Baptism

                                        Baptism: Its Meaning and Purpose

We at East Balsam joyfully participate in two sacraments given to the church by Christ: The Lord’s Supper and Baptism. While neither of these practices have the power to save anyone, they nonetheless represent the invisible realities of union with Christ and new life in the Spirit.

As a symbolic act, baptism represents several significant realities:

1)    Christ’s death and resurrection

2)    The believer’s union with Christ in his death and resurrection

3)    The new life we live in Christ

4)    The cleansing and washing away of our sin

Baptism is a command of God

Sometimes, we falsely identify commands of scripture as burdensome or tedious. In reality, God gives commands for our own good and spiritual benefit. Baptism is a command of scripture that reminds us of the work of Christ and the redemption He accomplished through his death, burial and resurrection.  It also allows us the opportunity to publicly demonstrate our new life with Him.

Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 Acts 2:37-39 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “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. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

Who should be baptized?

We, as a church, believe that all believers should be baptized following conversion based on the following texts:

Acts 2:40-41 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Romans 6:3-4 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Colossians 2:11-12 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

What about second baptism?

Baptism is meant to be a symbol of faith in Christ. It is an outward, physical expression of an internal, spiritual reality. Therefore, we believe that any baptism that came before genuine conversion is not a legitimate baptism.

We as a church practice baptism by full immersion but we recognize differences of practice among various denominations. For those who were sprinkled following conversion, we recommend meeting with one of our deacons or the pastor to discuss the New Testament mode of baptism.

When should baptism take place?

We see no biblical precedent for delaying baptism after genuine conversion has taken place. If a person professes faith in Christ and admits his or her guilt and need for a Savior, that person should be baptized.  The only test of one’s readiness for baptism is willingness and ability to publicly confess faith in Christ and to identify the meaning of salvation.

Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

Acts 2:41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

What mode of baptism should be used?

Recognizing the differences of views on this issue, we at East Balsam believe that baptism by immersion is the most biblically faithful mode of baptism.

These convictions are based on the following principles outlined in scripture:

1)   The greek word baptizo means “to submerge or immerse.” 

The original meaning of the word signified the act of immersing something into water or some other liquid.  The meaning of this term is consistent throughout the New Testament, as well as ancient Greek literature.

2)   The symbolism of union with Christ is best demonstrated by full immersion.

Being buried with Christ in his death indicates the act of coming underneath something and being covered by it.  Likewise, resurrection signifies coming out from underneath death.

Colossians 2:11-12 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead

Romans 6:3-4 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

3)   The context in New Testament examples suggest baptism by full immersion

Matt. 3:16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him.

Mark 1:5, 10 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins….And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

John 3:23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized

Acts 8:38-39 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

Where should believers be baptized?

While the Scriptures do not prohibit baptism outside of the church, we recommend that baptism be done in the context of the church body. This allows for the entire congregation to celebrate in the person’s act of obedience to Christ.

There will be exceptions made for those who would like to be baptized outside the church for personal reasons so long as there are public witnesses to share in the event and the person has expressed sincere faith in Christ.

In Summary

It is not our intention to create division over the issue of baptism. We recognize that many Christ loving and Bible-believing people have different views on the meaning and mode of baptism. We as a church are committed to teaching and practicing the scriptures to the best of our ability and believer’s baptism by immersion seems to us to be the most faithful to the biblical text.


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