In what is commonly called the Great Commission Jesus declared these words, “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.” Here we have the command for baptism. We are told in the Gospel accounts that Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized as the initiation of his earthly ministry, so we cannot underplay its significance.
But what is it actually? Millard Erickson succinctly defines baptism as an act of faith and testimony that we have been united with Christ in His death and resurrection. In fact, we would go as far as to say that it is a “word in water” – a proclamation of the reality of Jesus Christ and our participation in His death and resurrection. It is a symbol more than a sign. It is a picture of what we have entered into as followers of Jesus.
In the book of Acts we are told that on the day of Pentecost, Peter addressed a crowd in Jerusalem and declared to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are told that they were cut to the heart and cried out, “What shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Here we have a clear picture that baptism is commanded of all who have repented and trusted in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. For this reason we reject infant baptism on the grounds that baptism is meant solely for the believer.
Christ commands it, because it demonstrates outwardly our union with Him and because there is blessing in obedience.
We believe that immersion is the biblical model by which baptism is to be administered, for as Paul writes in Romans 6, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” If baptism is a symbol or picture of our participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then we can say immersion most clearly demonstrates this reality.
Though there is not a biblical precedence for baby dedication, we believe that as a church family it is healthy and right to present our children to the body so that we can cover that family in prayer. It also allows parents, brothers, and sisters an opportunity to commit to the Lord that they will raise their child in the ways of Jesus.
Take a moment to watch the beautiful video taken at our very first Sellwood Riverfront Baptism!