Baptism is the act of public obedience and an outward expression of a disciple’s inner conversion (new birth or regeneration) through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Water baptism serves as a symbol of the Gospel, for immersion in water depicts the grave of Christ as the disciple is lowered into the water and rises up out of it, symbolically identifying with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection from the dead.
The only way to biblically experience the ordinance of baptism is through immersion which is why the New Testament never uses any other word for Christian baptism than bapto (and derivatives), which means “to immerse.” The Greek words for “sprinkle” and “pour” are never used in the New Testament texts which speak of this unique ordinance of identification with Christ’s redeeming work on our behalf. Baptism then becomes a rich personal and physical story of a person’s spiritual faith and trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Baptism does not save anyone or wash anyone’s sins away. If that were possible, our justification would be by faith plus baptism (meaning salvation through merit or doing good work which is means Christ would have died for nothing because then we could save ourselves which is NOT true!). Baptism is not for people who want to be saved, but for those who already are—"by grace, through faith” in Christ alone (Read Ephesians 2:8-10).
Furthermore, baptism is not something parents do for their child; rather, it is something Christians do out of obedience to God. That’s why the command in Matthew 28 is to immerse disciples . . . not infants or unbelievers.
Finally, baptism is an ordinance which identifies the disciple with the New Testament church. At Rooted Church, we follow the progression of Acts 2:38-41 closely. First, we require that members testify to having received the message (that is, they’ve believed the Gospel), and then they must have been baptized by immersion sometime in their life after trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior.
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. – Acts 2:38-41
Isn’t church membership a modern invention? Why require anything of those who want to have a part in the church?
The early church clearly kept a roll—a list—and those who believed the Gospel and followed the Lord in baptism were added to that roll. Peter mentions those having been baptized as being “added to their number” (Acts 2:41). This was more than symbolic language—they actually knew who and how many were joined to their growing church on the basis of public baptism.
Doesn't baptism mean that I'm just beginning my new life in Christ? Am I going to have to start over?
For many believers, baptism by immersion follows soon after their conversion to Christ. However, depending on their background, many people are simply not made aware of the biblical teaching regarding the nature, mode, and symbolism of baptism. Thus, they may have grown up in Christ for many years before encountering a literal exposition on this ordinance. It’s not starting over; it’s simply obeying what they’ve only recently discovered in the Scripture . . . something we should be doing all the time!
If I was sprinkled as a child and then plan to be immersed as a newly converted adult, does that mean I’m being baptized again?
No, according to our biblical understanding of baptism and the meaning of the word immersion, you have yet to be baptized the first time if you were only sprinkled or poured upon earlier in life.
Since baptism is a work we do for God (thus, not a requirement for salvation), are we making too much of this ordinance to require immersion? Isn’t it just a symbol?
If you attended Rooted Church’s communion service and we handed out Fritos and Dr. Pepper, would you feel certain that you had participated in the biblical ordinance of communion? We don’t believe so. Fritos and Dr. Pepper would not literally apply the rich, symbolic elements given in passages related communion: bread and the fruit of the vine. Both elements refer to the atoning work of Christ. The grape juice speaks to Christ’s having been crushed on the cross and the shedding of His blood; the bread refers to Christ’s body, who bore God’s wrath for us, being buried and then risen, as a seed that has sprouted after being sown in the ground. If we truly want to appreciate the ordinance of communion, the meaning of symbolism matters. We must literally consume the elements (fruit of the vine/bread) prescribed in Scripture with our mouths. Likewise, if we truly want to experience the symbolism of baptism, we must literally apply the element (water) prescribed in Scripture to the covering of our bodies.
If I get baptized by immersion, having been sprinkled as a child, will I demean my parents (relatives) and those from my past who took me through that experience?
Not at all. In fact, your parents did what they were led to believe in good faith and with the best of intentions. Your decision to be biblically baptized does not erase their finest hopes and prayers for you. They were simply following the liturgy of the church and its leadership at that time. Keep this in mind: when you are baptized by immersion as a believer, you will not simply be following the liturgy of Rooted Church or the opinions of her leadership—you will be following the clear teaching of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul in the Scriptures.
Does this issue really have to be so black-and-white?
Personally, we understand the challenges related to applying Scripture in such a dramatic and public manner. However, Jesus Christ commissioned His apostles—and the church they would establish—by giving them two clear commands: to baptize disciples and to teach them (Matthew 28:18-20). Neither of these commands is to be treated as an option . . . it isn’t up to us to decide. In fact, just as Rooted Church considers teaching the Bible a non-negotiable, we also view the command to baptize disciples as equally clear. We can’t find any justification for carving these verses in half. As a result, we’re committed to literally fulfilling both commands in Christ’s great commission—no matter how inconvenient or unpopular.
If I was baptized somewhere else by immersion after my conversion to Christ, do I have to be baptized again at Rooted Church?
No . . . we do not require that Rooted Church be the baptizing agent for all believers who want to join our fellowship. Your baptism is considered valid if you were immersed following your personal acceptance and trust in Christ alone for your salvation.
If you have any other questions or desire to talk with someone further about your baptism, please visit the Welcome Center on Sundays or contact Pastor Gary at email@example.com
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] 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.” – Matthew 28:18-20
Baptism Checklist After Considering All You Have Read So Far:
Prepare your written testimony:
Tell us about your background – especially what your life was like before you heard and understood the gospel.
Tell us about how you heard the gospel. Was it via a podcast or livestream – a close friend or coworker – church services – a family member while growing up, a Christian blog? Fill in some of the blanks about your life before coming to realize you needed to be saved.
Tell us the circumstances when you believed the gospel and accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Was it at church – school – alone – with a family member?
If you are planning to join Rooted Church, why do you want to make this commitment?
Include a favorite verse of Scripture.
Meet with the officiating pastor to review your testimony and share your verse.
Schedule your baptism by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.