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What’s the deal with Baptism?

An important way to move forward in your faith is to publicly profess your faith in Jesus by being baptized. If you haven’t been baptized since putting your faith in Jesus Christ, your next opportunity will be Sunday, November 1 during the Sunday worship services.

What is Baptism?

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Baptism at epikos | West Allis during Easter service, 2015.

Baptism is the symbolic and public declaration that you have placed your faith in Jesus.  Baptism doesn’t save a person, but it is a step of obedience after believing. Jesus directed his followers to baptize everyone who pursued discipleship (Matthew 28:16-20).

Does someone need to be baptized by water to be “saved” or go to heaven?

The quick answer is no. The prime example would be the thief who was hanging on the cross next to Jesus. The man confessed his sin and turned his life to Christ just moments before his death. Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Now this man did not get off the cross and get baptized; he was saved by putting his faith in Jesus. With that said, baptism is still worth doing as an outward symbol of something that has already inwardly taken place. Baptism doesn’t save someone from his or her sin; it is an act of profession that the salvation has already occurred.

What is the symbolism behind baptism?

One of the major symbolisms of baptism is that of dying and rising with Christ. In other words, when a person goes under the water it symbolizes their old life being buried…just as Christ’s body was buried. Then when a person comes out of the water, it symbolizes their new life in Christ because Christ was raised from the dead…and they also look forward to their resurrection with Christ. This symbolism is talked about by Paul in his letter to the Romans:

“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life…” (Romans 6:3–4)

Another symbol in baptism is that of being washed. When we commit our lives to Christ and accept his forgiveness, we are forgiven of our sins. Many times this is expressed as being washed clean. (1 Corinthians 6:11, Ephesians 5:26)

When should someone be baptized?

Every time we see it in the Bible, Christians are baptized after they have put their faith in Jesus Christ. For some, like the Ethiopian eunuch, this took place immediately after their faith commitment. When a person makes a sincere commitment, there isn’t a “waiting period” or time that they need to prove they really are following Christ. So at epikos, once you make a faith commitment, we encourage you to show it publicly through baptism. If you committed your life to Christ a while ago and just have never proclaimed it publicly through baptism, we encourage you to do it now! it’s never too late!!!

How was Baptism performed?

The Greek word baptizo means, “to plunge, dip, immerse” something into water. Before the word was used in direct association with the practice of baptism, ancient Greeks used it to describe a ship being totally sunk. This understanding of the language suggests that baptism was performed by full immersion, meaning that a person was completely immersed under water and then came up and out. When Jesus was baptized it says that he “came up out of the water.” There is no manual on how to baptize, but every instance in Scripture suggests that people were completely immersed.

If I was baptized as an infant, should I be baptized as an adult?

Again, looking to Scripture, we see no instances in the New Testament of infants being baptized. Baptism is done after a person has made the conscious decision to follow Jesus and trust in Him for salvation. Since such a conscious decision would be impossible to do as a baby, the answer is yes: even if you were baptized as an infant, I encourage you to be baptized by immersion after making a faith commitment to Jesus Christ.

So why am I still hesitant to get baptized?

Only you can answer that question…but what I’ve found is that most hesitations have to do with feeling that it’s a rejection of their parent’s decision to baptize them as an infant or that being baptized as a believer is a forsaking of the denomination/tradition that they grew up in.  While I can totally understand those feelings — not many of us want to reject something our parents did for us — my encouragement is to not look at it this way. Instead take some time to humbly think it through and bring it before God in prayer.

The other hesitation I often hear is that of just feeling embarrassed. It’s true; baptism can be an awkward, humbling experience. But again, my encouragement is to humbly think about it and pray about it.

So I challenge people to ask, “what is really holding me back from taking this faith step?” If you have more questions, let’s talk about it!

What does baptism look like at epikos?

There are two main places that we do baptisms.  In the summer, we gather down on the shores of lake Michigan.  Those getting baptized read  their 2-3 minute story of how they came to faith in Christ and then they are baptized in Lake Michigan.  Other times, we do baptisms at the church during a Sunday service.  On those occasions, we have a tank of water on/near the stage.  A reader reads your testimony, and then one of the pastors baptize you.

Whether in the lake or during a service these tend to be very special moments in the life of those getting baptized and in the life of the church!

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