Baptism

20130331 -Easter_Celebration_Weekend-119.jpg
 
 

Baptism at highrock

What is baptism?

The word "baptism" means "to dip," or "submerge," and refers to the practice of submerging new believers in water and lifting them to new life.   The practice of baptism wasn’t invented by Christians- Jews were doing it for many centuries before Jesus. But Jews would say that they didn't invent it either; baptism was invented by God Himself. 

Baptism is one explicit instruction (ordinance) that Jesus gave to his followers.  New life in Jesus consists of repenting of sins, believing in Jesus, receiving the Spirit, being baptized by water, and identifying with God’s community. The idea of an un-baptized or lone-ranger Christian was simply not entertained by the Early Church. Baptism is a public initiation into God’s community. 

Baptism is also a sacrament in the sense that it is an outward sign of an inward invisible grace.  It publicly reveals an inward mystery.   

Baptism is a one-time-only event.  If you've been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ a previous time in your life you don't need to be baptized again.  It doesn't matter if you didn't like that church, or if they believed something different about baptism, or if you don't remember it.  You don't need to be baptized again.  Baptism is about Grace.  Even if we are believers when we are baptized, we still acknowledge that it was God's grace in our lives that enabled us to turn toward him. 

What Baptism is Not?

Baptism is not a salvific event. In other words, one does not receive salvation because they are baptized. Salvation comes through Christ alone, and his work on the cross.  There is nothing that we can do to receive that salvation except believe in Christ, his death, and his resurrection.  

Baptism is not magic.  There is nothing innately spiritual or mystical about the waters of baptism.  It doesn't do anything to you.  Baptism is an outward expression of an inward truth.   It is a public disclosure of God's mysterious grace that is already at work in us before we even say 'yes' to him.  

A Biblical Overview of Baptism

In the Scriptures there is a long history of baptism, and each time baptism resembled death and resurrection.  In each instance of baptism, God symbolically raised the baptized to new life; in so doing, He established a people who belonged to Him.

There were three major baptisms in the Old Testament.  The first baptism we see in Scripture is the Flood.  Out of the waters that threatened to destroy everyone, God rescued Noah and his family, made a covenant with them and declared them to be His people. The second baptism we read about is the Exodus.  After God rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He led them to the sea where they would have drowned without His intervention.  But God led them through the waters to new life on the other side, and again, He made a covenant and declared them His people. We see a third baptism as the Israelites finally prepared to enter the long-awaited Promised Land.  Somehow they had to cross the Jordan River in order to enter the Promised Land, so God held back the waters until He’d led them safely to the other side.  There they received what God had promised, and once again, He declared them to be His people.

So baptism was always something God initiated - He blessed people with His presence and promises, not because they deserved it, but as the free gift of grace from a God who gives us what we don't deserve.

Ever since, whenever anyone wanted to join the community who worshiped the one true living God, Jews insisted that they be baptized like they were.  This symbolized that they were taking on a new identity of people whose old identities had been drowned in death and then raised to new life - born again as God's chosen people.

As we enter the New Testament, John the Baptist is the first person we see baptizing; scandalously, he baptized Jews too.  In so doing, he  reminding them that its not enough to simply be a born into a community that belongs to God; each of us must individually enter into the identity and inheritance shared by all God's people.

Ever since, whenever new people have come to worship the living God who was revealed in Jesus, they are baptized as a visual expression of the new life that they have received in Jesus. As they descend into the water, we remember that our old identity, sins and ambitions die with Christ – nailed to His cross. As they emerge from the water, we remember that they’ve been born again into new life, into the family of the global church, and into an inheritance prepared for them that will never perish, spoil, or fade.  This is not an achievement of any kind; it's a gift we don't deserve, but which we receive because in His grace, God has called us His very own children.

Should I be baptized?

If you consider yourself to be a follower of Jesus and have never been baptized in any form in a Christian church, then yes!  You should be baptized. 

Please note that if you were baptized as an infant, we do consider that a valid baptism and you do not need to be baptized as an adult.  However, if you are interested in reconfirming and remembering your baptism publically we can discuss ways of pursuing this together.

When do baptisms happen at Highrock?

Typically we perform adult baptisms on specific Highlighted services throughout the year.  Easter is a highlight day for baptism because it is the day we celebrate resurrection.  We also reserve the days of Pentecost (the sunday 50 days after Easter) and the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  We also offer more opportunities for adult baptism during the year whenever there is significant interest and demand.  On the other hand, infant baptisms can be done on most Sundays throughout the year if planned and scheduled in advance.   We refrain from baptisms during the season of Lent.

Do you baptize infants?

Yes.  Some people wonder why we baptize babies and infants when clearly they can’t understand these promises or do anything to earn this privilege - but that only proves that we don’t really understand what baptism is all about.  Baptism is always a gift God gives to those who don’t entirely understand it and haven’t earned it at all.  God invites us to be born again as children into His family, makes us promises, and offers us an inheritance that we don’t have to earn.  Perhaps it is for this reason that Jesus said (Matt 18:3) "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  The practice of infant baptism is also widely attested in the history and tradition of the global church. 

With this being said, the Evangelical Covenant denomination is unique in its commitment to maintaining unity within the church with regard to controversial issues; as such, the Covenant allows for both infant and believer baptism in local churches.  Please click here to read more about our denomination’s approach to baptism.  In effect, what this is means that we are also open to performing baby dedications at Highrock.  Our pastors consult privately with each parent to determine the best mode of devoting your child to God.

For more on the denomination's general perspective on welcoming children into the church, please see this Covenant denominational resource entitled “A Theology of the Child.”    

What is the process for baptizing or dedicating an infant at Highrock?

If you are interested in infant baptism or dedication, you can begin by filling out this form.