A Brief Introduction to the Churches of Christ
The church of Christ dates back to the days of the New Testament (Romans 16:16). It was founded by Christ following His death and resurrection and proclaimed by the apostles on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). In the years that followed, it rapidly grew to fill Jerusalem, then Judea, Samaria, and finally the whole Roman Empire (Acts 1:8; Colossians 1:23). Churches of Christ have been greatly blessed by God with significant growth both in America and many places throughout the world.
The church of Christ is noted for its emphasis upon returning to New Testament Christianity and for its desire to unite all Christians into one body (1 Corinthians 1:10). We believe that the New Testament is the only rule for faith and practice in religious matters (2 Timothy 3:17; I Peter 4:11) and that it must authorize all that is done in Christian worship (Colossians 3:17; Revelation 22:18–19). Thus we try to strictly follow the New Testament. For this reason, only a cappella music is used in worship assemblies and the Lord’s Supper is observed every Sunday. We believe the Bible teaches that sinners are saved by faith, repentance, confession, and baptism (John 3:16; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9–10) and that a Christian must remain faithful to the Lord after conversion (Revelation 2:10). The church of Christ is organized with elders, deacons, preachers, and members as in New Testament times (Philippians 1:1).
We believe that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:30– 31), that the Bible is inspired of God (2 Timothy 3:16– 17), and that Jesus will return to take His kingdom (church) home to God (1 Corinthians 15:24). We emphasize sincere worship (John 4:24), every- member evangelism (Acts 8:4), godly living (Titus 2:11–12), love for each other (John 13:33–34), and helping those in need (James 1:27). We believe that it is possible to have religious unity in a day of division by simply following the New Testament pattern and putting aside human traditions.
To put it simply, we are seeking to be the same church one reads about in the New Testament. We aim to restore its doctrine, its practice, its lifestyle, and its zeal.
We believe the most important relationship is our relationship with God (John 17:3; Philippians 3:10). We believe in the one true God revealed in the Bible. He spoke the world into existence and sustains all things today. God remains active and involved in this world and in our individual lives (Gen. 1:1; Heb. 1:10-12, 11:3).
We believe that God exists in three distinct personalities: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14; John 1:1, 14; John 16:12-15).
We believe that Jesus is the Son of God. We believe He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, shed His blood dying on a cross, was buried and raised from the dead three days later. He ascended to the Father and now reigns over his Kingdom. (Rom. 8:34; Phil. 2:5-11).
We believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven (Acts 4:12, John 14:6) and is the only one qualified and able to redeem us and save us from our sins (Heb. 9:11-15). We believe that one day Jesus will return to take his own to live with him forever (Acts 1:11; I Thess. 4:16-17).
We believe that God’s love and justice intersect at the cross. Since God is just he cannot simply ignore or disregard our sin but because He is loving He wants to be in fellowship with us. God’s solution to our sin problem was to send Jesus to serve the death penalty due us and to reconcile us to Himself so that he might reign in our hearts and lives (2 Cor. 5:18-19; I Thess. 5:9-10; I Pet. 3:18; Rom. 6:23). This is why the Gospel is Good News!
God has acted on our behalf but we must choose to accept or decline his gift of salvation. We accept the gift of salvation through faith. Faith is more than just intellectual assent (James 2:19); it is made complete by our actions (James 2:22). A faith-response to Jesus includes repentance (Acts 2:38), confession (Rom. 10:9) and baptism. Just as Christ died, was buried, and was raised from the dead, we also we must be buried (immersed) with Christ in baptism and then be raised to live a new life (Rom. 6:4). We are baptized for the remission of our sins, and the Holy Spirit comes and takes up residence in us (Acts 2:38); additionally, we are added to the Church (Acts 2:47). Throughout our lives, we are continually being transformed into the image of Christ by His Spirit who lives in us.
