Why does the Wesleyan Church practice the Christian ritual called baptism? What does it mean? Who is a candidate? What does the Bible say about it? What steps do I take if I want to be baptised?
Wesleyans practice two sacraments: the Lord’s Supper (or Communion) and Baptism. What is a “sacrament”? Good question! A sacrament is a religious practice which we believe Jesus endorsed for us to do, right on through the centuries since He was on earth. (Matthew 28:19)
Havelock Wesleyan baptizes by immersion, which means the baptismal candidate is submerged very briefly during the occasion. We make use of one of the many lakes in our area to have our baptismal gatherings
Baptism is an outward and tangible, public witness to a previous decision we have made to commit our life to Christ. (Acts 8:12-13; Acts 2:41).
BUT WHY DO SUCH A THING IN THIS MODERN DAY?
FIRST, it has great symbolism. It is symbolic of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is also symbolic of a spiritual surrender of one’s life to the will of God and His work in our lives. (Read Romans 6:3-5 and Colossians 2:12). It is directly associated with a recognition for the need to be cleansed inwardly. (I Peter 3:21).
SECOND, it is a means of identifying your life with the Church of Jesus Christ, and the importance of the Christian life itself. (Luke 3:21-22 and Acts 2:41).
FINALLY, this ancient and powerful tradition is a great witness of the continuation of Christianity through the centuries.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO BE BAPTIZED?
Any person who has made a conscious decision in their life to follow Christ, or be committed to Christ, is a candidate for baptism.
WHAT ABOUT AGE LIMITS?
Well, nobody is too old. But what about too young? A person should be old enough to have basic understanding of what personal faith in Christ means. Sometimes a child, say five or six years old, may have made a decision to invite Christ into his or her life. This may be the beginning of a lifelong faith, yet too early to rule out a later “adult” baptism. In these situations, we may do one of two things:
•Suggest that the child wait until they are about ten or twelve years old, and see if the sense of commitment and desire are still evident.
•We may perform what we call a “child” baptism. This is recognition of that child’s faith intentions, yet it leaves room for them to revisit their spiritual commitment to Christ in their growing years, say as an adolescent, and be confirmed through baptism. We believe there is no Biblical prohibition against this, and it treats every person’s decision seriously.
WHAT IF I WAS BAPTIZED AS AN INFANT?
Wasn’t that good enough? That question arises frequently. The reason we use the term Infant Dedication rather than Infant Baptism is that such children really have no conscious choice in the matter. The major focus of commitment in Infant Dedication is actually that of the parents. We prefer to reserve the term “baptism” for that event which follows an individual’s previous and personal commitment of faith in Christ for salvation.
WHAT STEPS DO I TAKE TO BE BAPTIZED?
•The easiest way to express your interest is by talking with one of our pastors. We will then have a conversation or interview with you about your readiness for this step in your spiritual journey.
•Invite family and friends. Make it a big deal! Baptisms are always encouraging to the other believers present, and your baptism may be a great witness to your friends and family.
•Wear clothes that are both comfortable and modest for the actual baptism, typically a pair of shorts and t-shirt to wear under your baptismal gown Avoid clothes that might be too clingy or “see through” when wet.
•You are invited to give a very brief statement at the time of your baptism about your relationship with Christ – although this is not at all necessary.
•Bring your own towel and a change of dry clothes
•You may wish to use this as a special time to commit to Christ something in your life that is a concern or problem to you. It may be a habit that hinders you, or a fear, or even God’s help needed in some important relationship. Great things may happen as a result of baptism which is a step of obedience as well as a witness for Christ.