What is the Meaning of Baptism?
Baptism has two meanings according to the New Testament:
1. Baptism is the public profession of faith in Christ by a new believer and the public affirmation of a believer's profession of faith by the local church.
2. Baptism is the public entrance into the people of God (the local church) by a new believer.
We believe that baptism is an act of obedience by a believer. It's an outward expression of his or her decision to submit their life to Christ. Baptism illustrates Christ’s burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4). Baptism is a symbol of our salvation; it is not a requirement to saved, but an expression of the fact that the person has already been saved. In baptism we are putting on the "team jersey" of Jesus Christ. Further, baptism is the way that a local church affirms the validity of a believer's profession of faith in Christ. The giving of the "keys of the kingdom" to the local church (Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18) means that the local church has the task and duty to affirm the validity of someone's claim to be a Christian. In other words, it's not only the individual who speaks in baptism; the church speaks as well.
Baptism is also the entrance into the people of God (the church). In baptism, a new believer enters the church as a church member committed to loving and serving the local church. God intendeds our Christianity to be lived out in the context of a community, and baptism is the entrance into that community. In Acts 2:41 we see about 3,000 people who trust in Jesus, are baptized, and are "added that day." What are they added to? The only context is the local church at Jerusalem. Baptism is intimately connected with entrance into church membership. As Bobby Jamieson says, "Baptism is the means by which one acknowledges the sovereign authority of God by coming under the authority of the church."
Why Should I Be Baptized?
Believers in Jesus Christ should be baptized as an act of obedience. Jesus set the example of being baptized (Matthew 3:16), and he now commands all believers to be baptized as an expression of their faith in him.
Believers should also be baptized in order to enter church membership. The imprint of church membership is all over the New Testament because God has called his people to live as Christians in community with one another. While salvation is an individual response to God's grace, it is never individualistic. Instead, being committed to a local church body is God's plan for every Christian.
Who Should Be Baptized?
Every person who has been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ should be baptized (Acts 2:41). At Lakeland, we wait until our children are old enough to believe and understand the true meaning of baptism before we baptize them. We want to ensure that they understand their commitment to Christ and to Christ's people in baptism.
Why Must I Be Immersed in Water?
At Lakeland, we believe that biblical baptism is by immersion in water as an outward expression of an inward faith. The term “baptism” is an English transliteration of the Greek word baptizo, which literally means “to dip under water” or “to immerse.” Every description of baptism in the Bible is by immersion in water. After Jesus was baptized, the Bible says he “came up immediately from the water…” (Matthew 3:16). Again, when Philip completed the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, Scripture says, “When they came up out of the water…” (Acts 8:39). Baptism in the Bible, therefore, was performed solely by immersion under water to represent the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If I Was Baptized in a Different Denomination, Must I Be Re-baptized?
Scriptural baptism is necessary for membership at Lakeland. Scriptural baptism means water baptism by immersion authorized and performed by a Christian church that believes that baptism is by immersion only, not necessary for salvation, and is only to be performed after the person was saved.
If the church denomination that baptized you holds to these beliefs regarding baptism, then Lakeland will accept your baptism for membership purposes. If not, then you would need to be scripturally baptized.
Want to Know More?
We would love to talk to you about baptism and about how you can take the next steps in this act of obedience. Contact the church office at 972-436-4561 or join us on a Sunday morning and talk with a pastor at the invitation time or after the service.