Our Perspective on Baptism
by Leadership of Neartown Church
Baptism is an important activity in the life of a Christian church. Throughout the history of the Christian church, different types of Christian churches have done baptism in different ways. Many of the modes of baptism are beautiful, spiritual ways for people to identify with the Christian church or dedicate children to God.
At Neartown Church, we believe that a person must be baptized by immersion in water after personal belief in the gospel. We do not intend to nullify the sentimental value of a person being baptized as a baby. Likewise, we realize there are some whose family members will be bothered by the believers baptism of a person who was baptized as a baby. That said, we must keep with our understanding of the Bible regarding the command to be baptized after personal faith in Jesus Christ.
1. In the New Testament, the mode of baptism was immersion of a person in water.
a. The Greek word “baptizo” means to “plunge, dip, immerse” something in water.
b. The scripture says, for example, people were baptized “in the Jordan River” Mark 1:5. The wording is clear, a person was immersed into the water.
c. When Jesus was baptized, he “came up out of the water” (Mark 1:10).
d. The stories of people being baptized clearly describe a person being immersed totally in water (ex: Philip baptizes the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:38-39)
2. The immersion in water symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
a. Romans 6:3-4 “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
b. Although baptism does not save a person, it is a tremendous picture of a person identifying themselves with Jesus Christ.
c. When a person goes down into the water, it symbolizes the death of an old way of life. Then, when that person comes out of the water, it symbolizes them rising to a new way of life.
d. Baptism symbolizes the washing away of sins that happens when a person places their faith in Jesus Christ.
3. The bible clearly reveals that only people who give a believable profession of faith in the gospel should be baptized.
a. What about a baby? Although the sprinkling with water of a baby can be a meaningful activity for a family, it is not the baptism talked about in the Bible.
b. Why do some baptize babies? Some expressions of Christianity, Roman Catholics, believe that the work of baptism saves a person from their sin. It is a works based understanding of the gospel where you are required to do a list of things to be saved. They conclude that baptizing a baby saves them from their sin. This is contrary to what the Bible teaches about salvation which is by God’s grace for those who believe, not by works (Ephesians 2:1-10). Our church will lead parents to dedicate their children to God, but we do believe that the child must grow up, hear the gospel and respond in faith to be saved from their sin. Still others (Lutherans, Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterians) believe that children born into families with Christian parents can be baptized. They believe that baptism is the symbol for those in the covenant community like circumcision was for Jews. It is the outward sign of entrance into the covenant community. One cannot deny the similarities of circumcision in the Old Covenant and baptism in the New Covenant. However, at Neartown, we believe a person is to be baptized by immersion after personal faith in Jesus Christ.
4. Baptism is taught as necessary for all those who believe the gospel.
a. Matthew 28:18-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
b. Acts 2:38 ‘And Peter said to them, “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.”
Baptism enriches a person’s understanding of what it means to be on mission with Neartown Church. The act clearly demonstrates that a person believes in the gospel and wants to profess belief to other believers. It is normal for a person to be nervous about being baptized, but there is something spiritually dynamic about this sacred act. It is our perspective that every person who will partner with us on this mission should be baptized by immersion as a simple act of obedience to the command of Jesus Christ for believers to be baptized.