The Purpose of Baptism
Baptism is a symbolic act of obedience and worship that carries with it all the benefits of loving obedience to Christ’s commands. Baptism is in no way necessary for spiritual regeneration but is a public proclamation of it.
Public response of obedience to Christ’s command to be baptized
The Bible clearly presents baptism as a command for all New Testament believers (Matt 28:19-20, Acts 2:38). Those who come for baptism are expressing love for Christ by public obedience.
Public proclamation of personal repentance and faith in Christ
Baptism is one of the primary means by which a new believer proclaims his conversion to the body of Christ and to the world (Acts 8:12).
Symbol of union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection
Baptism is a visual representation of the spiritual reality of the believer’s union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5, 1 Peter 3:20-21). As the professing believer is taken down into the waters of baptism, there is a beautiful picture of the old self descending into the grave with Christ. As the believer is raised out of the water, the picture is that of the believer’s new self rising with Christ to live in resurrection power.
The age for public baptism
Scripture does not specify any particular age of baptism. Therefore we will accept any candidate for baptism who can independently articulate the substance of his repentance and faith in Christ and can be examined for evidence of such faith (Acts 10:46-48).
Additionally, the New Testament pattern does not indicate a long period of “testing” before allowing baptism. When there was a true understanding and a proclamation of faith, the individuals were baptized (Acts 8:36-39, Acts 16:31-33).
In the case of young children, however, it may be wise to wait for a time to see if proper independence of thought and belief have been established. This delay for the purpose of discernment is not disobedience as long as both parents and children embrace the importance of baptism and intend to follow Christ in obedience to this command.
The Process of Baptism
- Contact an elder
- Have an interview with one, or preferable two or more elders, or approved church leaders
This interview will include the following:
- Evaluation of testimony
- Explanation of baptism
- Determination of appropriate age (in conjunction with parental input)
- Write out testimony for presentation during public baptism
- Choose a date for baptism
Those who can conduct baptisms
The elders of the church have been given the responsibility to care for the souls of the flock (Heb 13:17). Therefore it is appropriate for them to oversee the process of baptism.
Spiritual men approved by the elders
Scripture provides no definitive statement on who may baptize and thus it seems beneficial to allow other godly men, whom the elders approve, to be involved in the ordinance of baptism. This is especially true in the case of fathers who desire to baptize their children and spiritual “fathers’ who have led others to Christ.