So what is a 'Baptist'?
Being 'baptist' is not the most important thing about us, but it does distinguish us from some other churches.
The word ‘baptise’ is found in the Bible. It is the word used to describe something that is recorded as happening in the New Testament.
Originally the New Testament was written in Greek and the Bibles we use are translations into English.
However, the word ‘baptise’ is not strictly a translation; it is a transliteration. English letters have been substituted from Greek letter. In Greek, even today, there is a word called ‘baptizo’. And even today it still means to immerse or submerge – to dip into, just as it did two thousand years ago.
So the way people were ‘baptised’ as the Bible describes it is for them to be temporarily submerged in water. And that is what we do. After all, that is what the word means.
This makes us different from some churches because we ‘baptise’ in the way the Bible describes. Others may sprinkle or pour water, but that is not what the word actually means.
You may be familiar with the idea of ‘baptising’ babies, but this is not described in the Bible. And we don’t do this. What is described in the Bible is that people who become Christians, those who put their faith is Jesus, are then baptised. That is what we do. We call it ‘believer’s baptism’.
So there are two ways in which Baptist churches are different from some others. We baptise by immersion, and we baptise those who have become Christians.
Does this really matter?
Well, it does matter to us because we think we should model all of life in the pattern the Bible gives us, including what is done in church.
But it matters also because of what baptism represents.
Remember, only someone who has become a Christian should be baptised. It is only meant for them.
Why is that? Because baptism is a vivid picture of what happened to someone when they became a Christian.
When you become a Christian, you become ‘joined’ to Jesus Christ. In particular you are united with Him in His death, burial and resurrection. In the Bible, Romans 6:3-8 tell us this.
So as Jesus died, we ‘die’ with Him in baptism. The ‘burial’ under the water symbolises this. And as we receive new life and rise again with Jesus, so the lifting up out of the water pictures this. The whole person has been changed; it is an entirely new life. So the whole person is submerged and brought up out of the water again.
To miss this is to miss the point of baptism entirely. That’s why we think it matters.