March 29, 2015

What We Believe about the Baptism

We believe in the ordinance of baptism as a celebration of our new life in Christ.

Baptism is an ordinance of the Church and is essential for obedience to Christ’s command. Jesus commissioned his followers to go and make disciples of all nations and baptize them (Matthew 28:19).

Baptism is an outward symbol of an inward grace. When we believe in and commit ourselves to following Christ, a fundamental[i] change takes place. We receive God’s acceptance, forgiveness, and direction for living (2 Corinthians 5:17). Baptism represents the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and the believer’s participation in that divine process (Romans 6:3-14).

The ordinance of baptism is a public symbol.[ii] When we are baptized, we are giving public witness that we believe in Christ and are committed to following him (Acts 10:47, 48).

We recognize a relationship between the baptism of the believer and the baptism of Jesus. Although the Scriptures teach that Jesus was without sin, he nevertheless submitted to the baptism administered by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:15).

We practice believer’s baptism.

Those who profess faith in Christ and express commitment to follow him are eligible[iii] for baptism. The early Church made confession[iv] and repentance prerequisites for baptism (Acts 2:38; 8:36). Since baptism properly comes after an expressed faith in Christ and conscious commitment to follow him, only believers are qualified candidates for baptism.

Because we believe that only willing response to God by the individual brings salvation, the Churches of God neither practices nor sees the necessity of infant baptism. We trust that those who have not yet reached the state of accountability are safe in the grace of God (2 Samuel 12:33; Matthew 18:10-14). Nonetheless, we believe that the child shares the benefits of Christian fellowship in the nurturing ministries of responsible parents and the Church. This responsibility is accepted and made meaningful in the service of Presentation of Children for the Lord’s Blessing (Luke 18:15-17).

We believe the biblical form of baptism is by immersion.[v]

The Bible says immersion was the form administered by John the Baptist and the apostles (Matthew 3:6, 16; Mark 1:5, 10; Acts 8:38, 39). Paul’s explanation of the symbolism of baptism confirms that immersion is the form to be used (Romans 6:4). It has been our practice to administer baptism using the form as outlined in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


[i] Fundamental – essential; radical.

[ii] Symbol – something that represents another thing, an object used to represent something abstract.

[iii] Eligible – qualified, suitable.

[iv] Confession – the act of verbalizing commitment to Christ and His teachings; the act of acknowledging sin.

[v] Immersion – the act of plunging completely under the water.

 

Last updated (July 2013)