Over the next four weeks Vintage Church will be launching a series entitled “CHANGED.” From March 30th through April 20th, we will be celebrating the many lives Jesus has changed through baptism. Often people wonder what is baptism and what does Vintage Church believe concerning baptism. Below you can read about what is baptism and why it is important. If you would like to learn more about baptism or would like to be baptized during CHANGED please email Pastor Dustin Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vintage Church holds that baptism is a symbolic practice of the church in which [new] believers in Jesus are immersed in water as public obedience to Jesus Christ and as an outward symbol of the believers’ forgiveness of sin and new live in Jesus Christ.
What is baptism?
Baptism in the New Testament refers to the act of immersing, plunging, or dipping believers in water. The word baptism is an English translation of the Greek verb baptizw (pronounced “baptizo”). This verb is used explaining Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:16-17: “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” The verb is also found in passages speaking of the baptism of followers of Jesus like Acts 2:41 which says, “Those who accepted his message were baptized…”
What should be noted about this particular New Testament verb is that intrinsic to the meaning of baptism is immersing, plunging, or dipping in water. In fact, some assert that “to baptize” is virtually synonymous with “to immerse.” This understanding of the word baptism informs what Vintage Church believes about water baptism.
Baptism is also more than a physical act; it is a symbolic act. In fact baptism is rich with symbolism. It is an outward symbol of an inward truth in the life of the believer—that the believer has been forgiven of sin and has been made alive as a new creation in Jesus. Great emphasis is made in Scripture that baptism is symbolic of forgiveness and salvation.
Yet, the act of baptism in and of itself has no merit for forgiveness of sins and no saving ability. Jesus saves and forgives sin. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8). Vintage Church believes wholly in the grace of God for salvation of sinners. Baptism follows salvation and publicly testifies to the incredible gift of God’s grace to save a sinner.
Why should believers be baptized?
Vintage Church will urge that every believer in Jesus must be baptized because we take Jesus and His mission of disciple-making for His church very serious. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus lays out the Great Commission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” In this commission, we understand that we are commanded to spread the Gospel of Jesus and make disciples. And a fundamental practice involved in making disciples is to baptize them. Because we follow Jesus, we baptize.
The motivation for a believer to be baptized is three-fold. First, baptism is about obedience to Jesus. Jesus commanded His disciples to baptize new disciples (Matthew 28:19). Therefore, we understand the command is that every believer must be baptized. Baptism in the New Testament church was carried out as a command to be followed. In Acts 2, Peter commanded baptism for those who were saved (2:38) and everyone who received the Gospel followed in obedience and were baptized (2:41). Furthermore every believer must understand that the most basic confession of the Christian is that “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9). If Jesus is truly Lord, we must follow Him in obedience. For believers in Jesus, baptism is a crucial step of obedience to their Savior and Lord.
Second, baptism is richly symbolic of a believer’s identity in Jesus Christ. Baptism says publicly that a believer belongs to Jesus, has been washed clean of sin in Jesus, has died and been raised to life with Jesus, and is now a new creation in Jesus. Baptism publicly connects the believer to the Savior and Lord he or she professes. Like circumcision for the Old Testament people of God, baptism for God’s people is a sign of the heart-cleansing and heart-renewing covenant that Jesus has made with His people (Colossians 2:11-15). Furthermore the act of immersion in water portrays the picture so vividly of what Jesus has done in the believer. The washing in water symbolizes the cleansing of sin by Jesus’ blood shed for sin. The immersing in water and then being raised up from the water again is symbolic of the union of the believer with Jesus in His death and resurrection. Just as Jesus died and was raised to life, so too in Jesus the believer has died and been raised to new life! Romans 6:3-4 says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” In Jesus, as baptism clearly illustrates, the believer now walks in newness of life.
Last, baptism is a public and joyful witness of Jesus. Baptism is a powerful statement to the world of the saving power of the Gospel. Believers should joyfully embrace this opportunity. Vintage Church will always rejoice in being able to retell the Gospel visually in this way.
To read Vintage Church’s complete stance on baptism click here.