“How important is baptism in the Bible?” New believers are commanded in the Bible to be baptized as a testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-19; Acts 10:48).
“What is the meaning and purpose of baptism?” Baptism is a concrete way for believers to demonstrate their obedience to the command of Christ to publicly profess their faith in Him (Matthew 10:32). As a person is immersed in the water, he or she is proclaiming, “I believe in Jesus Christ; His death, burial, and resurrection; and I am trusting in Him alone for my salvation” (see I Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 6:4). Another purpose of baptism is to be a witness to non-believers. Baptism is an excellent way to proclaim and illustrate the Bible’s truths and to invite others to faith in Jesus Christ.
“Who should be baptized?” Since baptism is a public acknowledgment of faith in Jesus Christ, it logically follows that the only valid candidates for baptism are believers in Him. In the Bible, baptism is reserved for followers of Christ only. There is no biblical incidence of an infant or unbeliever ever participating in Christian baptism. This is also stated explicitly in Acts 8:37-37. As the Ethiopian eunuch heard about Jesus, he said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" Philip’s answer makes very clear who the proper candidates for baptism are: “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” Baptism is reserved for believers in Jesus Christ.
“What is the proper way to be baptized?” In the Greek New Testament the word “baptize” means “to immerse.” Certainly immersion, then, is the correct and preferred mode of baptism and indeed was the Biblical method used. Through history, pouring or sprinkling has become the preferred methods of baptism by some groups. This change may have occurred because baptism by immersion in a lake, river, or another body of water subjected the church to persecution because of its public nature. Church tradition or even convenience may be other reasons some have gone to other methods of baptism besides or even convenience may be other reasons some have gone to other methods of baptism besides immersion.
“What about infant baptism?” As stated above, believers in Jesus Christ are the only proper candidates for baptism. Thus, infant baptism, or “paedobaptism,” is not recognized in Scripture. Many sincere and well-meaning parents desire to dedicate their children to God. Other parents who are members of churches that practice infant baptism have their children baptized out of tradition. We should not disparage parents who do this, but only inform them that to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15) their children (and the parents, also!) should be baptized only after trusting and receiving Christ as Lord and Savior.
“Is baptism necessary for salvation?” Baptism is not a “sacrament” in the sense that it imparts any special blessing, holiness, forgiveness, or salvation to participants. Baptism is more properly called an “ordinance.” We participate in the ordinance of baptism because it was established, ordained, and commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ as a symbolic demonstration of our faith in Him. Baptism does not save; it does not wash away sin. These come only by receiving Jesus Christ by faith (see Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6). But even though baptism does not save, it is not optional in the Bible. Believers are commanded to be baptized.
“If I was baptized by immersion at another church, will that baptism be recognized here?” In some cases, if a person is baptized by immersion at another church, that baptism will be recognized and accepted here at Fellowship. However, for this to be true, that baptism must meet the following criteria:
- It must be believer’s baptism. In other words, it must be baptism by immersion that follows the person’s profession of faith in Christ. Immersion before conversion is not true baptism. Scriptural baptism is immersion which is the result of conversion.
- It must be understood as a step of obedience, not as a means of salvation. Fellowship does not recognize any baptism if it is administered by a church that teaches baptism as the way of salvation or as a part of salvation. When a church teaches baptism as being necessary to salvation, the whole nature of the true Gospel is changed.
- It must be baptism administered by a church which holds to the historic and orthodox Christian faith. Fellowship will only recognize and accept baptism administered by Christian churches which are in agreement with our Statement of Faith. That Statement of Faith is the sole basis of our fellowship and cooperation with other churches and defines the faith and practice of a true church of Jesus Christ.
If you have questions or would like to schedule a baptism