The Meaning and Practice of Baptism

  • Baptism is immersion into water; this is the basic meaning of the word “baptism.”
  • Baptism is an act of obedience to the Lord’s command and follows His example.
    • Matthew 28:18–20
    • The Bible seems to know of no unbaptized Christians. Acts is full of references to baptizing those who had confessed faith in Christ. Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12–13, 16, 36, 38; 9:18; 10:37, 47–48; 11:16; 13:24; 16:15, 33; 18:8, 25; 19:3–5; 22:16.
    • Matthew 3:13–17, “…permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness…” Jesus submitted Himself to baptism.
  • Baptism is a symbol of the death and resurrection of Jesus: Romans 6:3–4; 1 Peter 3:21.
  • Baptism is a symbol of what God has accomplished in the life of the believer: Romans 6:3–11; Colossians 2:9– 14; 1 Peter 3:21.
  • Baptism is a symbol of washing/cleansing from sin: Titus 3:5, Acts 22:16, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”
  • Baptism is a symbol of our entrance into the Body of Christ, the Church: 1 Corinthians 12:12–13
  • Baptism is a public declaration of faith in Jesus Christ.
    • In baptism we express, with our whole body, our heart’s acceptance of Christ’s Lordship. Becoming a Christian involves the body as well as the heart. In conversion, the heart is freed from sin to be enslaved to God. Since the Lordship of Christ lays claim to our whole body, it is fitting for us to express our surrender to His Lordship with our whole body “from head to toe.”
    • Romans 6:12–13; 12:1; Acts 2:38, 41.
  • Baptism is only for believers. In light of all the above Scriptural points, it is clear that baptism is only for those who have a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

What can give a believer genuine assurance?

  • Do I have a present trust in Christ for salvation? Am I trusting in Christ and His death and resurrection alone to save me? Am I confident He is a sufficient Savior?
  • Is there evidence of a regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in my heart? (The fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22)
  • The fruit of good works (Matthew 7:16–20)
  • Believing the teaching of the Scriptures (1 John 2:23–24; 4:6)
  • Day by day trusting in Christ; seeking Christ continually (John 15:4, 7)
  • Obedience to God’s commands (1 John 2:4–6)
  • Do I see a long-term pattern of growth in my Christian life? (Philippians 1:6; 2 Peter 1:3–11)

What are the next steps to get baptized?

  • Fill out the baptism application linked to below.
  • After you fill out the application, we'll set up a meeting with you and a pastor. This allows us to get to know you and hear your testimony as well as answer any questions. We will also set a date for your baptism.

And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.

Acts 22:16

Frequently Asked Questions About Baptism

How do I know if I’m ready for baptism?

The short answer is: you are ready for baptism if you have entered into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The New Testament pattern is: repent, believe and be baptized. In other words, the Bible assumes if you have become a follower of Jesus Christ, you declare these things by being baptized. If you aren’t sure what that means, baptism will be much more meaningful if you receive some instruction in these areas. Baptism is the outward expression that the Lord Jesus appointed to declare to others what we believe about how He saves us and that we have received Him and the salvation He provides. What we believe must be based upon what we understand.

What if I am afraid to speak during my baptism?

An important aspect of baptism is it is done before witnesses. It is a public confession of faith in Christ, not a private, personal spiritual ritual. For some people, the fear of speaking before a large crowd (or even a small one!) is the reason they have put off being baptized. We recognize that most people are afraid to speak (share their testimony) as part of their baptism. We do our best to make you comfortable and prepare you to briefly share how you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. No one expects a polished speech at a baptism. Everyone understands a person being nervous when sharing during their baptism. We encourage many baptism candidates to read their written testimonies. It keeps them on track, helps them to be clear, and removes some of the fear of freezing up and forgetting what to say. And the pastor doing the baptizing is able to help you “on the spot” as needed, by asking questions or helping you clarify. Again, simple, brief testimonies are preferred and more effective than long, wandering or flowery ones.

If I was baptized as an infant, or before I believe I was really saved, should I be baptized again?

We believe the scriptures teach that baptism is for believers who can give a clear testimony of saving faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore if a person is convinced he or she was baptized before they truly understood and possessed saving faith in Christ, it is not wrong, and may be helpful, to be baptized again. However we would not press that decision upon anyone. Ideally, a person should study the biblical teaching on baptism (such as outlined in the Meaning and Practice of Baptism paper included in this packet), seek counsel, and make a choice they believe best fits the biblical pattern and their own conscience. As for infant baptism, the principle that baptism is for believers who can understand saving faith in Christ and give testimony to their own faith in Him applies. An infant cannot believe nor testify to its belief. But we still desire for people who were baptized as infants to study the matter and come to a conviction of conscience through the Scriptures.

What if my child or teen wants to be baptized?

It is a wonderful truth that many people have known Jesus from childhood. Jesus welcomed children in His days on earth, and He is pleased to save children now. At what age can or should a child be baptized? We believe that in many cases it may be best for a child to wait until his or her later teen years (15-18). But in some cases, we may baptize children earlier. We believe baptism is not only a symbol of how one enters into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, but it is also a declaration of one’s understanding of how this happens as well as a declaration of one’s readiness to follow Him – of one’s allegiance to Him above all other claims and priorities. Also, for many children, though possessing a sincere faith in Jesus, may believe in part because it is their parents’ faith. We want to be sure that their desire to be baptized is because of their own personal faith in Jesus Christ and that they fully understand their need for a Savior.

What should I wear and what should I bring with me when I get baptized?

Women: Please wear a darker colored heavyweight T-shirt that is slightly loose and not skin tight when wet. Try to avoid large graphics or logos. Simple is best. Wear a bra, panties, and slacks or jeans. You should also bring your written testimony, a pair of sandals, a large towel, a complete change of dry clothing and a plastic bag in which to take home your wet things.

Men: Please wear shorts or jeans and a T-shirt;. You should also bring your written testimony, a pair of sandals, a large towel, a complete change of dry clothing and a plastic bag in which to take home your wet things.