Baptism

A Baptism at Duncan Road Church

Where does the word 'Baptism' come from?

The word 'Baptism' comes from the ordinary Greek word 'baptizo' meaning to 'immerse'. The New Testament was written in Greek and has been translated into English so that we can understand it.

What's the idea behind baptism?

In the Bible we find that baptism is linked to:

  • Identifying with Jesus Christ in his death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:1-7).
  • Being washed clean from sin and evil (Acts 22:16, 1 Corinthians 6:11).
  • Being identified as a believer. Declaring Christ as our Lord and Saviour we are baptized "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" this indicates not only to whom we belong but also under whose authority we live. (Matthew 28:19).

How important is baptism?

  • Jesus himself was baptised (Matthew 3:13-17).
  • He instructed his followers to "make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit". (Matthew 28:19).
  • Baptism was a vital part of the early Christians message. (Acts 2:33-41, 8:26-40, 9:18-19, 10:47-48, 16:14-15, 16:25-34, 18:8, 19:1-7).

Does 'Baptism' make someone a Christian?

NO! "It is by grace you have been saved through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God". (Ephesians 2:8).

In the Bible, baptism is an important picture, it symbolizes and confirms physically, something that has already happened spiritually in the life of the person being baptised.

Baptism is a sign that a person has:

  • Realised their need to get right with God and their need to get rid of the bad stuff (sin) they have become more conscious of. (Acts 2:37-38).
  • Been washed clean from sin and evil (Acts 22:16, 1 Corinthians 6:11).
  • Believed that Jesus has died on the cross in their place, and that God now cleanses away their sin. (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • Asked God for his forgiveness and cleansing (Acts 2:38).
  • Declared that from now on, "Jesus is Lord" and that they are leaving all previous 'gods' and dedicating their lives to the living Lord Jesus alone (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

Who should be baptised?

Everyone who genuinely believes in Jesus should be baptised! (Acts 2:41). Age doesn't matter, although church leaders will be especially careful when considering children.

(Note: We do not baptize babies i.e. 'infant baptism', no-where is this taught in the Bible. Jesus called children to him and blessed them, but never baptised them, neither did the apostles. Baptism is for those individuals who have come to a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ).

When should a person be baptised?

You should be baptised as soon as possible after becoming a committed Christian. (Acts 8:36-39).

However, delays often occur when making practical arrangements and often the candidate requires some further guidance.

Where should people be baptised?

Baptisms in the Bible took place where there was plenty of water e.g. in a river. An adequate amount of water is needed to show both the washing and the identifying aspects of baptism. Rivers, lakes, the sea and even swimming pools are all used today, but often churches use a special pool called a baptistry.

What happens when someone is baptised?

At Duncan Road Church baptisms are usually conducted during the Sunday morning All-Age Service with appropriate songs and readings and a message. Baptismal services are usually well-attended, joyful occasions with lots of friends and relatives present.

At an appropriate point in the service, the person being baptised will go down into the baptistry and be formally asked some questions regarding their personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Having heard the candidates public declaration of faith, the leader involved will say something like this to the candidate, "On this your confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". The person will then be leant backwards gently into the water (signifying dying and being buried with Jesus - Romans 6:3-4a) and quickly brought back up again (signifying coming up and sharing in Jesus' resurrection life - Romans 6:4b).

Obviously the person is now soaking wet and so needs to go off to another room to change, ready to rejoin the service as soon as possible.

Does baptism make you a member of the Church?

No! Baptism does not make you a member of Duncan Road Church, but it is a key qualification for Church membership. We normally expect those who are baptised to ask for Church membership, so they can get involved in serving God in the local Church. Not to do so would be rather like going through a wedding ceremony and then dumping your new spouse to go home to live with mum!

Why is baptism called a 'sacrament'?

The word 'sacrament' comes from the Latin 'sacramentum' (from 'sacrare' to make sacred) and was originally a military oath taken by a Roman soldier when he declared his allegiance to the Emperor.

When a Roman soldier made his 'sacramentum' he was committing himself to a life of loyalty and dedicated service to the Emperor.

When somebody becomes a Christian they make a promise to live for and to follow, Jesus Christ. Baptism can be seen as a step of dedication.

The other 'sacrament' practiced by Duncan Road Church is the 'breaking of bread' (you may know it as Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, Eucharist).

Like Baptism this too reminds us of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:26). Whereas baptism is only observed once, the 'Breaking of Bread' is to be observed frequently (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 11:23). It is an ongoing reminder of the love of God shown to us in Jesus, the price He paid for us so that we can enjoy forgiveness and newness of life, a reminder too that we only observe it "until he comes again" (1 Corinthians 11:20). It is also a time of challenge to each Christian to "examine their own hearts" regarding their love and commitment to Him (1 Corinthians 11:28).

What next?

If you are a committed Christian who wants to follow the command of Jesus and the teaching of the New Testament concerning baptism, then contact one of the Church elders (Martin Fielder, Paul Donaghy, Alistair McCann & Gordon Curley).

For further reading:

In the Gospels:

  • Baptism of John: Matthew 3:1-12, Mark 1:1-8, John 1:15-28.
  • Baptism of Jesus: Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:29-34.
  • Baptism of Ethiopian: Acts 8:26-40.
  • Baptism of Saul: Acts 9:18-19.
  • Baptism of Cornelius and others: Acts 10:47-48.
  • Baptism of Lydia and her household: Acts 16:25-34.
  • Baptism of the Corinthians: Acts 18:8.
  • Baptism of John's disciples: Acts 19:1-7.

In the New Testament Letters:

  • Romans 6:1-11.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:1-15.
  • Galatians 3:27.
  • Colossians 2:12-13.
  • 1 Peter 3:18-22.

We also recommend that those who are interested in baptism read the booklet 'Believe and be Baptised' by Victor Jack (click the link to request a free copy of this booklet).