Baptism is a positive command. Depending on whom
you ask you will hear dozens of different traditions, teachings and
opinions about the subject of baptism. Even though there are multiple
opinions, there is only one truth that really matters—the truth revealed
in the Bible. On the authority, subject, action and design, the
Scriptures are plain. FCC strives to model itself in accordance with the
Scriptures. Please read the following statements for clarity on our
understanding of baptism.
Who should be baptized?
All believers are candidates for baptism. Christ said, “Whoever
believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). Anyone who is
willing to repent of their sins, and confess their belief in Jesus,
should be baptized. (Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38-39)
How should we be baptized?
To understand how we should be baptized is best determined by
looking at the meaning of the word. The Greeks had, and still have, a
word for immerse, one for sprinkle, and one for pour. Baptizo means dip
or immerse, rhantizo means to sprinkle, and cheo means to pour. This is
now the meaning of these words in Greek, and was also the meaning when
Christ was on earth. The Holy Scripture consistently uses the word
baptizo, which means “immerse.”
The Apostle Paul states that baptism represents the death, burial,
and resurrection of Christ. We are buried with Christ by baptism (Romans
6:4, Colossians 2:12). At FCC we baptize people by immersing them in
water. This act symbolizes, according to the teaching of scripture, the
burial of the old self and the resurrection of a new life with Christ.
When should we be baptized?
A person should be baptized at the time he or she trusts in Christ.
The Bible teaches we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8),
moreover in the New Testament church, a person’s baptism was always the
first expression of faith, not separate from it. So baptism was not just
a memorial of faith, but was intended to offer a means of union with
Christ and a benchmark of transformation, marking the place and time a
person made a commitment to Christ (Romans 6:1-8). At FCC we ask a
person to be baptized at the point that he or she is ready to make a
commitment to Christ.
As well, the Bible clearly teaches that a person should be baptized
when he or she is capable of 1) believing in Jesus Christ as his or her
Savior, and 2) when the individual is capable of repenting of sin. In
Mark 16:16, Jesus said that whoever believes and is baptized will be
saved. Jesus clearly indicates that a candidate for baptism must first
have the capability of believing in Him. Moreover, in Acts 2:38, Peter
preached that an individual must repent and be baptized. He clearly
indicates that a candidate for baptism must first have the capability of
repenting of sin. The word for “repent” in the New Testament means “to
change the mind.” A candidate for baptism must believe that Jesus
alone can save a person from sin, and intentionally decide to “change
the mind” (i.e., repent) about sinful behavior.
Clearly, that helps us understand that little children are not
likely candidates to be baptized. Young children may not have the
intellectual development that enables them to believe that Jesus alone
saves them from sin, and to conscientiously turn away from sinful
behavior. Proverbs 20:25 issues a significant caution against the danger
of making a vow before adequate knowledge, forethought, and reflection
have been given.
Why should we be baptized?
As commanded by Christ, every believer should be baptized. It is
essential to becoming a Christ follower (Matthew 28:19). Furthermore,
through baptism we are following Christ’s example (Matthew 3:13-17),
accepting forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), receiving the Holy
Spirit (Acts 2:38), expressing trust in Christ (Acts 8:12-13), and
testifying to God’s work in our lives (Romans 6:1-8, Galatians 3:27).
The Holy Spirit prompts individuals to recognize their sin and
guilt, and the only way in which the human soul can be wiped clean of
sin is through the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:27-10:7). This
“washing away” of sin is most clearly symbolized in the act of baptism
(Acts 22:16). Peter, the apostle, makes this powerful statement. “…
baptism now saves you--not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an
appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus
Christ.” (1 Peter 3:21 NASB) Every believer should be baptized. It is
essential to becoming a Christ follower. It is essential to salvation.
Since one of the biggest obstacles between God and man is human
pride, baptism also offers a venue by which believers humble themselves
before God and others, and admit their need for Christ’s redemption
(James 4:6). In addition, baptism meets a God-given human need for
expression. Baptism is the scriptural expression of faith in Christ.
The act of baptism alone cannot save an individual. We are saved by
grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We are saved only through accepting
Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Baptism is the point in time when we
receive the benefits of our faith, the blessings of salvation, and the
forgiveness of our sins. Those who were never baptized by immersion but
were sprinkled for baptism as infants rest in
God’s merciful hands. We hope that Jesus will say to any person who has
truly submitted to Him but was not taught about immersion, “Your faith
has saved you.” Yet someone who understands Christ’s command to be
immersed and refuses to obey should not consider himself to have
submitted to Christ.
Every biblical example of baptism is by immersion. That is why we
turn the matter over to God. Anyone sprinkled as an infant should be
grateful that their parents cared about their spiritual condition, but
there comes a time to personally claim the faith yourself, and immersion
is the appointed means.
Should a person ever be re-baptized?
Any person who has trusted in Jesus as the only Son of God and who
has willingly been immersed into Christ may become a member of FCC
whether the baptism occurred at FCC or elsewhere. Rebaptism is allowed
for those who lack confidence in their initial baptism experience
because they don’t remember it, they were coerced, or their heart was
not right with God at the time. Anyone who has fallen into sin after
having been baptized should repent and seek forgiveness, but rebaptism
is not necessary (Acts 8:13-24).
Must a person be baptized during a worship service?
No. In fact, the biblical model was “immediately” (Acts 8:38,
16:33), yet baptisms during worship services are encouraged at FCC
because they provide the opportunity to testify to your faith and show
Paul exhorts all believers to unite, for we are all of “one Lord,
one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). Regardless of our particular
beliefs regarding the mode of baptism, it is important for all
Christians to seek unity as representatives of Christ’s body. We believe
the source of unity is the truth of God’s Word, and we pray that
baptism will be a place of unity, not division, among believers (John