What is Baptism?
Baptism is one of the symbolic rituals that Christian churches are instructed to perform. It forms part of what the Catholic tradition refers to as ‘the sacraments’, and the protestant tradition typically prefers to call ‘the ordinances’.
Our English word baptism, comes from the Greek word ‘baptizo’, which literally means to ‘dip, plunge or immerse’.
Quite simply, we believe that the Bible presents baptism as an outward witness of an inward faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
Who should be Baptised?
Everyone who has repented of sin, and put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, should be baptised. We see this as a clear scriptural pattern, which has 6 obvious lines of support:
- John the Baptizer required that people repent before they get baptised. (Matt 3:2-6; Mark 1:4; Luke3:3)
- Every baptism in the NT is preceded by repentance and faith in Jesus. (Acts2:38-41; 8:12; 9:18-19; 10:44-48; 16:14-15,29-36; 18:8; 19:1-7; 22:16)
- Baptism is reserved solely for those who have “put on” their new identity in Christ. (Gal 3:27)
- Baptism shows personal identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. (Rom 6:10; Col 2:12)
- When entire households were baptised, the scripture specifies that each member of the household first believed in Jesus and was saved. There isn’t one scriptural example of someone who is baptised, and then only repents later.
- Jesus and his apostles gave the command for disciples to be baptized. (Matt 28:19; Acts 2:38)
What if I was baptized as a baby?
We never want to negate or undermine the good intentions of your parents in what they may have done for you as a baby, but we would also say that you need to be baptised as a believer in order to fulfill your scriptural mandate on this issue. Please feel free to chat to us about this.
Are there some spiritual requirements?
We see no evidence in scripture of people needing to reach a certain level of spiritual maturity before they are baptised. In fact, most of the accounts seem to suggest that people were baptised quite spontaneously following their conversion. We don’t want to baptise non-believers though, and so we ask that you can articulate your own particular conversion experience.
What about children who believe?
We set the exact same requirements for children as we do for adults, but we do have to be careful to ensure that children have the cognitive ability to understand what they are saying and doing. As with all baptisms at BBC, we would ask the child to tell us their understanding of the gospel, and to speak through their own salvation experience.
Some further reading:
Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:4-5; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:12; Acts 9:17; Acts 13:24; Acts 16:15; Acts 16:31-33; Acts 18:8; Acts 19:3
Why should I do it?
The Bible Says So
- Jesus was baptised. (Matt 3:16)
- He commanded that we should be baptised. (Matt 28:19)
- The apostles taught that believers should be baptised. (Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16)
- Paul expected that all believers had been baptised, and he made sure just in case they hadn’t. (Acts 19:1-5)
- Paul references it often in his theological writings. (Romans 6:3; 1 Cor 1:13-17; 1 Cor 10:2; 1 Cor 12:13; 1 Cor 15:29; Gal 3:27)
It Tells a Story
- It gives us an opportunity to ‘nail our colours to the mast’ publicly, which is often a very important step for believers.
- It serves as a great encouragement for other believers who witness it, and rejoice in the knowledge that the Kingdom of God continues to expand.
- It is a powerful visual picture to non-believers that explains the gospel beautifully.
How should it happen?
With Lots of water
As we said right at the start, the word baptizo literally means to plunge, dip or immerse, and so the word itself suggests that we need to be putting people under the water. In all of the New Testament accounts we have of baptism, they seemed to take place where there was lots of water. Jesus himself ‘comes up out of the water’ when he is baptised. It also just makes much more sense in terms of the symbolic element of death to the old, and re-birth to the new. (Romans 6:3-4)
With a Large Audience
Baptism is supposed to be a public declaration of your faith, and so you might as well make it as public as possible. At BBC we usually have our baptisms as part of a Sunday service, and so we would encourage you to invite as many of your friends and family as you can.
By a Spiritual Leader
There is no clear scriptural instruction on who gets to do the baptising. In most of the scriptural accounts it seems to be done by leaders in the church, but there are also accounts of converts being baptised by those who led them to Christ. We are happy to chat to you about who gets to baptise you.
So what now?
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, and have repented of your sin, we would strongly encourage you to take this step of obedience. Please contact the church office on (011)4631530, we would love to chat to you, and to assist you in this exciting journey with Jesus.
For more on Baptism, you can also listen to this sermon by Ross Lester – What’s the Big Deal about Baptism?