“Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”
Acts 2:38 NIV
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. Romans 6:4 NIV
One of the greatest privileges and indeed pleasures is to be involved in the baptism of a new believer. Being a baptiser alongside the believer in the pool. Praying a prayer of encouragement. Bringing a prophetic word. Holding the towel. Or being part of the congregation that stands in witness and approval. And it is not just the church that stands in approval but God does as well. He said of his son Jesus when he was baptised ‘This is my son in whom I am well pleased’. And he says the same to all genuine believers who follow his Son’s example.
We therefore believe that baptism is a key event in the life of a new Christian and communicates a number of key truths:
Firstly the submerging in water represents the cleansing of sin achieved by Christ’s death on the cross.
Secondly the going down into the baptism pool and the rising up from it shows that we are joining ourselves to Christ’s death and resurrection. This is profoundly significant and important as we are making a clear statement that we are rejecting the old life of selfishness and sin that leads to death, and embracing a new life of the Holy Spirit to be found in Christ.
Thirdly baptism is a marker of our obedience to Christ who told us that as his followers he wanted us to be baptised. In an age of rampant individualism and rebellion, this obedience to Christ is an important part of the believer’s new life in Christ.
Fourthly baptism is the entry point into the church of Christ. Everyone is in the same boat - rich or poor, powerful or powerless, socially able or socially challenged - all have sinned and pass through the waters of baptism as one new person in Christ.
Baptism is therefore a sacrament that should not be taken lightly. It communicates essential and powerful truths of the gospel that are quite literally a matter of life and death (spiritually, emotionally and ultimately physically). So we celebrate but do so with solemn reverence recognising the significance of what is taking place.