Over the past few months we have been reviewing the doctrine of baptism. Recently, we put together a document in a Question and Answer format to present a condensed version of the more detailed teaching on the topic. Below is the final section of that document:
How Does CLBC Practice Baptism?
Without exception, the pastors will only recommend professing believers, whose life reasonably matches that confession, for baptism. Upon the acceptance of the prospective member by the congregation, baptism may be received.
While there is no age limit given, we are cautious in baptizing young children. While we do not want to withhold baptism, we also do not want to baptize someone who either has not shown evidence of regeneration and conversion or someone who does not understand the meaning of baptism.
The Bible does not limit the administrator of baptism to the pastors of the church. Because we believe all Christians are priests before God, any member of the congregation is eligible to baptize upon the recognition of the church and endorsement of the pastors.
Generally speaking, though, one of the elders will perform the baptism as a representative of the congregation. Pastors are those who already act on behalf of the church as they preach the Word, and baptism is a public rite of response to the Word that visibly proclaims the Word.
We believe that baptism by immersion is representative of the descriptions of the New Testament. Inasmuch as it is possible, we should baptize people by immersion. There may be extreme cases where other alternatives are necessary: particularly as it relates to baptizing the physically disabled or elderly.
Baptism into the church results in inclusion in membership. In baptism, a believer commits to God’s people and God’s people commit to that individual. So, baptism is not merely a prerequisite for church membership, it is the entry to church membership itself. Those who are baptized already and desire to join our church do not need to be re-baptized; baptism happens once.
Baptism does not have to take place in a church building (though we have a baptistry), nor does it have to take place during a service (though that may be most natural). However, baptism should be celebrated at an official gathering of the church—not merely a gathering of a small group of believers who happen to be members at the same church.
The timing of a new believer’s baptism requires wisdom and will be thoughtfully evaluated by the pastors. We do not want to delay a new believer’s baptism unnecessarily. Nevertheless, we want to have sufficient time to affirm that individual’s profession of faith and educate them on what it means to be baptized and what it means to become a member of this church.
What Do I Do If I'm Nervous?
It is okay to be nervous about getting baptized. Let your nervousness remind you that following Jesus is a life-changing commitment in which you are called to die to yourself in pursuit of Christ. Know that the church participating in your baptism is excited for you as you take this step of obedience to Christ.
How Do I Pursue Baptism?
Some indications that you are ready for baptism are that you can positively answer the following questions:
1) Are you certain that you have been saved from God’s wrath? Can you explain how you have been forgiven from sin and have received eternal life? Are you certain that your eternal destiny is in heaven with God?
2) Do you understand the biblical meaning of baptism? Can you articulate the nature, mode, and purpose of baptism? Can you explain why you should be baptized?
3) Are you committed to live as a follower of Jesus for the rest of your life? Are you willing to represent Christ to all, identifying with his people and separating yourself from the world?
If your answer to these questions is yes, then to pursue baptism at Crystal Lake Baptist Church you should talk to one of the elders and express your desire to be baptized. One of the elders will review this document with you, answer any questions you have, and describe the baptism and membership process to you.
Recommended Resources for Further Reading:
1) The Baptist Faith & Message 2000
2) Understanding Baptism (Church Basics), Jamieson
3) Going Public: Why Baptism is Required for Church Membership, Jamieson
4) Believer’s Baptism, Schreiner and Wright
5) Baptist Foundations, Dever