By Jeff Klick
Peter said, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you Will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." The New Testament experience of believers included being water baptized. This event happened so closely to salvation that it often seemed to be just one experience. We believe that all believers should be water baptized. We do not believe that baptism saves you, or that you will have some new measure of grace after being baptized. However, in obeying Jesus' command to be baptized, you will be in the very center of God's will: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" - Matthew 28:19.
"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with film 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 6:3-4. Baptism is our identification with Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection.
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" - Galatians 2:20. When we are born again, we crucify the "old nature" or "old man." We are born again as a new creature, a follower of the "Second Adam -Jesus," part of a new race of people who are alive in their spirits. When we are lowered under the water we are identifying with the burial process Jesus went through after His crucifixion. As we are raised up out of the water we remember Jesus' resurrection from the tomb Water baptism is a public statement that we are identifying ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. (See Acts 8 -The Ethiopian Eunuch.)
We believe in immersion as the proper way to be baptized. Just as Jesus was placed in the grave, the person being baptized must be placed under the water. Immersion was the method used by John the Baptist, and Jesus and His disciples. The definition of the Greek word for baptism - baptisma is always defined as immersion, never sprinkling. The only exception would be some type of handicap that would not allow the individual to be immersed.
We believe that water baptism is reserved for believers. After a faith confession of Jesus is Lord, then the believer may be water baptized. A person needs to be of sufficient age to know what they are doing, and why. Since it is an issue of faith, a person must understand who they are putting their faith in before they can be baptized. Before their child is allowed to be baptized parents should interview their child and make sure he or she understands salvation, and what is involved with water baptism.
Membership in the early church was conditional on water baptism. Even a casual reading of the Book of Acts will reveal the importance of water baptism in the first church. To be water baptized was a public confession of your belief in Jesus and your need to be born again into the family of God. Many were persecuted after they went public and were baptized In many Moslem nations today if you are water baptized, you are immediately excommunicated from your family and all your friends. Fortunately, that is not the case here. And as the family of God we rejoice to see believers take this step of faith and obedience.
If you have not been baptized since you became a believer, I encourage you to study baptism in the Scripture, and talk to me about receiving baptism as soon as you can.