I would suggest that there are certain components which must be part of any assembly which would call itself a biblical “church.” Without these you cannot have a church:
- Gospel believing individuals
- Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
- Recognizably covenanting together
- Regularly meeting around God’s Word
- Under legitimate leadership
- Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table
Let’s take a look at the second essential component of a NT local church: Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
A common questions is as follows: “Should someone who has been sprinkled be re-baptized?” Lets take a look at what baptism is, and then answer that question afterwards.
Kevin Bauder did an excellent job at succinctly defining these points in Bauder, Kevin T. Baptist Distinctives and New Testament Church Order. Schaumburg: Regular Baptist Press, 2012. Much of the following outline, if not taken from, was influenced by that work.
To be baptized according to the New Testament, you need the:
A. Right Subject: those professing belief (Acts 16:31-34). One is not baptized for their salvation, but in demonstration of their salvation. It is an outward action symbolizing an inward reality.
B. Right Meaning:
- I am in Christ – As Christ Died, was buried, and rose again, so am I. (Rom 6:3-5; Gal 3:27 [water baptism is a picture of spiritual baptism])
- I am with Christ (his disciple) (John 12:23-26 [following Jesus])
- I am obedient to Christ (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 2:38; 10:48)
C. Right Mode:
- Immersion (John 3:23; Mark 1:10; Acts 8:38)
- Symbolism: All other forms – sprinkling, pouring, or trine immersion do not convey the picture baptism was meant to symbolize, so cannot be considered a true, or real, baptism as adopted by the NT church.
D. Right Administrator: the Local Church
- Jesus commanded baptism from his disciples and the disciples of his disciples (Matt 28:19-20).
- Because the local church is the way in which the Universal Church can be seen, it confuses the matter when baptism is performed outside the local church. (If you are baptized but not part of a local church, how can you really claim to be part of Christ’s Body?)
So, “Should someone who has been sprinkled be re-baptized?” If the above evaluation is correct, there is no such thing as “re-baptism.” The individual should be baptized, what they did the first time was get wet.
The church is the Body of Christ made up of those individuals who have been redeemed and publicly baptized in demonstration of that belief. Let’s not forget that.
What other evidences of this would you add?