Home Media Recommended Articles . Plug into baptism

. Plug into baptism

Logos community church believes in Believers Baptism and not in adult baptism or infant baptism. The only reason we will accept un-baptised persons into membership is because infant baptism has so been entrenched into society that the importance of believer’s baptism is not easily grasped. We however will only accept people into membership who know Christ and are known by Christ. So if you are born again by the working of the Holy Spirit you are welcome to join Logos. We fully understand confusion on the topic due to the entrenchment of infant baptism, but at Logos we will only teach and practice Believer’s Baptism.

 

Two questions that arise are: what is the meaning of Believer’s Baptism and is it important at all. If you want to know more on the subject we want to recommend a 95 page book I have written entitled: Believer’s Baptism – a sacrament to be honoured. In it I deal with the necessity, the mode, the history, the meaning, and opposition to Believer’s Baptism, opposition to Infant Baptism and the praxis or Believer’s Baptism.

For now, this short article has to suffice. Before we continue on this subject in any way, we must understand that Believer’s Baptism finds its meaning and importance in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism has meaning and importance only because the death and resurrection of Jesus are infinitely important for our rescue from the wrath of God and our everlasting joy in his glorious presence.

Baptism by the way is not a name giving ceremony, it has nothing to do with rituals and it is not based upon our traditions. It has everything to do with Jesus Christ and his magnificent work of salvation in dying for our sins and rising for our justification. Talking about Believer’s Baptism means talking about how Jesus taught us to express our faith in Jesus and his great salvation.

What do we believe about Believer’s Baptism at Logos?

Baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus (1), required of every believer, wherein he is immersed (3) in water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (4), as a sign of his fellowship with the death and resurrection of Christ (2), or remission of sins and of his giving himself up to God, to live and walk in newness of life (5).

Let’s unpack some of these terms in this statement.

1.1 Baptism is an Ordinance of the Lord

“We believe that baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus . . .” What we mean by this is that the Lord Jesus commanded it—he ordained it—in a way that would make it an on-going practice of the church. We find this most explicitly in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

The main verb or the imperative in this section is to “make disciples.” This is supported by the participles namely “having gone”, or “as you are going”, “baptising” and “teaching.” So the church is commanded to do this for all disciples. Making disciples of all nations includes baptising them.

And the time frame is defined by the promise of Christ’s help in verse 20: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The promise of help is for as long as this age lasts.
So baptism is a command and ordinance of the Lord Jesus to be performed in making disciples, until Christ returns at the end of the age.

1.2 Baptism is a sign of fellowship with the death and resurrection of Christ.

Baptism “expresses fellowship with Christ in His death and resurrection.” The clearest teaching on this is Romans 6:3-4; “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Now, Believer’s Baptism is not the means by which we are united with Christ. Faith is the means by which we are united with Christ and justified. But we show this faith—we say this faith and signify this faith and symbolise this faith—with the act of baptism. Faith unites to Christ; baptism symbolises the union.

The imagery of baptism is death, burial, and resurrection. Christ was buried and raised to new life.

In baptism, by faith, we are united with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism dramatically portrays what happened spiritually when you received Christ: Your old self of unbelief and rebellion and idolatry died, and a new you of faith and submission and treasuring Christ came into being. That’s what you confess to the world and to heaven when you are baptised.

1.3 Believers Baptism is immersion in water.

We believe this expression of union with Christ in death and resurrection happens “by being immersed in water.” The clearest evidence for this is the words of Romans 6:3-4 which describe the act of baptism as burial and rising from the dead. This is most naturally understood to mean that you are buried under water and then come out of from the water to signify rising from the grave.

The word baptism in Greek means dip or immerse. And most scholars agree that this is the way the early church practiced baptism. The practice of sprinkling or pouring emerged only much later in history as a human institution without any Biblical backing.

There are a few other pointers to immersion besides the meaning of the word and the imagery of death and burial. In Acts 8:37-38, the Ethiopian eunuch comes to faith while riding with Philip in his chariot and says, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptised?” Philip agrees and it says, “He commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptised him.” If he was to sprinkle him there was no need to go down into the water. Even John the Baptist was baptising in an area because there was plentiful water according to John 3:23.

So the early church baptised by immersing the new believer in water to signify his burial and resurrection with Jesus.

1.4 Baptism is in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This is according to the command of what Jesus said in Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” There is a holy appeal to God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to be present in this act and make it true and real in what it says about their work in redemption. There is no salvation without the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When we call on their Name, we depend upon them and honour them and say that this act is because of them and by them and for them.

