Church Membership & Baptism
We have a formal church membership. This is our understanding of the Bible’s teaching concerning the nature of the local church.
Church Membership in the Bible
The pictures of the church in the New Testament speak of a committed community. A very helpful picture is that of a family [Ephesians 2:19-22]. Also the church is described as a body [1 Corinthians 12:27]. Other examples are a temple of living stones all interconnected. Each suggests a community closely bound together and recognisably committed to each other.
The church has a leadership serving the members. There are elders and deacons [1 Timothy 3]. However, all members of the church are involved in serving, spiritual encouragement and in church discipline. [Acts 6:5; Titus 1:5; Matthew 18:17; 2 Corinthians 2:6; Hebrews 10:25].
What does being a member mean in practise?
It means you have identified with the church family. It is a practical and meaningful way of obeying Jesus’ command to love one another. It means you have shown yourself to be committed to Christ’s church, not just a selected group of friends. It means that you know the other church members are committed to you. It means you are under pastoral leadership and care of the eldership, who are committed to the promotion of your spiritual health.
It means you are involved in the praying and decision-making life of the church.
How important is church membership?
Not to be ready to be openly committed to a fellowship of believers falls short of desire for His children. The entire New Testament demonstrates that the Lord is committed to furthering his work in the world through his church. Being afraid of commitment and operating on the basis of loose affiliations to churches or among chosen Christian friends goes against the pattern of New Testament Christianity. God grows his people spiritually together in the church. We need each other and the different gifts and abilities God gives to thrive together as the body of Christ.
It is important too that in an age of fierce independence, we are accountable to each other in the community life of church. Spiritual guidance, encouragement and discipline all come to us in the wisdom of God through the spiritual family life of the local church.
Church membership and baptism
The church is the community of the baptised. We believe that baptism is the New Testament badge of personal faith in Christ. So we link baptism and church membership together.
Baptism is commanded in the New Testament by Christ [Matthew 28:19].
Christ Himself was baptised [Matthew 3: 13-17].
Baptism was commanded by the Apostles [Acts 2:38].
Baptism is seen throughout the early church [Acts 2:41; 8:36-39; 9:18; 10:47].
The meaning of baptism
The word “baptise” means to completely immerse. Baptism in the Bible is to immerse in water.
It Baptism began as a Jewish washing ritual but in the New Testament it is the symbol of the removal of sin [Acts 22:16].
The New Testament teaches that the act of baptising pictures the Christian’s dying with Christ and rising to new life [Romans 6:3-5 and Colossians 2:12]. The Christian “dies” to the old life of sin. The Christian rises to a new life in Christ. Baptism symbolises our the Christian’s union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
This is an identification both with Christ and with His church [Ephesians 4:4-6].
Bible proofs of baptism by immersion
John the Baptist chose to baptise where there was plenty of water [John 3:23]. The description of Jesus’ [Mark 1:5 & 10] indicates a going down and coming up. Paul’s argument with reference to the Christian’s union with Christ in Romans 6 is totally dependent on baptism by full immersion. So, under normal circumstances, we should baptise by immersion.
Who should be baptised?
Baptism is for those who come to Christ in repentance and faith openly confessing Him as Saviour and Lord . Infants, of course, cannot believe or express a personal faith in Christ. We must remember that baptism is a rich picture of expressing publicly the fact that we now belong to Jesus.
RRBC and baptism
We are delighted to talk to anyone who has questions about baptism or feels ready to confess Christ in this way. If you chose to do this, what should you expect? The pastor or one of the other elders would arrange to meet with you informally to hear about your experience of coming to faith in Christ. What difference has this made to your life? We would also ask you a few straightforward questions to establish that you have a basic understanding of the Bible’s teaching concerning salvation. We always baptise people in good faith, on the understanding that people are serious about going on to live their lives under the Lordship of Christ. Under normal circumstances we would expect anyone baptised at Radcliffe Road to join the church for the reasons we have explained above.
Sunday Service Times
Morning - 10:30am
Evening - 6:00pm
Radcliffe Road Baptist Church
Radcliffe Road, Bury, BL9 9LH