Baptism for Believers

Services of Believers’ Baptism are held in Moira Baptist Church when believers request baptism and are interviewed.

A Baptist Definition of Baptism:

‘the immersion of believers on profession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a symbol of their identification with him in his death, burial and resurrection.’

Why should a person be baptised?

Before he returned to heaven our Lord gave a command to his disciples – “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19,20)

This was a divine order (so we call “baptism” an “ordinance”) and as we read through the Acts of the Apostles we can see how carefully this order was obeyed by the early church. Acts 2:38 and 41 is just the first of many examples.

We baptise because the Lord Jesus Christ commanded it.

Who should be baptised?

Our Lord’s command makes that very clear – “Go and make disciples … baptising them … and teaching them.” Discipleship comes first, then baptism – and that order is always the same in the New Testament. A person becomes a believer first and is then baptised. That is why we talk about “believer’s baptism”. In the New Testament a person was not brought to baptism. A person came to baptism.

Baptism is for those who profess repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ.

What does baptism mean ?

Baptism is “the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace”. That is a formal, concise way of saying that when believers are baptised they are declaring to everybody that they know their sins have been forgiven and that they are now living a new life. In baptism we confess, in a visible way, that we are his. Everybody can see where we stand because we identify ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Baptism is a demonstration of belonging to Christ and identifying with him.

How should a person be baptised ?

The word “baptism” comes from a Greek word (baptiso) which means “to dip in or under water, to immerse or submerge”. So the origin of the word gives a clue to how a person should be baptised.

Baptism is by immersion. In being baptised believers are identified with the Lord Jesus Christ in what he did to bring about our salvation. The Apostle Paul tells us “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). These great facts are clearly demonstrated in the ceremony of baptism. Going down into the water symbolises death. Going under the water shows that we have been “buried with him through baptism into death”. Coming up out of the water is a picture of resurrection, “in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).

Baptism is by immersion, given the meaning of the word and the symbolism being portrayed.

Where should a person be baptised ?

Christians have used rivers, lakes, the sea – anywhere, so long as there is enough water!

Remember the story of the Ethiopian official in Acts chapter 8? Beside the desert road was a “some water”. “Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him. Then they came up out of the water…”.

For convenience, (and because of our Irish weather!) we have a purpose-built baptistry in the church. The place should be public and the ceremony carried out before a congregation who can join in the rejoicing and witness the candidate’s confession.

Baptism may take place anywhere there is enough water to make immersion possible.

Is Baptism essential ?

The real question, of course, is – “essential for what?” Certainly, baptism is not essential for salvation. The Bible makes it clear that only faith in Jesus Christ brings forgiveness of sins – see, for example, Ephesians 2:8,9.

Baptism is a witness to salvation, not a means of bringing it about.

In another sense, however, baptism is essential – for two reasons.

First, it is essential to be obedient to our Lord’s command in Matthew 28:19,20.

Secondly, baptism is essential to proper discipleship. Our confession in baptism is that we are “counting ourselves to be dead to sin.” It is our public resolve to live as those who are “alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).

Baptism is an act of obedience to Christ and a commitment to live for God.

From time to time Baptism Classes are held in Moira Baptist church to prepare candidates for Baptism. If you are considering getting baptised, speak to the Pastor or one of the Elders so that they can advise when the next class wlll be held.