Baptism for Children, Youth, and Adults
What does baptism mean?
Baptism is one of two sacraments in our church, the other being Communion or The Lord’s Supper. A sacrament is a means of grace. It is one way that God’s unfathomable love is expressed to us. The washing of baptismal water makes visual the cleansing work of Jesus’ death on the cross where he washed away the dirt of our sin.
Obeying the word of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, we baptize those whom he has called to be his own. We baptize children, youth, and adults. For youth and adults to be baptized, they must personally and publicly profess their faith in Jesus Christ.
Baptism happens only once in a Christian’s life (Eph. 4:5), because it signals entry into the community of faith (1 Cor. 12:12-13). Its efficacy is not tied to the moment when it is administered, for it signifies the beginning of our life in Christ, not its completion, and accordingly covers sins into which we fall after baptism. Human faithfulness to God, on the other hand, needs repeated renewal.
What does infant baptism mean?
In the Old Testament, a Jewish child was both a member of a family and a member of a community called God’s Chosen People. At birth, divine grace was automatically given to each Jewish baby. From birth, each became a recipient of God’s promises to Israel. To recognize this incredible act of grace, the Jews adopted the custom of circumcising male infants. Circumcision was the outward sign of God’s grace and covenant with Israel (Gen. 17:7-14). It pointed to circumcision of the heart (Deut. 10:16).
In the early church, baptism communicated the same truth about grace to the Christian community that circumcision communicated to the Jewish community (Col. 2:11-13): namely, God chooses us before we are able to choose God (“while you were dead…God made you alive”). Infant baptism emphasizes God's initiative over human response.
Baptism is the biblically required sign of entrance into the Christian community. The children of believing parents are somehow a special part of the Christian community and should be recognized as such through infant baptism.
Scripture affirms infant baptism by implication: at Philippi, when Lydia was converted to Christ, “she and her household were baptized” (Acts 16:15); and when the Philippian jailer became a Christian, “he and his entire family were baptized without delay” (Acts 16:33).
Infant baptism is the first step in nurturing your child’s growth in Christian maturity. At baptism, parents publicly promise to create an environment in which their child will be exposed to God’s love and Christian teaching, and their child receives the biblical sign of inclusion into the covenant community.
During baptism, the entire congregation makes a vow to strengthen your child’s family ties to the household of God by wrapping arms of love and words of the gospel around your family. Inherent in this vow is a commitment by each church member to fully and sacrificially support the Christian education of the congregation’s children and youth.
When baptized children grow to the age of adult responsibility, they need to make their own personal and public confession of faith. This is why we offer a confirmation class for children in 8th grade and older. Through your training and the church family’s support, your child, we pray, will come to make a personal and public profession of faith in Christ and recognize his or her dependence on God alone for salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).
What do I need to do to arrange a baptism?
Contact Mary Reith in the church office, and she will provide you with the form that needs to be completed and schedule your baptism.