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What Is Baptism?

Recently our church celebrated its first baptism. This was an incredible time of commitment, obedience and joy as we celebrated the new life that Christ had given Jeff and Whitney. On July 27 we will be celebrating our next baptism – but before we do that I want to answer some questions you may have about baptism. Questions like: Why should I do it? What does it mean? What if I was baptized as a baby or from another church? How long will you hold me under? All very good questions. So let’s start with the first one:

Why should someone be baptized?

This is a great question that can be summed up in one phrase: The Bible tells us to. Baptism has been a major part of the church from the beginning – in fact even Jesus was baptized. The Jews baptized people who were non-Jewish to symbolize that they were now “in” God’s people. John the Baptist (no he didn’t start the baptist denomination) was sent by God to pave the way for Jesus – calling people to turn from their wickedness and be baptized as a symbol of them being “clean” from sin. Jesus participated in this baptism and before his ascension into heave commanded the church to “baptize” people.

What does baptism mean?

Baptism means that those who were once dead in their sins are now alive in Christ. The symbol of baptism illustrates that when Christ comes into a person’s life – they are “washed” and “made alive” through him. The word baptize literally means to “be immersed.” In the book of Acts it is used to describe two different but very important things: 1) When Christ comes into your life you are “baptized” into his body – you are brought into Him – you are His – you are in the “church.” 2) As a symbol of that spiritual baptism we are physically baptized to state to the world that we are in Christ and we are obedient to him by being baptized.

What if I was baptized by another church?

That is fine – as long as that church baptized you in a Biblical way. Staring in the middle ages the church began to forsake the meaning of the baptism by baptizing infants, sprinkling or pouring – and some have gone as far as to say that baptism is what saves a person. Every Biblical account of baptism involves a person being completely immersed into the water as a symbol – and that person is someone who is old enough to understand what they are doing. Those who were baptized as infants had no idea what they were doing – and baptism is always post-conversion, and those who were baptized because they wanted to be “saved” were baptized into a wrong theology – their baptism, from a Biblical point of view, is not valid. For those who sincerely made a decision but were baptized other than by immersion – I want you to know that we respect your sincere confession and step of obedience – and if you wish to be baptized in the Biblical way – let us know.

How long will you hold me under?

That may sound like a joke – and it kind of is – but in reality that is a question I get all the time. You need to know that you will only be held under for seconds and modesty is something that we take seriously.

If you haven’t been baptized or if you feel the need to be re-baptized  – please let me know. I know for me it was one of the greatest personal steps of obedience and illustrated my new life in Christ. Next week we’ll deal with “What is church membership” – something we get asked a lot about.

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