What is baptism?
We've been given new life and a new family in Jesus. Baptism reminds us of this – that God has rescued and united us with him through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Through life’s ups and downs, our baptism is a sign of God's commitment to us, not simply our commitment to him.
The New Testament portrays baptism as two things: a sign of entrance into Jesus’s church through his death and resurrection, and a symbol of the Holy Spirit washing away our sins.
Baptism is a naming ceremony and a reminder of the high calling to which we have been named. As one is baptized, that baptism represents a new identity and a new family name, the name of our Father in heaven. Baptism sets us apart from the world and is a constant reminder of our calling to give ourselves to the mission of God.
Reformers used the phrase “improving upon your baptism” because baptism is something to live up to – it's something to always remember. It’s not just a symbol of getting into the kingdom, but a reminder about what it means to live as a citizen of the kingdom. It reminds us that we have been sealed with the heavenly imprint of our Father and that we belong to him.
God has always worked among his people through the context of family. God’s people in the Old Testament were always understood to not just be professing adults, but God's people from generation to generation. For this reason, the sign of circumcision was administered to both adult converts and to the children of those who belonged to God’s family. Circumcision marked out and differentiated those who were people of God's covenant from the rest of the world.
The promise of being in God’s family, given to Abraham was this, “I will be your God and the God of your children after you.” Peter, in Acts 2, at the birth of the Church at Pentecost, states this same promise, “This promise is for you and for your children."
Therefore, we practice infant baptism because we believe God’s promise to Abraham, fulfilled in Christ, is not only for us, but also for our children. We claim God’s promises on behalf of our children, and in faith, we believe and hope that God will bring those promises to bear upon our children.
Does infant baptism mean the child is actually saved when they're baptized?
In no way do we believe that an infant or child being baptized is saved because they're baptized. In fact, we don’t believe that just because an adult is baptized that they are absolutely saved either. We can't really know the heart of the one being baptized, only God does. Either adult or infant baptism is a symbol of entrance into Christ’s church, in which we learn and grow in our understanding of what it means to be a child of God. Before any child can come to the Lord’s Table, we require that she gives a confession of faith that articulates the gospel in a way that shows her understanding of her need for a Savior.
An adult convert confesses faith, and we baptize him to announce his entrance into the life of God’s church. But, we also believe that God has blessed us with the children he's given to us and that he has called us to raise them as children who belong to him. They too have been set apart and must embrace the call of God upon their lives and trust in his promises. Baptizing our children expresses our faith that God deeply cares for our children and that He has given us baptism to remind us of his promise to be their God (Genesis 15 and 17).
Do I have to baptize my children or believe in infant baptism to go to Rockwall Pres?
Absolutely not. We believe in the unity of the church, because in Christ we're one family, and certainly within any family there can be disagreements. We recognize there are different ways of administering baptism that are practiced within the church. Each one is trying to be biblically faithful.
In no way is adhering to infant baptism a requirement for attendance or membership. While we have our views as a church, we also celebrate the joy of having diversity on this issue within our church. There are many among our body that come from different contexts and practices who call Rockwall Pres home.
Do you practice immersion or sprinkling when you baptize?
We do both. Quite frankly, we don't believe that whether you are fully immersed or sprinkled, often referred to as the mode for baptism, ultimately matters. There's evidence throughout church history that both modes have been practiced within the Church. To make the mode of baptism an issue is to major on a minor detail that can only bring division, which is disobeying the very serious call in the Scriptures to seek unity with our brothers and sisters.
We have done both immersion and sprinkling in our church. Our default is to sprinkle because we don't have a baptismal, and our church building is over 100 years old. If someone requests to be immersed, we have no problem dunking him in Lake Ray Hubbard or a swimming pool. Whether you're immersed or sprinkled, you belong to Jesus.