”Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
What is Baptism?
Baptism is the application of water as a rite of purification or initiation; a Christian sacrament.
The word baptism is the English form of the Greek word baptismos. Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water as a sign of his/her previous entrance into the communion of Christ’s death and resurrection. In other words, baptism is a token of the regenerated soul’s union with Christ.
Baptism is an ordinance instituted by Christ, practiced by the Apostles, submitted to by members of New Testament churches, and subsequently practiced as a rite in Christian churches. No church hierarchy has the right to modify or dispense with this command of Christ because only the local church is known in the N.T. and it is purely and executive, not a legislative body.
Baptism symbolizes regeneration through union with Christ, baptism portrays not only Christ’s death and resurrection and their purpose in atoning for sin in delivering sinners form its penalty and power, but also betokens the accomplishment of that purpose in the person baptized. By the external rite the believer professes his death to sin and resurrection to spiritual life. He/she also gives witness to the method by which God’s purpose has been wrought for him, namely, by union with Christ. The rite sets forth the fact that the believer has received Christ and in faith given himself/herself to Him.
Only those who give credible evidence of regeneration, and who by faith have entered into the communion of Christ’s death and resurrection, are considered proper candidates for the rite. Biblical authority for this view is given in the command of Christ that those are to be baptized who have previously been made disciples (Matt. 28:19), or previously repented and believed. It is also proved from the nature of the church as a company of regenerated believers and the symbolism of the ordinance itself. Since it is intended only for the regenerate, baptism can never be the means of regeneration. It is the appointed sign, but never the condition, of forgiveness of sins.