Harvest Fresno Church is a Baptist church. What do we mean by saying that we are a Baptist church?
Harvest Fresno Church believes the following about the meaning and practice of baptism:
What does it mean to be Baptist?
The Necessity of Baptism: Why Be Baptized?
Baptism is central to God’s Great Commission to the church
CHRIST commanded that all believers be baptized:
Matt. 28:19: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
The order is first make disciples, evangelize, making disciples by teaching and secondly, baptizing them. All who were baptized are to be instructed in the ways of the Lord.
The Apostles also commanded baptism in Acts 2:28, Peter preached the very first message that started the church on Pentecost.
He preached this to the gathered crowd.
Acts 2:38: “And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus CHRIST for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Notice the order: repent and then be baptized
In every New Testament command and instance of baptism, repentance and faith precedes baptism.
Therefore, Harvest Fresno Church believes that if one has a credible profession of faith here or she should be baptized as an act of obedience.
The Mode of Baptism
Many people brought up as Catholics, or Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Lutheran, have been baptized as children and often sprinkled with water.
At Harvest, Fresno Church we believe that baptisms should be done by immersion vs being sprinkled or having water poured upon you.
Why? Several reasons for this:
1) Because of the meaning of the term “baptize”
The Greek word baptizmo: means to plunge, dip, dye, immerse”
There is a different word for Sprinkle: rhantizo,
And there are other words for “Pour.” Epicheo” and “proschusis”, which are used in the NT, but never for baptism.
You can’t say you need to be “poured”
2) 2nd reason is the examples of baptisms in the NT show people went down into the water to be immersed rather than having water be brought to them in a container and poured.
John 3:23: John was baptizing in Near Salim b/c there was much water there
The apostle John describes Jesus going into the river and coming out of it.
3) The 3rd reason is that immersion better fits the symbolism of the baptism, being identified with the death, burial and resurrection of CHRIST.
Accordingly, at Harvest Fresno Church we hold to baptism by immersion as the proper mode of baptism.
Meaning of Baptism
At Harvest Fresno Church, we consider baptisms as a celebration of a new birth, a new life in CHRIST.
It is an outward symbol of what has happened inward in our hearts.
It is a public Profession of the internal Possession of faith
To understand the meaning of baptism let’s turn to Rom 6:3-5
Romans 6:3-5 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into CHRIST Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
From this passage we learn that baptism symbolizes our Union with CHRIST in the following ways:
Our Death with CHRIST: When CHRIST died based on our union with Him, we died. He died the death we deserve.
Our future physical death is not anything to fear because we have died with CHRIST!
As Paul proclaimed: “O death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? (1 Cor15:5). CHRIST took away the sting of death for us.
Baptism is symbolic of our death with CHRIST and the death of our sin nature—
Our old life dies with CHRIST, Our rebellion dies with Him, Our sin is crucified w/ CHRIST.
The crucifixion is represented by standing upright in water, being immersed is being buried, that is why immersion best represents this symbol of being buried.
2) New Life
Baptism also symbolizes our new life in CHRIST.
CHRIST didn’t stay in the grave and we don’t stay under water.
Baptism represents being resurrected with CHRIST. His resurrection is our resurrection to a new life.
“We walk in the newness of life” v. 4
Or as in Col 2:12:
Having being buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
By faith, we CHRIST dies for us and by faith we are resurrected with CHRIST.
Baptism reflects our in explicable union with CHRIST we have by faith.
Those, who out of love and obedience to God, worship the Lord through the ordinance of Baptism,
That’s why we don’t focus on a striking conversion experience; but on CHRIST, and emphasize the Christian life as a constant living out of our baptism, in the communion of saints.
Lifelong discipleship is not individual sport, but a team sport. Baptism represents that
Baptism is a public declaration of a response to the Gospel.
That being said, baptism doesn’t have you or make you more saved.
If you are uncertain about your salvation, baptism is not assurance of it or an insurance policy to make sure you get to heaven.
It is an outward declaration of an internal possession of new life
Representing a transfer from the kingdom darkness to the kingdom of CHRIST
If you are looking for a Baptist church in the Fresno-Clovis area, we hope that you visit us. Please click the link below and plan your visit. We look forward to seeing you soon!