What Does the Bible Teach About Baptism?
The first story we read in the gospels about Jesus as an adult is the story of his baptism. The last thing Jesus said to his disciples before ascending into heaven was that they should go throughout the world making disciples and baptizing them. Baptism is obviously a very important activity in the New Testament!
Baptism is also a subject that Christians don't all agree about. Here at Vineyard, we view it as a secondary issue, allowing some room for disagreement between sincere believers. We have, nonetheless, tried to be faithful to the Bible and faithful to what the church has done historically regarding baptism. Here is how we would answer some the of the most frequently asked questions about baptism:
Why Should I be Baptized?
- You don't need to be baptized to become a Christian. The New Testament teaches that a person becomes a Christian by repentance from sin and faith in Christ. "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:38) In Luke 23, the thief on the cross recognized who Jesus was, reached out to Him, and Jesus promised him salvation. That dying thief had no opportunity to be baptized.
- You do need to be baptized to be obedient to Jesus. We are commanded to be baptized as a part of being His disciple. "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." (Mt. 28:19) Thus, we don't get baptized when we "feel like it," or when we "get around to it" or when we are "led to do it by the Lord." Baptism is one of only two ordinances that Jesus commands us to observe for all time. The other is The Lord's Table, or what is often called communion.
- Baptism is a public profession of your faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism is done in front of a group of people who witness your confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism is not the only way we profess to be a Christian, but it is an important way.
- Baptism symbolizes your being cleansed from sin. Baptism throughout the New Testament indicated that a person had "repented" or turned away from sin. The apostles often referred to the fact that believers were washed from sin. Peter stated that the water in baptism symbolized not the cleansing of the body from dirt, but the cleansing of the conscience. (1 Pet. 3:21)
- Baptism symbolized your union with Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection. When you become a Christian, you die to sin and your old way of life and you begin a whole new life. Romans 6:8 states, "Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." The very act of baptism (being immersed in the water and coming up out of the water) is a picture of what happens to you spiritually.
The Bible teaches that people should be baptized by immersion as opposed to sprinkling or pouring. The term "baptize" literally means to immerse or to dip. This was how people in the Bible were baptized. Also, immersion best symbolizes what happens spiritually when you become a Christian.
When Should I be Baptized?
You should be baptized as soon as possible after you have personally trusted Christ for salvation and been "born again". Remember, you are not baptized in order to become a Christian. You are baptized because you are a Christian. We should not put off baptism, since it is a command of Jesus. Vineyard holds baptisms six times a year. You can call the church office (623.934.4000) to find out the schedule.
Should I be Re-Baptized if I was Baptized at Another Church?
As long you were "born again" when you were baptized, and as long as the church you were baptized at was a Christian church, then you do not need to be re-baptized. If, however, your baptism was merely a church ritual done prior to your conversion or if the church was outside of the mainstream of Christianity, then we would encourage you to be validly baptized for the first time.
What if I was Baptized as an Infant?
Among Christians there are different perspectives on infant baptism. Some denominations and traditions (such as Episcopal, Presbyterian and Catholic) baptize infants while others (such as most Baptists) do not. Perhaps you were baptized as an infant. How should you view that baptism? You certainly want to show respect to your parents and their viewpoints, as well as be grateful to God for any spiritual influence they had in your life. However, the Bible teaches that baptism is an action that follows conversion. So, if you have not been baptized since you have made a decision to follow Christ, we strongly urge you to get baptized.
Can My Children be Baptized?
Absolutely, as long as they thoroughly understand what they are doing. Although the Vineyard does not impose an age restriction we do encourage parents to wait until their children are old enough to make a personal profession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We desire to partner with parents in preparing their children for salvation and baptism. To assist parents in this process, our Children's Ministry department has teaching booklets available on both topics. A class on baptism is also taught in the Children's Ministry department twice a year during our weekend services.
At Vineyard, we do not baptize infants as do some denominations and traditions. Instead, we dedicate infants to the Lord and call parents to commit themselves to raise their children to follow Christ. We do this based on the model seen in scripture of infants being dedicated to the Lord: Samuel in the Old Testament (1 Sam. 1:21-29) and Jesus in the New Testament (Luke 2:21-24).
What Should I do if I Want to be Baptized at Vineyard?
If you decide you want to be baptized at Vineyard, you will need to sign up for one of our six baptisms and take a baptism class. This class is brief (60 min) and is also offered six times a year at various times prior to each baptism. Call the church office (623.934.4000) or visit our website calendar to find out when the next baptism is scheduled. We would encourage you to invite friends and relatives to your baptism, since it is a wonderful opportunity to bear witness to what Jesus Christ has done in your life.