Baptism: What is it, how do we do it, and why should I?
Baptism is the public act of a Christian committing themselves to Jesus Christ and to his people by being immersed in water as a symbol of the washing of our sins.
We believe that Baptism is the first step of obedience for the person who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ and believed the good news of the Gospel (Acts 2:38).
Baptism: Biblical Overview
- Baptism is a symbol of our adoption.
Baptism is a sign that we have been adopted into the family of God. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have had a perfect and unified love from before creation and in the baptism of Jesus Christ we see all three persons of God actively involved (Matthew 3:16). As Jesus is brought up from the water we hear God proclaim “This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17). Now when we are baptized, because of Jesus Christ, we can know that we are also children of God (Galatians 3:16) and beloved by the Father.
Baptism says “I belong to God.”
- Baptism is identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.
How can we be children of God and beloved by the Father? Because Jesus Christ, God himself, put on flesh and lived a perfect life in our place, he died a death in our place to take the punishment that our sins deserved, and then he rose again so the might offer us complete forgiveness and new life in Him. In doing this, Jesus conquered sin and death and Satan. Now he offers us new life by his grace through faith in Jesus.
When we are baptized we are identifying ourselves with Christ. As we are put into the water we are symbolizing that Jesus Christ died in our place. As we are under the water we show that Jesus Christ was buried. Then, as we are raised up out of the water, we show that just as Jesus Christ rose from the grave, so we are raised to new life in Jesus Christ.
We are symbolizing the dying to our old selves, who was enslaved to sin, and how Christ has raised us to new life in him (Colossians 2:12-13).
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, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
- Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change.
Baptism by itself does not save you.
The Bible clearly teaches us that we are saved by grace and through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Baptism is consistently taught in the New Testament as a response to saving faith (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, Mathew 28:19).
- Baptism is a public commitment to Jesus Christ and his church.
Baptism is meant to be done in front of fellow Believers. It is a public commitment to Jesus as we have said before, it is a declaration that we are not our own but we belong to God. Baptism is also meant to be a commitment to the people of God, the Church. In the New Testament baptism was the way people “joined” the church (Acts 2:41, Acts 8:12, Acts 18:8). Baptism does not have to mean a lifelong commitment to a single local body. But we do believe that baptism is intended to be done in a faith community where someone is committed to being a part of the people of God (1 Corinthians 12:13).
This is a biblical overview of baptism but there are a bunch of attendant questions with that. In the following section we do our best to answer many of the common questions we get about baptism.
Why should I be baptized?
We believe there are 3 compelling reasons to be baptized.
- Christ commands it.
In Matthew 28:19 Jesus tells us to make disciples by baptizing true Believers and then to teach them more and more what it means to follow Jesus. Are you a disciple of Jesus? Then you must be baptized. Jesus himself was baptized (Matthew 3) and we are called to follow in his footsteps (1 John 2:6).=
- To publicly confess your faith.
Colossians 2:11-12 show us that faith in Jesus and baptism go hand in hand. When the people were convicted about Peter’s proclaiming of the Gospel at Pentecost and they asked what they should do, he simply told them to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:37-38).
- To commit to being a part of the church
The same story in Acts tells us these people were added to the church that day. Baptism is a commitment to being in a part of the body of Christ. There is no option for the Christian to be saved by faith and not be a part of the body. When we are saved we are a part of the body of Christ and baptism is the outward symbol of this.
When should I be baptized?
After you have believed in Jesus Christ for Salvation. Romans 10:9 tells us “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God and God himself, put on flesh and lived a life in your place, then died a death in your place to take the punishment your sins deserve, and rose from the grave and you believe that forgiveness of sins and eternal life is only found in him, then you should be baptized!
Baptism is intended to be done shortly after coming to faith in Jesus Christ. It is not reserved for “black belt” Christians, even brand-new beliers can and should be baptized. If you have been a Christian for a long time but never been baptized, now is the perfect time to begin that journey.
How do you baptize at CATG?
We believe in baptism by immersion in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We believe immersion is the intended symbolism of death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4) and we believe that Jesus himself clearly tells us to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). We baptize anytime throughout the year during our Sunday morning services.
What is the process for baptism?
If you are interested in baptism, we’d love to talk with you. Our baptism process includes a conversation with a staff member or an elder to begin. The three main things we want to hear are:
- What is the Gospel?
- How did God save you?
- Why do you want to be baptized?
Our desire is to make sure people understand what baptism is and why they are doing it. After the conversation we work together on scheduling a Sunday to do the baptism in front of the church where we have you (or someone on your behalf) share the answer to the questions we talked about.
Baptisms are celebratory and fun, and the testimonies build up the church and bless the entire body. We absolutely love getting to celebrate baptism with you.
At what age do you baptize?
There is no set age for baptism at CATG. We want people of any age who are being baptized to be able to declare their faith in Jesus, a commitment to him, and an age-appropriate understanding of the Gospel (Romans 10:9). At times we may encourage young children to wait if we feel like they don’t understand what they are doing but we also love to celebrate the work God has done in children’s lives. If you have a question about your child and baptism, please let us know!
Do you do river baptisms?
Yes. We do baptisms every summer in the river. This usually happens in July.
However, if you feel God prompting you to be baptized now, don’t wait! We would love schedule at date for you and help you follow Christ in that area.
Do you believe in infant baptism?
CATG does not practice infant baptism. We recognize many folks experience baptism as infants. We admire the decision of parents to baptize their children and we want to honor the faith they were raised with. However, we believe that baptism in the New Testament is a command for people who have decided to follow Jesus and therefore would encourage folks who have been infant baptized to be baptized by immersion in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Do I have to be baptized to be a member?
Yes. This baptism does not have to have taken place at CATG. If you have been baptized by immersion after coming to faith in Jesus Christ, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit then we believe you have followed Christ’s command. If you are interested in membership and have not yet been baptized, we’d love to talk with you more.
Do you re-baptize?
Baptism is meant to be a one-time symbol. Communion is the ongoing symbol for believers. We do not re-baptize folks who have been baptized. If you have experienced infant baptism or baptism that you believe was not biblical or a part of another religion, or you aren’t sure if you were saved when you were baptized, we would love to have a conversation with you about whether or not you should be baptized.