An Introduction to the Baptist’s Belief in Baptism
When visiting, regularly attending, or joining a church, it is important to know and be aware of that particular church’s beliefs. One of the biggest ways the Baptist denomination differs from others is their view of baptism.
Baptist churches believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God. How they differ from other denominations is how they interpret the New Testament teachings on the sacrament of baptism. Baptist churches teach that Jesus ordained immersion as the means of baptism for the New Testament Church. There are 4 points the Baptist church believe about baptism that are backed up by scripture:
1. Only Believers are to be baptized. This means anyone who is not a believer, such as babies and children or adults who have not yet make a declaration of Faith, may not partake in the sacrament of baptism. Once an older child or adult does make a public declaration of faith, they are then welcome and encouraged to be publicly baptized for the purpose of outwardly symbolizing and publicly affirming the inner change in the allegiance of their hearts. The scripture referenced in Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:14-16, and Acts 8:36-37 further explains this aspect of the Baptist denomination’s belief of baptism.
2. Baptism is to be done through immersion. Other denominations believe baptism may be done through the pouring of sprinkling of water. The Baptist believe in immersion, as backed by scripture, for two reasons:
• Firstly, the English word “baptize” comes from the Greek word “baptizein”; when literally translated, the closest English word is actually “immersion”.
• Secondly, there are scripture passages that support complete immersion, while there are no passages that support pouring or sprinkling. In Matthew 3:16, Jesus himself is clearly immersed by John the Baptist. And again in Acts 8:37-38, it is written that Philip takes the eunuch down into the water as he baptizes him.
3. Baptism is not a requirement for salvation. Baptism is mean as a testimony that the one receiving the sacrament of baptism has already received Jesus Christ as their Savior. Baptism is meant as a symbolic picture of the death (giving up self-righteousness and claiming Christ’s righteousness), burial (being totally immersed in the water), and resurrection (returning up from out of the water) of Jesus Christ, the salvation for the one being baptized. This belief is grounded in scripture found in Romans 6:4-5 and Colossians 2:12.
4. Baptism is a requirement for Church membership. Those who have made a profession of faith, but who have not been baptized, may not become members of a Baptist Church (though please distinguish that church membership is not a requirement for salvation). This aspect of baptism comes from the book of Acts, particularly Acts 2:14 and Acts 8:37-28. Through the book of Acts, it is written that the church followed the order of salvation, baptism, and finally ending in complete church membership. This is also referenced in Matthew 16:25-33.
These four aspects of baptism are universal to the Baptist denomination. They are what preserves the unity and uniformity of all Baptist churches across America, fulfilling the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
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