What is baptism?

The Greek word is Baptizo which means “to plunge, to immerse, dip”.  The context, biblically, is always that people were baptised “in” water and not “by” or “near” water.  The implication of this is that the person was immersed into the water rather than having water sprinkled or poured over them.

Baptism is symbolic of us dying to ourselves when we become Christians (as we go under the water) and being raised up with Him (as we come out of the water).  It is acting out in the physical what has happened in the Spiritual and is a statement to people and to the Spiritual powers that we have been born again.

Romans 6:4 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.

Colossians 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

In the bible, baptism was always AFTER conversion – it was a statement of what you had done and never on infants, (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38-41, Acts 8:12, Acts 8:36-38, Acts 9:18, Acts 10:47, Acts 16:14-15, Acts 16:31-33, Acts 18:8, etc etc.).  Whilst there are one or two isolated references from the early church to infant baptism (no earlier than the third century), “baptism” of babies really became normal under Christendom when a person born within the Roman Empire was “Christian” by birth.

The idea that Baptism is prerequisite for salvation is not consistent with scripture, as we have an example in Luke 23:40-43 when the criminal on the cross puts his faith in Jesus and Jesus tells him that he will see him in heaven.  It was this misunderstanding which led to infant baptism and not any biblical teaching.

Why should we get baptised?

Basically, because Jesus told us to.  There are two ordinances (or sacraments) which Jesus told us to do. the first is communion (the Lord’s supper) and the second is Baptism.  Jesus was not into religious rituals at all and so this is not a meaningless ritual but has spiritual significance.

Baptism always was linked with salvation.  People became Christians and they were baptised.  Almost all of the examples in the gospels and Acts were immediate up on becoming Christians.  It was not a big decision whether or not to get baptised – if you became a Christian you got baptised – that was Jesus’ model, that was John’s model, that was the discples’ model so that should be our model.

Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Matt 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

What happens in this church?

To summarise, we believe in the full immersion of believers as a sign and a recognition of their repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord.  You do not need to have been a Christian for a given length of time, you just need to have given your life to Jesus!

We will baptise anyone who wants to be baptised, whenever they want to be baptised.  In my view, the sooner, the better!  We have baptised people in swimming pools (during children’s fun sessions), in the sea, in a lake (in January), in more swimming pools and wherever there is enough water to baptise them!  I really believe in not making a religious ritual out of an act of obedience to God and so we will just ask them if Jesus is their Lord, baptise them and then we’ll all go for a swim – it is a pretty laid back affair but it is a serious undertaking and anyone getting baptised should know that it is a statement of their faith in Jesus!  If you want to get baptised then tell your housegroup leader and they will sort it out for you!