The Significance of Baptism
Baptism serves to identify publicly the individual as a follower of Christ. In the New Testament baptism is one of the first acts of obedience to Jesus that follows a person's acceptance of salvation by God's grace alone. It is an outward demonstration of what has already taken place inwardly. The Apostle Paul expresses the idea behind baptism very well when he says, "I have been crucified with Christ, and i no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20).
In the New Testament, Romans 6:1-11 describes the immersion Baptism as a means through which the believer identifies with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In that sense, baptism is the tomb that is also the womb. Going under the water represents Christ's death. As you go under the water you are acknowledging that your old sinful nature has died. In other words, your whole old way of life when you lived for yourself, has died. You are not your own boss anymore. Coming out of the water represents Jesus' resurrection and the believer's new life in Christ. It marks the beginning of a new kind of life, a new form of existence in which Jesus is Lord, God's Word is the standard, and the Holy Spirit is the Leader in the adventure of obedience. As such, baptism is a biblical rite of initiation into the body of Christ and the believer becomes a member of Christ's Body - the Church.
Typically at the baptism the person being baptised shares something of their faith journey that has led them to take this public profession of faith in Jesus and commitment to Him.
Who should be baptised?
Anyone who is a follower of Jesus and has not been baptised.
Who performs the act of baptism?
At Elim Dunedin we recognise that Jesus, our Lord, and the apostle Paul, did not frequently baptise people. According to this example, the church pastors do not typically baptise people. Instead, whoever has been pivotal for that person's journey to faith is an ideal person to carry out the baptism.
Where is a person baptised?
Water baptism is by immersion under water and so can take place anywhere where there is a sufficient quantity of water, such as a river or the sea. Celebrating a person coming to faith and getting baptised is a big deal for the Elim church family. That's why we hold special baptism services at which the whole church family can celebrate together.
Does Elim practice infant Baptism?
Since baptism serves to publicly identify a believer in Jesus Christ, this does not apply to infants who cannot yet make a profession of faith. In the New Testament we find parents bringing their children to Jesus. He held them and prayed for them and told His disciples to welcome them. But He did not baptise them, and He did not tell anyone else to baptise them. Baptism is for those who have made a personal decision to trust Christ alone for their salvation.
If you were baptised as a child, it was the intent of your parents that you would one day be a follower of Christ. Your baptism as an adult can be viewed as the fulfillment of your parents' wishes. It in no way renounces the baptism you received as a child.
I want to be baptised, now what?
Make sure you do two things; first, have a chat with your Lifegroup leader or a pastor about this. They will want to meet with you and explain the significance of baptism. It is advisable to complete Growth Track or work through a basic discipleship course before being baptised. Second, for practical arrangements, please contact the church office regarding when the next baptism service will be.
Finally, When you do get baptised, it is a very important event to be celebrated, so be sure to invite your family and friends.