Baptism – What We Believe and Why
I. Introduction – As we just celebrated the baptism of Rebecca Renee Borgelt, I thought it would be good to look at just what and why we in the SBC believe about Baptism. According to the Baptist Faith and Message, Chapter 10, which outlines the church Ordinances, states “Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper”.
Turn with me to Matt 28:19-20. Clearly we have been instructed to be Baptized.
II. First, we believe that Baptism is an Ordinance, not a Sacrament. What’s the difference? A. Sacrament – implies that the act itself conveys grace to the believer. In other words, the ritual is connected with the spiritual truth and reality conveyed through the act. The notion that sacraments convey grace is contrary to Scripture. In its entirety the thrust of the Bible is that grace comes through faith, not works. The understanding that sacraments convey grace implies that a person can, through the performance of some ritual, receive grace as reward for effort. The Biblical perspective, however, is that genuine faith produces works.
B. Ordinance – means decree or command. Unlike sacraments, ordinances are not understood to convey some type of grace. Ordinances are rites that commemorate the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Ordinances are performed as expressions of loving obedience to Christ.
C. While other denominations may view Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as sacraments, we believe the Lord gave them to His church not as sacraments but as pictures and affirmation of Grace.
D. Remember that Grace is giving that which was not deserved, while Mercy is the withholding of that which is deserved. God in His Grace gives us a Savior who provides salvation to those who accept Him as Lord, while in His Mercy, He does not send us to eternal damnation because of Jesus sacrificial death on the cross. E. We Baptist see Baptism as the sign of entrance into the Covenant Community of the body of Christ. Jesus made it clear that His disciples are required to profess Him publically. Matt 10:32-33 "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. "But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven”. F. Baptism demonstrates a believer’s obedience. Although it is not necessary for salvation (consider the thief on the cross), it is necessary for obedience. No believers in the NT resisted Baptism or neglected the opportunity to obey Christ in this way.
III. We Baptize by Immersion – We believe one should be baptized by full and complete immersion. The Greek word “Baptizo” literally means – to sink! That is the word that our Lord used when He instructed us to “make disciples and baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”. If this verse were actually translated literally, it would read
“make disciples and immerse in the name….” Everywhere we see the word Baptize in the New Testament, it is the same word. Sprinkling and partial immersion do not satisfy the New Testament definition of Baptism. A. Immersion in water pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, providing a wonderful picture of our salvation and reminding us of His saving work. Would anyone dare suggest that Christ only received a spinkling of sorrow and pain on the cross? He was completely engulfed in it. B. Baptism pictures a believer’s death to sin and resurrection to walk in newness of life. We do not bury people at death by sprinkling dirt on them. We dig a grave and cover them up. Baptism depicts the complete surrender of life and the transformation that only Christ can bring. Through it a believer publically professes faith in Jesus Christ. C. Baptism is also a trinitarian act, reminding us that our salvation is promised, accomplished, and applied through the work of the one true God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
D. Just as a side note for those who may be wondering where sprinkling came into practice…There is no record of it until 251AD at the Baptism of Novatian, who was sick. It was called a Clinical Baptism and reserved for those too sick to be immersed. Through the years it simply became a matter of convenience.
E. The Biblical description of Baptism is complete and total immersion.
We Baptize by Immersion and
IV. We Baptize with Intentionality – We believe it should be done as an act of obedience by a converted believer and follower of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to die for our sins. We do not baptize
persons so they, through baptism, may be made a new creature. Instead, we baptize persons who have already given credible evidence of salvation. The NT NEVER suggests the baptism of anyone who is not a conscience believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we reject the baptism of infants and anyone who cannot consciously and personally profess faith in Christ. BTW, those of you who were present a few weeks ago were treated to a wonderful testimony that Becca gave concerning her conversion and relationship with Jesus Christ.
A. Acts 2:37-41 “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit...So then, those who had received his word were baptized”. Only those who were “pierced to the heart”, meaning convicted of their sinfulness and repented of their sins, “those who had received his word”. They were those who were baptized.
B. Acts 8:35-38 “Then Philip…preached Jesus to him (meaning the Ethiopian eunuch that had questions about the scripture). As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?" [And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him”. Notice that Phillip confirmed his belief in Jesus as the Son of God. Then he baptized him, not before. First came the profession of faith, then baptism. This is always the case in scripture.
