Water Baptism

Written by webmaster on Oct 18, 2013

Several times each year we celebrate baptisms as a community. Not only are these services an important opportunity for followers of Christ to publicly claim that relationship, but they are also a vital encouragement to the gathered community!

 

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The wedding illustration…
Imagine a wedding. The bride and groom stand side-by-side in the front of the church. They take turns promising “‘til death do us part.” These two young lovers don’t look any different on the outside, but in just a few moments they will be married—united for life by invisible cords. Signifying that unseen union the bride and groom exchange rings. These bands of gold tell the world they are now married. They identify the couple as husband and wife.

Imagine that an unmarried couple is watching. They decide that they want to get married too. So they give each other rings. No commitments, no vows are made, just the symbols of union. As they walk out of church right behind the last groomsman, their hands, like those of the bride and groom, bear the accepted token of lifetime love. But only the couple that has made the commitment to each other is really married.

Symbol is not substance. Marriage depends on a commitment, not on bands of gold. The same is true of becoming a Christian. What may outwardly identify you as a believer does not make you one. The wedding rings do not marry the couple. They are fitting symbols, but without the reality of commitment, a ring—like baptism—is void of meaning.

Biblical passages concerning baptism…
Of course, the real significance of baptism cannot be defined merely with the analogy of a wedding. At Rockpointe Community Church, the Scriptures are the source of our beliefs. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commands his followers to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit….” Baptism is the means by which followers of Christ are identified.

In passages such as Acts 2:41, 8:12, and 10:47-48 it is evident that baptism follows an individual’s decision to trust Christ alone for salvation. The New Testament records the baptisms of adult believers only. Baptism was never intended to provide salvation for an individual, but rather to publicly identify a person with Christ.

In Romans 6:1-11, the apostle Paul explains how the immersion mode of baptism identifies the believer with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Going under water pictures Christ’s death and coming out of the water illustrates His resurrection. While the immersion mode of baptism best illustrates the work of Christ, this passage does not mandate how much water should be used. The value of the ordinance of baptism is in the life and heart of the believer, not in the amount of water used.

You do not have to be baptized to have Christ, any more than you must exchange rings to be pronounced man and wife. But if the inner commitment to trust Christ alone for salvation has been made, then the outward symbol of baptism should be as valued and as visible as the gold ring on a newlywed’s finger.

A word regarding infant baptism…
If the purpose of baptism is to publicly identify a believer in Jesus Christ, the questions may well be asked by some, “What was the significance of my baptism as a baby?” In the Bible, we find parents bringing their children to Jesus. He held them and prayed for them and told us to welcome them. But He did not baptize them, and He did not tell anyone else to baptize them. Baptism is for those who have made a personal decision to trust Christ alone for their salvation.

If you were baptized as a child, it was the intent of your parents that you would one day be a follower of Christ. Your baptism as an adult can be viewed as the fulfillment of your parents’ wishes. It in no way repudiates the baptism you received as a child.

Rockpointe’s statement on baptism…
While recognizing for other churches the right to practice infant baptism if it conforms to their theologies, the congregation of Rockpointe Community Church understands the Scripture to teach that only professing believers qualify for baptism. Scriptural teaching on baptism may be summarized as follows:

  1. Baptism is an act of obedience to the command of Christ, fulfilled by individuals who have subjected themselves to His sovereignty.
  2. Baptism symbolizes the spiritual cleansing through divine forgiveness and newness of life experienced by believers by virtue of their identification with Christ in His death and resurrection.
  3. Baptism provides an opportunity for believers to make a formal profession of their faith before the church.
  4. As a biblical rite of initiation into the Body of Christ, baptism of believers may be considered a prerequisite for joining the membership of the church.

Although the old covenant practice of infant circumcision is sometimes adduced as a rationale for infant baptism, the biblical definition of the functions of circumcision and of baptism shows that those two institutions fulfilled different purposes in their respective covenants. The equation is never made in the Bible between the circumcision of male infants in the old covenant and the baptism of the born-again believers, much less of infants, in the new covenant. However, Rockpointe Community Church encourages Christian parents to present their children for the ceremony of Dedication, whereby God’s blessing is formally invoked upon the children, and the parents publicly commit themselves to raise the children in accordance with the teachings of Scripture.

It is the request of Rockpointe Community Church that children generally wait until they are 12 years old to be baptized. Because the symbolism of baptism requires a more adult level of cognitive and developmental readiness, it is recommended that children be at least this age or level of maturity. Proverbs 20:25 issues a significant caution against the danger of making a vow before adequate knowledge, forethought, and reflection have been given. In an effort to prevent young people from making a premature commitment that they may not fully understand, this minimum age has been established.

Am I ready for baptism?
Baptism is for believers…
A believer is someone who has realized that their sin separated them from God. They have given up all efforts to reach God through good works or religious activity. They have concluded that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for their sins is the only thing that can bridge the gap between them and God. A believer is someone who has decided to trust Christ alone for their salvation.

If you have come to that point in your spiritual journey, then the answer is yes, you are ready to be baptized. Just as the bride and groom tell of their love for one another through the symbol of rings, you should also want to show the world through baptism of your union with Christ. Let the invisible miracle that’s happened in you show through the ordinance He ordained for you.

Click here to read Rockpointe Community Church’s complete Statement of Faith.