Believers' Baptism by Full Immersion
Let’s face it baptism by immersion is an out-there – in your face kind of thing to do. In our modernised, "comfort zone Christianity," we do, sad to say, tend to take God’s commandments a little too lightly. As writer Chuck Colson points out, "Most westerners take baptism for granted but for many in the world the act requires immense courage, for some, it’s like signing their own death warrant."
A wedding ring is an outward sign that a person is married. A military uniform is an outward sign that a person is involved in that particular branch of service. In a similar manner, water baptism is a symbol designed by God to identify a person as a rigi-didge follower of Jesus Christ. I do however use the word "symbol" here with caution. To say that it is just a symbol takes away from the depth and beauty of water baptism. Baptism is a symbol, but it is so much more than that.
When we consciously accept Jesus Christ we are saved and set free from the burden of sin. Then when we are baptised we are:
1. Spiritually baptised into Christ. Galatians 3:27 says for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
2. Baptised into His Body, the church “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink”. 1 Corinthians 12:13.
Baptism in water is the outward representation of these inward realities.
In Biblical symbolism, water represents inner cleansing (Ephesians 5:26, Hebrews 10:22,) and spiritual rebirth (John 3:5), both of which are central themes of baptism.
Water baptism is, in some ways, a funeral. It is an act of faith in which we testify, both to God and to the world, that the person we were before is dead and buried, and we are raised as a new creation in Christ. This is
beautifully illustrated by these Scriptures:
When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Romans 6:4(The Message)
In The Message, Colossians 2:12 says: If it's an initiation ritual you're after, you've already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ.
Being baptised is a command from God.
It is an act that God requires of every believer. In fact, among Jesus’ last recorded words on earth were "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved...." (Mark 16:16.) Think about that for a moment. Jesus’ very call to believe on Him includes a call to be baptised.
You never read of an unbaptised Christian anywhere in the Bible. In fact, baptism immediately followed a person’s salvation. They didn’t see it as something to be delayed or put off.
Baby Dedications are not Christening or Infant Baptism. At River Valley, we believe that the Bible shows us that baptism is a step of obedience, made by a person who is able to make up their own mind regarding their commitment to Christ. To that end, we practice believer’s baptism by full immersion.
Baby Dedications are however a special and sacred moment where parents bring their new child before God. They are an opportunity to do three things:
1. Dedicates a new child to the Lord’s care and nurture.
2. Gives parents a chance to publicly commit themselves to doing all they can in God’s strength to raise their child in a home that will honour Christ, giving their child the best possible opportunity to come into their own personal relationship with him.
3. Gives the Church family a chance to commit to standing with family as they seek to raise their child.