getting baptized

What is Christian Baptism?

Baptism is the sign and celebration of some very important beginnings.

We use lots of different signs and ceremonies in our culture to indicate important beginnings.

  • A wedding ceremony marks the beginning of a marriage.
  • On New Years Eve each year, people gather with family and friends to mark the  beginning of a new year.
  • Large sporting events like the Olympics typically start with opening ceremonies.
  • Birthday parties mark the beginning of another year of a person’s life.

Baptism is also the sign and celebration of several very important beginnings for someone who has come to faith in Jesus.

Baptism is the beginning of a life of following and learning from Jesus.

In Matthew 28:16-20, we read how Jesus told his first disciples to baptize the new disciples that they would make and teach to follow Jesus.

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

Matthew 28:16-20

Baptism is also the beginning of a new kind of life.

Baptism is the beginning of a life that is full of grace and goodness and hope and freedom from sin. By sin we mean the behaviours and attitudes that damage our relationship with God and with one another.

In Romans 6:1-11 we read,

“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”

Romans 6:1-11

Baptism is also the beginning of a life lived in community with other followers of Jesus.

While imprisoned for telling people about Jesus, the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in the city of Ephesus to remind them of their calling as followers of Jesus to stick together and support each other as a community of faith. In Ephesians 4:1-6 he writes,

“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

Ephesians 4:1-6

Baptism includes some very important promises.

In a wedding ceremony, the bride and groom each make promises to each other that are meant to guide their relationship for the rest of their lives together. Likewise, in baptism, life-long promises are given and received between God, the person being baptized (or, in the case of a young child, their parents) and the community of faith (that is, the Church).

First, baptism is about God’s promises to the person being baptized.

Christians believe that through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God has promised to always love us, forgive us, guide us by the Holy Spirit, and welcome us into eternal life. In the baptism ceremony, the person being baptized receives God’s promises to them by expressing their faith in the words of the Apostles’ Creed.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Next, baptism is about promises we make to God with God’s help.

In addition to receiving God’s promises, the person being baptized promises to follow God’s ways with God’s help. In the baptism ceremony, this expressed through a series of questions that the minister asks the person being baptized (or, in the case of young children, their parents).

Examination of the Candidates for Baptism

Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?

I renounce them.

Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?

I renounce them.

Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?

I renounce them.

Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Saviour?

I do.

Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?

I do.

Do you promise to obey him as your Lord?

I do.

The Baptismal Covenant

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?

I will, with God’s help.

Will you persevere in resisting evil and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

I will, with God’s help.

Will you proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ?

I will, with God’s help.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself?

I will, with God’s help.

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

I will, with God’s help.

Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth?

I will, with God’s help.

Finally, in baptism the members of the Church make promises to the person being baptized.

During the baptism ceremony, the minister asks the congregation the following question:

Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support those being baptized in their life in Christ?

“We will.”

When and Where do Baptisms Happen?

At St. Paul’s, baptism services typically take place during Sunday morning celebrations of special significance in the life of the Church, including: The Baptism of the Lord (January), The Presentation of the Lord (February), Easter (early spring), Pentecost (mid to late spring), Trinity Sunday (mid to late spring) The Feast of All Saints / All Souls (end of October), The Reign of Christ (end of November), and Christmas.

Want to know more?

The notes above are meant to provide a summary and outline of the meaning of baptism, but it may raise just as many questions for you as it answers.  Please take some time to think and pray about what else you would like to know about baptism and then let us know. We’re so excited to talk more with you about baptism and everything that baptism means. 

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Phone – (506) 832-3375