We believe that our sin separates us from a Holy God (Isa. 59:2). To sin is to violate God’s law and to rebel against Him. Sin is pervasive – it consists not only in the bad things we do but also in the good things that we fail to do (James 4:17), it manifests itself not only in word and deed but also in thought (Matt. 5:28). The Bible teaches that all of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23; I John 1:8-10).
About the Church
We believe that the church belongs to the Lord! It is His body and every Christian is a member of that body. It is not defined racially, socially, geographically or ethnically. The purpose of the church is to glorify God (Eph. 3:10-11). God is glorified when we grow closer to Him (Eph. 4:11-16) and when we reach out to those around us with the love of Christ (Luke 9:2).
About Christian Living
The Christian life seeks through the grace of God and the power of the Spirit to live out the way of Jesus every day. We are flawed, imperfect people, but God in his mercy is transforming us more and more into His image. Together as a church, we cling to the cross of Christ as we grow in sacrifice, service and self-emptying love (Rom. 12:1-2; Gal. 5:22-25; 2 Cor. 3:18).
Why Be Baptized?
We immerse (baptize) at Williamsburg Church of Christ because Jesus instructed us to be baptized. It is an important step of obedience in our life with Him. It demonstrates an acceptance of God and our consent to be saved. Jesus modeled baptism for us as the way to publicly acknowledge our acceptance of Him. The apostles, Jesus’ first followers, also modeled baptism as they taught the good news of Jesus. Every person we read about in the New Testament who also chose to believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus was baptized. Baptism is something that is both very simple and also complex at the same time. The good news is you don’t have to understand ALL it’s complexity on the day you decide to be baptized. You only need to understand your need of Jesus and why His sacrifice is the only path to total forgiveness. If you are curious about learning more this article can be a good start BUT you DO NOT have to know it by heart to be baptized.
There are many reasons to be baptized:
Because Jesus Himself commanded it
Then Jesus said to them, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” —Matthew 28:19-20He (Jesus) said to them , “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:15-16
To follow the example set by Jesus
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. —Mark 1:9
To publicly demonstrate that a person is a believer
And many … who heard him believed and were baptized. —Acts 18:8
To openly demonstrate obedience to Jesus Christ
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” —Luke 6:46
To pledge a clean heart before God
”Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 3:21
To publicly identify with Christ, who is making us completely new
We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. — Romans 6:4 (see also Ephesians 4:17-24)If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you are ready to be baptized. Just like a bride and groom show others their love for one another by a wedding ceremony, your baptism is your opportunity to show others that you trust in Christ and are now walking with Him.
What is the meaning of baptism?
It is a pronouncement of belief. It is like preaching a visual sermon. It is a public way of saying to everyone that you have decided to give your life to Jesus Christ.”Many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.” Acts 18:8
It illustrates Christ’s burial and resurrection
The picture immersion portrays is compelling: just as a person lowers you into the water, Christ lowers you into the pool of His grace until every inch of your soul is clean. Buried in a watery grave, covered from head to foot with God’s love, you are washed clean by the blood of Jesus.“Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead. . . we too may have new life.” Romans 6:3-4″Christ died for our sins… He was buried… and He rose again.” — 1 Corinthians 15:3-4″For when you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and in baptism you were also raised with Christ.” — Colossians 2:12
It illustrates my new life as a Christian
Baptism doesn’t make you a believer – it shows that you already believe. The Bible teaches that faith in Christ is the source of our salvation. Baptism is the biblical response to saving faith. It is the visible symbol of the commitment you make in your heart.”When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. The old life has passed away and a new life has begun!” — 2 Corinthians 5:17″By our baptism then, we were buried with Him and shared His death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead… so also we may live a new life!” — Romans 6:4″For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith… it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” — Ephesians 2:8,9
It symbolizes the cleansing power of God’s grace
Baptism has been compared to a washing: Not of dirt from the body, but of the cleansing of our hearts that God does through his grace.”And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” -Acts 22:16
Why be baptized by immersion?
