Water Baptism and You: The Basics
by Ed Vasicek
A good place to begin discussing water baptism is to talk about what it is NOT. It is not magic. It does not save you. It does not atone for original sin or any other sin.
The thief on the cross joined Jesus in paradise without being baptized (Luke 23:43). Paul makes it clear in Romans that New Testament believers are saved in the same way as Old Testament believersby faith. (For example, Abraham was never baptized.) Peter says it is the inward baptizingthe inward cleansing from sin that saves one, not the outward (1 Peter 3:21). Since in New Testament times, baptism usually took place right after faith and repentance, this ritual was often used to refer to what occurred beforehand.
Although there is not magic in baptism, it symbolizes several things. By obeying the Lord in this matter, we are built up in our faith. This is true because God meets us when we obey Him. It also creates a memory that the Holy Spirit can use to help us in our battle against sin (Romans 6:3-5).
What Baptism Means and Symbolizes
Jesus commands us to baptize those who respond to the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). As a matter of fact, baptism is one third of the Great Commission!
How Should We Be Baptized?
Although many fine Christians disagree with our views, we take the simple approach to water baptism. We believe baptism is reserved for believers and is to be by immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20).
Why immersion? Because that is the simple and basic meaning of the word "baptidzo" in the Greek New Testament (the original language). The New Testament speaks of converts going into the water and coming up out of the water (Acts 8:38, Mark 1:10). Jewish baptism, which John the Baptist and the early church adapted, was always by immersion. Immersion is the only method that fits the picture of Romans 6. The Greek words for "sprinkle" or "pour" are never used of baptism in the New Testament.
The New Testament pattern was that of baptizing people after they had believed (Acts 2:41). We hold that such a simple approach is the best approach.
It is interesting that most church leaders who believe in sprinkling or pouring will recognize immersion as legitimate baptism. But many of us who hold to immersion do not recognize the other modes. So if you are immersed, very few will challenge the legitimacy of your water baptism.
At Highland Park Church, we have a baptistry (a small pool of water) in our basement stage area. We heat the water before the service.
Candidates for baptism should:
Before you are baptized, you need to be sure you are saved. If you don't know the Lord, baptism is just getting wet.
Believing parents also have the option of baptizing their own family members. See Ed for details.
Water baptism by immersionGod's revealed will for every believer!
See also article entitled: Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? (5.88 MB PDF) Oct 2003
Highland Park Church
516 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, Indiana, USA