> Distinctives > Saved & Baptized Church Membership
salvation by faith (internally spiritual) and being immersed in water (externally
symbolic) are two different things, both are necessary to become a member
of a Baptist church.
|A SAVED CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Being able to provide an
account of one's salvation is essential to become a member of a Baptist
church. There are still some churches who stipulate that such a testimony
be verbal and public. However, most Baptist churches are comfortable
with an individual telling of the moment when they were born-again to one
of their pastors, a deacon, or a "personal worker" during an invitation
(usually at the conclusion of the sermon when individuals are invited to
come to the front where a designated person will read appropriate Scriptures
and pray with you). Having provided a testimony of salvation, the
next step is to be baptized (see below) to become a church member.
Should a believer already
hold membership in another Baptist church, it may be transferred by letter.
Using this approach, the receiving church sends a request for a transfer
of letter to the previous church. Most Baptist churches, regardless
of whatever differences they may share regarding the finer aspects of doctrine,
will honor the transfer of letter. The only time they may not do
so is if the requesting member has been a serious problem in the church
where they had been previously attending. In fact, this method of
receiving members benefits local churches who may not be aware that the
person requesting membership has been an issue.
Conversely, there are Baptists
who are proud of the fact that they have an unbroken chain of letters from
one church to another as they have moved to various communities or sensed
the leading of God to bring whatever they can contribute to another church
where they are needed.
Another method of receiving
members is by statement. There are those circumstances where a believer
had been a member of a church that is no longer in existence or it has
been a very long time since being a church member. Since churches
do not always hold names on their membership roles for indefinite periods
of time, there may be no record of someone having been a member.
Since Baptists do not baptize a person more than one time, accepting a
believer by statement is a normal and accepted practice. Those who
request membership using this method will have to share more of their salvation
testimony and baptism by immersion but, in view of this way of joining
the church, sharing such information would only be reasonable.
The bottom line is that those
who are granted membership in a Baptist church must provide a clear testimony
of their having been born-again/saved.
the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." ~ Acts
|A BAPTIZED CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Trusting in Jesus as your
personal Saviour will give one the assurance of Heaven as your home.
However, it is being immersed in water as a testimony to the church when
it has gathered that qualifies a believer for membership.
Baptists do not confuse water
baptism with salvation by faith. Being born-again is purely a spiritual
matter. Baptizing someone in water cannot save a lost soul from Hell.
However, it does provide a beautiful symbolic picture of death (going under
the water), burial (being under the water), and resurrection (coming out
of the water). When a believer is immersed (from the Greek word "baptidzo"
that was transliterated into English as "baptism"), he/she is testifying
to the church that salvation by faith has already taken place and now membership
in the church is being granted. It is also considered to be a Biblical
command and not an option for a Christian.
Baptists do not sprinkle
infants. Accepting that ignorance of the knowledge of sin protects
infants and small children until they come to understand their own sin
guilt, they are not yet accountable. Therefore, they cannot comprehend
salvation by faith, let alone being baptized into the membership of a local
church. The misconception that babies need to be sprinkled into some
kind of invisible universal body to protect them should they die before
reaching the age of accountablity is not to be found in the Scriptures.
Some Baptist churches still
use a nearby lake or river to baptize. Most employ large walk-in
tanks that are incorporated into their church auditoriums. Those
to be baptized are instructed beforehand as to the purpose and meaning
of baptism. Changing rooms are provided in close proximity to the
baptistry. The pastor is authorized to perform the baptisms for the
congregation. Usually, there is no set date for when baptisms are
to occur. Since baptism is not necessary for salvation, the church
may wait until several believers are ready to be baptized and then plan
a service to include this
Baptists love to see new believers
come up out of the water. Don't be surprised if there is loud appluause
or at least a chorus of amens.
| "Then they
that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were
added unto them about three thousand souls." ~
Saved & Baptized Church Membership
we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard,
lest at any time we should let them slip." ~ Hebrews 2:1
|Do you associate water baptism with salvation
by faith or do you understand that they are two different things?
|Does the church you attend baptize infants
or small children before they come to faith in Jesus Christ?
|If so, what Scriptural support does your
church use to show that infants or any unsaved person should be baptized
|Does the church you attend grant membership
without requiring Scriptural baptism to do so?
|Do you feel that baptism is an option
or is it something that Christ commanded us to do once we have been saved
|Does the church you attend play down water
baptism or ignore it altogether?