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Baptism is the outward demonstration of the inward transformation. That’s a fancy way to say, when we come to the place where we have submitted to Jesus Christ as our Lord, we then go through a physical act that portrays the significance of that event.
In Romans 6:3-4 Paul states, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
When we go under the water, it symbolizes our identification with Christ in his death. When we emerge from the water, it symbolizes our identification with Christ in his resurrection.
Not according to Scripture. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We are saved by God’s grace alone, through faith. (See also the words of Paul and Silas to the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30-31.) However, we must be careful that we don’t discount the importance of baptism. This act is so significant that the early church embraced it as the immediate response to one who professes faith in Christ. (See the story of the Ethiopian in Acts 8:26-36.)
Baptism is a command of Christ. We find this in what is often called the “Great Commission.” “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in 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 28:19-20). Since baptism is important to Jesus, it should be important to those who choose to follow him.
We do not require someone to be baptized to join Sandhills. The reason for this is that the only requirement that God makes for salvation is faith in Christ. Since God doesn’t require baptism for salvation, we aren’t going to set it as a requirement for membership in one of his churches. Still, it is our belief that followers of Christ should pursue baptism in obedience to His expressed will.
This is not a practice that we see in Scripture. Once a person has been baptized, subsequent to their proclamation of faith in Christ, they have aligned themselves with what Scripture articulates. No additional baptism is necessary.
Baptism does not communicate grace to an individual. This means that baptism does not make a person right with God. We only see it in Scripture as the response of one who has expressed faith in Christ. Therefore, infants should not be baptized because they have not responded in faith to Christ as their Lord. Children can be baptized, but this should only occur after they have expressed faith in Christ and understand the purpose of baptism.
A good test for whether a child is ready to be baptized is to ask them this question, “Why do you want to be baptized?” If the child cannot articulate that they see this as an act of obedience and/or identification with Christ in his death and resurrection, they aren’t ready. Parents are often too eager in pushing their kids to be baptized. Baptism is a choice of those who follow Christ. Parents need to be careful about being more excited about baptism as a ceremony than as a demonstration of a child’s faith. Parents should wait until their child understands the purpose of baptism and can speak intelligently about their decision. When children begin asking about baptism, they should be taught of its significance using Scripture.
If we define baptism as a response of those who’ve expressed faith in Christ as their Lord, then those “baptized” as an infant were not actually baptized. We often call “baptism” that which is nothing more than a religious ceremony. It is not that this person needs to be baptized again. They have not been baptized at all. Therefore, they should choose to be baptized as an expression of their faith in Christ.
If you would like to be baptized, or have additional questions about baptism, please contact Pastor Jeff Philpott at (803) 699-7112.