Approved by the Elder Board on August 17, 2016


The purpose of this Statement of Position is to explain what we believe the Bible teaches about baptism by first answering some basic questions about baptism and then addressing other questions that people often have about baptism. We acknowledge that there are views about baptism other than the one described below held by other Christians; however, the view described below represents our view, which is sometimes referred to as “believer baptism.”

Basic questions about baptism

What is baptism?

Baptism is a public act in which a believer is immersed in water in order to symbolize:

  1. Their association (or identification) with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:1-10);
  2. Their repentance of their sins, and Jesus’ forgiveness – or washing away – of their sins (Acts 2:38); and
  3. Their desire to be a lifelong learner (i.e., disciple or follower) of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20).

Who should be baptized?

Only those who have placed their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior should be baptized (Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12; 8:35-37; 9:6, 18; 10:47; 16:14-15; 16:31-33; 18:8). In other words, only believers should be baptized.

Why should a person be baptized?

Every believer should be baptized, because:


Other questions about baptism

Does baptism save a person?

Baptism does not save a person. Salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus alone, apart from any merit or work; and apart from any ceremonies (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:28; Romans 1:16; Titus 3:5-7; 1 Corinthians 1:14-17). We believe that the preponderance of Scripture teaches that baptism is a confirming symbol – as discussed above – for an individual who personally confesses faith in Jesus Christ (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12; 8:35-37; 9:18; 10:47; 16:14-15, 31-33; 18:8).

Is baptism required at BACC to be a Ministry Partner (MP)?

At Bay Area, baptism is a requirement for Ministry Partnership. If a believer has never been baptized, then he/she will need to be baptized in order to become a MP. If a person was baptized as an infant and has never been baptized as a believer, then we encourage him/her to be baptized as a believer, but welcome him/her as a MP provided he/she rejects the notion that their baptism as an infant conferred merit with God or saving grace in the act itself. BACC does not perform infant baptisms.

Must a believer have been immersed in water in order for their baptism to be accepted for MP purposes?

There are good arguments for three different modes of baptism: sprinkling, pouring and immersion. We practice immersion, because we think it best pictures our identification with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:1-11). However, we always want our emphasis to be on the heart attitude of those being baptized. If a believer was baptized in another church in which sprinkling or pouring was the mode of baptism used, we will accept that for MP purposes.

What is “Spirit Baptism” or “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”?

We believe that at the moment a person expresses saving faith in Jesus, he/she is baptized in the Holy Spirit and made a part of the universal body of Christ (His Church) – 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:4-6; Galatians 3:27-29. This “Spirit Baptism” happens at the moment of belief and is invisible (i.e., we don’t see it happen). “Symbolic/water baptism,” on the other hand, as discussed above, is an act that is done after one comes to faith in Jesus and symbolizes this invisible truth of being placed into the body of Christ. Thus, we sometimes will say, [water] baptism is “an outward expression of an inward reality,” meaning [water] baptism is a public act that symbolizes something that has already taken place inside a person – that they believe in Jesus and the Holy Spirit now lives inside them.