Water Baptism at Montclair Community Church
What is Water Baptism?
Water baptism is an important first step for all new Christians. Water baptism is a public declaration of our faith in Christ and our commitment to follow Him. It is an outward and symbolic act that affirms and celebrates an inward commitment of trust in Christ (much as a wedding ceremony is an outward and symbolic act that affirms and celebrates an inward commitment of love and trust between two people).
Water baptism is an important step of obedience to Christ. Jesus commands His followers to, “Go therefore and make disciples… baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Jesus was Himself baptized in water, not for the forgiveness of sins, but to “fulfill all righteousness,” i.e. to complete and affirm an inward righteousness by an outward act of obedience.
What is the Meaning of Baptism?
The word baptize means to dip or immerse. Water baptism is immersing a person in water. The act of water baptism symbolizes the spiritual cleansing of divine forgiveness and the newness of life that is experienced by believers because of their identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
Going under the water portrays our identification with the death and burial of Christ. Coming out of the water illustrates the truth of our being raised with Christ in resurrection life (Romans 6:1-11).
In water baptism, a Christian says farewell to the old identity and way of life, and embraces a new identity and standard of living (2 Cor. 5:14-17)
Who Should Be Baptized?
Water baptism is an outward expression of an inward work of Christ in the heart. Therefore, water baptism is for those who have committed their life to Jesus Christ and made a personal decision to trust Him as their Savior and Forgiver.
In the Bible, water baptism always came after an individual’s decision to trust Christ for salvation (Acts 2:41; 8:12; 10:47-48). For this reason, the New Testament never records the baptism of infants. We believe that baptism is only appropriate for those who are old enough to trust in Christ for salvation.
If you were baptized as a child, it was no doubt the intention of your parents that you would one day be a follower of Christ. Your baptism as an adult can be viewed as a fulfillment of your parent’s wishes.
When Should I Be Baptized?
Because water baptism is a public declaration of your faith, and an act of obedience to the command of Christ, a believer should be baptized shortly after committing his life to Christ as Savior and Forgiver.
However, some people have been Christians for a long time but were never baptized as a believer. The act of baptism doesn’t save you; faith in Christ does. But, as “an appeal to God for a good conscience,” it is always an appropriate time to be baptized (see 1 Peter 3:21).
Follow the voice of your conscience and the leading of the Spirit in determining whether you should be baptized.
What is the Method of Baptism?
The method of water baptism varies in different churches and denominational traditions. Some sprinkle, some immerse.
We baptize by immersion since it seems to best fit the biblical understanding and practice of baptism. The word baptism means to “dip, immerse, or overwhelm,” signifying that immersion more properly fits the understanding of the word. In Jesus’ baptism, as well as in the baptism of the Ethiopian, the Bible indicates that they “came up” out of the water, suggesting that they were immersed in water (Matthew 3:16; Acts 8:38-39).
Finally, immersion best illustrates the truth of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. A person who is buried is placed completely under the ground. Ultimately, however, the value of water baptism is in the heart of the believer, not in the amount of water used.
What Should I Do If I Want to Be Baptized?
- We schedule water baptism services as needed, usually two or three times a year.
- If you are interested in being baptized in water, let the pastor know of your interest.
- When a water baptism is scheduled, be sure to sign up.
- Attend the pre-baptism class, which will explain more fully the meaning of baptism and what to expect at the water baptism service.
- Plan to bring a bathing suit or shorts, and a towel. A changing room will be provided.
- A water baptism service is a time to celebrate our faith, and a great opportunity to share your faith by inviting family and friends.
“This is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace–a new life in a new land! That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means” (Romans 6:4-6, The Message)
About the photo: Michelle was baptized in June 2010 as her son Connor looks on, sitting on his friend’s Ryan’s lap. Michelle started attending MCC’s Mother of Preschoolers (MOPS) meetings. Her testimony: “I came to MOPS looking for a few moms and I found the Father.”