Our vision at Brainerd is to help those who are far from God become committed followers of Christ.
What may not be clear in the statement above is that we never “arrive” as committed followers, but we are committed to an on-going relationship with Christ. The Bible teaches us one of the first steps in this commitment as a follower of Christ is to identify with Christ through believer’s baptism.
At Brainerd, we use the following statement, shared with other Southern Baptist churches, to describe our beliefs about baptism:
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper.
Using this statement as a guide, let’s look at some specifics to further explain our beliefs concerning baptism.
Baptism is for believers and signifies their faith in a crucified, buried and risen Savior. Baptism identifies the follower of Christ with His death, burial, and resurrection just as each follower of Christ has died to his sin, buried the old life, and found new life as an adopted child of God. We often use other words to describe this experience. We say the follower of Christ has confessed their sin, repented of their sin, and been born again (Romans 10:9-10, Romans 6:1-11, Colossians 2:11-12, 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, Romans 8:14-17, Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11). Baptism is the follower of Christ’s public identification with Christ and demonstrates their commitment to follow Him as their King wherever He leads and to do whatever He calls them to do (Matthew 28:18-20).
One of the first and most public ways a follower of Christ identifies with their Savior and King is through baptism (Romans 6:3-11; Galatians 3:27). Individually, through baptism, the believer is symbolizing their identity with Christ in His death and resurrection. Corporately, the baptized believer is uniting with every other follower of Christ, who are all one with Christ (Acts 2:37-47, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13). The follower of Christ is symbolically declaring through baptism that he/she has died to his/her former life ( in a vivid watery grave), iw buried in the likeness of Jesus’ death, and is then raised to walk in newness of life (demonstrating that he/she is now following a new pattern of life with Jesus).
New Testament, or “believer’s baptism”, has only one prerequisite: conversion. You must be born again by repenting of your sins and placing your faith and hope in Jesus. You are to be baptized once you have become a follower of Christ. Infant baptism reflects the best loving intentions of a family; however, the child is not old enough to have any decision, confession, or trust in the matter. In Scripture, baptism came after someone had consciously and purposefully made a personal decision to follow and trust Jesus as Savior and Lord (Acts 2:40-41, 8:12). Baptism is a commitment of your will to follow Jesus, not the will of someone else.
Baptism does not save you (Ephesians 2:8-9). Your sins are wiped away and you experience forgiveness only by confessing and believing (1 Peter 3:18; Romans 10:9-12). Baptism is meant to be one of the first acts of obedience after putting your faith in Christ. It is the believer’s public declaration that Jesus is his/her King.
Christian baptism is immersion … in water. The Greek word used in the New Testament for baptism is "baptizo" which means to plunge, dip, or immerse.
Baptism is a public testimony. It is a verbal and visible declaration both to the Church and the watching world of a believer's commitment to follow Jesus (Romans 6:4).
Baptism should be done in the context of a local church. Baptism is a church ordinance. At Brainerd baptism is a prerequisite to becoming a member of our church and to participating in the Lord’s Supper. With the possible exception of the apostles in the New Testament, baptism was an ordinance administered within the context of a local church or in missionary contexts with the purpose of establishing local churches.
Frequently asked Questions:
Why is baptism important?
Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:16). He was baptized as an act of obedience to God the Father. Jesus’ baptism symbolized His willingness to take on the death that we deserved. So, even before we indicate our willingness to identify with Christ in our baptism, He already indicated His willingness to identify with us in His baptism. Jesus also commanded His followers to baptize others (Matthew 28:18-20). The early church made baptism a priority (see all references in Acts).
If baptism doesn’t save me, why should I be baptized?
Baptism is an act of obedience that represents the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior. Baptism is symbolic of the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his/her faith in the final resurrection (Matthew 28:18-20). We have no record in the New Testament of believers resisting or neglecting the opportunity to be baptized.
Baptism is a public testimony or declaration that one has put his/her faith in Christ and given his/her allegiance to Him as King. It is a visual presentation of the work of the gospel in someone’s life for those watching the baptism.
How long should I wait to be baptized?
You should be baptized as soon as possible after you have believed and trusted in Jesus. It is clear that Jesus told His disciples to baptize others who commit their lives to Him (Matthew 28:19). Baptism immediately after salvation aligns with how baptism was practiced in the New Testament and the early Church (Acts 8:34-39, 10:44-48, 16:30-34, 16:44-48, 18:8, 19:1-5, 22:12-16). Have you confessed, believed, and trusted in Jesus? Then there is no reason to wait.
Should I be baptized again if I was baptized as an infant?
As mentioned above, infant baptism reflects the best loving intentions of a family; however, the child is not old enough to have any decision, confession, or trust in the matter. In Scripture, baptism came after someone had consciously and purposefully made a personal decision to accept and trust Jesus as Savior and Lord (Acts 2:40-41, 8:12). Baptism is a commitment of your will to follow Jesus, not the will of someone else.
What if I was baptized by immersion prior to the time when I truly put my faith in Christ?
In some ways this answer is similar to infant baptism. The Bible teaches that baptism should follow, not precede, putting our faith in Jesus and His Lordship in our lives. We encourage you to be baptized after you make a decision to follow Christ.
Baptisms at Brainerd:
Baptisms take place on the fourth Sunday of every month in each venue on the Chattanooga campus.
Baptism is required for membership at Brainerd, but you do not have to become a member to be baptized.
An interview prior to baptism is required.
If you have other questions or need more specific details, please email us at email@example.com.