Membership & Baptism
Baptism - Is it important?
YES! We believe that Baptism by Immersion is an important New Testament ordinance. There are several important reasons why every believer should be baptized:
JESUS COMMISSIONED HIS CHURCH TO BAPTIZE DISCIPLES IN HIS NAME
Matthew 28:19 - The church is commissioned by Christ to baptize those who come to believe in Christ as Lord and Savior in order to be obedient to Him.
JESUS SET THE EXAMPLE BY BEING BAPTIZED
John baptized Him after Jesus told him: "Suffer it to be so, now for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." Matthew 3:15. When Jesus was baptized, God said: "You are my own dear son. I am pleased with you" Mark 1:11. This indicates that when we are baptized, we please God. We are following the example of Jesus through baptism.
THE EARLY CHRISTIANS FOLLOWED JESUS BY BAPTISM AS THEIR FIRST EXPRESSION OF OBEDIENCE TO HIM
People were baptized in the book of Acts immediately after accepting Christ without exception. We see this with the people at Pentecost Acts 2:41, at Samaria Acts 8:16, the Ethiopian eunuch Acts 8:36-38, Paul Acts 9:18, Cornelius Acts 11:47, Lydia Acts 16:14-15, the Philippian jailer Acts 16:33, the people at Corinth Acts 18:8, and the people at Ephesus Acts 19:5. There is a wealth of evidence here demonstrating that a person who has accepted Christ as Savior should be baptized into a New Testament Church.
BAPTISM IS ONE OF THE MOST VISIBLE WAYS OF EXPRESSING COMPLETELY WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU THROUGH SALVATION
Baptism is an outward expression of an inward experience. Baptism is a depiction of what has already happened in our lives when we accept Christ. Baptism also shows what we have come to believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is really a picture of the gospel. The gospel is defined in I Corinthians 15:3-4, according to the scriptures, Christ died for our sins; he was buried, and he rose again the third day. Baptism pictures our faith in this and what has actually happened in our lives. We are buried with Him by baptism into death: That like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life Romans 6:3-4.
BAPTISM IS THE VISIBLE WAY OF OFFILIATING WITH A LOCAL BODY OF BELIEVERS
The church is Christ's assembled body of believers who have trusted Him for salvation and are called out of the world to serve Him. They have demonstrated this commitment through baptism. This church accepts for membership those who have demonstrated their commitment to Christ this way in a New Testament Church. One joins the church by a statement that they are saved and have been baptized. The church then sends for their record of membership to be transferred. If you have been saved, but not baptized, you can become a member of this church through baptism. You may express your desire to do this to the pastor. All of the records of the early Christian baptisms in Acts occur under the authority or through a person authorized by a local congregation of born-again baptized believers in Christ.
BAPTISM IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE OF THE HERITAGE OF THOSE WHO HAVE TAKEN A STAND
Although Baptism by Immersion is a New Testament practice, it was practically obscured for many centuries (except for isolated groups) until the Reformation in the 16th Century. A group called Ana-Baptist decided that the Bible should be taken literally and realistically. They contended that baptism by immersion is a New Testament Practice for a person who becomes a follower of Christ. They did not allow their infants to be sprinkled as there was no evidence for this in the Bible.
In Zurich, Switzerland, a law was passed that anyone refusing to have their infants sprinkled would be punished. However, these people refused this practice and chose to obey the Bible. Most of their leaders were drowned, burned at the stake, or imprisoned. Despite this early struggle for Believer's Baptism, the practice has survived and is administered by our church and countless others as a New Testament ordinance that we believe the Bible teaches.
The heritage of churches who practice Believer's Baptism by Immersion shows how important this ordinance has been in the past. They have not cheapened what baptism pictures of tried to lessen the impact of what it represents. Why should anyone try to do this?
SOME IMPORTANT FACTS TO REMEMBER ABOUT BAPTISM
-Baptism by Immersion is an important New Testament ordinance given to the church to administer - Those who contend that Baptist is humiliating and out of place should take a closer look at the Bible. Every believer serious in their commitment to Christ has been baptized.
-Baptism is not a saving ordinance - One must be saved before they are baptized or they will just be getting wet. The only requirement for baptism is to have accepted Christ as Savior Acts 8:37.
-Baptism is always in the context and under the authority of the local church - Christ gave this ordinance to the church. You should be baptized as a public witness to fellow believers. One who seeks to baptize without the authority of a local New Testament church is doing so without the authority of Christ.
-Baptism's correct form is through total immersion - Any other method of baptism does not picture the gospel. We are buried with him by baptism Romans 6:4. Jesus was immersed, for it says...And Jesus when he was baptized went up straight way out of the water Matthew 3:16. The Greek word for baptism means to plunge under or dip in water.
-Baptism is necessary to be an obedient Christ - Jesus was baptized before He began His ministry. Baptism should be the first step of obedience to Christ. If a Christian is not willing to submit to this first step of obedience to Christ, it is doubtful that they will submit other areas of their life to the Lordship of Christ.
-Baptism can be arranged for you through this church - The pastor is available for further counsel in this area. Please call and make an appointment with him today.
