Baptism and Communion are the two ordinances Jesus gave as visible expressions of His invisible grace. Both ordinances are ways in which the Church expresses the spiritual realities of Jesus’ life and His death and how the Spirit applies those realities to the life of a believer.

Baptism is intended for those in the body of Christ who have trusted Jesus’ saving work on the cross and have found true Life in Him. Therefore, in obedience to Christ and as a testimony to God, the Church, and the world, a believer is to be immersed in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This act of obedience is a visual representation of the believer’s union with Christ in His death and resurrection. The picture portrays the believer’s willingness to put to death the old nature and live in the freedom that Christ has given them.

Baptism then represents: Christ’s death and resurrection, the believer’s union with Christ and their new life of freedom walking in the forgiveness of their sin.

WHY SHOULD A PERSON BE BAPTIZED?

At Riverview, we believe that followers of Jesus should be baptized for three specific reasons: to obey the commands of Jesus, to show evidence that a person is a disciple of Jesus, and to follow the example of Jesus.

As Jesus was commissioning His disciples to go into the world to make new disciples of all nations, He commands them to baptize.

Matthew 28:18-20  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Believers who identified with Jesus after Pentecost and throughout the Church-age have followed Christ in baptism to show a watching world exactly who it is that they follow. Baptism is a symbol for us and to the world that we belong to Jesus because of the work Jesus did on the cross.

Acts 2:37–41 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?” 38 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. 39 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.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

While Jesus was entering His public ministry, we see Him seek to be baptized by John the Baptist. As followers of Christ, we seek to follow Him in every aspect of our lives. As we are baptized, we are following Jesus by identifying with the reconciling work that He came to do.

 

Matthew 3:13-17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

WHO SHOULD BE BAPTIZED?

As Jesus was commissioning his disciples to go into the world to make new disciples, one of the commands he gives the disciples was to baptize the new disciples that were made.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

At Riverview, water baptism is intended for those who have trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Acts 2:41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Romans 6:3-4 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

WHEN SHOULD A PERSON BE BAPTIZED?

Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

A person should be baptized as soon as he or she trusts Jesus. The evidence of Scripture points to believers receiving the ordinance of baptism within close proximity to the time of salvation. We do not see evidence of delay from the point of salvation to the point of baptism in the New Testament. Believers should seek to the follow the model of Scripture in this way unless there are extenuating circumstances that would make water immersion a health concern.

At Riverview, we ask believers who express interest in being baptized to have a conversation with a staff member or elder to discuss the gospel and the meaning of water baptism. After ensuring that the new believer understands salvation and baptism, we set a time on the calendar to invite family, friends, and our church family to celebrate together during a service where the believer will be baptized.

HOW SHOULD A PERSON BE BAPTIZED?

Though other traditions may vary in how baptism is conducted, Riverview practices water baptism through immersion.

We choose immersion for several reasons. The word “baptism” comes from a Greek word (baptizo) which literally means to submerge or immerse. The word was used particularly in the aspect of dying clothing. A garment would be immersed into dyed water and then would be lifted out representing a new color of clothing. It was literally “baptized” into the water.

We also choose immersion as it seems to be the method that best represents Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. As we are identifying with Jesus, we are thus “buried with Christ” in immersion under the water and are “raised with Christ” as we emerge up from the water.

Finally, as we understand the Scriptures, the clearest and consistent Scriptures concerning baptism seem to suggest baptism by immersion.

Matthew 3:16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;

Acts 8:38-39 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

WHO CAN BAPTIZE AT RCC?

The Bible gives us no requirements for who can and cannot perform the ordinance of baptism. We are careful not to prescribe what the Scriptures do not. As a result, we make room for any believer, who has faithfully obeyed the ordinance of baptism for themselves, to perform the ordinance of baptism.

WHAT TO EXPECT IF YOU’RE BEING BAPTIZED?

We have regular baptism services at Riverview where those desiring to be baptized are invited to share their story and be baptized within the context of the church family.

Those participating are asked to share their testimony story either live or by recorded video.

After the testimony is shared, the person performing the baptism will ask, “Do you confess and believe Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?” The believer responds with “yes” or “I do.”

The person performing the baptism will then immerse and raise the believer out of the water saying something along the way of, “I baptize you my brother/sister in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” following Jesus’ call to baptize in Matthew 28:18-20.

BAPTISM AND MEMBERSHIP 

Baptism is not required for membership at Riverview. However, we ask all who desire to become members of Riverview, and have not yet followed Jesus in obedience toward baptism, or who were baptized prior to trusting Jesus for salvation, to seriously consider being baptized.