Believers Baptism is when a non-liturgical candidate accepts Jesus as his/her saviour and witnesses this to his/her local Church Congregation and then receives the spiritual benefits of Believers Baptism. This type of baptismal service is strictly for adults, or teenagers but nobody under the age of eleven or twelve. In a type of Free Church (where believers baptism takes place) babies may be dedicated but never baptised. In this dedication the child is blessed and people give thanks for his or her birth.
The reason for this in the Free Churches was that infants were not able to understand the symbolism of Christianity whereas adults realised the spiritual journey they were about to go on and were able to agree with certain Christian beliefs and accept Jesus as their saviour. The candidate would probably have had preparation lessons for baptism to ensure he or she understands the symbolism, the spiritual journey that is commencing and to accept certain Christian beliefs.
The type of things the believer must believe is that, he is a sinner and is separated from God by this sin. He has to believe that the death of Jesus can take away that sin for a believer (his sin that he committed) and must believe the death of Jesus having taken away his sin and reconciles with God and is one with god; this is known as atonement.
When some women are being immersed, they choose to wear long, white robes as a sign of purity and sometimes when the candidate is brought up from the water the candidate might shout out a confession of faith, such as; “Jesus is Lord!”, in which the congregation would reply; “hallelujah”.
Succeeding the answers, the person leading the service would then say something along the lines of; “I gladly baptise you in the name of the Father, Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Formula of Trinity). The candidate is then eased backwards completely underwater and brought up about one second after full immersion under the water.
If a testimony is given, the candidate would be escorted into the pool without questions, only if no testimony was given, would the leader lead the candidate to the pool and ask the above questions.
St Paul emphasises that the water of Baptism did not wash away sin. It is believing in the death of Jesus that cleanses sin – the death of Jesus comes into symbolism of baptism; when the candidate goes underwater; the candidate shares in the death of Jesus. At this point the candidate’s Old sinful life dies. When the candidate is brought up from the water, the candidate shares in the resurrection of Jesus and gains new spiritual life there and then and also receives the promise of life after death. The source of authority for this is St Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome called “Romans.”
The Holy Spirit is always associated in any type of baptism. In Believers Baptism, there is a difference of opinion on when the Holy Spirit is given. There are three possible beliefs of non-liturgical churches on when the Holy Spirit is given:
* When the candidate privately asks Jesus to be his/her saviour, they are immediately given the Holy Spirit, and that Baptism is the last stage along the spiritual journey.
* The Holy Spirit is given when the candidate is raised up our out of the water; this is directly parallel to what happened to Jesus as the Holy Spirit came down to him in the form of a dove.
* After the candidate has left the pool, dried off, come back to the congregation and kneeled to the leader of the service and the ritual takes place called; “the laying on of hands”. This is where the transmition of the Holy Sprit by the leader of the service placing his hand on the candidate’s head. More than one candidate and Elder may be present (e.g.-there could be six Elders and six candidates – so the laying on of hands can be performed to several people at the same time).
The Holy Spirit is seven fold.
If a Church believes that the Holy Spirit is given when asking Jesus to be his/her saviour, the Church obviously would not believe that the Holy Spirit is given after immersion or with the laying of hands and visa-versa for the other beliefs of times when the Holy Spirit is given during a Baptismal service. The candidate is now a born again Christian.