Because Jesus was baptized that way.”As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water.” — Matthew 3:16 Every baptism in the Bible was by immersion.(Example) “…then both Philip and the man went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water…” — Acts 8:38-39 The Greek word for baptize means “to immerse or dip under water”.
What if I was sprinkled as a baptism when I was a child?
First, you should be grateful that you had parents who cared enough about you to set you apart for God. Because of their devotion, you have an opportunity to complete their prayer by willingly submitting to Christ in His call to you to be immersed.Second, being immersed is not a sign of disrespect for what your parents did, nor is it an act of condemning their best desires for you.Be thankful for the heritage of concerned parents, but don’t be negligent of your responsibility as an adult to make your personal commitment and obedience to God in baptism (Philippians 2:12-13).Many who are now members of this church were sprinkled as infants and then, upon coming to personal faith, were immersed into Christ. God has led you to this point and we pray that you will take this step as soon as possible.
Does water baptism save me?
No. Scripture is abundantly clear that only Jesus saves (Acts 4:12). Faith in his actions is the heart of our salvation. The work of salvation is a finished work by Christ on the cross (Hebrews 9:24-28: 10:10-14). Baptism has no redemptive powers of its own. There is nothing special about the water in the river, pond, or baptistery.”But, baptism is the Biblical response to saving faith. It’s important enough for the Apostle Peter to write, “And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 3:21) But his focus was not on the washing with water, but on the faith and the pledge of our heart to God.”Tragically, some people believe they are going to heaven when they die just because they have been baptized. They have no genuine personal faith, have never made a personal decision to receive Christ as Savior and Lord, and are banking on a hollow ceremony to save them. If baptism itself could save, the cross of Jesus would have no real meaning. If a person’s faith is in the sacrament and not the Savior, he is trusting in a powerless ritual.
When should I be baptized?
As soon as you become a believer
“Those who believe…were baptized…that day!” — Acts 2:41. There is no reason to delay. As soon as you have decided to make Christ the Lord of your your life, you can and should be baptized. If you wait until you are “perfect”, you’ll never feel “good enough”! If you have been a follower of Christ for some time, though, it’s never too late. Choosing to follow Christ’s example and the apostle’s teaching in Scripture will bless your life now and forever.
Who should be baptized?
Every person who believes in Christ.”Those who believe and accepted His message were baptized…” — Acts 2:41″Simon himself believed and was baptized…” — Acts 8:13″But when they believed Philip as he preached the Good News… and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” — Acts 8:12
God knows my heart so why the emphasis on a physical action for spiritual results?
The two cannot be neatly separated. For example, the physical act of disobedience brought about a spiritual result in the garden. In addition, the physical birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus himself brings the greatest spiritual potential to us: salvation. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that a spiritual decision to accept Christ by faith is linked to a physical response like baptism. Genuine faith always results in appropriate action. In fact, Scripture says that faith without action is dead (James 2:17).
Can a child be baptized?
Yes! However, keep in mind that Biblically speaking, baptism is appropriate only for those who have made a personal decision to trust in Christ alone for their salvation. At Williamsburg, we wait until our children are old enough to believe and understand the true meaning of baptism before we baptize them. For more info on the ways we celebrate the faith of children, contact our minister.
What will happen at my baptism?
You will enter a small pool and the person who is baptizing will ask you if you have made Christ the Lord of your life. After you answer, we will baptize you by briefly lowering you just under the water, and then you can leave the water and dry off.
Can my family be baptized together?
If each person understands fully the meaning of baptism, and each one has personally placed his/her trust in Christ, we love to have families to be baptized at the same time. It is a great way to move forward together spiritually.
Who should I invite to my baptism?
Baptism provides a great opportunity to testify about God’s work in our lives. Through the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection we become a new person on the inside. We encourage everyone to invite their family and friends to the service.
If I want to be baptized right now what should I do?
You can contact the ministry team at the church office at 757-253-5662. We will be happy to arrange a time for your baptism any day or hour. But, remember that any Christian can baptize you wherever you are!