Why we do it. What it’s all about.
You won’t find membership – where you pay your dues & then get special privileges – in the Bible. Joining a church is NOT like joining a club.
But, in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 3, 4, 5, & Colossians 3, the Apostle Paul does call us “members” of one Body. For example:
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” – Romans 12:4-5
“Christ is the Head of this Body & as we are connected to Him, we will be connected to one another & grow together.” – Ephesians 4:15 & 16So, Church membership should NOT be viewed like acceptance into the yatch club. It is a living , breathing relationship in which we are connected to one another through Christ. Members of the church are connected to Christ and, therefore, connected to one another. We need one another. We spiritually grow or wither together. In some sense, we actually belong to one another.
Membership at GVF is a formal recognition of 3 things:
Commitment, first to Christ and then to one another.
We want to be authentic. We want to be a safe-place to struggle. Do you want to bear your soul to someone who might walk out on you next week? Do you feel safe if you feel like everyone would jump ship if any troubles came along? Commitment is the basis of trust & vulnerability.
Permission to hold you accountable to become who God wants you become.
Engaging with God personally: Are you growing in your relationship with Christ? What are you doing to grow you love for God?
Connecting in accountable relationships: Do you have Christian friends who know how you’re really doing, who you can share your struggles with, who you can challenge you, who can call you out when you are sinning?
Serving & being served in the church: Are you using your gifts and talents to serve our church? Are you supporting our God-given mission with your time, money, energy, & prayers? Are you participating in worship, prayer, communion, etc.?
Going on mission: Are you going where God is sending you? Are you making disciples & spreading the fame of our God at work, in your neighborhood, in your home?
Responsibility for others in our church.
Will you take responsibility for others in our church? Will you love them enough to challenge & support & push & forgive them? Will you take the risk to invest yourself in the lives of others? Will you protect our church from getting distracted or off mission?
WHAT DOES BAPTISM MEAN? AND OTHER QUESTIONS
Why are Christians always dunking people in water? And why is this such a big deal?
Baptism has been incredibly meaningful to Christians for the past 2000 years. In baptism, we experience God’s love for us, we see how our lives connect with His, and we see and hear His forgiveness. It is a great symbol of our faith that Jesus has done everything and forgiven everything so that we can know and enjoy God’s love. In baptism, we hear the promise that we can live with God now and forever more.
WHAT DOES BAPTISM MEAN?
The word “baptize” literally means “to dip” or “immerse” – what we would call “dunking” someone.
Read Matthew 3
In the very beginning of the New Testament, just before Jesus showed up on the scene, a prophet named John told people, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is near!” By this, John was telling people to confess their sins to God and live their lives for Him because His King (Jesus) was about to show up and change the world. People who repented were then dunked in water (baptized) as a symbol that they were identifying with John’s message. They wanted to be new people and didn’t want to live in their lives for themselves any more.
When Jesus showed up, John did not want to baptize Him. Jesus was perfect (there were no sins to confess). John knew that he didn’t deserve the right to baptize Jesus (He is the eternal Son of God and King of the Universe). But, Jesus wanted to be baptized. He said, “it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” By this, Jesus was setting an example for us and, more importantly, He was identifying with John (& us) as our representative. In His baptism, He fully identifies with sinful humanity (us) so that sinful people (like us) could identify with God!
When Jesus comes out of the waters, God the Holy Spirit descends upon Him in the form of a dove and God the Father declares, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Note: In the Bible, God describes Himself as One God who exists in Three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Confusing huh? We’ll never fully understand God! But was can truly know Him.)
What happens at the baptism of Jesus – the Holy Spirit shows up & God the Father says how pleased He is – this is an example of what happens to all who repent of living life apart from God and trust Jesus to lead them into a life with God.
When you believe in Jesus, the Bible promises:
God the Holy Spirit moves into your life!
God the Father loves you and accepts you as His own child!
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ME GETTING DUNKED IN WATER?
Baptism is an outward sign of an inner grace. It is a sign to yourself, to the church, and to the world that you believe that these things are true of you – God accepts you and lives with you – because of what Jesus Christ did when He died on the Cross and rose from the dead for you.
Read Matthew 28:19-20. Baptism is such a big deal, so meaningful, that Jesus commanded that EVERYONE who believes in Him should be baptized into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is the way that God marks a person’s new life with Him as a child of God. When you are baptized, you can look back on that moment for the rest of your life as a turning point that because of what Jesus Christ did for you, God the Holy Spirit will never leave you and God the Father will never stop loving you.
BUT WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH GETTING IN OUR BATHING SUITS AND DUNKING PEOPLE? (COULDN’T YOU JUST TELL PEOPLE THIS GREAT NEWS AND MOVE ON?)
Read Romans 6:1-10 and Galatians 2:20.
DEATH & NEW LIFE: The act of dunking in people in water is an important symbol that you are not trusting in yourself or living for yourself anymore. You’re trusting in Christ and living for Him. When we go down into the water, we identify with His death. (My old life is dead and gone.) When we come up from the water, we identify with His resurrection. (My life starts now and will be eternally with God.)
SPIRITUAL BATH: The water of baptism also symbolizes a kind of spiritual bath. The Bible will speak of our sins making us “unclean” before God, like we are covered in “filth” (Isaiah 64:6). But on the Cross, God placed all of our sin and shame and filth upon Him (Isaiah 53:4-6). When you accept that Christ died for me, then the Bible teaches that His blood – meaning His sacrificial death – makes you clean (1 John 1:7). Baptism is a sign that you have accepted Jesus death, your sins are “washed away,” and you are spotless before God (Acts 22:16)WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?
All the examples of baptism in the Bible demonstrate that someone first believes in Jesus and then is baptized. This is called believers’ baptism.
Here are few key passages that help explain how the earliest Christians taught and practiced baptism:
DO YOU HAVE TO BE BAPTIZED TO BE SAVED?
Salvation is solely a gift given to people whose faith rests in the grace of God to forgive their sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus. For example, when the Philippian jailer asked what was required of him to be saved, Paul did not mention baptism but simply said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus” (Acts 16:31). Likewise, the thief who died on the cross next to Jesus was promised by our Lord that “today you will be with me in Paradise,” though he had not been baptized (Luke 23:43). So, the Bible is clear that someone could go through life without being baptized and be a “saved” person who is destined for heaven.
Nonetheless, even though one can be a Christian without being baptized, the Bible is equally clear that every Christian should be baptized. Jesus commanded us to be baptized. Baptism is an expression of our faith in Jesus. It is an expression of God’s love and forgiveness for us. In Baptism, we hear and see and feel the promises of God that He is with us and that He loves and accepts us.
No Christian should miss out on this important experience.
WHO CAN BAPTIZE SOMEONE AND HOW SHOULD IT BE DONE?
WHO? The Bible teaches the “priesthood of all believers” (1 Peter 2:9). This means that there is no special class of priest needed to perform holy duties. You are a priest and your whole eating, sleeping, working, studying life is supposed to be lived for God. This also means that any Christian can baptize someone.
HOW? The Bible does not explicitly say much about how they performed baptisms. All Jesus says is that we must baptize people in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The word baptize infers that people were “immersed” or “dunked” in water. From the stories, it seems likely that Christians went to the local river or creek and dunked someone all the way under the water and then brought them back up. This also seems to reflect the symbol of being buried and raised to new life. This is how we practice baptism at GVF.
If you are interested in being baptized, please email Paul@gvf.church