Christian Baptism

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Example of a baptism service
Example of a baptism service


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Why Baptism?
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Nazarenes understand baptism to be a symbol of the new relationship God establishes with His people. 


Baptism has been a Christian symbol since the time of Jesus (Matthew 3:1-6). It involves applying water to Christians to symbolize their death to the old way of life (Romans 6:3-4) and their new life God provides (Galatians 3:26-27). Baptism, a sacramental "means of grace," seals one's intention to follow God (Acts 2:37-41, 8:35-39, 10:44-48). The Bible never defines how much water was applied or how. Therefore, the Church of the Nazarene considers immersion, sprinkling, and pouring all to be acceptable methods of baptism.


 Manual of the Church of the Nazarene

"We believe that Christian baptism, commanded by our Lord, is a sacrament signifying acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ, to be administered to believers
and declarative of their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and full purpose of obedience in holiness and righteousness."

What does the Bible say about baptism?


  • It is important to be baptized
  • It is not the act of baptism itself that saves us. 
    • While we view baptism as a means of grace, we understand that it is also an act of obedience to God. The sacrament of baptism itself does not save us. (1 Peter 3:20-22) If it is not part of a lasting committment, then we are merely getting wet. (Romans 6:1-14)
  • The New Testament contains many stories about people who were baptized.


Baptism is like an induction


Ceremonies play an important role in many cultures. The induction ceremony is especially important. It can be very simple or extravagant. Whether one is being inducted into an official office, a social club, or religious group, there are a few elements that are very common.  

  • First, there are witnesses. Usually the person who is being inducted will stand in front of others and be recognized as "the individual" being inducted.
  •  Secondly, the inductee usually makes certain commitments. These commitments are taken very seriously and are usually set forth in order to uphold the values and goals of the organization.
  • Third, there is usually some kind of symbolic act; the raising of the hand, repeating certain words, presentation of a badge, certificate or other object.


The sacrament of baptism is filled with symbolism. While Christian baptism contains some of the same elements as an induction, it is much more meaningful. 


There are witnesses. Since baptism is a public declaration of our committment to God, you will want others to participate.  They will be there to celebrate with us and hold us accountable throughout the years to come.


Baptism is a commitment. It is a statement of our intention to follow Christ with all of our heart.


Many people remember their baptism as a profound event in their lives.  There is something about the act of being baptized that  increases our faith and inhances our relationship with God.  This is why we consider baptism to be a sacrament.  (What is a sacrament?)


The symbolism of Baptism


In Romans 6 we find a very descriptive explanation of the significance of baptism.  It uses the act of being dunked under the water as a metaphor death and resurrection.  Being lowered under the water symbolizes death; like being burried.  Being raised up from the water symbolizes new life; just as Christ was raised from the dead.  Read these verses and answer the following questions: 

Romans 6:1-14 

  • What do verses one and two say about sin?
  • What does verses six and seven mean by being a slave to sin?
  • What does it mean when it says, "do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies?" (vs. 12)
  • What do the words "for sin shall no longer be your master" mean? (vs.14)


Being baptized is a very serious committment. Some people believe that, no matter how hard we try, we sin every day.  However, these verses make it clear that we cannot claim to be a Christian and continue to wilfully disobey and rebel against God.  That's a lot of pressure.  What happens if you fail?  


God knows that even the most sincere and devoted Christians may one day disobey Him.  Fortunately He gives us hope.


Read the following verses and then watch the video below:

1 John 2:1-6


Why Baptism?
What happens if I fail?


Infant Baptism


Some Nazarenes choose to have their young children baptized as a symbol of their intention to raise their children in God's Church and their hope to see that their children choose God's ways when they are older.  Infant baptism does nothing to secure a child's salvation.  It is an assurance that God's prevenient grace will always be at work in his life; wooing him to make his own decision to become a follower of Christ (Psalm 139)
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