As a church we celebrate the truths of the gospel in many ways – through prayer, song and the reading of the Word. We also celebrate the gospel through tangible pictures like the ordinance of baptism. You may be asking. What is an ordinance? What is baptism? I’m glad you asked.
What is an ordinance?
We believe there are two ordinances (sacraments) for the church – the Lord’s Supper or communion and baptism. A ordinance is a command of Jesus instituted for the church as an outward, visible sign of an inward, invisible reality. For example, the Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus when he broke bread and shared wine with his disciples. This is an outward, visible sign of an inward, invisible reality. When we gather and eat the bread and drink the wine we are showing physically, visibly, that we are united with Christ because of the work on the cross – his body broken, his blood shed. This is a visible, outward sign (body/bread and blood/wine) indicating the inward reality of unity with Christ.
What is baptism?
Unlike some other traditions, we do not believe that baptism is salvific (it does not bring about salvation). It does not purify from sin. It does not regenerate a person. Why is that our belief? We believe that salvation, the purification of sins and the regeneration of the heart comes about by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone. There is nothing we can do to earn salvation. There is no physical act that deserves salvation. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Some would say they have their ticket to heaven because they were baptized as an infant. That is not found in the bible – in fact that teaching is in direct opposition to the teaching of God’s Word.
We believe that baptism is a command from Jesus for those who repent and believe in the gospel (Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38). The act of baptism communicates many related things.
1.) Baptism communicates union with Christ and His Body. Romans 6:3 says – “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus are baptized into His death.” The one who is being baptized is lowered into the water to symbolize their own death, just like Jesus died.
2.) Baptism communicates death to the old life. When someone is baptized they are communicating a death to the former way of life, the ongoing habitual life of a sinner. Will they still sin? Yes, but in baptism they are communicating with Paul, “our old self was crucified with Jesus in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6).
3.) Baptism communicates new life in Christ. Paul says in Romans 6:4 “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” The way this is being communicated in baptism is through the symbolism of being placed into the water and being brought out of the water – resurrected out of the water.
4.) Baptism communicates the gospel. Those who are baptized are clearly communicating the gospel to their own hearts and to those who are participating in the gathered worship service. In baptism, as a church, we are communicating the very things Paul said in Romans 6 – “our old selves were crucified with Jesus in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin…If we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. Death no longer has dominion or rule over Jesus. For the death He died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God! So, you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:3-11).
Baptism is a beautiful picture of the gospel – dead to sin, alive in Christ. Have you been baptized? Would you like to be baptized? Email us here for more information about our next baptisms.