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|Articles - Christian Living|
|Written by Kenneth W. Hagin|
It is our desire to give a biblical perspective of this church ordinance. Therefore, in answering these questions, we will make our appeal directly to the Scriptures.
We believe that water baptism by immersion is a direct commandment of our Lord and is for believers only. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 28:19). "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15-16).
Each church should set its own guidelines for determining a minimum age for baptism. A church's guidelines should be influenced by biblical requirements, as well as a determination of those who are true believers and have a full understanding of the importance and significance of water baptism.
To avoid controversy and to be in accordance with correct biblical procedure, we suggest that the following water baptismal formula be adopted: "On the confession of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and by His authority, I baptize you in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen" (Matt. 28:19 and Eph. 1:22-23).
Water baptism beautifully depicts our identification as believers with the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.The symbolism of water baptism can simply be stated as "an outward demonstration of an inward regeneration, or an outward testimony of one's inward faith."
We do not believe that water baptism saves a person or transforms him from spiritual death to spiritual life. Rather, we encourage those who are born again, or believers, to obey the direct commandment of Christ and thus choose to identify themselves with His death, burial, and resurrection through the outward testimony of water baptism.
The following are some practical suggestions to help you administer water baptism.
Make sure the candidates are wearing clothing that won't be damaged when wet (and possibly soiled if you're conducting an outdoor baptismal service). If you do not have baptismal robes, encourage the candidates to wear clothing that will not become transparent when wet.
Men should wear a shirt and dark slacks.
Women should be reminded that their clothing will cling to them when wet. They should wear dark slacks and a dark shirt or blouse made of heavier material (no T-shirts). The proper foundation garments also should be worn.
A woman's shirt or blouse should be tucked in or secured in such a way that it will not ride up in the water. The shirt should also be high enough at the neck to avoid being revealing when wet.
Shoes may be removed if the service is being held in a baptistry or swimming pool. It is advised to instruct the candidate to wear shoes if the service will be held in a lake, pond, or river to protect against the possibility of stepping on sharp objects.
Before the baptismal service, have the candidate remove all personal items that could be lost or damaged, such as glasses, contacts, billfolds, watches, loose jewelry, pocket change, etc.
It is recommended that the candidate bring a change of clothing along with a towel, hair-dryer, etc.
Assisting The Candidate
It is advisable to have two people assisting the candidate in baptism.
If the baptism is being administered at a swimming pool or an outdoor service by a lake or stream, there should be people assigned to help the candidates in and out of the water and give them a towel or something to wrap themselves in.
If you choose to use a stream or river for your baptism service, it is suggested that the candidate face downstream so when tipped backward, the water does not rush into his or her nose or mouth.
It is suggested that the candidate grasp his nose with his left hand. Then with his right hand, he should grasp his wrist just below the left hand. The minister can then place his left hand under the candidate's neck and shoulders while placing his right hand on the candidate's right arm to maintain proper balance.
The work of baptism can be accurately summarized from the following portion of Scripture:
And baptism, which is a figure [of their deliverance], does now also save you [from inward questionings and fear], not by the removing of outward body filth (bathing), but by [providing you with] the answer of a good and clear conscience [inward cleanness and peace] before God, [because you are demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
by Kenneth Hagin Jr.
Excerpt permission granted by Faith Library Publication