Baptism is a positive command. Depending on whom you ask you will hear dozens of different traditions, teachings and opinions about the subject of baptism. Even though there are multiple opinions, there is only one truth that really matters—the truth revealed in the Bible. On the authority, subject, action and design, the Scriptures are plain. Northside strives to model itself in accordance with the Scriptures. Please read the following statements for clarity on our understanding of baptism.
Who should be baptized?
All believers are candidates for baptism. Christ said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). Anyone who is willing to repent of their sins, and confess their belief in Jesus, should be baptized. (Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38-39, Romans 10:10)
How should we be baptized?
To understand how we should be baptized is best determined by looking at the meaning of the word. The Greeks had, and still have, a word for immerse, one for sprinkle, and one for pour. Baptizo means dip or immerse, rantizo means to sprinkle, and cheo means to pour. This is now the meaning of these words in Greek, and was also the meaning when Christ was on earth. The Holy Scripture consistently uses the word baptizo, which means “immerse.”
Even scholars from churches accepting modes of baptism other than immersion will concede that immersion was original and that sprinkling and pouring were the concessions of man, and was never authorized or practiced by the apostles or Christ.
Every biblical example of baptism is by immersion. That is why we turn the matter over to God. Anyone sprinkled as an infant should be grateful that their parents cared about their spiritual condition. The choice to be baptized by immersion does not condemn the faith of those who have gone before us, nor does it disrespect them. We are held accountable for the knowledge we have now. The pledge of a good conscience might prompt you to be baptized by immersion.
The Apostle Paul states that baptism represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. We are buried with Christ by baptism (Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12). At Northside we baptize people by immersing them in water. This act symbolizes, according to the teaching of scripture, the burial of the old self and the resurrection of a new life with Christ.
When should we be baptized?
A person should be baptized at the time he or she trusts in Christ. The Bible teaches we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), moreover in the New Testament church, a person’s baptism was always the first expression of faith, not separate from it. So baptism was not just a memorial of faith, but was intended to offer a means of union with Christ and a benchmark of transformation, marking the place and time a person made a commitment to Christ (Romans 6:1-8). At Northside we ask a person to be baptized at the point that he or she is ready to make a commitment to Christ. (Acts 2:36-41, Acts 8:34-39, Acts 9:17-19, Acts 10:47-48, Acts 16:14-15, Acts 16:29-34)
The Bible clearly teaches that a person should be baptized when he or she is capable of believing in Jesus Christ as his or her Savior, and 2) when the individual is capable of repenting of sin. In Mark 16:16, Jesus said that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Jesus clearly indicates that a candidate for baptism must first have the capability of believing in Him. Moreover, in Acts 2:38, Peter preached that an individual must repent and be baptized. He clearly indicates that a candidate for baptism must first have the capability of repenting of sin. The word for “repent” in the New Testament means “to change the mind.” A candidate for baptism must believe that Jesus alone can save a person from sin, and intentionally decide to “change the mind” (i.e., repent) about sinful behavior.
Why should we be baptized?
As commanded by Christ, every believer should be baptized. It is essential to becoming a Christ follower (Matthew 28:19). Furthermore, through baptism we are following Christ’s example (Matthew 3:13-17), accepting forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), expressing trust in Christ (Acts 8:12-13), we are united with Christ (Romans 6:1-8), putting on Christ (Galatians 3:27), cutting off the sin nature (Colossians 2:11-12), and receiving the pledge of a good conscience (1 peter 3:21-22).
The Holy Spirit prompts individuals to recognize their sin and guilt, and the only way in which the human soul can be wiped clean of sin is through the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:27-10:7). This “washing away” of sin is most clearly symbolized in the act of baptism (Acts 22:16). Peter, the apostle, makes this powerful statement. “and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. . .” (1 Peter 3:21). Every believer should be baptized.
Since one of the biggest obstacles between God and man is human pride, baptism also offers a venue by which believers humble themselves before God and others, and admit their need for Christ’s redemption (James 4:6). In addition, baptism meets a God-given human need for expression. Baptism is the scriptural expression of faith in Christ.
The act of baptism alone cannot save an individual. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism is the point in time when we surrender completely to His Lordship of our lives. Apart from faith, baptism means nothing (Colossians 2:12).
Should a person ever be rebaptized?
Any person who has trusted in Jesus as the only Son of God and who has willingly been immersed into Christ may become a member of Northside Christian Church whether the baptism occurred at Northside or elsewhere. Rebaptism is allowed for those who lack confidence in their initial baptism experience because they don’t remember it, they were coerced, or their heart was not right with God at the time. Anyone who has fallen into sin after having been baptized should repent and seek forgiveness, but rebaptism is not necessary (Acts 8:13-24).
Must a person be baptized during a worship service?
The Bible provides several different settings for baptism. See next page for examples. So baptism does not have to be during a worship service. However, we strongly encourage baptisms to take place when the body of Christ is together as a testimony to the faith community of your personal faith as well as a testimony to any who have not yet made the decision to be baptized. Your baptism is a testimony of faith and it is a powerful testimony that is sure to have an impact on those watching. We encourage those who are baptized outside of a worship service to invite friends, family and especially those who are not yet Christians to witness your expression of faith.
Paul exhorts all believers to unite, for we are all of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). Regardless of our particular beliefs regarding the mode of baptism, it is important for all Christians to seek unity as representatives of Christ’s body. We believe the source of unity is the truth of God’s Word, and we pray that baptism will be a place of unity, not division, among believers (John 17:17-21).
Frequently Asked Questions on Baptism
1. What does the Bible say about the manner or method of baptism?
In the Bible, when you hear the word “baptism,” it is referring to immersion in water. The Greek word baptize means to dip, plunge, immerse under water. Baptizo is simply translated: to dip, plunge, or immerse.
2. When should someone be baptized?
Baptism should take place when one has placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
Baptism should take place when a believer has decided in their heart to repent of their sins and to live to please God. Baptism is not for perfect people, it is for people who need forgiveness and who desire to change.
Baptism should take place when a believer has confessed Jesus as Lord.
Baptism is for people who want to begin a relationship with Jesus, not for those who simply want to become members in a church.
3. Why should someone be baptized?
Matthew 3:13-16 – Jesus was baptized and He is our example.
Matthew 28:18-19 – Jesus commanded it and He is our Lord.
Believer after believer was baptized in the book of Acts.
Romans 6:4 – To “live a new life” in Christ.
1 Peter 3:21 – It is the appeal to God for a clear conscience.
Galatians 3:27 – To “put on Christ.”
Matthew 28:18-20 – It is the mark of a disciple.
Acts 9:18 & 22:16 – The Apostle Paul was baptized.
Acts 2:38 – For the “forgiveness of sins.”
Acts 2:38 – To “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
4. What is the proper setting for someone to be baptized?
The Bible provides several different settings for baptism, all of which are very appropriate and meaningful. God is well aware that we possess different personalities. It is almost as though He gave us biblical precedent for a variety of settings so our baptism would be a meaningful experience.
A very small, personal, private intimate setting
Acts 8:34-38 – Only two people were present.
Acts 9:18 – When the Apostle Paul was baptized, it is a possibility that only he and Ananias were present.
A small group with family members present
Acts 16:14-15 – Lydia and the members of her household were present.
Acts 16:31-33 – The Philippian jailer and all his family were present.
A small group that includes family and friends
Acts 10 – The household of Cornelius and close friends were present.
A large public gathering
Acts 2:36-41 – After preaching the fist Gospel message, verse 41 says, “Those who accepted His message were baptized and about 3,000 were added to their number.”