According to the Scriptures, the proper mode of baptism is immersion. "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water" (Matthew 3:16). "And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him" (Acts 8:38). "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death" (Romans 6:4). A corpse is not buried by placing it on top of the ground and sprinkling a little soil on it, but by covering it completely.
According to the World Book Encyclopedia, "At first all baptism was by complete immersion" (vol. 1, p.651). And the Catholic Encyclopedia states, "In the early centuries, all were baptized by immersion in streams, pools, and baptisteries" (vol. 2, p.263). Immersion was not convenient after the Catholic church instituted infant baptism; thus the mode was changed to sprinkling. (See Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 3, pp.365-66.)
Repentance identifies us with the death of Christ, and baptism identifies us with His burial. Coming forth from the watery grave of baptism and receiving new life in the Holy Spirit identifies us with His resurrection.
What is the Christian Baptism?
Baptism is a sign of God´s love, and together with the Eucharist was given to the Church by Jesus himself. Jesus was baptised in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, and he spoke about the need for us to be born again in order to enter into life with God. Baptism is about being born again into God´s family, the Church.
A Lifelong Journey
Baptism is how we enter Church membership, and is the beginning of our Christian journey, our new life in Christ. Parents and Godparents, of children being baptised, make promises to encourage and guide the children so that they may grow in their understanding of the Christian faith. It is the Church´s hope that when the child becomes an adult, he or she will be able to reaffirm the faith in the Confirmation. Baptism and Confirmation are linked; therefore, adults are Baptised and Confirmed during the one service.
There are four main symbols used during the service: the Sign of the Cross is made on the forehead in oil to show a belonging to Christ, and the link made with Christ forever; the threefold ‘washing’ in the water of baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as a sign of new life in the Risen Lord and of the cleansing of the past; anointing with olive oil blessed by the bishop, reminding us of the wider Church to which we now belong, and of the special calling of our Christian vocation. The baptismal candle reminding us of the light of Christ, and that Christians go out in that light, seeking the light and life of the Risen Lord.
Entry into God´s Kingdom
InThe Bible, Jesus says that believers enter the Kingdom of God. God’s Kingdom is not only the place we hope to enter on death, but encompasses our life on earth too. At our Baptism we enter God’s eternal Kingdom, and it is important that Christians nurture their relationship with God through prayer and worship with other Christians, and a life which puts God at the centre of all that they do. Parents and Godparents have a special role in teaching the child to pray, and reminding them of the significance of their baptism. In accompanying a child on the spiritual journey an adult can be surprised by the insights that they gain, and it can be the start of a new life for them too.