The Celebration of Baptism
Download and complete the Baptism Booklet pdf if you need to be bapitized.
After becoming a disciple of Christ, Berean Baptist Church requires that candidates for church membership have been baptized by immersion before becoming a church member, not because of a Baptist tradition, but because the Lord Jesus gave the church a commission to make disciples and then baptize them (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus gave us the order. First, make disciples and then, after conversion, the church is to encourage those disciples to make their repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ public by being baptized. Therefore, no one who professes to be a Christian should remain un-baptized in the manner in which Christ was baptized.
A study of baptism in the book of Acts consistently provides this order. Infant baptism is not an acceptable alternative to baptism as a believer. Christ was circumcised (like infants are baptized), yet He was still baptized by immersion as an adult—He provides the ultimate example (Matthew 3).
In Israel, two thousand years ago, before Jesus’ baptism, John the Baptist boldly proclaimed the need for men and women to repent and to be baptized as a sign of repentance or turning toward God (Matthew 3). In the same way, Baptists (and many other Bible believers) insist that believers be baptized, and thus the name “Baptists.” Our baptism is not a tradition; it is an ordinance—an authoritative decree—given to us by our Lord, King Jesus, Who is the Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22-23).
Jesus Our Example
Although He was perfect in every way and had nothing for which to repent Jesus submitted to this baptism in obedience to the will of His Father. We follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ who, at an age of understanding, was baptized in the Jordan River (Matthew 3). If you are not baptizing by immersion you don’t need a lot of water. Although we don’t baptize in a river; we follow the mode of baptism in which the person being baptized is fully immersed in the water as a symbolic representation of dying to an old nature and way of life and rising to walk in the newness of life with Jesus as Lord and Savior (Romans 6:4). Baptism symbolizes (with going down into the water) union with Christ’s death and our leaving the old life. Baptism also symbolizes (with coming up out of the water) union with Christ's resurrection and the intention to live a new life for Jesus Christ while we await our resurrection at His coming.
After Christ’s ascension to Heaven, the Apostle Peter commanded those who were convicted in their heart of their need for salvation to first repent, and then second, be baptized (Acts 2:38). The pattern we follow is outlined in Acts 2:41: first men and woman received “the word,” (the Gospel). That is they were saved by faith in Christ. Next, they were baptized, and lastly they were added to the church.
Believer’s Baptism vs. Infant Baptism
Infant baptism is quite different in its order. First, the candidate is baptized, then they are added to the church and third they may or may not repent and put their faith in Christ. This order is unacceptable because it does not symbolically picture what has already happened in the life of the believer. Baptism symbolizes conversion to Jesus—infants cannot be converted. An infant cannot repent or possess salvific faith.
In the old covenant, physical descendents of Abraham were circumcised at the age of eight days old, but in the new covenant (or testament), the focus is now on spiritual descendents of Abraham (Galatians 3:7). Since the only way to become a spiritual descendent of Abraham is by repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus, we reject the argument that infant baptism is an appropriate alternative to circumcision for the church. Instead, we insist that only those who can articulate a testimony of repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus should be baptized (Acts 20:21).
We believe an infant cannot inherit the faith of their parents through baptism. Nor does one become a Christian through baptism or from being raised in a Christian home.
We believe the Bible teaches that baptism is not necessary for someone to be saved. Our emphasis on baptism is not from a saving perspective but from the command we received from the Lord Jesus and the example He and His Apostles provided for all who would follow Him.
We do not believe that infant baptism is an acceptable alternative to believer’s baptism. We do not believe a parent should make this decision for the infant or child. Parents should not put any pressure on their child to be baptized. The parental focus should be upon instructing the child to follow Christ; which, often will indirectly result in a young person’s desire to follow the Lord in believer’s baptism.
We believe all followers of Christ should be baptized by immersion, unless it is physically impossible for someone to be baptized--like the thief on the cross or a paraplegic confined to a hospital bed.
What Baptism is Not
Sometimes it is necessary to articulate what one does not believe in order to be clear about what is believed to be true. We do not believe baptism is a sacrament that adds to salvation or makes one saved like the Roman Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church. Nor do we believe it is a means of saving grace, nor the way to obtain forgiveness of sin like the Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ or other similar denominations who teach a doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Moreover, we believe it is inappropriate to baptize infants like the Methodists, Presbyterians, or Lutherans as an alternative to believer’s baptism. Additionally, we reject as unbiblical the Salvation Army, the Quakers and the Bullinger ultradispensationalist position that baptism is not necessary for the believer. Finally, we completely reject everything the Mormon Church cult teaches about baptism for eternal life and the dead.
For Berean Baptist Church, baptism is a celebration of the mighty work God has done in the hearts and lives of children and adults who have been brought to repentance and faith in Christ. As one is baptized, they are confessing Christ as Savior and Lord. We rejoice in this testimony as the fruit of salvation. We baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as a further acknowledgment of the entire Godhead’s involvement in the conversion of the sinner. We immerse in water as a celebration of the cleansing Christ provided through His death, burial and resurrection (Titus 3:5).
What if I don't "feel like" doing this?
A reluctance to be baptized needs to be examined. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15) and “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (Luke 6:46). If you need to be baptized in obedience to the commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ, please call the church at 868-5156 or let any usher, deacon or pastor know during any worship service.
By Pastor Sean Harris
Strong’s Concordance indicates that the Greek word baptizō transliterated “baptize” in English (G907) means to “immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk) and to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash” (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G907).
Oepke’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, indicates baptizo means “to immerse” and shows how the word has been used: “to sink a ship,” “to sink (in the mud),” “to drown” and “to perish” (1:530). This basic meaning accords with the emphasis of Scripture: Jesus was baptized by John “in the Jordan” and He came up “out of the water” (Mark 1:9–10; cf. Acts 8:38). On the other hand, the Greek language has words for sprinkle and pour that are not used for baptism.
The many pools in Jerusalem would have been used for immersion and would likely have been used to immerse a large group like the 3,000 on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41). It is also known that proselytes to Judaism were self-immersed, and immersion was also the mode practiced by the early church. Immersion best illustrates the truth of death and resurrection with Christ in Romans 6 (The Moody Handbook of Theology, 2009, p 374-376).