Many new believers are confused and uninformed about the meaning, purpose and benefits of the ceremony referred to as “Water Baptism”. Because their questions are never accurately addressed, some miss the opportunity and the special blessings intended for those who participate in this awesome, God-ordained experience.
Here, at Living Word Christian Church, those who are considered born-again believers and have regularly attended services for at least a three-month period, are strongly encouraged to participate in Water Baptism. However, it is not a requirement for membership or participation in any church activities or ministries. Nor is it taught that water baptism is a pre-requisite for salvation but rather something strongly encouraged that can only add to the testimony of what has already happened in the miracle of salvation.
Based on what scriptures clearly teach us, Jesus Himself was very clear about the role of baptism in the lives of those who accepted Him: He “commanded” the disciples to “ … go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …” (Matt. 28:19). Scripture tells us Jesus practiced baptism; that anyone in the early church who came to Christ, was immediately baptized; all the apostles preached it; and new believers obeyed the command. Even the great apostle Paul was baptized after his salvation experience on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:18).
But, undoubtedly, the most meaningful example of the importance of baptism is the fact that Jesus Himself was baptized – “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan (river) to be baptized by John” (Matt.3:13). It’s a little known fact but, the distance from Galilee to the River Jordan is sixty (60) miles so, Jesus Himself must have walked for many days just to be baptized! If it was that important to Him, should it not be that important to us?
• Baptism is not for infants. It is reserved for those consenting adults old enough to consciously repent of their sins; understand fully their belief in Jesus; and trust completely in His saving grace. At Pentecost, Peter replied to those who asked what they must do to be saved, “Repent and be baptized … “ (Acts 2: 36-38). Those not old enough to understand sin (infants and children), have nothing to repent of, don’t understand and can’t trust — thus don’t meet the conditions established for participation in baptism.
• Baptism always follows Salvation. It comes after we have been “born again” because by its nature it is a testimony to all of what the Lord has done in our lives; what Jesus actually did by His death and resurrection; and our identity with Him by our dying to self and resurrection as a “new creation” in Christ.
• Baptism is an outward symbol, and public expression or a testimony of what has actually happened in the new believer when they are saved. The apostle Paul tells us “… all of us who are baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into His death … we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.” (Romans 6:3-5). Again, the testimony of baptism is all about what the Holy Spirit did for us at the moment we were saved.
• Why baptize in water? The word “baptism” comes from the Greek word meaning to “soak” or “immerse” like a fabric in a liquid. As in a “washing away” of past sins, those being baptized go under water to symbolize and identify with the crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus for our sins. They are lifted out of the water as a symbol and identification with the physical resurrection of Jesus from the grave and hence our resurrection with Him, freed from sin and death.
• How can you prepare for baptism? What kind of changes can you expect in your life? What should your confession now be and what part must you now play? Answers to these and any other concerns will be addressed in the water baptism class you will be obligated to attend prior to the actual ceremony. Some additional information can also be found in the LWCC brochure displayed in our lobby, “Water Baptism …An Important Next Step.”