A Family-Integrated Reformed Christian Church seeking to connect the unconnected to Christ and together grow to full devotion to Him!

When it comes to baptism, there are three prevalent views: 1) sacramental, 2) symbolic, 3) covenantal.

Sacramental Baptism: A sacrament, or ordinance, is a religious act in which God's grace is conveyed. Those who have a
sacramental view of baptism believe that the person being baptized receives the remission of their sins and is
regenerated into a new life. In simple words, the sacrament of baptism when administered properly by man, imparts the
gift of grace (salvation) to the person baptized.

Symbolic Baptism: The symbolic view sees the baptism ceremony as an act of obedience in which only once a believer,
the individual publicly acknowledges a change of heart, acceptance of God's gift of salvation and a commitment to Christ.
Baptism is symbolic of being buried into Christ's death, burial and resurrection.

Covenantal Baptism: The covenantal view of baptism rejects the sacramental view completely because it is by “grace you
have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can
boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9) meaning that neither the act of baptism nor the one who administers saves anyone, but God
through Christ Jesus alone. Although covenantal baptism has some similarities with the symbolic view in that baptism is
a sign of the new covenant. That is where the similarities end. Whereas, symbolic baptism views baptism as a sign or
symbol of what has occurred and nothing more, covenantal baptism views the baptism as something much more.

When we think of baptism at Christ Covenant Church, we do so in the sense of Covenant Baptism. The word for
“covenant” in Hebrew is the word beriyt [pronounced ber-eeth] which means a Divine ordinance with signs or pledges.
The word for “covenant” in Greek is the word diatheke [pronounced dee-ath-ay’-kay’] which means an arrangement, a
compact, a testament...i.e. God’s covenant with Noah, Abram, people of Israel, and eventually the new covenant, available
to all in Christ Jesus.

In light of God’s covenant of circumcision with Abram in Genesis 17, we believe in Covenant Baptism as the New
Testament covenant sign. We believe that just as the covenant of circumcision was for every male among them,
regardless of age, everyone born in Abram’s household or bought from a foreigner and all the future male children were
to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant God had made with Abram and that anyone who did not take this sign was to
be cut off from his people, that we too have a covenant sign in baptism of those who belong to God.

God uses the word household in instructing Abram. The word for “household” in Hebrew is the word bayith [pronounced
bah-yith] which means family, those belonging to the same household, family of descendants, descendants as an
organized body. This is the very word used in Joshua 24:15 which says:

    ...Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the
    Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will
    serve the LORD.

Therefore, just as Abram and Joshua took the command of God serious and the covenant relationship that comes with
obedience, we too take serious the New Testament covenant relationship of baptism. We believe that Covenant Baptism
is for those who believe and those in Christ-followers’ households.

What is baptism?

An Identification: We believe that baptism is a sign of identification with Christ. Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Go and make
disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching
them to obey everything I have commanded you…” When we baptize, we do so “in the name of” the Triune Godhead. The
interactive word that we must understand is the word “in”. The Greek word used here is eis [pronounced ice] which
means into, unto, to, towards, for, among.  We are baptized into the Godhead. Therefore, our baptism is identification with
the Godhead.

Who should be baptized?
To answer this question, once again we go to Scripture. There are various accounts recorded in the book of Acts to show
us who should be baptized.

In Acts 2:37-39, English Standard Version where it says:

    Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what
    shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for
    the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your
    children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself."

About 3000 Jews accepted Peter’s message and were baptized. In Acts 8:12, men and women believed Philip and were
baptized. In Acts 8:26-38, the Ethiopian eunuch hears the Good News of Jesus Christ and asks to be baptized and is. In
Acts 9:1-19, Saul who later became Paul, who was the persecutor of Christ’s church is confronted by Christ, called by
Christ, and after having his sight restored, was baptized and then began preaching. In Acts 10; 11:13-14, Cornelius, his
relatives, his friends, and his entire household were baptized. In Acts 16:11-15, Lydia and her whole household were
baptized. In Acts 16: 16-34, the jailer and his household were baptized. In Acts 18:7-8, Crispus and his entire household
and many others believed and were baptized.

Those who believe:
We see clearly in these accounts in Scripture of those who believed and that were baptized. This clearly falls in line with
Matthew 28:19-20 of “making disciples and baptizing” them. It is clear that those who believe identify themselves with the
Godhead through baptism.

Those in the household of believers:
We also see clearly that not only those who believed were baptized, but in almost all accounts that do not have special
circumstances, such as the Ethiopian eunuch, who was unable to have children because of his setting apart as a
eunuch or the special calling of Saul, we have the believer and their households being baptized.

This is a very covenantal idea. Baptism, being that it is identification with the Godhead; it is the New Testament sign of
covenant. It is rooted in a Jewish ideology or understanding that comes from the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision with
God. Is it then surprising that those who first believed under the new covenant in Christ’s blood were to be Jews in Acts
2? In John 4, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman “salvation is from the Jews.” In Romans, Paul addresses the Romans in
chapter 1 verse 15 and says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to
everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile”. Therefore, when Peter responds to Jewish hearers in Acts 2
and says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you…this promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far
off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls…” they would naturally understand what he is talking about. This is the same
wording God used with Abram in Genesis 17 that Abram was to circumcise himself and every male in his household
both his offspring and those who are foreigners he has bought. The Jewish converts would have clearly understood this.

Thereafter, we see what we call the Samaritan Pentecost in Acts 8 and then the Gentile Pentecost in Acts 10 and we
begin seeing clear examples of entire households being baptized. Is this just for all non-Jews? Where else would this
identification of entire household with the Godhead come from? The sign of the new covenant was and is baptism. Within
covenant baptism we find the baptism of believers, their entire households, and then those infants born thereafter.

