One of the key responsibilities of the church in developing people into fully devoted followers of Christ is water baptism. Jesus Christ gave this responsibility to His followers in Matthew 28:19-20. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Christ commissions his church, as part of our work of making disciples among all the nations, to baptize in water all those who are enlisting in the church as the disciples of Christ. It is a celebration of Christ’s work on behalf of the individual believer. It is a public profession of faith on the part of the individual. It is a way of publicly identifying with Christ’s church, which is His body.
At River Hills, we practice believers baptism (Also called credo-baptism). That is we baptize people who are able to give a credible profession of faith in Jesus. While we recognize that there is a biblical argument to be made in support of the practice of infant baptism and we welcome into membership believers who are persuaded of the covenantal view of infant baptism, yet, we only practice believers baptism.
We usually baptize by immersion at River Hills. At River Hills, we believe that baptism is a picture of the spiritual truths described in several New Testament texts. In Romans 6:3-4 Paul explains that when a believer is baptized in or with water, his or her union with Christ in his death and burial are displayed. When a believer is raised up from the water, it pictures the believer’s identification with Christ’s resurrection. It is a picture of spiritual birth. It is a picture of what it means to be “born again” (John 3:3). It is a physical symbol of the washing away of our sins and making us holy (Titus 3:4-7). It symbolizes our being rescued from the waters of God’s wrath through Christ our Ark (1 Peter 3:18-22). Baptism, then, is a visible picture of the gracious work of God in saving sinners through Christ and his incorporating them into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:8).
Baptism does not save one from the penalty of sin. Jesus Christ saves us from the penalty of sin. We receive that salvation by placing our faith in Christ. Baptism is not the means by which a person receives the Holy Spirit. Baptism is the way the church identifies those who have been saved by Christ and thus celebrates the saving work of Christ. For this reason, at River Hills, water baptism is of great importance to us.
While we practice believer’s baptism we do not require that you be baptized to be a member of River Hills, nor do we require that you affirm believer’s baptism as we recognize that many true Christians disagree about this matter. For a fuller treatment on baptism see these sermons on our website www.riverhillsonline.org, or call the church office for a copy: “The Gospel of God’s Grace Embraces All without Distinction” (Gal 3:26-29), “Baptism: A Sign Of God’s Faithfulness” (Acts 2:37-41), “The Meaning of Baptism” (1 Peter 3:13-22) and “Believers are to be baptized” (Acts 8:26-40). Also you may want to read chapter 49 in Dr. Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology.” A copy is in our church library.
RHCC Elder Board