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of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 1995
Article 11. Baptism
We believe that the
baptism of believers with water is a sign of their cleansing from sin.
Baptism is also a pledge before the church of their covenant with God
to walk in the way of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy
Spirit. Believers are baptized into Christ and his body by the Spirit,
water, and blood.
Baptism is a testimony to
God's gift of the Holy Spirit and the continuing work of the Spirit in
the lives of believers. Through the Spirit we repent and turn toward
God in faith. The baptism of the Holy Spirit enables believers to walk
in newness of life, to live in community with Christ and the church, to
offer Christ's healing and forgiveness to those in need, to witness
boldly to the good news of Christ, and to hope in the sharing of
Christ's future glory.
Baptism by water is a
sign that a person has repented, received forgiveness, renounced evil,
and died to sin,  through the grace of
God in Christ Jesus. Thus cleansed, believers are incorporated into
Christ's body on earth, the church. Baptism by water is also a pledge
to serve Christ and to minister as a member of his body according to
the gifts given to each one. Jesus himself requested water baptism at
the beginning of his ministry and sent his followers to "make disciples
of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit."  Baptism is
done in obedience to Jesus' command and as a public commitment to
identify with Jesus Christ, not only in his baptism by water, but in
his life in the Spirit and in his death in suffering love.
The baptism of blood, or
baptism of suffering, is the offering of one's life, even to death.
Jesus understood the giving of his life through the shedding of his
blood for others as a baptism.  He also
spoke about his disciples' suffering and death as a baptism.  Those who accept water baptism commit
themselves to follow Jesus in giving their lives for others, in loving
their enemies, and in renouncing violence, even when it means their own
suffering or death.
Christian baptism is for
those who confess their sins, repent, accept Jesus Christ as Savior and
Lord, and commit themselves to follow Christ in obedience as members of
his body, both giving and receiving care and counsel in the church.
Baptism is for those who are of the age of accountability and who
freely request baptism on the basis of their response to Jesus Christ
in faith. 
(1) Rom. 6:1-4; Acts 2:38-39.
(2) Matt. 28:19.
(3) Luke 12:50; 1 John 5:7-8.
(4) Mark 10:38.
(5) Matt. 28:19-20; John 4:1; Acts 2:38; Gal. 3:27.
1. Some churches refer to baptism and the Lord's Supper as symbols,
sacraments, or ordinances. In this confession of faith, these
ceremonies are called signs, a biblical term rich in meanings. Sign is,
first of all, an act of God: signs and wonders in Egypt (Exod. 10:1;
Num. 14:11), signs to prophets (Isa. 7:14; 55:13), and Jesus'
performance of signs (John 2:11; 12:37; 20:30). John 2:18-22 sees
Jesus' death and resurrection as a sign. A sign is not only an act of
God, but a human action as well: eating unleavened bread at Passover
(Exod. 13:9), binding of the commandments to oneself (Deut. 6:8),
keeping of the Sabbath (Exod. 31:13; Ezek. 20:20). Likewise, baptism is
a sign, representing both God's action in delivering us from sin and
death and the action of the one who is baptized, who pledges to God to
follow Jesus Christ within the context of Christ's body, the church.
2. First John 5:7-8
identifies three aspects of baptism: the Spirit and the water and the
blood. This passage refers, first of all, to Jesus' baptism. But the
New Testament also says that believers are to identify with Jesus.
The baptism of the Holy
Spirit: According to the New Testament, water baptism and baptism with
the Spirit are closely connected, though not always in the same way.
The Holy Spirit rested on Jesus at the time of his baptism (John 1:33).
In Acts, believers received the Holy Spirit before, with, or after
The baptism of water:
Baptism has its roots in the Old Testament practice of ceremonially
washing what had become unclean through disease, sin, or other cause
(Lev. 14:1-9; 16:24-30; 17:15-16). Gentiles were initiated into the
covenant people with proselyte baptism. Christian water baptism
signifies the cleansing of the person from sin and incorporation into
the new community of faith. The church may baptize by pouring,
immersion, or the sprinkling of water (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12; Acts
2:17; Tit. 3:5-7). Scripture also refers to baptism as a pledge to God
(1 Pet. 3:21) and as a commitment to faithfulness and ministry (Rom.
6:1-11). Jesus' baptism can be seen in the light of this pledge. In the
New Testament, baptism follows a person's faith. Baptism therefore is
for those who are ready to enter a faithful relationship with Christ
and the church.
Thus, baptism should
always be done by the church and its representatives, if possible in
the presence of the congregation. It should be public because baptism
means a commitment to membership and service in a particular
congregation. Thus, water baptism is to be reserved for those old
enough to make such a pledge. Infants and children have no need for
baptism, since they are safe in the care of God. When they are able to
be accountable for their own actions, they are able to make the
church's faith their own.
The baptism of blood:
Baptism by water is also a pledge of the believer's acceptance of the
baptism of suffering and death. Water baptism identifies us with Christ
in his way of the cross and his resurrection (Rom. 6:5-11). We are
buried with him "by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised
from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness
of life" (Rom. 6:3-4).
the delegates of Mennonite Church General Assembly, and of the General
Conference Mennonite Church Tricentennial Session, July 28, 1995,
Wichita, Kansas. Copyright © 1995 by Herald Press Scottdale PA
15683. Used by permission. Order print copies of Confession of
Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, and Summary Statement,
Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, From Herald Press, Scottdale,
Pa. Worship resources
based on this confession, and translations
are also available.
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