Below is a document that we are beginning to use when counseling candidates for baptism at Capshaw. It is loosely based on the Abstract of Principles (our statement of faith). I have sought to include only those parts which are essential to salvation. I have attempted to word the document in a way that makes it readable for younger baptism candidates, without loosing the important theological specificity.
1. Who is God? There is one Almighty God, the Maker, Preserver and Ruler of all things, having in and of Himself all perfections, and being infinite in them all; and to Him all creatures owe the highest love and obedience. God is revealed to us in the Bible as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.
2. Why do we need a Savior? God originally created man in His own image, free from sin. Sadly, through the temptation of Satan, man disobeyed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness. All of mankind has now inherited a nature that is corrupt and opposed to God’s rule.
The Bible presents God as absolutely holy, and as such, incompatible with mankind who has rebelled against their Creator. Holy God cannot fellowship with sinful man, and what is more, He must ultimately judge our sin.
3. What has God done to save us? God is presented in the Bible as the very essence of love. This holy and loving God initiated a radical plan to restore His relationship with rebellious humans. The word gospel (meaning good news) encompasses everything that His plan entailed.
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the divinely appointed mediator between God and man. Having taken upon Himself human nature, yet without sin, He perfectly fulfilled the law. He suffered and died upon the cross for the salvation of sinners. He was buried, rose again the third day, and ascended to the Father. Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest and King of the Church, and Sovereign of the Universe.
4. How do we receive all that God has done to save us? We receive all that God has done to save us by repentance and faith.
Repentance is when we are made aware of our sin and lost condition by the Holy Spirit. Then, hating our sin, we look to the person and work of Jesus Christ by faith as the only means of achieving a right standing before God.
Saving faith is the belief, on God’s authority, of everything revealed in the Bible concerning Christ. It is more than a general belief in God, but a particular accepting and resting upon the person and work of Jesus Christ alone for a right standing before God and eternal life.
Our repentance and faith is often expressed to God by praying and asking God to save us because of what Jesus has done. This prayer may be understood as the first expression of our faith in Christ, and separate and distinct from the work of salvation. We often say it this way, “We are saved by a person (Christ), not a prayer.”
5. What is baptism? Baptism was something that Jesus commanded all of His followers to receive. It is when a believer is immersed in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as a sign that points to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It declares that the person has received forgiveness of sins, and purposes to walk in a way that reflects the person of Christ. Baptism does not save a person, but it is his or her first public declaration of faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.