Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
The final charge of Jesus to His followers is known as the Great Commission, outlining the great purpose of His Church until He returns. Within these words is the command to Baptize new believers in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptism is a special celebration for God’s Church where believers in Jesus declare their faith in Jesus to a watching world. Since Jesus spoke these words, the Church has celebrated true Salvation in Christ with the act of Baptism.
We know there are lots of questions that come with Baptism, such as:
Here at Grace Valley Church, we believe 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 a watching world of his or her faith in Jesus as the Substitute, Sacrifice, Redeemer, Rescuer, Friend, and Lord who will finish the work He started.
Let’s understand baptism through the lens of the statement above…
It’s no surprise that baptism involves water, but why? Water is used as a metaphor for Jesus who described Himself as the Living Water (John 3). Water also represents the idea of cleansing (Ephesians 5). Baptism accomplishes both ideas in one beautiful display. By immersing a new believer into water, you see the picture of the person’s faith. He or she literally goes under the water in the same way that he or she has been immersed into their newfound faith in Jesus. The physical water represents the fountain of Living Water that now lives inside the Christian.
The water of baptism also represents the cleansing that has occurred in the believer that has come through the forgiveness of sins accomplished by Christ alone through His blood shed on the cross. There are some traditions that do not immerse someone fully under the water and baptize instead by sprinkling or pouring of water. The symbolism is often the same, but the only examples of baptism we find in the Bible are by immersion. For this simple reason, Grace Valley Church practices immersion but on occasion may alter that method for special circumstances.
Jesus stated clearly that baptism be done in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We believe it is important to recognize each member of the Trinity by name at the point of baptism. This is not mindless formality. It is an intentional step to recognize our triune God as the source and agent of salvation and the One who receives all the glory for another sinner saved by grace. This statement gives glory to our Heavenly Father for His patience and compassion to save; to the Son for His miraculous birth, His holy life, His sacrificial death, His victorious resurrection, His glorious ascension, and His promised return; and to the Holy Spirit for convicting and compelling the sinner to repent and receive the miracle of Salvation.
Baptism is considered an act of obedience because it was commanded by Jesus for all who believe in His name and have received Salvation. It is important to understand this act of obedience is not a prerequisite for Salvation. In other words, baptism is not a saving act. Baptism is evidence of Salvation, not an act that generates Salvation. Likewise, a failure to be baptized does not nullify Salvation. The thief who died on a cross next to Jesus professed his faith and Jesus granted Salvation without baptism (Luke 23:43).
We believe that baptism is a symbol of a greater reality. Baptism portrays the stages of death, burial, and resurrection – the finished work of Jesus for us. Therefore, baptism does not achieve or complete our salvation; it is symbolic of the new reality of the believer’s life. Through Christ, we died to sin, buried the old life, and began walking in a new life of faith, repentance, and surrender. Some have compared baptism to a wedding where a bride and groom announce publicly what they believe privately. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
There is nothing special about the water but there is something very special about the message baptism displays. Baptism retells the Gospel story, serving as a reminder to believers and an invitation to those who have not yet placed their faith in Jesus. Every baptism announces that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life for the one, just as He is for the many. Baptism marks the start of a lifelong journey of growth in your Salvation.
Anyone who professes genuine faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the only way to find forgiveness of sin and righteousness before God. In-depth knowledge is not required to be saved or baptized.
“I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Jesus elevated the simple faith of a child so much that He urged adults to “become like little children.” This mindset requires humility. Often, knowledge can lead to pride, blinding us from the essence of genuine faith. Baptism inaugurates the journey of faith in Jesus, a journey that takes a lifetime.
We believe it is always best to defer to your judgment regarding the readiness of your child to be baptized. We want to be a resource to help you navigate that journey while encouraging the acceptance of childlike faith. We encourage you to help your child truly understand the meaning of baptism with lots of grace. Remember, God is not conducting a test. If your child receives the miracle of Salvation, start the journey of spiritual growth now.
Based on the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), Jesus expects His followers – men and women – to baptize new believers in Christ. The only Biblical prerequisite to baptize someone seems to be a genuine faith in Christ. At Grace Valley Church, we welcome and invite Christ-following parents to baptize their children. Adults may request a Christ-following friend or family member to baptize them. Pastors at Grace Valley Church are always available to baptize people as well.