them. From this biblical perspective, we believe that baptism comes after a personal relationship with God is begun through acceptance of His gift of salvation. Infants are not able to intentionally put their faith in Christ to accept this gift.
If you have not experienced believer’s baptism, even though you have experienced baptism as an infant, the full meaning and significance of baptism has yet to take place in your life. We believe, as the Bible teaches, you should be baptized after a personal relationship with Christ has begun.
9. When should I be baptized?
As soon as you have believed. Those who believed were baptized that day. (Acts 2:41) "Then Philip began with the scripture and told him the Good News about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water, and the man said, "Look, here is water! Why shouldn't I be baptized right now?" Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." The man answered, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." So they went down into the water and Philip baptized him." (Acts 8:35-38)
10. Does this mean baptism has to be immediately?
No, what the Bible is trying to teach is that baptism should follow your decision to become a believer. There is no reason to delay. If you wait until you are “good” enough, you will never feel ready for baptism.
11. How do I register?
Baptism registration opens several weeks before each baptism service. Be sure to check our website from time to time for the next date.
12. Who should baptize me?
Any Christian can have the privilege of baptizing someone. It would be appropriate for the Christian who led you to belief in Christ, the Christian who is a great influence in your life, and/or the Christian whom you greatly respect to baptize you. There is no reference in Scripture that baptizing someone is limited to pastors.