Membership & iTs Important
Church membership and its importance is a question that every born-again believer should consider. God's design is for every born-again believer to be a part of a local New Testament Church.
MEMBERSHIP IN A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH IS IMPORTANT
To be a part of the work Christ commissioned the church to do Matthew 28:19-20.
To decide about matters related to ministry and policy as a members with voting privileges.
To find a place of ministry to serve with the gifts and ministry God has given you Ephesians 2:21.
To be a participant and involved Christian in the mission God has given to the New Testament Church. Some people will not be reached for Christ unless they are reached through your witness and testimony as a church member.
To support the work of Christ in the appropriate manner through the local church. We need a place where we can be accountable to God and fellow believers for stewardship and faithfulness Malachi 3:8-10.
To become a part of the organization with which God intended to reach the world throughout its succeeding generations Ephesians 2:6, 3:21.
To fulfill God's plan for your life by meeting with other believers and becoming a part of a fellowship of believers who love, care, accept, and offer support for you, organized as a New Testament Church Acts 2:44-47.
Every instance of conversion in the book of Acts demonstrated identification with a local assembly of baptized believers and participated in that body of believers.
THERE ARE SEVERAL WAYS ONE MAY BECOME A MEMBER OF Our CHURCH
1. BY PROFFESION OF FAITH IN CHRIST AND BAPTISM
The Bible teaches that all who believed were in fellowship with and became a part of the church through baptism. Baptism is the first step of obedience to Christ. Through baptism, we identify with Christ and the church.
2. BY TRANSFER OF MEMBERSHIP
If you are a born-again believer who has been baptized by a local New Testament Church, you may transfer your membership from the church by requesting your "letter". We send for a record of your membership there. The specific church where your membership is will then send a verification of membership. You become a member of our fellowship when this transfer of membership is requested. We will then affirm your decision and you are received into membership at our church.
3. BY STATEMENT OF PRIOR MEMBERSHIP IN A BAPTIST CHURCH
You may join by statement that you have been a member of a Baptist church. Sometimes a records of membership is not available because of error or loss. You may then share that you are a born-again believer who has been baptized in a church "of like faith and order". The church will affirm your decision and receive you into membership by statement.
4. BY BAPTISM INTO A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
You may join by baptism when your membership has been in a group unlike ours. We make this statement in our Constitution regarding those wishing to become a members from a group not like First Baptist Church: "Those desiring membership from other denominations unlike Baptists will be counseled after they present themselves for membership. They will be accepted for membership in the appropriate manner for uniting with the church. The pastor, staff, or designated leaders will examine their baptism in light of scriptural conditions affirmed in The Baptist Faith and Message. They will then be accepted for membership either by statement or baptism into the church."
We make this statement because of the importance the scripture places on identification with Christ and the church through baptism. In no way do we question if a person has accepted Christ, if they truly have a testimony of receiving Christ. We do believe however that baptism should be properly administered and that the believer must be immersed by a proper authority.
In many cases, those who have been baptized in groups other than Baptist churches have not been properly baptized and need to be baptized by and into a New Testament Church. There are at least three reasons for this:
A PRACTICAL REASON
If a person has joined another group in a way unlike membership in our church, then it would be inconsistent to accept them as members. They would be transferring a membership that is unlike the one our church believes and practices.
Since most other groups do not baptize believers for identification with the church, then baptism in other groups would be a different type of membership if it is membership.
A HISTORICAL REASON
The New Testament Church was not started by a man, but by Christ. Jesus established the church in His earthly ministry, commissioned and empowered it with His Holy Spirit. New Testament Churches have existed in unbroken succession since the time of Christ. Baptist Churches know no founder but Christ and have practices identical to the early church. Other groups may not have similar practices, especially in regard to baptism and church membership. When you are baptized by our church, you are baptized by a church like the one Christ commissioned to baptize all who would come to faith in Him.
A SCRIPTURAL REASON
The Bible teaches that the church is a local assembly of baptized believers. Christ established His church during His earthly ministry and called those disciples baptized by John the Baptist. He sent them to make disciples, baptize, and teach. The church and its successors are commissioned to baptize. The commission to baptize was not given to individuals, but to the church.
On the day of Pentecost in Acts, people received Christ, were baptized, and then added to the church Acts 2:38-41. Every baptism in Acts was under the authority of an apostle commissioned by Christ or a church. We are saved into God's kingdom by faith in Christ John 3:3. We are baptized into the church by immersion to identify with Christ and those who are His followers Galatians 3:27.
Baptism primarily identifies us with Christ and the gospel Romans 6:3-4; I Corinthians 15:3-4. We also believe baptism identifies believers with a body of believers as we view the church in Acts and throughout the New Testament. If you have not identified with Christ and His church through baptism, you need a scriptural baptism administered by a New Testament church.
The pastor is available to answer any questions you may have about membership or the church. He will be glad to make an appointment to visit in your home or in his office. Our aim is to clarify any misunderstanding you might have and help you be all that the Lord wants you to be.
Periodically, classes about our church are held under the leadership of the pastor. Class 101 - On Church Belief & Practice is helpful to new members, those interested in church membership, or those wishing to find out more about the church. Call the church office for more information on this class.
Dan Nelson, Pastor