Baptism is an important part of the Christian faith and a crucial step in the growth and obedience of a Christ-follower. There are lots of ideas about what it means and doesn’t mean. To describe Ridgecrest’s beliefs about baptism, let’s think through some basic questions: What? How? Who? When? And Why?
What is baptism?
Baptism is a public symbol of a personal decision that someone has made to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is a way of saying, “I belong to Jesus now.” In baptism, a person symbolically identifies with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as they are placed under the water and then brought back up.
How is a person baptized?
We believe in baptism by immersion, which means literally being placed (immersed) in water. We believe in this mode of baptism for a couple of reasons. First, there is the visible picture of a new follower identifying with Jesus’ being buried and rising again when the person is placed under water and then comes back up. This picture is not as clearly evident in other forms of baptism. Secondly, in reading the accounts of baptism in the Bible, it seems clear that baptism was by immersion (see Acts 8: 38 – 39, for example).
Who should be baptized and When?
These two questions go together. You see, we teach what is called Believer’s Baptism which is just like it sounds. Baptism is for believers, those who have made a decision to place their faith (belief) in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and therefore necessarily takes place after salvation. While baptism is not a part of or necessary for salvation, we would hope that baptism would come soon after a person has decided to follow Christ as an act of obedience and as an affirmation of their commitment.
Why should someone be baptized?
As stated earlier, baptism is an opportunity for a believer to publicly identify with Jesus Christ and to follow His example. Jesus allowed John the Baptist to baptize Him as recorded in Matthew 3. Also in Matthew 28: 18 – 20 in what is known as the Great Commission, Jesus includes baptism as part of what it means to be a disciple, or follower, of His.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
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