By the Grace of God, it will soon be one year since we moved into the new assembly hall for our meetings. There has been an increase in the number of attendees on Sunday. This writer and our elders, deacons and pastoral staff all feel the need to briefly explain our churchˇ¦s standing on baptism, the pre-requisites to attending our Breaking of Bread service, and the definition of a church member to those brothers and sisters not too familiar with the policies and structure of our church.
The baptism ceremony originated from the cleansing requirements for priests in the Old Testament when presenting offerings (Exodus 30:17-21). While preaching the Gospel of the Heavenly Kingdom, John the Baptist baptized those who acknowledged and repented their sins, testifying to their return to God before the multitude through the ceremony of baptism. John baptized people with water, but Christ baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11). This shows that there is baptism by water and baptism by the Holy Spirit (or washing by the Holy Spirit). According to the bible, a sinner must be reborn (can be interpreted as born from above or born of the Holy Spirit) before he can enter the Kingdom of God (receive eternal life) (John 3:5). When a person is enlightened by the Holy Spirit, understands the Lordˇ¦s grace of salvation, recognizes his own sins and is willing to acknowledge them and repent to God, and accepts Jesus Christ as his saviour, he encounters the peace that comes from the cleansing of sins by the Lordˇ¦s holy blood. He becomes a child of God, and is bestowed the Holy Spirit as a deposit by God (Ephesians 1:13-14). At the moment one believes in Christ, God works within his heart and he experiences the washing of the Holy Spirit ˇV ˇ§ˇKBut you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.ˇ¨ (1 Corinthians 6:11)
The Greek word ˇ§baptizoˇ¨ means to dip, to immerse or to destroy. ˇ§Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized.ˇ¨ (John 3:23) ˇ§As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water.ˇ¨ (Matthew 3:16) These passages show that baptism was carried out in water. Baptism is a believer proclaiming that he has clearly repented of his sins and believes in the Lord, accepts Godˇ¦s saving grace, and is willing to unite with the Lord in His death, burial and resurrection and testify before God and man through the act of baptism (Romans 6:3-11). Most significantly, a person must enter into water and then come out of water. Therefore, we believe that baptism with total immersion in water conforms to biblical truth more than with the dripping or sprinkling of water. We use baptism to testify for the Lord. A person must first experience rebirth (the baptism of the Holy Spirit), live constantly in the Lord, and unite with the Lord for baptism to display its true meaning.
The Breaking of Bread service at our church is not an open event, unlike other meetings. Only those members who converted and were baptized at our church, or had transferred to our church as members, or were accepted by our elders and pastoral staff can join our Breaking of Bread service. If there are believers from other churches or members from overseas branches of the Peace Evangelical Church who wish to attend this service, the introducing member from our church should contact our elders or evangelical staff as soon as possible so that we will have the opportunity to first communicate with that party.
From an organizational perspective, those believers who have been reborn and received baptism at our church naturally become our churchˇ¦s members. Members must offer their bodies to Christ, submit to and obey the leadership of the elders and preachers (Hebrews 13:17), consider the church as their spiritual home, support the spiritual guidelines of the church, and live according to biblical truths. Always strive to attend meetings, join with other members often, and care for the affairs of the home. Those who attend meetings regularly are listed as Active Members. Those who have not attended meetings with us for over 6 months are listed as Inactive Members. Active Members have the right to vote. When there are important concerns that require resolution, members should examine them carefully to achieve understanding, and offer wholehearted support.
If members have questions about the foregoing account, please contact the elders and pastoral staff of the church. May God bless and bestow His grace upon this home of ours.
By: Daniel To