FREE booklet : Fundamental Beliefs of the United Church of God
Fundamental Beliefs of the United Church of God
¬ God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit
¬ The Word of God
¬ Satan the Devil
¬ Humanity
¬ Sin and God's Law
¬ The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ
¬ Three Days and Three Nights
¬ Repentance
¬ Water Baptism
¬ The Sabbath Day
¬ The Passover
¬ The Festivals of God
¬ God's Food Laws
¬ Military Service and War
¬ Promises to Abraham
¬ God's Purpose for Humanity
¬ The Church
¬ Tithing
¬ The Resurrections
¬ Jesus Christ's Return
   
Note: This booklet first lists a summary of each fundamental belief from the Constitution of the United Church of God, an International Association, then explains and expands on each of those beliefs. Additional booklets on these topics are available free of charge.
   
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Fundamental Beliefs of the United Church of God
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Water Baptism

We believe in the ordinance of water baptism by immersion after repentance. Through the laying on of hands, with prayer, the believer receives the Holy Spirit and becomes a part of the spiritual Body of Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:13, 16; John 3:23; Acts 2:38; 8:14-17; 19:5-6; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

John the Baptist introduced a baptism of repentance, tied to the concept of forgiveness of sins (Matthew 3:1-6; Mark 1:4-5). Jesus Himself was baptized by John (Matthew 3:13-17), not because He needed to repent or be forgiven, but as an example for His disciples throughout all ages.

The word baptize is simply an anglicized version of the Greek word baptizo, which means "to immerse." By definition, then, the only biblical form of baptism is a complete immersion in water. John the Baptist chose a particular location in the Jordan River for his baptizing because sufficient water was available there (John 3:23).

For the Christian, the ordinance of baptism is immensely important.

In one action, Christ's death, burial and resurrection are called to mind for the believer and linked to his or her own symbolic "death" and "resurrection" from the "watery grave" to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-6; Colossians 2:12-13). Also inherent in the symbolism is the promise of the believer's future resurrection into the Kingdom of God. The forgiven sinner emerges from the waters of baptism to live a new life in Christ, free from the death penalty incurred by sin. The waters of baptism have symbolically washed away those sins. In this regard, baptism is an outward acknowledgment of the believer's inward intent to yield and submit his or her life to God and His way (Ephesians 4:20-24).

Baptism, which is commanded, must be preceded by faith and repentance (Acts 2:37-38; Mark 16:16). The very symbolism of baptism itself shows a willingness to "bury" the old sinful life (Romans 6:11). Our acknowledgment of guilt and the need for Jesus Christ to save us from the consequences of sin is of paramount importance. This repentance is characterized by a change of heart and action and is based on personal faith in, and a total commitment to, Jesus Christ and God the Father (Luke 14:25-33; Colossians 2:12). Baptism should be entered into only by someone who is mature enough to fully grasp and appreciate the lifelong commitment required. The Bible gives no indication that baptism is appropriate for children.

Baptism is followed by prayer and laying on of hands. This is a part of the process by which we receive the gift of God's Spirit (Acts 8:14-18). It is through the Holy Spirit that Christ lives in the Christian (John 14:16-17, 23; Galatians 2:20). Through this process, the believer is placed into the spiritual Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13), bringing rejoicing in heaven (Luke 15:7).

The commission Jesus Christ gave His disciples includes the authority to baptize believers (Matthew 28:18-20). So those who have come to repentance through the calling of God (John 6:44) seek baptism for the forgiveness of sins, following the example and instruction of Jesus Christ.

(For more details, request The Road to Eternal Life and Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion.)


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