The Importance of Baptism for Christians
The most important reason for baptism is our obedience to Christ. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). When we love Jesus, we want to do what He says. Love and obedience include baptism. Jesus was obedient to the Father, and to fulfill all righteousness, was baptized. The disciples were baptized. The early Christians were baptized. In the Apostle Peter's first sermon after Pentecost, he preached saying, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38).
Obedience to Jesus Christ is a privilege, a joy, and also a responsibility. More important than our personal ideas about baptism is our Christian commitment to please Jesus Christ. And, Jesus commanded us to be baptized.
Baptism is also a powerful testimony to others. Biblical baptism is a commitment. Jesus says, "Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will acknowledgehim before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33). Baptism is a great expression of Christian discipleship.
Biblical baptism also involves us with God's people, the church. When we are baptized, we are declaring our participation in the body of Christ. There is a mutual responsibility: the individual is responsible to submit to and love the church, and the church is responsible to love and nurture the one baptized.
Baptism is a Testimony of the Gospel Story
Baptism is a witness (an acting out) of the Gospel story. Christ died, and we are dead to sin through salvation; Christ was buried, and we are burying our old sinful life; Christ was raised, and we are raised to a new life in Christ. "Having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead" (Colossians 2:12).
When Jesus died, was buried and rose again, He was buried in the ground. Baptism is a drama reenacting what Jesus did for us, only it is in water and only for a few seconds. That's why we practice baptism by immersion at Woodcrest Church. The Christian is completely immersed in water in order to follow the Bible's practice as closely and meaningfully as possible.
Woodcrest baptisms are conducted through outdoor baptismal services at Schulze Lake and also during the winter at a local pool.
Baptism is a Submissive Act on the Part of the Believer
When we are baptized, we are humbly admitting that we are sinners who can't forgive our own sins. We admit we need Jesus Christ as Savior. It is an act of submission to God to be baptized in front of witnesses.
Baptism is a Testimony of our Conversion to Jesus Christ
In the Bible, baptism always demonstrates belief in Jesus Christ. First comes faith and then comes baptism as an outward symbol of faith. Salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9); therefore, baptism is not necessary for salvation. However, salvation is necessary before baptism. In baptism, we are telling others that we are now Christians.
Baptism is a Testimony of our Identification
The original Bible word (in Greek), baptidzo, literally means, "to dip, to plunge, to place into a liquid." Just as a cloth placed into a vat of dye is "identified" with the dye, so in baptism a Christian is identified with Jesus Christ. You have "clothed yourselves with Christ" (Galatians 3:27).
We also identify with the church (the body of Jesus Christ), "for we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free and we were all given the one Spirit to drink" (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Prayerfully consider if God is prompting you to participate in believer's baptism. Please contact Lucy Huppert, Office Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment to talk further with a member of the pastoral staff.
A Note for Parents...
In order for baptism to be a meaningful and lasting memory in the life of a young believer, Woodcrest recommends the following:
- Children should be at least nine years of age. In certain circumstances, younger children may be considered for baptism.
- A staff member will interview each child to determine their readiness for baptism. Parents and staff will confer about the child's readiness.
- At the time of baptism, children will be encouraged to give a short, simple, verbal testimony of their faith in Christ.
- If several children are interested, a group instruction class will be scheduled in addition to the interview.