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We believe that the baptism of believers
with water is a sign of their cleansing from sin. Baptism is also a pledge
before the church of their covenant with God to walk in the way of Jesus
Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Believers are baptized into
Christ and his body by the Spirit, water, and blood.
Baptism is a testimony to God's gift of the Holy Spirit and the continuing
work of the Spirit in the lives of believers. Through the Spirit we repent
and turn toward God in faith. The baptism of the Holy Spirit enables believers
to walk in newness of life, to live in community with Christ and the church,
to offer Christ's healing and forgiveness to those in need, to witness
boldly to the good news of Christ, and to hope in the sharing of Christ's
Baptism by water is a sign that a person has repented, received forgiveness,
renounced evil, and died to sin,1
through the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Thus cleansed, believers are
incorporated into Christ's body on earth, the church. Baptism by water
is also a pledge to serve Christ and to minister as a member of his body
according to the gifts given to each one. Jesus himself requested water
baptism at the beginning of his ministry and sent his followers to "make
disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."2
Baptism is done in obedience to Jesus' command and as a public commitment
to identify with Jesus Christ, not only in his baptism by water, but in
his life in the Spirit and in his death in suffering love.
The baptism of blood, or baptism of suffering, is the offering of one's
life, even to death. Jesus understood the giving of his life through the
shedding of his blood for others as a baptism.3
He also spoke about his disciples' suffering and death as a baptism.4
Those who accept water baptism commit themselves to follow Jesus in giving
their lives for others, in loving their enemies, and in renouncing violence,
even when it means their own suffering or death.
Christian baptism is for those who confess their sins, repent, accept
Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and commit themselves to follow Christ
in obedience as members of his body, both giving and receiving care and
counsel in the church. Baptism is for those who are of the age of accountability
and who freely request baptism on the basis of their response to Jesus
Christ in faith.5
Some churches refer to baptism and the Lord's Supper as symbols,
sacraments, or ordinances. In this confession of faith, these ceremonies
are called signs, a biblical term rich in meanings. Sign is, first
of all, an act of God: signs and wonders in Egypt (Exodus 10:1; Numbers
14:11), signs to prophets (Isaiah 7:14; 55:13), and Jesus' performance
of signs (John 2:11; 12:37; 20:30). John 2:18-22 sees Jesus' death
and resurrection as a sign. A sign is not only an act of God, but
a human action as well: eating unleavened bread at Passover (Exodus
13:9), binding of the commandments to oneself (Deuteronomy 6:8), keeping
of the Sabbath (Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:20). Likewise, baptism is
a sign, representing both God's action in delivering us from sin and
death and the action of the one who is baptized, who pledges to God
to follow Jesus Christ within the context of Christ's body, the church.
First John 5:7-8 identifies three aspects of baptism: the Spirit
and the water and the blood. This passage refers, first of all, to
Jesus' baptism. But the New Testament also says that believers are
to identify with Jesus.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit: According to the New Testament,
water baptism and baptism with the Spirit are closely connected, though
not always in the same way. The Holy Spirit rested on Jesus at the
time of his baptism (John 1:33). In Acts, believers received the Holy
Spirit before, with, or after water baptism.
The baptism of water: Baptism has its roots in the Old Testament
practice of ceremonially washing what had become unclean through disease,
sin, or other cause (Leviticus 14:1-9; 16:24-30; 17:15-16). Gentiles
were initiated into the covenant people with proselyte baptism. Christian
water baptism signifies the cleansing of the person from sin and incorporation
into the new community of faith. The church may baptize by pouring,
immersion, or the sprinkling of water (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12;
Acts 2:17; Titus 3:5-7). Scripture also refers to baptism as a pledge
to God (1 Peter 3:21) and as a commitment to faithfulness and ministry
(Romans 6:1-11). Jesus' baptism can be seen in the light of this pledge.
In the New Testament, baptism follows a person's faith. Baptism therefore
is for those who are ready to enter a faithful relationship with Christ
and the church.
Thus, baptism should always be done by the church and its representatives,
if possible in the presence of the congregation. It should be public
because baptism means a commitment to membership and service in a
particular congregation. Thus, water baptism is to be reserved for
those old enough to make such a pledge. Infants and children have
no need for baptism, since they are safe in the care of God. When
they are able to be accountable for their own actions, they are able
to make the church's faith their own.
The baptism of blood: Baptism by water is also a pledge of the believer's
acceptance of the baptism of suffering and death. Water baptism identifies
us with Christ in his way of the cross and his resurrection (Romans
6:5-11). We are buried 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" (Romans 6:3-4).
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- Romans 6:1-4; Acts 2:38-39.
- Matthew 28:19.
- Luke 12:50; 1 John 5:7-8.
- Mark 10:38.
- Matthew 28:19-20; John 4:1; Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:27.