“It is through the sacrament of baptism that we are given our identity as people for whom Jesus Christ lived, died, and was resurrected. In baptism we are initiated into the Christian church; we are incorporated into the community of God's people, the body of Christ. By baptism we are commissioned into ministry; we are called to continue the work of Christ for the redemption of the world.” - Gayle Felton
In the Methodist Church, we believe in one baptism, as stated in the Nicene Creed. There has been a lot of controversy over the years about when a person should be baptized. For Wesley, it did not matter when a person was baptized as much as it mattered what happened afterwards. Baptism symbolizes regeneration, which comes after initial sanctification, or, the new birth. Our Christian journey does not stop at New Birth, just as a child’s development does not stop at his or her birth. Baptism symbolizes the beginning of a life of dedication to God and Christian perfection.
Baptism is actually a symbol of how little we do and how much God does. We do nothing for our salvation. We cannot have enough faith, cannot be good enough, cannot be righteous enough, and cannot be selfless enough to be saved. In baptism, we are accepting that God gives us our salvation simply because he loves us and not because we have done anything to deserve it or earn it.
What about Kids?
Methodists baptize babies; we do not christen them or dedicate them. This is the only baptism that a child will ever have. It is the ultimate symbol of how little control we have over our lives. When a child is baptized, the parents promise to raise that child according to God’s will until that child is old enough to decide for themselves if they will embrace the Christian life. At that point, the child will make a public profession of their own and take ownership of the vows their parents made on their behalf.
Baptism is a symbol of what God does for us, not what we do. God never makes mistakes and never needs a do over. God's actions in a person's baptism is everlasting, even if a person falls away.