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Believe and Be Baptized!

Stonebrook Community Church https://www.stonebrook.org

Baptism is one of the most important events and concepts in the Christian faith. Christians have understood baptism in several different ways throughout the centuries. At Stonebrook, we practice “believer’s baptism” as an expression and testimony of our new birth through faith in Christ.  It is a command from Jesus, to be done by all who believe, as soon as possible after they believe.

Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV)

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

I’m going to summarize our church association’s stance on baptism, as we teach in our pastoral training and leadership development program, GCLI. (Great Commission Leadership Institute)

Our belief statement says this:

“Jesus commanded that those who believe in Him are to be baptized in water as a declaration of faith and a symbol of new birth in Christ. “ – GCC Belief Statement

And to explain how we get there, I’d like to start with Acts chapter 2.

Acts 2:38 (ESV)

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

From here, I’d like to address, briefly, who should be baptized, what the purpose of baptism is, and quickly summarize some other viewpoints on baptism. My hope is that you will be encouraged today in your own baptism if you have been baptized, and see the need and purpose of baptism if you haven’t, such that you will obey Christ’s command to be baptized, very soon!

Who should be baptized?

  • A person should demonstrate a clear understanding of the gospel message, as well as a committed faith in Christ, before being baptized.
  • Age is less relevant, different families have different convictions on “how ready” kids are
  • But be careful with the reasoning: “how genuine is it”? Difficult to judge.
  • There will be a love for Jesus, God’s Word, and a sorrow of sin present.
  • Regardless of age, it is a “discipleship issue” from there.

What is the purpose of baptism?

  1. Biblical way of professing saving faith
    1. Versus “the sinner’s prayer – “Do you believe? pray this prayer.” NO: be baptized.
    2. Public statement of commitment to Christ and his Church, that puts the rest of the church on notice that we are claiming to be a believer, and should be treated as such
    3. As such, it should be done by all believers, soon after they profess saving faith. Immediately if possible.
  2. Physical symbol / testimony of the inward reality
    1. represents spiritual baptism / baptism of the Holy Spirit, i.e., regeneration (“the new birth”)
    2. reminder of christ’s death and burial
    3. spiritual cleansing and forgiveness
  3. A Vivid, memorable, depiction of the spiritual reality that reminds all who witness it.
    1. This is not just about you and benefits it brings you
    2. It benefits all who see it. Believers are reminded, and seekers are inspired.


What are some other positions?

  • Reformed paedo-baptism (infant baptism)
      • Presbyterians, Reformed Churches
      • Actually relatively close to Credo-baptists
      • Saying “you are part of the covenant community” but not necessarily saved.
  • Baptism saves you (even as an infant)
      • Protestant formulation: God saves by Grace alone, and has ordained baptism as a means by which sins are forgiven. (Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists)
      • Roman formulation: Baptismal regeneration, the act of baptism releases from original sin and places into a state of grace
  • Baptism is required for salvation
      • Baptism is for believers only, but is required for God to enter into the covenant with us

Conclusion

In humility, we realize that this issue has divided the church for hundreds of years. But, again in humility, I think it is possible to have some confidence in the purpose and place of baptism in a believer’s life. And with all boldness, all Christians recognize the command of the Lord Jesus to be baptized with water as an expression of faith in his saving work!

I recognize that there are a number of questions, concerns, and possible objections to what I’ve talked about here. My hope is that, if you are a believer in Christ, and a part of our church family, and have not yet been baptized that you will be very soon. I’d love to talk about that with you, so please get in touch with myself or one of the other pastors.

If you are not a believer in Christ today, I hope today’s service has shown you the core of our faith: that we are sinners, who are dead in our sin and rebellion against God: as dead as someone who would be buried, underwater, but that through faith in Christ, we have been raised to new life like being raised out of the water, have been cleansed from all our sin and guilt and shame of our former life, just like water cleanses the body. And my hope is that you’ll join with us in the family of the church. If this is you today, I’d also love to talk.

I’ll be around after the service. I brought a change of clothes, so if you are interested in this step of obedience and commitment to the Lord Jesus and His body in the church, I’ll be here, and so will this baptismal.


Lets pray!