The word baptize comes from the Greek word Baptizo. Greeks used this word to mean dip or submerge. It was used to describe the process of making pickles or dyeing cloth.
As a religious practice, baptism was uncommon in many ancient religions as part of ceremonial washings. In Judaism, people who weren’t Jewish would baptize themselves as part of the process. During the life of Jesus, John the Baptist also baptized people, but the baptism he practiced was something new. John was baptizing people who were already Jewish but who recognized that being Jewish wasn’t enough and they needed to change their lives and begin obeying God from the heart.
In its original context, baptism symbolized cleansing from an old, wrong way of acting or thinking and identifying with a new, God-honoring lifestyle. The baptisms also took place in public places so everyone in the community could see the difference Jesus had made in a person’s life.
In Romans 6:1-4, the apostle Paul explains the symbolism of Christian baptism — that just as Jesus died and was raised from the dead, we have died to our old way of life and have been raised to a new life as a result of trusting in Jesus.
That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus.
Why be Baptized?
One of Jesus’ final instructions to His followers is found in Matthew 28:19 (NLT).
“Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
We baptize people today because Jesus told us that after a person has become His follower (or disciple), they’re supposed to be baptized. The purpose of baptism is to show people in both the church and the community that they’ve become a follower of Jesus.
People sometimes get confused and believe that baptism will cause God to forgive them — or will help them get to heaven. The Bible clearly teaches that there is no good work we can do that will help us get to heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We are also shown by example that baptism is not required for getting into heaven. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, the thief hanging beside Him asked, "Remember me when you come into your Kingdom." There was no opportunity for the thief to be baptized or perform any good works, but Jesus told the thief that He would see him in heaven that very day (Luke 23:42-43).
A person should be baptized after they have trusted in Jesus for forgiveness of their sins. Jesus tells us to make disciples and baptize — and we believe He meant it to be done in that order. That’s also the pattern we see in the Bible in places like Acts 8:38.
Since we want to be sure that people being baptized fully understand their decision, we do not baptize children until and unless they fully understand what they are doing and the significance of receiving Jesus into their hearts as their personal Savior. Depending on their level of understanding, parents may want to encourage their children to wait until they are mature enough to make the decision for themselves.
What if I was baptized before?
If you were baptized as an infant or at any time before you trusted in Jesus for forgiveness of your sins, we encourage you to be baptized again.
How does CLA do Water Baptism?
There are water baptisms planned throughout the year. Normally, we use a baptism pool in the main Sanctuary just above the choir loft, but occasionally there are other locations, such as streams or pools that are used. It is required that all wishing to be baptized attend a Wednesday night Instruction Class just prior to the baptism.
- Look for announcements in the weekly bulletin and register online
- Contact our Connections Ministry Administrative Assistant Kim at 717-635-7223 or email@example.com to register or request more information
- Children under 12 are required to meet with the Children’s Pastor prior to registering for the baptism class. Contact Angie at 717-635-7227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are not sure if baptism is right for you, or if you need to discuss a special circumstance, please call us at 717-635-7223.