What baptism is not!

Baptism is not salvation:
Nowhere is there found in Scripture that baptism equals salvation. If it does, then that would make Jesus a liar in Luke 23
when one of the criminals on the cross asks Jesus to merely remember him and Jesus told him that that very day the
criminal would be with Him in paradise. This is a perfect example of salvation without water baptism. In fact, Galatians 4:
15 points out that “what counts is the new creation.” There is no magic formula. Salvation is from the Lord (Psalm 37:39).
Baptism is not salvation, but an identification with and responsibility as well as accountability to God.

What mode of baptism is to be used?
Once people arrive at what baptism is, what it is not and who is to be baptized, we then ask how should someone be
baptized or what mode should be used? A mode is a method or way of doing things. For some this is a highly debated
issue, for us it is clear, plain, and simple.

The Greek word for baptize is baptizo which means to dip repeatedly, immerse, to submerge, to wash, bathe or cleanse
by dipping. To understand mode, we must ask whether this is a physical description of an action or method or is it a sign
of identification. Denominations, primarily Baptists have derived a singular view that baptism is by complete immersion.
Yet nowhere in Scripture is it said, “This then is how you should baptize.” Therefore, it is not the method that matters, but
the identification that does.

1 Corinthians 10:1-5, New King James Version says:

    Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through
    the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all
    drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
    But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

What type or mode of baptism is this talking about? Was it an immersion into the water? No. Did not the Israelites cross
over on dry land? If anything were they not sprinkled by the mist? Even Hebrews 10:22 says, “let us draw near to God with
a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having
our bodies washed with pure water.” The words used here are the Greek words rhantizo for sprinkling and luou for
washing. Rhantizo means to cleanse by sprinkling in order to purify.  Louo holds to the idea of bathing or washing of
deceased person or cleaning a wound. Rather than an immersion under water, we are cleansed by sponging, pouring,
or sprinkling of water. It is not a method or mode for baptism, but once again it is the identification with what has been
accomplished in Christ Jesus.

Most proponents of baptism by immersion (primarily proponents of the symbolic view), quote Romans 6:1-11 which

    What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how
    can we live in it any longer? 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. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away
    with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
    Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised
    from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin
    once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

    In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Once again, we must reflect upon this Scripture with a proper view. Is Paul giving a directive for the mode of baptism or
how we should baptize? On the contrary, is not Paul pointing to our identification to and unification with the work of Christ
in His death, burial, and resurrection? Is not Paul calling us to live up to who and what our baptism identifies us with?
Romans chapter 6 has nothing to do with mode of baptism, but clearly identification with Jesus Christ only.

If we believe that immersion in the water is the only way for baptism, then what about the sick and elderly or the infant or
child? We must not only look to Scripture, but to historical practice.

If we look to the Didache, a Syrian liturgical manual written around A.D.70, which was widely circulated among the
churches of the first century, we read in Chapter 7:

    Concerning baptism, baptize in this manner: Having said all these things beforehand, baptize in the name of the
    Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living water [that is, in running water, as in a river]. If there is no living
    water, baptize in other water; and, if you are not able to use cold water, use warm. If you have neither, pour water
    three times upon the head in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Another source of Christian writings, Hippolytus of Rome said, “If water is scarce, whether as a constant condition or on
occasion, then use whatever water is available” (The Apostolic Tradition, 21 [A.D. 215]).

Mode is not the issue, but what baptism identifies. We prefer to baptize individuals depending as logistics, weather, age,
and health permit.

Who will administer baptism?
In Scripture, primarily referenced in the book of Acts, we only find that baptisms were administered by the Apostles or in
the case of Philip, who was one of those chosen to serve in Acts 6. Although there is nothing that keeps any Christ-
follower from baptizing another believer, we believe that the elders of the church are responsible for administering the
covenant sign of baptism. It is not because an elders’ baptism is the only baptism to be recognized or that it has special
power, but it is to make sure that proper teaching is applied along with Covenant Baptism.

We believe that Communion (the Lord’s Supper) is a memorial of Christ’s death by which He established the New
Covenant, the elements being symbols of His body and blood. It is a celebration for the Christian as well. As with proper
covenant teaching, not only should the believer examine his or her self (1 Corinthians 11:27-29) before taking, but it
should be impressed upon the children in those families. Every Christian and their family has a right and an obligation to
partake of the elements of Communion.

If we look to the Passover meal in Exodus 12, we see that the entire household and if necessary a neighbor shall share
the lamb (verse 4). This is exemplified in Exodus 12:26-27, English Standard Version, when it says, “And when your
children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD's Passover, for he
passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’”

Likewise, as recorded in the gospels, it was the Passover meal that Jesus and His disciples were partaking when Jesus
instituted the Lord’s Supper which we call Covenantal Communion. In doing so, Jesus did not abolish the Passover meal,
but fulfilled it. Therefore, we ought to not only teach our children what these elements of Covenantal Communion
represent, but as part of a Christian household, we have an obligation to allow them to participate.

"A Place to Call Home"
831 FM 2917 RD
Alvin, Texas 77511
Phone: 281.331.4619
Fax: 281.331.5014

Shepherd's Heart School
"Growing a greater future
831 FM 2917 RD
Alvin, Texas 77511
Phone: 281.331.4619
Fax: 281.331.5014
From Alvin:
Travel down 35 toward Angleton
Turn left on FM 2917 RD
(Stop light & Chevron Station)
CCC is located about 1 mile
down on the left

From Liverpool:
Travel down 35 toward Alvin
Turn right on FM 2917 RD
(Stop light & Chevron Station)
CCC is located about 1 mile
down on the left