C. Acts 16:27-33 “When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!" And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 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 together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household”. The jailer’s conversion was followed by clear, demonstrated deeds reflecting the reality of the life change that occurred internally. The terms that same hour and immediately show that he did not waste any time changing his life or in making his public profession of allegiance to Jesus Christ through baptism. D. We baptize persons who have already given credible evidence of salvation and have consciously, personally, and openly professed faith in Christ as Savior.
We Baptize by Immersion and with Intentionality
V. We Baptize to Imitate Christ – We choose baptism and immersion because our Savior did likewise.
A. Matt 3:13-17 “Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this
time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased”. Jesus traveled a long distance on foot to meet John the Baptist and be baptized by him.
B. Luke 3:21-22 “Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased." Jesus did not become the Son or the Messiah at this baptism. Jesus already had His divinity from eternity past. The the voice revealed to John the Baptist (and us) that Jesus was God’s Son, come to earth as the promised Messiah to fulfill prophecy and bring salvation to all who believe.
C. Jesus had come to be baptized because it was the proper way for him to obey God in every aspect of life. Jesus didn’t need to admit sin—He was sinless. Jesus was baptized:
a) to confess sin on behalf of the nation;
b) to accomplish God’s mission and advance God’s work in the world;
c) to inaugurate His public ministry to bring the message of salvation to all;
d) to show support for John’s ministry;
e) to identify with the penitent people of God, with humanness and sin;
f) to give us an example to follow.
Jesus, the perfect man, accepted Baptism in obedient service to the Father, and God the Father, showed his approval. Verse 22 "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased”.
We Baptize by Immersion, with Intentionality, to Imitate Christ
VI. We Baptize to Identify with Christ - We choose to be baptized to publically identify ourselves with the body of Christ – The Church.
A. Rom 6:3-5 “do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection”. Those who believe in Christ are baptized to become one with Christ Jesus. United literally means, “we have become grown together.” Did you ever see 2 trees that have grown together? They become inseperable! That’s the way we become united with Christ. Inseperable! Our Baptism painlessly acts out the union that Christ painfully made real. When we accept Christ and die to our old nature, we begin a life of continually dying to the enticements of the world and living to please the One to whom we belong. As Christ was raised, believers also will be raised from death to eternal life with God.
We Baptize by Immersion, with Intentionality, to Imitate and Identify with Christ
VII. We Baptize for Intimacy with Christ – We choose to be baptized that we may move towards an intimate relationship with God Almighty,
which requires obedience. And Baptism is the first act of obedience that our Savior asks of us.
A. Phil 3:8-11 “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead”. Paul did not want to be righteous simply for his own sake. For Paul, everything was for the sake of a greater intimacy with Christ. He did not so much want to go to heaven as to be with Christ; his desire for heaven was simply because Christ was there. Intimacy with Jesus is made up of two parts. Experiencing "the power of His resurrection" and, "sharing in his sufferings." The challenge is whether we as Christians have caught enough of a vision of Christ that we will not be satisfied unless we know him more fully. And in knowing him more fully, are we just as ready to embrace His sufferings as we are His resurrection? That is intimacy.
B. Col 2:12 “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead”. Baptism parallels the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and it portrays the death and burial of the believer’s sinful way of life. When Christ died, our old nature died with Him also. Believers’ faith is in the mighty power of God that raised Christ from the dead. It is faith in this power that will one day raise us from the dead.
We Baptize by Immersion, with Intentionality, to Imitate, Identify, and for Intimacy with Christ
VIII. We Baptize to Impact our lives – We Intentionally choose to be Baptized by Immersion to Imitate and Identify with Christ knowing that the Intimacy will have a profound Impact upon our lives.
A. Mark 1:9-13 “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased." Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him”. The word for impelled is very forceful in the Greek, conveying the meaning of “thrown out” or “cast out.” God’s Holy Spirit was intensely motivating Him to go. And He did it immediately. As with Jesus, the Holy Spirit impels us to go and live in newness of life. All things are become new and old things are left behind. Our lives should and must be impacted in every aspect. It is simply NOT possible to have an encounter with the Risen Savior and Lord and remain unchanged. And changed immediately!
Shall we stand
IX. Conclusion – Baptism is a symbol of just what has taken place in the life of the believer. “Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the
resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead”.
If you have never given your heart to Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please don’t leave here today without doing so. We would count it a privilege to pray with you and introduce you to Jesus. When the invitation is given, come and we will pray with you and for you.
Perhaps you’ve given your heart to Jesus but never made the public profession of Believer’s Baptism. We can make arrangements for that.
Or maybe you just need to pray, the altar is open.
Whatever the reason, as we sing, please come forward.