Summary: We Baptize by Immersion, with Intentionality, to Imitate, Identify, and have Intimacy with Christ and to Impact our lives.
Baptism – What We Believe and Why
I. Introduction – I thought it would be good to look at just what and why we in the SBC believe about Baptism. According to the Baptist Faith and Message, Chapter 10, which outlines the church Ordinances, states “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. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper”.
Turn with me to Matt 28:19-20. Clearly we have been instructed to be Baptized.
II. First, we believe that Baptism is an Ordinance, not a Sacrament. What’s the difference?
A. Sacrament – implies that the act itself conveys grace to the believer. In other words, the ritual is connected with the spiritual truth and reality conveyed through the act. The notion that sacraments convey grace is contrary to Scripture. In its entirety the thrust of the Bible is that grace comes through faith, not works. The understanding that sacraments convey grace implies that a person can, through the performance of some ritual, receive grace as reward for effort. The Biblical perspective, however, is that genuine faith produces works.
B. Ordinance – means decree or command. Unlike sacraments, ordinances are not understood to convey some type of grace. Ordinances are rites that commemorate the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Ordinances are performed as expressions of loving obedience to Christ.
C. While other denominations may view Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as sacraments, we believe the Lord gave them to His church not as sacraments but as pictures and affirmation of Grace.
D. Remember that Grace is giving that which was not deserved, while Mercy is the withholding of that which is deserved. God in His Grace gives us a Savior who provides salvation to those who accept Him as Lord, while in His Mercy, He does not send us to eternal damnation because of Jesus sacrificial death on the cross.
E. We Baptist see Baptism as the sign of entrance into the Covenant Community of the body of Christ. Jesus made it clear that His disciples are required to profess Him publically. Matt 10:32-33 "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. "But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven”.
F. Baptism demonstrates a believer’s obedience. Although it is not necessary for salvation (consider the thief on the cross), it is necessary for obedience. No believers in the NT resisted Baptism or neglected the opportunity to obey Christ in this way.
III. We Baptize by Immersion – We believe one should be baptized by full and complete immersion. The Greek word “Baptizo” literally means – to sink! That is the word that our Lord used when He instructed us to “make disciples and baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”. If this verse were actually translated literally, it would read “make disciples and immerse in the name….” Everywhere we see the word Baptize in the New Testament, it is the same word. Sprinkling and partial immersion do not satisfy the New Testament definition of Baptism.
A. Immersion in water pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, providing a wonderful picture of our salvation and reminding us of His saving work. Would anyone dare suggest that Christ only received a spinkling of sorrow and pain on the cross? He was completely engulfed in it.
B. Baptism pictures a believer’s death to sin and resurrection to walk in newness of life. We do not bury people at death by sprinkling dirt on them. We dig a grave and cover them up. Baptism depicts the complete surrender of life and the transformation that only Christ can bring. Through it a believer publically professes faith in Jesus Christ.
C. Baptism is also a trinitarian act, reminding us that our salvation is promised, accomplished, and applied through the work of the one true God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
D. Just as a side note for those who may be wondering where sprinkling came into practice…There is no record of it until 251AD at the Baptism of Novatian, who was sick. It was called a Clinical Baptism and reserved for those too sick to be immersed. Through the years it simply became a matter of convenience.
E. The Biblical description of Baptism is complete and total immersion.