FAQ about Baptism
Baptism is God’s will for every believer, and we rejoice whenever someone chooses to take that step of obedience here at The Moody Church. We schedule baptism services approximately once each quarter; three of them are included as part of the Sunday morning worship service, and our summer baptism is held in Lake Michigan.
In order to be baptized at The Moody Church, one must be a regular attendee (membership is not required) and be able to demonstrate both a relationship with Christ and an understanding of the purposes of the baptism ordinance. In order to ensure that this is the case, we offer a Baptism Preparation Class, which is required for all who wish to be baptized. There is no cost for the class, and no pre-registration is necessary.
It means “to plunge or to immerse.” At The Moody Church, we baptize by immersion; that is, the entire body is immersed in water. We realize that other groups baptize by “pouring” or “sprinkling,” but we do not. Every church—including those who baptize other ways—will recognize baptism by immersion.
While we understand that there are different positions on baptism depending upon the faith tradition from which one comes, we at The Moody Church believe in and perform what is called “believer’s baptism.” Believer’s baptism means that only those who are able to articulate an authentic profession of faith should be baptized. In other words, only those who have placed their faith in Christ and received him to be their Lord and Savior are to be baptized.
The reason for this is that baptism is a visual representation of the transforming power of the gospel. It is a visible, outward symbol of an inner spiritual reality; it is an outward expression of one’s decision to publicly identify with Christ.
Because it is a commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …” (Matthew 28:19, ESV). If a new Christian disobeys this simple command of Christ at the beginning of his Christian life, he is not likely to be obedient to His other commands. Furthermore, it offers us a unique opportunity to publicly affirm our devotion to Christ; as He said in Matthew 10:32–33, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
Since the believer is totally immersed in water, the action becomes a picture of death, burial, and resurrection. When our Lord Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, He said, “…for in this way it is fitting for us (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Christ’s baptism in water was a picture of His “baptism of suffering” on the cross where He died for our sins (Luke 12:50). Our baptism in water is a picture of inner spiritual experience: we have had the old life buried with Christ, and we are raised to live in resurrection power (Colossians 2:12–15).
In Romans 6:3–4, Paul says “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we too might walk in newness of life.” In light of this passage, baptism is the perfect symbol of one’s conversion. As we go down into the water, we are identifying with Christ in His death and burial; as we come up out of the water, we are identifying with Christ in His resurrection and desire to walk in newness of life.
In the Book of Acts, no one was baptized in order to be saved, but all were baptized because they had been saved. 1 Peter 3:20–22 makes it clear that baptism does not save us by washing away our sins, for only the blood of Christ can do that. Obedience in baptism does save us from a guilty conscience, because we know we have obeyed Christ’s command.
There are verses which state “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3) and “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27).
Here we must distinguish between water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit enters your body to make it a temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). No amount of water applied externally can put a person “into Jesus Christ.” Only the Holy Spirit can do this. The “baptism of the Holy Spirit” occurs the instant you are saved through faith in Christ, and it is this baptism which makes you a part of His Body.
At The Moody Church, baptism is not a requirement for membership; nor is baptism limited to those who are members, although one must be a regular attendee in order to be baptized at The Moody Church. We encourage baptism for all believers because it is the Lord’s command and we want to be obedient to Christ. Our constitution reads:
The Lord Jesus Christ instituted the ordinances of baptism and communion, which tangibly and symbolically express the Gospel. Although these ordinances are not the means of salvation and do not confer special grace, when they are celebrated by the church in genuine faith, they do confirm and nourish the church, the body of Christ. (Matthew 26:26–29; 28:18–20; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26)
In obedience to Christ’s command, we urge every believer upon profession of faith to joyfully follow our Lord’s instructions and be baptized “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). We encourage those who were baptized as infants to follow in believer’s baptism as a testimony of their own personal faith in Christ. We desire to follow the pattern of the New Testament in which conversion was followed by baptism by immersion. (Article 2, Section A.6)
Because infants are not able to enter into a relationship with Christ, their “baptism” is not a sign of spiritual rebirth. Similarly, those adults who are baptized before they are saved are not indicating a new life. Baptism takes on new meaning for the believer because he or she knows this was done in obedience to God’s command. We encourage those who were baptized as infants to follow in believer’s baptism as a testimony of their own personal faith in Christ. This is the way to maintain a good conscience before God.
Only once. We meet at the Lord’s Supper repeatedly to remember His broken body and shed blood, but we are baptized only once, since we are saved only once. If a Christian gets out of fellowship with the Lord because of sin, he can confess his sins and be forgiven (1 John 1:5–10), but it is not necessary to be baptized again. Water baptism is a once-for-all-time public testimony of a believer’s identification with Christ in His in death, burial, and resurrection. It is not a religious ceremony that washes away our sins.
No. The Moody Church does not practice infant baptism, as we believe that only those who are able to articulate an authentic profession of faith—which infants are obviously unable to do— should be baptized.
We treat the baptism of children with special care. When a child makes the choice to follow Jesus, he or she has the opportunity to declare his/her commitment to Jesus through baptism. Children being baptized at The Moody Church must understand what baptism means and must be able to declare their intention to follow the way of Jesus. If a child expresses a desire to be baptized, we ask that the child attend a baptism class with a parent, and that the family schedule an interview with the Pastor of Baptism and the Director of Children’s Discipleship.