“B” is for “Baptism” and baptism is an act of faith and obedience.
What is faith?
It is placing complete and undeniable confidence or trust in someone or some doctrine of beliefs. Members of Christian Churches and Churches of Christ have faith in God the Father, Jesus His Son and the Holy Spirit.
What is obedience?
It is the act or practice of obeying the instructions of those in authority. Members of Christian Churches and Churches of Christ believe that God is the greatest authority in the universe. He is the Creator of all things and made humanity in His image (Genesis 1).
He hoped we would live a righteous life full of blessings, but God also gave us a will of our own. We used this free will to discover sin and its consequences – death.
Our faith teaches us that God’s love and grace is greater than sin and death. Unfortunately, there is a price to be paid, because the evil within us cannot be defeated with the wave of a wand or some magical sequence of words.
God had to send love and grace in the flesh to defeat sin and death once and for all. He sent the most precious person to Him. He sent Jesus. (John 3:16-17)
Christian Churches and Churches of Christ teach that a person can become a Christian if he or she is willing to do the following:
- Turn away for his or her sins (the word “repent” is often applied to this action)
- Declare before a group of witnesses that he or she is a sinner (“confession”)
- Proclaim that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the God
- Be baptized in the name of God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit
The method of baptism is taken from the English translation of the Greek word “baptizo”. It literally means “to dip, to immerse, to plunge.”
Christian Churches and Churches of Christ observe the practice of the 1st Century church in the New Testament. They completely immerse the new believer under water as a symbolic act of washing away their sins and receiving eternal life.
The Apostle Paul describes baptism in Romans 6:3-5 as a burial and a resurrection. One of the most beautiful and meaningful verses in the New Testament is Galatians 2:20, which says:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
You also receive a gift – the gift of the Holy Spirit – when you are baptized into Christ. When I came up out of the water, I felt an indescribable sensation that I wasn’t and wouldn’t be alone anymore. The Holy Spirit had entered my life and embraced me with the love of God.
Thankfully, God never set a dozen rules or procedures for how to baptize someone. People have been baptized in bathtubs, swimming pools, rivers, lakes, seas, oceans and church baptistries.
You don’t need a degree or certificate to baptize someone, but it makes sense that the person doing the baptizing be a faithful Christian. I was led to Christ through a campus ministry program at Michigan State University. Some of the best baptisms I have ever witnessed have been done by members of His House Christian Fellowship along the shores of the Red Cedar River.
In preparing for this article, I looked at how large, medium-sized and small Christian Churches and Churches of Christ explain baptism on their web pages. I am relieved to report they do it very well. And I believe we can agree on one irrefutable fact – the cleansing and redemptive power of baptism comes from Jesus and nothing else matters.