1.5 Baptism Is for Believers Only

Baptism is an expression of faith and therefore only for believers. It is a sign that someone is living and walking in the newness of life. Unbelievers cannot be baptised, infants cannot be baptised. It is not something you simply do to join a church as if it is a club. You are baptised because you are a new creation in Christ Jesus.

Evidence of this is found in Colossians 2:11-12; In him [Christ] also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ  having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Paul speaks of circumcision in “made-without-hands” terms. Circumcision for a Christian is not the Old Testament practice applied to Hebrew boys, it is not as a physical act, but a spiritual act of Christ in which he cuts away the old sinful body and makes us new. It is virtually synonymous with the new birth. Then he speaks of baptism.

2. Why don’t we believe in Infant Baptism at Logos?

At Logos, we give much grace to those who have grown up within an Infant Baptism culture, especially in our South African context where under the previous political dispensation many were taught that they are by nature children of Abraham. What many did not realise is that all they have inherited from Abraham is sin and not righteousness.

In the Old Testament men were circumcised to signify membership in the old-covenant people of God, and in the New Testament men and women are baptised to signify membership in the new-covenant people of God. That has led many Christians to assume that, since circumcision was given to the male children of the people of the old covenant, therefore baptism should be given to the male and female children of the people of the new covenant.

What this doctrine fails to understand is that one became a Hebrew by physical birth, but we only become Christians by spiritual birth. Boys were circumcised at 8 days to show that they were children under the Old Covenant. You can only join the New Covenant by being incorporated into the body of Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit. Look carefully at Colossians 2:12: “. . . having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith . . . The wordsthrough faith” are all important on this issue. Paul says that when you come up out of the water signifying being raised with Christ this is happening through faith”. No infant can be baptised “through faith”, it is also not the meaning of grace, because once you receive grace to salvation you cannot loose it.

We also see this in truth in Galatians 3:26-27: “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ.” So we become sons of God through faith which by the way is also a gift of God, and no other way. The word “for” in verse 27 only makes sense if baptism is understood as acting out of faith. Baptism without faith was inconceivable to Paul in all of the doctrines he teaches.

3. The shift from physical birth and the Old Covenant to spiritual birth and the New-covenant.

As already mentioned there was a clear change in the shifting from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. There is a shift from circumcision to baptism; there is a shift from an ethnic focus on Israel and only males being given the sign of membership in the people, to a spiritual focus on the church of all nations with both male and female being given the sign of membership in the people, namely, baptism.

Membership in the new-covenant people of God is not by physical birth, but by spiritual birth. The only constant in the two covenants if God. In the Old Testament He was God to the nation Israel, but in the New Covenant He is Father to a new people who experience a circumcision of hearts, not flesh. The New Birth happens by the word of God, the gospel (1 Peter 1:23-25). Therefore, the church should be composed not of the believers and their infants, but believers only. And the sign of membership in the new covenant people is not a sign for infants but a sign for believers.

4. Membership in the Local Church

So we can see how the meaning of baptism is woven together with membership in the people of God. Since the local church is an expression of that people, baptism is closely connected to membership in the local church and therefore important without a shadow of doubt. In the New Testament, being a Christian, being baptised, belonging to the new-covenant people of God, and belonging to a local church were linked together. If you remove any of these, it makes the concept of the church a very clumsy term. They belong together, even though baptism does not save.

So baptism is important. I must agree with John Piper who says the following of Believer’s Baptism.

  • It was uncompromisingly commanded by the Lord Jesus.
  • It was universally administered to Christians entering the early church.
  • It was uniquely connected to conversion as an unrepeatable expression of saving faith.

So, in closing we have to say that failing to be baptised is serious, but at the same time we believe at Logos that excluding genuine believers from the local church just because they are not baptised is also serious. So the onus is on the new believer to remove the tension in these terms and to follow the Lord in obedience in Baptism.

We know that there are godly, Bible-believing, Christ-exalting, God-centred followers of Jesus who fail to see the dreadfulness of not being baptised as a believer. And there are godly, Bible-believing, Christ-exalting, God-centred followers of Jesus who fail to see the dreadfulness of excluding such people from church membership.

So therefore we welcome you to Logos even if you are not Baptised as a Believer, but we challenge you with the words of Ananias to Paul in Acts 22:16 “And now, why do you wait? ‘Rise up and be baptised and wash away your sins, calling on His Name.’”

Please speak to us if you desire to be Baptised.