Baptism is both an important aspect of life at Oakwood Bible Church and a significant part of your spiritual journey as you follow Jesus. Why? Because baptism is a ceremony which symbolizes the spiritual cleansing that has taken place in your life when you placed your faith and trust in Christ. It provides you an opportunity to publicly declare that you have believed in Jesus and have experienced God’s forgiveness of your sins.
Baptism is also a great time for the church to celebrate the change God has brought about in your life.
Baptism In The Bible
Where is baptism in the Bible?
Ceremonial washing was prevalent In Jewish culture in the Old Testament, but the practice of baptism begins to show up in the New Testament. John the Baptist, a prophet who foretold the coming of Jesus the Messiah, baptized both Jews and non— Jews as a symbol of their repentance and desire to follow God with their lives.
John also baptized Jesus, which began Jesus’ public ministry. Unlike us. Jesus was not baptized because of His need for He was baptized to signify that He intentionally Himself with repentant sinners and to demonstrate and obedience to the Father.
Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus gave his disciples some final instructions. This passage is known as the Great Commission.
And Jesus came up to them and spoke saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
As followers of Jesus, these commands are for us as well. Of all the things we can and should, be doing, Jesus wanted to make sure that baptism was at the top of the list.
What is the significance of baptism?
Baptism is one of the most Powerful symbols of our faith. In a way that nothing else does, baptism:
- Is a vital part of the life of every Christian. Baptism is a physical experience that corresponds to your spiritual relationship and identification with Christ. It is an outward symbol of an inner experience of grace.
- Is a step of obedience. This is a simple point, but an important one. We are saved by grace through faith. Baptism is an expression of that faith (not a way to be saved). Since Jesus clearly commanded it, baptism is the next step of obedience once a person has surrendered their life to Him. (Ephesians 2:8)
- Symbolizes your new life in Christ. Baptism pictures transformation. Being lowered into the water symbolizes dying to your old life without God. Being raised out of the water symbolizes coming to new life in Christ. (Romans 6:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
- Symbolizes your good standing with God. As a believer, you have full assurance that you are saved by grace through faith. Baptism is a Symbol of that truth. As you experience baptism, let that truth sink deeply into your heart. You have been reconciled with God. You are now his son or daughter! (1 Peter 3:21; Romans 3:21)
- Symbolizes the washing away of your sins. This is why we completely immerse you in the water. This act symbolizes the fact that Jesus’ death and resurrection are sufficient to completely wash you free from punishment for sin. (Psalm 51:7; Acts 22:16).
- Is a public declaration of who is the leader of your life. You will be declaring to your family and friends, with certainty, that Jesus is the new Leader of your life. Because He is your Leader. Savior, and Lord, you are committing yourself to doing everything Jesus has commanded you from this day forward. You won’t be perfect, but you are seeking to follow Him in everything. (Galatians 3:27; John 14:15)
- Becomes a tangible reminder of the significance of your faith. You will stand before others giving witness that your life is now marked by Christ. You stand with Him and for Him. Your life belongs to Him and you desire to declare this new reality. As you follow Christ, we encourage you to look back on this day and remember the commitment you made, all that baptism represents, and the people who witnessed it. (Read Hebrews 12:1!). This can be a great help when you doubt your salvation or struggle to obey Christ. (Hebrews 10:22; 1 Corinthians 6:11).
- Connects you to the larger family of God. For some 2,000 years, believers all around the world have pursued baptism as a symbol of their new life with God. What you experience through baptism is rooted in the early church and connects you to that rich history. (Acts 2:41).
Who should be baptized?
Everyone who has come to recognize Jesus as their Savior and has Committed themselves to following Him with their lives is strongly encouraged to participate in baptism. Baptism is an outward expression of what God has done inwardly in a person’s heart and life. It’s that new life that we celebrate in baptism.
Does OBC baptize children?
While we do not have a firmly set age that we consider the appropriate time, we do seek to work with parents to determine if a child understands the true meaning of commitment to Jesus Christ as their Savior and that they comprehend the meaning of believer’s baptism. We want to be able to discern that their faith is their own, rather than that of their parents.
Furthermore, since water baptism is a testimony of ones faith in Christ as Savior and not an act that results in salvation, we do not baptize infants. We do formally “dedicate” infants at the parent’s request, but it includes the parents dedicating themselves to the task of raising their children an a home that honors the Lord and guides the child to the point where they personally trust Christ as Savior.
How does OBC observe baptism?
We practice baptism by immersion. We believe that immersion, unlike other forms of baptism, paints a wonderful picture of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. It also portrays the washing, or cleansing, that God has already done in a believer’s life.
Also, in case you may be wondering, the water in out tank is comfortably warm (if everything is working properly).
What is involved in the pre-baptism class?
Prior to your baptism we will schedule a single instructional class to review the Scriptural information about baptism and tell you what you need to know about your baptism experience. This is an informal time usually led be the Pastor and held during the morning Sunday School hour.
What does baptism service at OBC look like?
Typically baptismal services take place at the end of a regular church worship service. After the sermon a hymn will be sung and those being baptized go to the preparation rooms on each side of the platform. Each person being baptized will enter the tank individually. The Pastor will be in the tank to assist you and the curtain covering the window will be closed. Once you are in position, the Pastor will open the curtain and introduce you, and then you will be immersed as explained in the pre-baptism class. The curtain will be closed before you exit the tank.
Will I be asked to say anything at the service?
Orally sharing your testimony is voluntary. If you can share your story it will be an encouragement and blessing to others who hear it, but it is not required. Your baptism alone is a testimony.
What do I wear and what do I need to bring?
Women are provided a black robe to wear. A bathing suit or other suitable undergarment should be worn under the robe. The robe has straps with snaps to wrap around your ankle to prevent the robe from rising up when you enter the water. Men are to wear a casual shirt, preferably dark in color, and either shorts or long pants.
Be sure to bring a towel, a plastic bag for your wet clothes, and a change of dry clothes. A folded handkerchief is helpful to hold in the palm of your hand and to place over your face before being immersed. This prevents water from filling your nostrils. Located in each changing room is a small child-size wading pool. This is for you to wring out your wet clothes and to place wet robes into.
Please arrive sufficiently before the service to place your garments in the changing room and to receive any last minute instruction from the Pastor if necessary.
What if I’m not sure I want to be baptized?
We want you to be comfortable about baptism. If you have any questions. Please contact either of the Pastors or an Elder. The church office phone is 269-349-2835. Click here to view the contact form online.