What We Believe About Baptism
Baptism is the sacramental sign of the New Covenant (established by Jesus as opposed to the covenant of the Old Testament Law). It is a sign by which God seals his pledge to those who have been called by God’s grace to inherit salvation.
Baptism signifies several things. Primarily, it is a sign of the cleansing and remission of our sin as accomplished at the cross of Christ. Also, and very importantly, it signifies being regenerated by the Holy Spirit, being buried and raised together with Christ, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, being adopted into the family of God, and being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Baptism was instituted by Christ in Matthew 28:19. This is an outward sign of the internal union that the believer has with God. It does not automatically confer the realities that are signified. For example, though baptism signifies regeneration or rebirth, it does not automatically confer rebirth. The power of baptism is not in the water but in the power of God. Therefore, as distinctive among churches of the Baptist tradition (as well as many other Protestant denominations), the reality to which the sacrament points should be present before the sign of baptism is given.