Are you thinking about getting baptized? That’s great news! Baptism can be a little confusing, so we hope to make clear by outlining what baptism is and why we do it.
Three Things About Baptism
- Baptism is done by immersion. The word baptism literally means, “to immerse.” When John the Baptist was baptizing people in the Jordan River, he did so because “There was plenty of water” (John 3:23).
- Baptism is symbolic. Immersion underneath the water symbolizes death to our old lives, who we were before the moment we accepted Christ. Coming out of the water symbolizes being raised from the dead, our new lives in Christ.
“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life,” (Romans 6:3-4, NIV).
- Baptism is a testimony. When someone is baptized, they are testifying through their actions that they have asked God to forgive them of their sins, accepted Christ into their lives and that they believe they will have life after death. Testimonies are intended to be celebratory and public. Getting baptized is a great way to tell your friends about your commitment to follow God. People often compare baptisms to wedding ceremonies. When two people have made a lifelong commitment to each other, they will likely want to tell everyone about it through a public ceremony. When someone has made a commitment to follow God, baptism is the public ceremony where their testimony can happen.
The Baptist Faith and Message defines baptism this way:
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead.
Three Reasons We Practice Baptism
- Jesus was baptized. Prior to going into ministry, the historical Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Jesus set an example and we are to imitate him in this respect. (See Matthew 3, Mark 1, and Luke 3).
- Jesus commanded his followers to baptize disciples who commit their lives to him. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he commissioned his followers to make disciples and baptize them. “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV).
- It celebrates the new life people find in Jesus. In the same way, a wedding is meant to be a fun celebratory event, so baptism is that in the church. When God saves someone and brings them into a relationship with himself, we should celebrate. Baptism at BCH is a celebratory time. It isn’t uncommon for us to baptize people outside, during a BBQ, or in the center of our auditorium at a worship service. “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents,” (Luke 15:10, NIV).
Baptism at BCH
Let a staff member or the office know you’re interested in baptism. We will give you a baptism application and schedule a time to go over your application with you. The application has some questions about your story, how you became a Christian, and your motivation for getting baptized. We want to make sure you know what baptism means and why you should (or should wait to) get baptized. Once you are ready to be baptized, we will schedule your baptism. Every three months there are special worship services that are designed for baptisms, but you may also request a special day. This is a good time to start inviting people you care about to your baptism. You may choose to have a special person pray for you or even help baptize you! You may also decide to make a Death to Life video story to help communicate your testimony.
- Does baptism “save” you or will it get you into heaven?
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved,” (Acts 4:12, NIV). Only Jesus saves people. Baptism is only symbolic; it has no effect on your salvation or whether you will go to heaven or not.
- Who should get baptized?
People who have made a commitment to have Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, who have not yet been baptized as a Christian by immersion since their commitment.
- I was baptized as a Mormon/Catholic/Other. Do I need to get baptized again?
If you were not baptized by immersion while you were a Christian, you should pursue baptism. If you are uncertain whether you were a Christian or not, talk to one of our knowledgeable staff members.
- I was baptized in a church I don’t associate with anymore. Do I need to get baptized again?
If you were baptized by immersion while you were a Christian, you do not need to pursue baptism. If you are uncertain whether you were a Christian or not, talk to one of our knowledgeable staff members.
- I was baptized by sprinkling/oil/other. Do I need to get baptized again?
Baptism means immersion. If you were not baptized by immersion while you were a Christian, you should pursue baptism. If you are uncertain about the circumstances in which you were baptized, talk to one of our knowledgeable staff members. In rare circumstances, when a person cannot be immersed, an alternative means of symbolic baptism may be practiced.
- Do you baptize infants?
Since infants are unable to make a commitment to follow Christ, we do not practice infant baptism. Biblical examples of people who were baptized include those who consciously decided to get baptized. This includes Jesus when he was an adult. We do practice baby dedications, a ceremony where parents dedicate themselves to raising a child in a godly manner.
- When should I get baptized?
As soon as you’ve made a commitment to Christ and understand what baptism is, you should pursue baptism. This is often seen as one of the first acts of obedience to God as a new Christian.
- Who can baptize me or pray for me at my baptism?
Usually, your choice of one of our pastors, staff, or deacons will perform your baptism. If there is a person who was influential in your spiritual life, who is a Christian, you may choose to ask them to help baptize you or pray for you at your baptism.
- What should I bring to my baptism?
On the day of your baptism, you will want to wear a swimsuit and a dark T-shirt. Bring sandals, one or two towels, a bag for wet clothing, and a change of clothes. Check-in with the person scheduled to baptize you 15 minutes prior to the worship service start time. They will go over what to expect that day (where to store your items, how to plug your nose, and what bathroom to change in). If you have questions or you think you’re ready to test the waters, contact us.