BAPTISM AT RESTORATION HOUSE
There are few events in the Christian life that carry as much significance and symbolism as baptism. Along with Communion, Jesus Christ ordained baptism as a special experience for the church to celebrate. These events give every Christian a unique opportunity to share obedience, worship, and love with God. Many, however, have questions concerning the scriptural meaning and instruction concerning baptism.
WHAT IS BAPTISM?
Baptism is a public proclamation of faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour, Lord, and Master. God created each of us to know and glorify Him, but sin drives us away from His holy nature. We desire everything contrary to God’s holiness, and the Word of God teaches that the penalty or “wages“ of this sin is death and eternal separation from God. (Romans 6:23) No human effort, including baptism, can compensate for our sinful state. But God, demonstrating both His justice and His love, has paid sin's penalty for all who receive His grace. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, lived among us, died on the cross to pay the penalty of sin for all who believe in Him. On the third day, He rose from the grave conquering sin and death forever! When we truly believe Jesus Christ as Saviour, Lord, and Master of our lives, we receive God’s gift of forgiveness and new life in Christ. God restores us, freeing us to know and glorify Him. Baptism is a public testimony that richly symbolizes these spiritual truths. Our descent into the water represents our death to sin's control, and our emergence from the water proclaims our new life in Christ!
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:3-5 ESV)
WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?
Since baptism is a public confession of the believer’s personal faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrificial act on our behalf, only those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour, Lord, and Master should be baptized.
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27 ESV)
WHY SHOULD BELIEVERS BE BAPTIZED?
There are 2 main reasons why everybody who has professed faith in Jesus Christ should be baptized.
1. Jesus Christ said those who believe in Him should be baptized. Jesus is both Saviour, Lord, and Master for every Christian. Baptism provides an opportunity for every believer to publicly declare that they Believe Jesus, and have decided to follow Him.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19 ESV)
2. The early church, under the leadership of the apostles, baptized every new Believer. The first Christians thought it inconceivable that someone could profess faith in Jesus Christ and not be baptized. The two were inseparable. Immediate baptism provided a rich explanation of God’s work in the life of the new believer.
But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. (Acts 8:12-13 ESV)
WHEN SHOULD BELIEVERS BE BAPTIZED?
Since baptism is a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, it should be performed after one understands the Gospel, experiences God’s grace, and responds to the Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism performed prior to these three things is representative of something other than new life in Christ, and falls short of what Jesus calls us to do. Many who have been baptized as infants need not feel offended by this Scriptural understanding of baptism, for their infant baptism was performed with the best of intentions. However, obedience to Jesus’ teachings on His terms requires that baptism be representative of faith in Him. As sinful people who are desperately dependent upon His grace, we should seek to live in obedience to Him.
Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. (Acts 16:30-34 ESV)
HOW SHOULD BELIEVERS BE BAPTIZED?
The word “baptize” literally means to “put beneath” or “dip under” and refers to some form of immersion in water. Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan River and “came up out of the water” indicating that He was baptized by immersion. Therefore, at Restoration House we practice baptism by immersion. Our death to sin’s control and new lives in Christ are symbolically portrayed as we descend into and emerge from the water during baptism. We do recognize, however, that the essence of baptism is a public proclamation of faith and new life in Christ. Therefore, Restoration House accepts some alternative modes of baptism done for the right reason, which is faith and new life in Christ, following conversion.
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." (Mark 1:9-11 ESV)
If you have any additional questions concerning baptism or the Christian faith, please feel free to contact Restoration House.