Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28:19 to "make disciples....baptizing them." Baptism is an identifying symbol of a believer's belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As we are immersed in the waters of baptism it symbolizes our death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ.
Q: What is an ordinance?
A: Its is a command of Jesus for Christians to do corporately in order to signify a gospel reality. Baptism and Communion are the only two ordinances Jesus gave to the church. Baptism signifies a Christian’s union with Christ in His death and resurrection. Wearing a wedding ring doesn’t make a person married, but it proclaims the reality of marriage; in a similar way, baptism doesn’t unite a person to Christ, but it proclaims that union to the world.
Q: What is Baptism?
A: “Baptism is where faith goes public. It is how you nail your colors to the mast as Jesus’ disciple. Therefore baptism is how a new Christian shows up on the whole church’s radar as a Christian. Baptism is like a jersey that shows you’re now playing for Jesus’ team. Because of this purpose Jesus has assigned to baptism, a church may publicly identify itself only with those who have publicly identified with Jesus in baptism.”
Q: What Does Baptism Signify?
A: “In addition to serving as a public profession of repentance and faith in Christ, baptism signifies forgiveness and cleansing (Acts 2:38), union with Christ (Rom 6:1–4), new life in Christ (Col 2:11–12), the gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:13), and the dawning new creation in Christ (Rom 6:5).”
Q: Who Should Be Baptized?
A: All Christians who have believed in the gospel by grace through faith and repented of their sins should be baptized. In the Bible, baptism was often the first act of obedience to Jesus Christ that a Christian would take (see Acts 2:38; 8:12, 35–36; 9:17–18; 10:47; 16:14–15, 31–33; 22:16). The normal pattern is for a person to believe in the gospel (which includes repentance from sin) and get baptized as a public identification with Jesus Christ; the person who professes Christ and yet chooses to remain unbaptized is an anomaly in the New Testament.
Q: What Should the Mode of Baptism Be?
A: The mode of baptism is immersion, that is, the submersion of the person underwater as a symbol of dying to self (going down underwater) and rising with Christ (rising up out of the water)—see Acts 8:38–39; John 3:23; Matt 3:16; Mark 1:10; Rom 6:4; Col 2:12). In the previous passages, at least three things point to the mode of baptism as immersion:
1) The use of prepositions that speak of going “down” or “into” or “up out of” the water, which points to immersion;
2) John the Baptizer baptizing where “water was plentiful,” which would be required for immersion but not required for other modes of baptism, and
3) The imagery of being buried in a watery grave with Christ and rising to a newness of life.
In light of these three reasons, the mode of baptism in the New Testament is immersion, that is, the submersion of the baptismal candidate underwater.
Q: What New Testament Passages Pertain to the Theology of Baptism?
A: Rom 6:3–5; Col 2:11–15; Acts 2:38; 1 Pet 3:18–22; Matt 28:18–20.
Q: Does the Act of Physical Baptism Save a Person?
A: The answer is “No,” the physical act of being immersed under water does not save a person. If baptism is what saved a person, then it would be very strange for Paul to say “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel…” (1 Cor 1:17,), and Jesus would not have said to the (un-baptized) thief on the cross, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Furthermore, when one considers that we are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8–9), to say that one must be physically baptized in order to be saved creates a works-based system of salvation that is condemned in the New Testament as a denial of the gospel (Gal 5:2; 1:8–9). No one who has truly been born again will be denied entrance into heaven because they were not baptized. That being said, this in no way takes away from the importance of Baptism, and a Christian who refuses to become baptized is in error.
Q: Then Why Do Some Passages (Gal 3:26–27; 1 Pet 3:21) Seem to Suggest that Baptism Saves a Person?
A: It’s helpful to understand that “As Robert Stein argues: ‘In the New Testament, conversion involves five integrally related components or aspects, all of which took place at the same time, usually on the same day. These five components are repentance, faith, and confession by the individual, regeneration, or the giving of the Holy Spirit by God, and baptism by representatives of the Christian community.’” “When they wanted to refer to conversion as a unified whole, the New Testament authors often deployed baptism as shorthand for the whole thing… And this seems to be exactly what is going on in passages like Romans 6:1–4; Galatians 3:26–27; Colossians 2:11–12; and 1 Peter 3:21”
Baptism doesn’t grant a person salvation, but is so often accompanied the moment of justification that in certain places it was spoken of almost synonymously with it.
Q: I Was “Baptized” as an Infant; Does That Count?
A: Actually, when water is poured or sprinkled on an infant, this is not actually true baptism. Looking at the baptisms in Acts, we see that the normal pattern is for a person to be baptized after he or she has repented of sin and believed the gospel (see Acts 2:38; 8:12, 36; 9:18; 10:47; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16). Infants are incapable of believing the gospel, and thus they do not fulfill the prerequisite for baptism. Moreover, baptism itself is “an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 3:21), and infants are not capable of appeal to God, as their reasoning abilities have not yet developed. Therefore, if someone has been sprinkled or immersed or poured water on as an infant, it is necessary for them to be baptized for the first time as a believer.
Q: What if I’m a Christian and I Don’t Feel the Need to Get Baptized?
A: Many Christians who have not been baptized do not have a deliberate, willful rebellion towards Christ, but rather a lack of knowledge regarding the importance of baptism as a step of obedience to Jesus Christ. However, those who knowingly refuse to be baptized as a believer are living in disobedience to Jesus Christ in that they refuse to take one of the first steps of Christian obedience. Christians who willingly refuse to become baptized are an anomaly in the New Testament. Both Peter and Paul assume that the individuals that comprise the churches that they write to have already been baptized (1 Pet 3:21; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27; Rom 6:3–4; Col 2:11–12), and this points to baptism as being a normative practice for believers. The way of obedience for the unbaptized Christian is to pursue baptism as a means of obeying Christ, publicly identifying with Him, fulfilling His Great Commission, setting a right example for His people, and ultimately as a means of glorifying God.
Q: What is the process for getting baptized at Geist Community Church?
A: Please fill out an application. One of our elders will contact you to discuss baptism and schedule a Sunday where you will be baptized during our morning gathering. All glory be to God!
Q: I Have A Question on Baptism That’s Not Addressed Here. What Should I Do?
A: Please direct any additional questions to one of our pastors/elders. Also, for further reading you can check out 40 Questions About Baptism and the Lord's Supper or for a more in-depth look, check out Believer's Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ.
 Bobby Jamieson, Going Public: Why Baptism Is Required for Church Membership (Nashville: B & H, 2015), 227–28.
 Jamieson, Going Public, 53.
 Wayne A. Grudem, Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, ed. Jeff Purswell (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 384–85.
 Jamieson, Going Public, 38.
 Robert H. Stein, “Baptism and Becoming a Christian in the New Testament,” in Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 2, no. 1 (1998): 6, as quoted in Jamieson, Going Public, 41–42. See also Thomas R. Schreiner, “Baptism in the Epistles: An Initiation Rite for Believers,” in Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ, ed. Thomas R. Schreiner and Shawn D. Wright, NAC Studies in Bible & Theology (Nashville: B & H, 2006), 75n23.