Baptism is an ordinance of God given to the Christian, upon a sincere confession of faith. It is a sign and a seal of a person’s salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Col. 2:12). Believers only should be baptized, not unbelievers, and not infants; all those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord who died for their sin and was raised for their justification should not be hindered from being baptized (Acts 8:26-38). Baptism has always been the clearest outward display of one’s profession of faith, from the days of the New Testament throughout church history. The word “baptize” means “to dip or plunge into;” thus, immersion is the understood mode of baptism. This was clearly the method used by our Lord Himself and the Apostles. Christ commands baptism, and as such, it is an important non-optional ordinance into which any true believer will desire to follow Christ’s example.
Baptism is encouraging to the believer who is being baptized, as well as to the rest of the church who witness their baptism, as it is a manifested display of the Gospel. As such we believe that it is normative that baptism be administered in the context of one’s local church. Matthew 28:18-20 links baptism with teaching of the Word, which is a function of the local church. From example, we find in Acts 2:40-42, the baptized believers are the same one’s who continued steadfastly in teaching and fellowship. Historically baptism was always carried out in the context of the church. In Ephesians 4:1-16 Paul writes of the unity of the body of Christ; he mentions “one baptism.” Apart from context, one might assume that this refers to one’s baptism into the universal church; however if you read on, you find that the establishment of unity is clearly the responsibility of the local church leaders who equip the saints to attain this unity (vss. 11-13). Does this mean that only one’s baptism in the context of a local church is acceptable? Of course not, we can think of exceptions where baptism outside the realm of a local church would be proper – the Ethiopian eunuch being one example. However, the required ingredients for adequate baptism include: the believer being baptized, one doing the baptism who can bear witness to the veracity of the candidates confession of faith, and a church body who will bear witness the display of God’s glory, rejoice with the candidate in his step of obedience in following Christ in the waters of baptism, and pray for and aid in the sanctification of the believer after he is baptized. In light of this baptism makes the most sense when done in the context of one’s local assembly.
Please pray for our brother Adiel, as Lord willing, he follows Christ in the waters of baptism next week. It would be an appropriate time to invite unbelievers and nominal Christians to witness a Christian Baptism.
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