Baptism

When Jesus gave the disciples the Great Commission in Matthew 28 he commanded them to make disciples “baptizing them”.  This means that as we seek to be disciples and make disciples, baptism is an essential element.

Since that time, there are many traditions and views that have developed in regards to baptism.  If you are considering baptism, please take time to read the information below that explains our understanding of baptism.  If you have any questions, please contact Dan Painter at danpainter@gracepointe.us

We believe the Bible presents baptism as an outward witness of an inward faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. (Baptism is a physical illustration of what happened when you believed in Jesus Christ as Savior!)

Christian baptism is an act of obedience to the command of Jesus, declaring the believer’s faith in and identification with their crucified, buried, and risen Savior. It is a visible declaration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The believer being baptized is immersed beneath the waters (literally, the greek word “baptizo” means “to immerse) in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which expresses the believers’ death to sin and their old life (we say, “buried in the likeness of his death.”), and then brought out of the water, which expresses the believers’ resurrection to a new kingdom life in Christ Jesus (we say, “Raised to walk in the fullness of His life”). Furthermore, baptism identifies a Christian with Jesus, the universal church, and the local church.

Jesus commanded that all Christians be baptized. The apostles also commanded that all Christians be baptized, which explains why the book of Acts and records of the early church show that baptism was practiced consistently.

We understand baptism to be the sign and seal of membership in the covenant community. Baptism is for all persons as they join the community of the church.

When someone is baptized they are saying two things:

First, here is what I have done/what God has done:  I have trusted in Jesus and surrendered to Him as my Savior and King.  God has saved and rescued me from sin and death into forgiveness and life in His Kingdom.

Second, here is what I will do/what God will do: I will seek to walk in obedience to my King in my new identity by His grace and truth, and God— who began a good work in me— will continue until it is complete!

The consistent witness of the New Testament is that someone first believes in Jesus and then is baptized. This is called believers’ baptism. Never do we witness the reverse order where someone, such as an infant, is baptized and then later believes in Jesus.

We see six lines of support for this position in the New Testament.

  1. In the precursor to Christian baptism, John the Baptizer required that people repent of sin before being baptized. (Matt. 3:2; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3)
  1. Every baptism in the New Testament is preceded by repentance of sin and faith in Jesus. (Acts 2:38–41; 8:12; 9:18–19; 10:44–48; 16:14–15, 29–36; 18:8; 19:1–7; 22:16)
  1. Baptism is reserved solely for those people who have put on Christ. (Gal. 3:27)
  1. Baptism shows personal identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. This can only happen when someone has trusted in Christ for salvation. (Rom. 6:1–10; Col. 2:12)
  1. The Bible does record occurrences where entire households were baptized. (Acts 10:33, 44–48; 11:14; 16:15; 1 Cor. 1:16) In these cases, the Bible also records that each member of these households believed in Jesus and was saved. (John 4:53; Acts 18:8; 1 Cor. 16:15)
  1. Both Jesus and his apostles gave the command for disciples to be baptized as an expression of that discipleship. (Matt. 28:19, Acts 2:38)

Salvation is solely a gift given to people whose faith rests in the grace of God to forgive their sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus. For example, when the Philippian jailer asked what was required of him to be saved, Paul did not mention baptism but simply said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus.” Likewise, the thief who died on the cross next to Jesus was promised by our Lord that “today you will be with me in Paradise,” though he had not been baptized. Someone can be unbaptized and yet be a Christian who is destined for heaven.

Nonetheless, even though one can be a Christian without being baptized, a Christian should be baptized. If nothing else, Jesus commanded baptism to show in outward sign the inward covenant relationship we have with him. Similarly, married people are married regardless of whether they wear their wedding ring, which is the outward symbol of their inward covenant relationship. But I, for one, am glad that my wife wears her wedding ring.

Baptism is the biblical way in which we show that by the power of the Spirit, we died to our old way of life through the death of Jesus, and live a new life through the resurrection of Jesus, cleansed from our sin in the same way that water cleanses us from filth. Therefore, being baptized does not make someone a Christian. Not being baptized does not cause someone to stop being a Christian, but a Christian should be baptized.

(This is excerpted from pp 112–119 of Vintage Church, by Gerry Breshears, copyright © 2008)

  1. Because of the joy you have in Christ! 

Baptism is a celebration! It isn’t just something we have to do; it is something we get to do. It is deep and powerful, beyond just a physical declaration, it is a spiritual act of worship in submitting your life to God as a believer. It is not easy to describe, but there is something beautiful and mystical about it as you celebrate your identity as an adopted son/daughter of God.

  1. To be obedient

If Jesus called for all believers to be baptized, then why wouldn’t we want to be baptized? When we believe in Jesus for salvation we are acknowledging Him as Savior. But when we take the step of baptizing Him, we are acknowledging that He is more than Savior, He is also Lord and that He is our Lord; our lives are now submitted to Him.

  1. To identify with Jesus who identified Himself with you.

At the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus went to the Jordan river to be baptized by John the Baptist. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. But Jesus had nothing to repent of. So why was Jesus baptized? Jesus says it is to fulfill righteousness. “By submitting to baptism, Jesus acknowledged God’s claim on him as on others for total consecration of life and holiness of character.” (Green, The Message of Matthew) Though he was not identifying Himself as a repentant sinner in His baptism, He was also identifying Himself with sinners as He would on the cross. This was pointing forward to the cross where he would die, be buried, but rise again conquering sin and death so we might be saved. In baptism, though we are acknowledging we are sinners, we are identifying ourselves with Jesus, having been united with Him by grace through faith.

  1. To be like Jesus.

The goal of the Christian life is to be conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). This ultimately is about living a life of complete surrender and obedience to God. If Jesus was to be baptized as an adult identifying with us, we should want to do the same thing in the desire to be obedient and fulfill all righteousness.

  1. To proclaim the gospel

 We are all called to make disciples of all nations. We do this by being witnesses for God, telling people of what He has done in our lives. Baptism is one way we can do that.

  1. To encourage other believers

 There is no greater joy for a Christian than to see others come to know Jesus Christ as their savior, and are now seeking to walk in obedience. Baptism is a declaration of that truth. Does this mean that there needs to be a huge crowd to be baptized? No. but no one can baptize themselves, so there must always be at least one other person. But celebrating as a whole community can help spur us on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25).