WHAT IS BAPTISM?
Baptism is one of two sacraments instituted by Jesus himself and given to the Church to be observed until his final return to the earth (Matthew 28:18-20). Baptism functions as a sign of repentance and faith in Christ, the first act of obedience to Jesus, and the final step of conversion (Acts 2:37-39). Through repentance and faith in Jesus, we die to our old life of enslavement to sin and our new life in Christ begins. This spiritual reality is signified in an embodied way through baptism by fully immersing the professing believer in the watery grave and raising them up into new life in Christ. Baptism is the primary public and external way a person identifies themselves as a follower of Jesus. Baptism is a declaration that our lives are no longer our own but have been bought with the blood of Jesus. As a result, baptism goes hand-in-hand with repentance, faith, and receiving the Holy Spirit.
WHY WATER BAPTISM?
The very first time we see baptism taking place in Scripture is when John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus by proclaiming a “baptism of repentance” (Mark 1:1-8). In the same way that water can cleanse a person physically and outwardly, turning to God in repentance and faith cleanses a person spiritually and inwardly. Baptism is a tangible, physical sign of repentance and faith, the embodiment of our request to God to give us a clean heart and a good conscience (1 Peter 3:21-22). When a person enters the waters of baptism, they are acknowledging before God and the Church their deep sinfulness and need to be made clean. Water baptism serves as an external symbol of God washing us whiter than snow. In baptism, we celebrate the burial of the old, the passing from death into life, and the drowning of our enemies of Satan, sin, and death in the floodwaters of God’s judgment (Romans 6:1-11).
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CHRISTIANS ARE BAPTIZED?
(1) In baptism, we receive the assurance of God’s promises. In baptism, God is the primary actor and speaker, assuring us of his promises to forgive, rescue, and redeem us. The Heidelberg Catechism makes this same point when it says that God “wants to assure us, by this divine pledge and sign, that the washing away of our sins spiritually is as real as physical washing with water....as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly His blood and His Spirit wash away...all my sins.”
(2) In baptism, we reject Satan’s reign and rule over our lives. Throughout the history of the church, the person getting baptized was often led through a series of “renouncing statements” in which they would renounce Satan and all of his works and ways. The reason for this is that baptism is a physical signification of our transfer out of death and darkness into life and light. It is an external act that displays our spiritual liberation from the powers of darkness and our adoption into the family of God.
(3) In baptism, the Spirit unites us to Jesus and the Church through faith. The Apostle Paul makes this connection in Romans 6:3-4 when he says: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized 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.” Again, in 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul says: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” In our culture, praying a prayer, raising a hand, or walking an aisle is often seen as the way a person becomes united to Jesus. In the New Testament, however, the primary way a person was seen to be identified with and united to Jesus and his Church was through baptism.
WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?
Every individual who has come under conviction of their sin, desires to repent and forsake their sin, and follow after Jesus in faith and trust is called to the waters of baptism. Consequently, Frontline does not baptize anyone who is not able to make this profession of faith.