Pentecostals believe that water baptism is an important step in a believer's walk with God. Apostolic (Oneness) Pentecostals believe that baptism in Jesus' name is a necessary step in the salvation process. Most other Pentecostals believe that baptism in water is important for believers because it makes a public profession of faith, shows obedience to Christ's command to be baptized and identifies the believer with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pentecostal ministers usually perform baptism ceremonies, though they may appoint a layperson to perform a baptism as well.
Pentecostals believe that baptism is only for believers. As such, they do not practice infant baptism. To be baptized in a Pentecostal church, a candidate must profess faith in Jesus Christ and repentance of sin. Most Pentecostal churches don't rigidly define the age at which a person may be baptized, but the candidate must be able to understand the significance of baptism and why he wants to be baptized.
The vast majority of Pentecostals practice baptism by full immersion. The belief that full immersion is appropriate is based on descriptions of baptisms in the New Testament, Paul's referring to baptism as a "burial" in Colossians 2:12 and Romans 6:4, and the literal meaning of the Greek word "baptizo," which is translated "baptize" in English versions of the New Testament. Baptizo is most accurately translated as "to submerge." Many Pentecostal churches have a special baptismal tank for performing baptisms. Other Pentecostal churches perform outdoor baptisms in ponds, pools, rivers, or other bodies of water. If a church lacks a baptismal tank or natural water source, they may perform water baptisms using any container large enough to hold sufficient water to fully immerse the baptismal candidate.
The baptismal pronouncement is what is spoken over the baptismal candidate while he is being immersed in water. Most Pentecostal churches use the baptismal pronouncement, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." This is based on Jesus' final commands to his disciples before his Ascension, found in Matthew 28:19. Apostolic (Oneness) Pentecostals use the baptismal pronouncement, "I baptize you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." This is based on Acts 2:38, which records the Apostle Peter's response to the question, "What must we do to be saved?" Apostolic Pentecostals believe that pronouncing the name of Jesus in the baptismal ceremony is vital to the baptismal candidate's salvation. Some Pentecostal churches, desiring to avoid controversy or debate over baptismal formulas, use a hybrid pronouncement, such as "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit."
Most Pentecostals view baptism as an opportunity for a new believer to make his testimony public. Many Pentecostal churches encourage the new believer to invite friends and relatives to his baptism. Baptismal candidates are often encouraged to share a short testimony of how they were saved and what the Lord has done in their lives before they are baptized. Pentecostals will often encourage others in the congregation to receive salvation during a baptismal ceremony.
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