Monday, September 14, 2009

Believers' Baptism

Believers’ baptism is the immersion of a professing believer in water as an act of obedience, signifying that the saving transformation of God has occurred. The baptism of the believer is the first and important act of obedience for the believer. Through their baptism, believers declare their allegiance to Jesus Christ and to His people, the Church. It is a testimony to one’s faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper.
Romans 6:3-4: 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Colossians 2:12: 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Many people assume that Baptists got their name from a particular view of baptism. That isn’t the case. Baptists believe that the church is a body of believers, and of believers only. This is the starting point. Our insistence on believers’ baptism is a corollary of our view of the church, and our view of the church comes directly from the New Testament.
Why We Baptize: We could not abandon the practice of baptism without ignoring both the example and the command of Jesus. Jesus’ personal example—When Jesus came to John asking to be baptized, John balked, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?” (Matt. 3:14). But Jesus insisted, saying, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). In so doing Jesus symbolized His death, burial, and resurrection.
Jesus’ explicit command: In the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19–20), Jesus commanded His followers to go into all the world making disciples. Making disciples is the church’s main business. But two things must follow: baptism and education in Jesus’ teachings.
Why Baptists Insist on Immersion: The word for baptize in Greek is baptizo, which means "to dip, plunge, submerge, or immerse." Baptism in the New Testament was related to the ministry of both John the Baptist and of Jesus. John's baptism was symbolic of one's repentance from sin and of willingness to participate in the kingdom of God (Matt. 3:6-8; Luke 3:3-16).
The Meaning of Baptism: Baptism is the way believers publicly acknowledge their total commitment to Christ and dramatize their belief “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
Sources:
Herschel H. Hobbs, The Baptist Faith and Message (Nashville: Convention Press, Rev. 1996), 72-75.
Lucien Coleman, Why Baptism? Sermons from the Baptist Faith and Message, found at http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/rd_article_content/0,2815,A%253D157811%2526X%253D1%2526M%253D200812,00.html