What is Baptism?

Baptism has been incredibly meaningful to Christians for the past 2,000 years.  In baptism, we experience God’s love for us, we see how our lives connect with His, and we see and hear His forgiveness.  It is a great symbol of our faith that Jesus has done everything and forgiven everything so that we can know and enjoy God’s love.  In baptism, we hear the promise that we can live with God now and forever more.  

What does Baptism mean?

The word “baptize” literally means “to dip” or “immerse” -  what we would call “dunking” someone.  (Read Matthew 3)  In the very beginning of the New Testament, just before Jesus showed up on the scene, a prophet named, John told people, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is near!” By this, John was telling people to confess their sins to God and live their lives for Him because His King (Jesus) was about to show up and change the world.  People who repented were then dunked in water (baptized) as a symbol that they were identifying with John’s message.  They wanted to be new people and didn’t live their lives for themselves any more. 

When Jesus showed up, John did not want to baptize Him.  Jesus was perfect (there were no sins to confess).  John knew that he didn’t deserve the right to baptize Jesus (he is the eternal Son of God and King of the Universe).  But, Jesus wanted to be baptized.  He said, “it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”  By this, Jesus was setting an example for us and, more importantly, He was identifying with John (& us) as our representative.  In His baptism, He fully identifies with sinful humanity (us) so that sinful people (like us) could identify with God!

When Jesus comes out of the waters, God the Holy Spirit descends upon Him in the form of a dove and God the Father declares, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  (Note: In the Bible, God describes Himself as One God who exists in Three Persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Confusing huh?  We’ll never fully understand God!  But we can truly know Him).  What happens next at the baptism of Jesus - the Holy Spirit shows up & God the Father says how pleased He is - this is an example of what happens to all who repent of living life apart from God and trust Jesus to lead them into a life with God.  

When you believe in Jesus, the Bible promises:

     1)   God the Holy Spirit moves into your life!

    •  Jesus promised this would happen in John 14:15-17 & Acts 1:8.

    •  In Ephesians 1:13-14, the Apostle Paul explains that the Holy Spirit’s presence is permanent.  God will never give up on you or leave you.  

Do you have to be baptized to be saved?

Salvation is solely a gift given to people whose faith rests in the grace of God to forgive their sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  For example, when the Phillipian jailer asked what was required of him to be saved, Paul did not mention baptism but simply said, “Beleive in the Lord Jesus” (Acts 16:31).  Likewise, the theif who died on the cross next to Jesus was promised by our Lord that “today you will be with me in Paradise,” though he had not been baptized (Luke 23:43).  So, the Bible is clear that someone could go through life without being baptized and be a “saved” person who is destined for heaven.  

Nonetheless, even though one can be a Christian without being baptized, the Bible is equally clear that every Christian should be baptized.  Jesus commanded us to be baptized.  Baptism is an expression of our faith in Jesus and an expression of God’s love and forgiveness for us.  In baptism, we hear, see and feel the presences of God that He is with us and that He loves and accepts us.  No Christian should miss out on this important experience.

Who can baptize someone and how should it be done?  

WHO?  The Bible teaches the “priesthood of all believers” (1 Peter 2:9).  This means that there is no special class of priest needed to perform holy duties.  You are a priest and your whole eating, sleeping, working, studying life is supposed to be lived for God.  This also means that any Christian can baptize someone.  

HOW?  The Bible does not explicitly say much about how they performed baptism.  All Jesus says is that we must baptize people in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The word baptize infers that people were “immersed” or “dunked” in water.  From the stories, it seems likely that Christians went to the local river or creek and dunked someone all the way under the water and then brought them back up.  This also seems to reflect the symbol of being buried and raised to a new life.  This is how we practice baptism at Marsh Creek Community Church.  

How old does someone have to be baptized?

It depends.  Faith in Christ alone, not age, is what qualifies someone for baptism.  When a toddler says: “I love Jesus,” there is good reason to believe that they sincerely love Him.  Yet, for the benefit of the child & the church community, it is often beneficial to wait until the child reaches a certain level of maturity before they are baptized.  Deciding to get baptized is not a small thing.  It is choosing to irrevocably trust God with all you have & all you are, even if it costs you everything.  In ancient times (and in some places even today), being baptized could result in persecution & even death.  While we are fortunate that this is not the case for us today, we want to treat it with this kind of seriousness.  We want to make sure that everyone being baptized understands this and  can articulate in their own words what they believe and why they want to be baptized.  

To inquire about being Baptized click the link on the side of the page.

* Portions of this content are based upon the work of Vintage Jesus.