Westside Bible Fellowship practices water baptism. We believe that all those who have personally put their faith in Jesus Christ should be baptized as a public expression of their faith and their decision to seriously follow Jesus Christ.
WHAT IS SPIRITUAL BAPTISM?
The New Testament teaches that the moment a person places their sincere faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit baptizes or places them in the body of Christ in a spiritual sense.
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body . . . ” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
Through this baptism by the Holy Spirit, Christians have been spiritually united with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. They can then say that when Christ died on the Cross and rose again, they died and rose through their identification with Him. It also means they have been empowered to live a new, obedient life.
“Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” (Romans 6:3-5)
WHAT IS WATER BAPTISM?
Christian water baptism is an outward physical expression of the inner spiritual baptism that has already taken place at the point of salvation. When Christians are baptized, they are publicly stating that they have personally received the benefits of the death and resurrection of Christ.
WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?
A person should be baptized in water only after personally trusting Christ. It is important to understand that water baptism plays absolutely no role in a person’s salvation. We can only be saved by putting our faith in Christ and His sacrificial death and never by doing good works. The repentant thief dying alongside Jesus at Calvary was not physically baptized, but Christ assured him that "today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:39-43).
However, once a person has become a Christian by putting their trust in Christ, they should desire to be baptized. Water baptism must be one of a Christian's first vital steps of obedience. The Lord Jesus Himself clearly commanded water baptism for all his followers.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Christians practiced water baptism from the earliest days of the early church.
“Those who accepted his message were baptized . . .” (Acts 2:41)
“But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” (Acts 8:12)
HOW SHOULD BAPTISM BE DONE?
Different churches baptize in different ways. Westside practices baptism by complete immersion in water for several reasons. First, the word “baptize” comes from an ordinary word meaning “to dip” or “to plunge.” We believe complete immersion in water best fits the meaning of this word.
Second, Jesus was baptized by going down into water.
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.” (Matthew 3:16)
Third, the baptism of believers in the early church seems to be by immersion.
“Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water . . .” (Acts 8:38-39)
Most importantly, baptism by immersion best symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Going under the water symbolizes death and burial. Coming back out of the water symbolizes resurrection.
WHY BE BAPTIZED?
Every Christian should be baptized as an act of obedience to Christ. He commanded baptism, and His followers need to do what He said. Baptism also provides believers with an important opportunity to give public witness to their faith in Christ and desire to follow and obey him as his disciples.
"We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.” (1 John 2:3)
I'M INTERESTED IN BEING BAPTIZED. WHAT SHOULD I DO NEXT?
Contact one of the Elders who will be happy to guide you and talk to you further about this important step. Although most baptisms are conducted by one of the Westside Elders, some request that they be baptized by their fathers or someone who has discipled them.