Why be baptized?
Adults like yourselves who seek membership in the church based upon their profession of faith in Christ and who have never received baptism are privileged and urged to receive this sign of the covenant upon their public profession of faith and reception as members of the church (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:38). We do this simply because Jesus commands us to do so.
Also, we encourage believing parents like you to have their children baptized. We do this mainly to exercise our faith in the glorious promise of God that He will be not only our God but the God of our children after us. The bottom line is that all that is celebrated in a service of baptism in the life of an adult who believes (forgiveness of and cleansing from sin) is prayerfully anticipated in a life of a child of believing parents who is baptized. Again, baptism doesn’t save your child for he or she must come to embrace, believe on and rest in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
What is baptism?
Here’s a solid, thorough definition of baptism: “Christian baptism is an initiatory rite, wherein Christ has ordained the use of water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, to signify the cleansing from sin and union with the triune God which is accomplished for sinners through the work of Christ and is applied by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 4:5 that there is “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.” However, the New Testament describes two baptisms: water baptism and Spirit baptism. Thus, in a service of water baptism, it is imperative that what we do reflects what has gone on internally in a person’s heart and life when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit at the moment of their coming to faith in Jesus.
This is why we practice sprinkling as our mode of baptism. Now, it’s important to acknowledge that sprinkling isn’t the only valid mode, but it does have scriptural warrant. Water baptism is an outward rite and ceremony that signifies the inward work of the Holy Spirit by which God’s people are purified from sin and united to Christ, (Acts 2:17, 33, 38; 8:12, 14-17; 10:44-48; 11:15-16; 19:1-7; Matthew 3:16).
The mode of Holy Spirit baptism is most frequently described in Scripture as either pouring or sprinkling, (Ezekiel 36:25-27; Joel 2:28; Acts 1:8; 2:17,33; 8:15-16; 10:44-45; 11:15-16; 19:16; 1 Peter 1:2; Hebrews 10:22). Therefore, the external mode of water baptism that best symbolizes the internal reality of Holy Spirit baptism is pouring or sprinkling.
It is important to state exactly what baptism doesn’t do. Baptism doesn’t save you. It is not something that you do to receive God’s favor or salvation. However, it is an important step of obedience to Jesus to say thank you for His saving grace in your life.
To prepare for your baptism, I would take one or two of the verses above and reflect on them. How wonderful it is to know that you have been cleansed forever from the defiling stain of sin by the precious blood of the Lamb. The waters of baptism symbolize His blood. He rescued us from eternal peril by His blood. For this, we choose to live the rest of our days to honor, love and serve Him as a small way of saying thank you for loving and saving us by your grace alone.
When I say “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” it means something very important. It means concisely that you now belong to the Lord. You don’t belong to yourself. You’re His. You are his child and God is your father. It means that Jesus is your elder brother who claims you as a member of his family. He is your protector and defender. The Holy Spirit now lives in you. So, you are never again alone. He promises to be with you always and empower you to live a life that pleases your Lord.