I have a book in my library called The Waters That Divide. It isn’t a book about the Red Sea but rather about the waters of baptism and how churches have understood baptism differently over the centuries. Some churches have tied their practice of baptism to church tradition while others have been swayed by what is popular in the culture. At Friendship Church, we always want our understanding and practice to be drawn from the Scripture.
What does the Bible teach us about baptism?
In the Bible, baptism is an act of obedience for those who have given their lives to God through faith and received His forgiveness. Faith always comes before baptism in the Scripture (Matthew 29:18-20; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:36-39; Acts 16:30-34). When we are baptized, we are being obedient to God’s command and we are following the example of our Lord Jesus who was baptized at the beginning of His earthly ministry (Matthew 3:13-17).
The New Testament expects that everyone who places their faith in Jesus will be baptized in His name. Baptism was immediate for those who placed their faith in Jesus. As a matter of fact, the Ethiopian eunuch who was baptized in Acts 8 places his faith in Jesus and as soon as he sees some water. He asks, “What is to prevent me from being baptized?” In Acts 16, the Philippian jailer places his trust in Jesus and is immediately baptized as a symbol of his new life in Christ.
While the New Testament expectation is that every follower of Jesus will be baptized, baptism is not a cause of a person’s salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5 make it clear that there is no work, including baptism, that is the cause of our salvation. Salvation comes only by God’s grace through faith. Baptism is an initial act of obedience to Jesus that expresses our new-found faith in Him. It is evidence, not the cause of our salvation.
When a person is baptized, it identifies them with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-7). When we identify with Christ, it means we have accepted what He did on our behalf, the Holy Spirit dwells within us, and we are committed to His kingdom. The old self is buried in the water and the new self emerges forgiven and free. We baptize by immersing the person in water because it was the New Testament practice (Acts 8:38) and because it is the best picture of what baptism represents.
Because the New
Testament teaches us that baptism follows faith in Jesus and forgiveness of our
sins, we do not practice baptism of infants at Friendship Church. Instead, we
do dedication ceremonies in which children and their parents are dedicated to
In a parent/child dedication, we:
- Give thanks to God for the gift of a child. Children are one of God’s greatest gifts in this world and during a dedication parents and their church family say thank you to God for that blessing.
- Dedication is also a time for parents to dedicate themselves to raising their children in a Godly home. We recognize that each individual needs to make their own decision to come to faith in Jesus. And we want to do all that we can as parents to bring our kids up with clear teaching and example of what it means to follow Jesus.
- In a dedication, the church also pledges to care for that family and their child. Families need support in raising Godly kids and the church is pledging its help in that great task.
If you are interested in speaking more about baptism or child dedication, please call the church office (952-447-8282) and speak to a Pastor. We would love to help you take these steps.