WHAT IS BAPTISM?
The sacrament of Baptism is:
- An ordinance of the church. Simply put, an “ordinance” is something we do because Jesus commands it to be done.
- An outward sign of an inward change. This inward change is our trust in the good news of Jesus Christ: that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins once and for all.
- A symbolic, voluntary act of obeying Jesus’ command to be baptized (Matthew 28:19). If you were baptized as a baby or a young child, having not personally understood and accepted your need for Jesus as your Savior, you will want to be baptized again, by your own choice.
- A personal proclamation of our trust in God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10). Your personal proclamation of faith in Christ through Baptism is an important step in the journey of faith that we want to share with you.
Baptism does not:
- Make you a Christian. A believer is only Baptized once, after making a confession of faith.
- Save you from or wash away sins. Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ. The act of baptism has no power to save but signifies the saving change Christ has already made.
- Need to be repeated. A believer need only undergo baptism once, upon confession of faith. You may have been baptized at another church or in another denomination. If so, you need not be re-baptized at STF.
WHY SHOULD I BE BAPTIZED?
- Because Jesus commanded it. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19-20).
- To follow Jesus’ example. In Matthew 3:13, we see Jesus baptized by John in the Jordan River. “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.”
- To publicly declare your faith in Jesus Christ. “Those who believed … were baptized and added to the church” (Acts 2:41).
Being baptized comes after your decision to follow the Lord Jesus Christ:
- Jews were baptized (Acts 2:41-42)
- Samaritans were baptized (Acts 8:12)
- Gentiles were baptized (Acts 10:44-48)
- Paul was baptized (Acts 9:8)
- Lydia was baptized (Acts 16:14-15)
In every case, faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross preceded Baptism. “But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).
THE METHOD OF BAPTISM
We believe the practice that best captures the teaching of Scripture is Baptism by full immersion.
The Greek word baptizo means to immerse, plunge, sink or submerge. Baptism was so clearly understood as ‘immersing’ and had such a distinct meaning that it was left as it was.
The symbolism demands full immersion. Baptism is an illustration of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Sprinkling does not convey the dramatic portrayal of burial and re-birth.
The circumstances in each New Testament passage strongly indicate that there was always sufficient water to practice immersion Baptism. Every passage in the New Testament where baptizo occurs either requires or permits the meaning, “to immerse” (e.g., Matthew 3:6, 11; Mark 1: 5,9-10; John 3:23; Acts 2:41; 8:38-39; 16:29-33).
Please note: More important than the method of Baptism is its symbolic meaning. If health or infirmity hinders immersion, we will gladly and joyfully baptize in other ways. The heart of the candidate, not the formality of the ordinance, is of uttermost importance in baptism.