BAPTISM AT BEAR VALLEY CHURCH
WHAT IS BAPTISM?
Baptism is a public display that identifies you with the person and message of Jesus. In Matthew 3:13-17, we see the first mention of baptism in the Bible being administered by a man who is referred to as John the Baptist (or John the Baptizer). Those who were baptized by John were publicly identifying themselves with John’s message of repentance (turning away from sin). Even though Jesus was perfect and never sinned, He still insisted on being baptized by John.
So why was Jesus baptized? The answer is simple: Jesus was baptized as an example for us to follow. For Jesus, He identified with John’s message to repent because God’s Kingdom was near. When we are baptized as followers of Jesus, then we are identifying ourselves with Jesus and his message of salvation. Baptism tells the world, “I’m with Jesus.”
Since the first century, baptism has been a symbolic act of obedience for those who wish to publicly identify themselves as followers (disciples) of Jesus. The act of baptism is simply a way to physically express the spiritual change that has taken place inside of our hearts through the forgiveness of our sins. Much like a wedding ring symbolizes a commitment to a relationship, baptism shows the same type of covenant commitment. The ring doesn’t make someone married, and the act of baptism does not save a person from his sins. There is nothing magical about the gold that makes up a wedding band. The truth is that one could be married and never wear a ring. The ring itself is not what binds a husband and wife in marriage. In the same way, there is nothing supernatural about the waters of baptism, but it is a powerful symbol that you have entered into a relationship with Jesus.
WHY SHOULD I BE BAPTIZED?
Matthew 28:18-20 is commonly referred to as the Great Commission. These verses are Jesus’ final recorded instructions to His disciples where he commissioned His disciples to make disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to teach them (these new disciples) to obey all that Jesus had commanded. A person does not have to be baptized in order to be rescued from sin and have a relationship with God through Jesus. However, baptism is a matter of obedience for a follower of Christ and therefore should be one of the first steps that a new believer takes after they accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?
Anyone who has placed their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior should be baptized! If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior but have never been baptized as a believer or by immersion, then we would love to discuss this with you in more detail!
WHAT IS BEAR VALLEY’S VIEW OF BAPTISM?
We hold the view referred to as believer’s baptism, which means that we baptize those who have made a profession of faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In the Great Commission Jesus commanded His disciples to baptize those who become disciples, which involves a conscious decision to follow Jesus. In the New Testament, every person who received baptism did so only after consciously placing their trust in the Good News of Jesus, and we hold that this most accurately reflects the biblical teaching on who should receive baptism.
Immersion describes the mode of baptism. Other modes of baptism practiced in other Christian traditions include sprinkling or pouring. The word that is used in every instance of baptism in the New Testament is the Greek word baptizo. The literal meaning of this word is “to immerse or dip under water,” therefore we believe that the mode of baptism most faithful to the biblical practice of baptism is immersion.
Because baptism is the outward expression of an inward transformation that has come through the washing away of our sins by the blood of Jesus, we practice baptism by immersion (whole body under the water). Just as our sinful lives are immersed in the blood of Christ and are brought out new and pure, so we immerse the whole person into the water to signify what Jesus’ blood has accomplished in giving new life.
If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, have you ever been baptized as described above? While your salvation is in no way dependent upon being baptized in this way—or even being baptized at all—it is still a matter of being obedient to Jesus. If you have never been biblically baptized and would like to schedule a day to go public with your faith in Jesus, or if you would like to discuss it further, then please complete the Baptism Questionnaire.