What is Baptism?
Baptism is the way that someone shows they have decided to follow Jesus, it involves water. Some churches just sprinkle water over the person, or make the sign of the cross on the person’s forehead with water – this is usually done to a baby. Jesus was baptised by his cousin John, the Bible says Jesus came up out of the water. Baptism by immersion is when a person is immersed – lowered under the water and immediately pulled back up again, that is what Baptists (and some other churches) do.
Why do you do that
Jesus was killed on a cross and came back to life three days later. In the book of Romans, baptism is compared to being buried with Jesus and rising again. The water is like a grave; the old dead life is buried in the grave when the person goes under the water. When someone decides to follow Jesus they are given a new life and coming up out of the water is a symbol of rising to new life.
What about babies?
The Bible says in the Old Testament a newborn baby was taken to the priest and presented or dedicated to God. (possible link to a dedication page?) This was done to Jesus when he was just a few days old. This is what Baptists still do.
Jesus commanded his followers to baptise those who choose to follow him, ‘teaching them to observe everything that I have taught you’. This means that someone must be able to understand before they are baptised. This is why we only baptise believers – people who say they want to follow Jesus. Unless someone is unwell, we baptise them by immersion. There is a pool under the floor at the front of the church which we use. Feel free to come and watch, if we are having a baptism it will say so on our website and social media.
What happens exactly?
Even people who have been coming to church since they were babies have to decide for themselves that they really want to follow Jesus. When they do this, they tell the minister that they want to be baptised. We call someone who is being baptised a candidate for baptism.
The minister arranges for teaching sessions. This is to make sure the candidate understands what they are doing. Then a date is set for the baptism, this is generally on a Sunday; it is a very special service, full of rejoicing and happiness.
The day before, the baptismal poo or baptistry, is filled with water and heated. The candidate invites their family and friends to come specially, and asks a friend to support them on the day. That person carries a big towel. During the service the minister may ask the candidate to talk about how they came to this point in their life, this is called a testimony.
The minister, and possibly another person as well, go into the pool and stand in the water. The candidate is then asked a few questions such as “Do you acknowledge Jesus as your Lord and Saviour”. When the candidate says yes, he or she walks down the steps into the pool. The minister then says “On profession of your faith, I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.
The candidate may cross their arms over their chest and hold their nose. Most baptist churches baptise by lowering the person under the water backwards. The candidate needs to hold themselves very stiff and keep their heels on the floor. This makes it easier for the two people to lower the person backwards and bring them up quickly.
As the person comes up out of the water, everyone else sings, or cheers and claps. The candidate is wrapped in the towel and goes to a room where they can change into dry clothes. After the service everyone stays for a drink and cake, and congratulates the candidate.
Want to know more?
If you would like to talk to someone about baptism please use the contact form. LINK
Below are the passages from the Bible which are relevant to baptism.
When Jesus was a baby:
Joseph and Mary took him (Jesus) up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. When the parents brought in the child Jesus, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God.
You can read the full story in the Gospel of Luke chapter 2 verses 21 to 39
When Jesus was baptised:
“As soon as Jesus was baptised he went up out of the water”. This is in the gospel of Matthew chapter 3 verse 16.
The disciples also baptised people in this way. The book of Acts chapter 8 tells of a eunuch (court official) from Ethiopia who was baptised by Philip. “Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him”. The whole story is in verses 26 to 39.
Jesus commanded his followers to baptise:
Jesus said “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 all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28 verses 18 to 20.
The Meaning of Baptism:
“Don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” This is from Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 6 verses 3 and 4. The whole of chapters 5 to 8 talk about how we can be set free from the power of sin, to enjoy this new life.