Here at Grace Church, we teach that baptism is an ordinance that Jesus established for His church. Its purpose is two-fold, signifying a person’s initiation into the church, and his declaration of faith and submission to the church’s builder and head, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The believer is initiated as a member of God’s new covenant family as he symbolically declares his union with Christ in His life, death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-4). So significant is this act that, except for the thief on the cross, there is no example in Scripture of a Christian who was not also baptized.
That Jesus intended this ordinance for the church is clear from His command to the church in the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to keep all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Over and over throughout the book of Acts, we see this pattern played out as local churches are established and believers are initiated into these local bodies.
Baptism is also designed to be a declaration of the believer’s faith in Christ. It is not a part of God’s regenerating work in bringing the sinner from spiritual deadness to new life; rather, baptism is a public declaration of the reality of regeneration. As Paul writes in Colossians 2:12, the believer is “buried with [Christ] in baptism” and “raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” Baptism is a demonstration of this amazing truth. As one pastor has put it, it is “a physical sign of a spiritual reality.”
Naturally, then, baptism is also a declaration of one’s intentional commitment to the local body of believers. As the believer publicly declares their union with Christ and intent to pursue Christlikeness in all things, the church gathers to witness this declaration and affirm its obligation to come alongside the individual in seeing that he or she is in fact obeying all that Jesus has commanded.
Taken altogether, baptism means something incredibly profound. Baptism means God has already cleansed and atoned for all of your sins; that you have united yourself to Christ in his person and the entire scope of his redemptive work; and that you are now initiated into the new covenant family and committed to a life in the local body—gradually becoming more and more like its head, Jesus Christ.
Each of our members, including the new members we have welcomed this May, has been baptized in accordance with Scripture, testifying to the Lord’s work that has been done in their lives.
If you have not yet been baptized and desire to be, or have any questions about baptism, stop by the Member Center after either morning service or contact our Membership Department.