Baptism Of A Child: What Is It?
For adults, who can make their own decisions in life, baptism is an outward act that symbolizes an inward turning to God in faith and repentance. Even in adults, baptism with water is an outward sign of an inner baptism: a spiritual connection to God made possible through faith in Christ. God looks at our hearts, and it is our inner dependence on him (particularly dependence on what he has done to forgive us of sin through Jesus) that best describes what it is to be a Christian. Christians are simply followers Jesus, not simply trying to be good members of society, but living with an allegiance to Jesus above all other allegiances.
Babies are not able to make decisions for themselves to follow Jesus, but the Bible speaks of children being baptized under the umbrella of their parents’ faith. So “infant baptism” is for the children of those who follow Christ.
Often parents who bring their children for baptism find that this is a good time in life for re-evaluating beliefs, and recommitting to following Jesus. The baptism service works like a “renewal of wedding vows”, where the parents and godparents get the opportunity to re-affirm the core statements of Christian faith.
Naturally the most effective way to bring up a child as a follower of Christ is under ongoing guidance by parents on a day-to-day basis. But this can seem like a heavy burden. Churches such as St Augustine’s try to provide support to parents both through our Sunday services and through Sunday school programs for the kids.
So baptism is more than a social occasion for family and friends (although it is indeed a great time to get together and celebrate). It is the beginning or recommencing of a spiritual journey that can continue for the rest of your child’s life.
A promise by the parents
- A recommitment of the parents’ (and godparents’) own faith in Christ
- A promise to raise your child as a follower of Christ and to nurture his or her spiritual growth through:
- prayer for your child,
- teaching your child about Jesus
- developing your own faith
- Encouraging your child by your own example.
How is a person saved?
- The message of the Bible is that God the Creator has acted for our benefit by taking on human form in the person of Jesus Christ at a particular time and place in history (1st Century Palestine).
- Jesus lived, died and rose from the dead, fulfilling the promises of the Old Testament, and as a result achieved ultimate authority over all created things. We turn to Christ as our only Lord and Saviour.
- Jesus’ death and resurrection enable people everywhere to be reconciled to their maker. We receive forgiveness from sin when we turn away from sin and put our hope exclusively in Jesus.
- Baptism is a “sacrament”, that is, a visible sign of an invisible reality. Sprinkling of water does not itself guarantee that you (or your child) will go to heaven. Faith in what Jesus did on the cross (dying in our place for our sins, and rising to bring us eternal life) is what makes us part of Christ’s kingdom.
- Those who turn from sin to following Christ are members of the Church, by faith. This is a community of worship and love, a light to the world and a fellowship of people being prepared by God to live with him into eternity.
An opportunity to refresh and renew commitment
- Baptism enables the church to gather around and pray for the child as well as for his/her parents and godparents.
- It is important for parents to spend some time with a minister prior to a baptism talking through the key components of the Christian faith.
- Although baptism is simply a sign, it is a significant moment of commitment, and can provide families with a renewed sense of confidence in the Christian gospel.