Baptism of Children of Believers
(To be conducted during the regular Sunday Service)
The minister may begin with the following sentences:
From everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children's children. Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 103:17, Psalm 124:8)
Then he shall say:
The Lord Jesus Christ commanded that his disciples should be baptised.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising 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. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)
The Old Testament prophets spoke of our need for spiritual cleansing and renewal by the Holy Spirit:
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will be my people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:25-28)
This sacrament is a sign and seal of the grace of God and of our washing and renewal by the Holy Spirit; it signifies our union with Christ and the washing away of our sins; it is a mark of our adoption into God's family and our resurrection to everlasting life. Through it we are admitted into the visible Church and are committed to serve Christ as Lord. Even children too young to understand these things share in the promise. In receiving this sacrament we acknowledge that, through God's promise to believing parents, this child is part of the family of God. We are given this assurance by the apostle Peter when he declared:
The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call. (Acts 2:39)
The Gospel also confirms the willingness of Christ to receive our children:
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.' And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16)
Because the practice of the baptism of infants rests on God's covenant of grace with believers and their children, it requires personal faith in Jesus Christ on the part of the parents. Therefore it is necessary for those presenting their children for baptism to answer certain questions.
The minister shall then say to the parents who shall stand:
Who is your Lord and Saviour?
Response: Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour.
Do you trust in the righteousness of Christ alone for your salvation?
Response: I do.
Do you promise to obey him.
Response: I do.
Our Lord Jesus has commanded us to teach those whom we baptise in His name. Do you promise to teach N....... from the Scriptures how to trust in Christ as his Saviour and to follow him as Lord?
Response: I do.
Do you promise to pray for N......., and to set him a godly example in your actions, that, by God's grace, he may be a faithful follower of our Lord Jesus Christ all his days?
Response: I do.
As part of your godly example, do you promise to be regular and diligent in meeting with God's people on the Lord's Day?
Response: I do.
Then the minister shall say:
The Lord bless you and your child and graciously enable you to keep these promises.
Then, addressing the congregation, he shall say:
This sacrament lays special responsibilities upon you, the people of God. Will you be faithful to your calling as members of the Church of Christ, so that, by God's grace, this child may grow up in the knowledge and love of Christ?
If you accept this responsibility, please say: I will.
Then the minister shall pour or sprinkle water on the child's head, saying:
N......., I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, descend upon you and dwell in your heart forever.
The minister may then say, or the congregation sing:
The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Rejoice! 352) (Numbers 6:24-27)
Thereafter addressing the congregation, the minister shall say:
We receive N....... into the care of Christ's Church, that as a member of the covenant community, he may be nurtured and strengthened, and continue as Christ's faithful servant to his life's end.
The minister then says:
The Lord be with you as you fulfil this solemn trust, and may he abundantly fulfil in you his word:
Whoever welcomes this little child in my name receives me. (Luke 9:48)
Let us pray:
Almighty and eternal God, who keeps covenant and shows mercy to a thousand generations of those who love and obey you, we thank you for the sign of baptism which assures us that you are our God, and that you wash away our sins and renew our hearts by your Spirit.
As you have rescued us from the kingdom of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of your dear Son, we pray that you may be pleased by your Spirit to bring N....... to an understanding of your gift of new life.
We ask that the fruit of the Spirit's presence may appear in his life and that you will help him to honour you as his heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as his Saviour.
Preserve him by your power against all the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil.
Be his refuge and fortress in all the trials of life. Give him strength to live the Christian life faithfully to the end. We ask that his name will be found in the Lamb's Book of Life, so that when he stands before you in glory, he will not be ashamed.
We pray that you will bless N.......'s home.
Help his parents to bring him up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
May N....... be the means of drawing them still closer to you and to each other. And, Father, we pray that after this life is ended, we may all be brought to the everlasting joys of our heavenly home where your Son, our Lord Jesus, lives and reigns eternally. Amen.
(The parents with the child return to their seats)