Is baptism spiritual insurance?

Good morning! Welcome to St Augustine’s. What an honour it is to have visitors with us, especially for special events like a baptism. It is of course Asher Peterson’s baptism this morning, and we welcome family and friends, as well as any others who are visiting today.

Many people consider the baptism ceremony to be a kind of spiritual insurance policy for kids, a way to ensure that they are counted as Christians. Parents want the best for their kids, and may want them to be Christian, even if they themselves have little or no interest in Jesus.

This raises a big question: does water baptism achieve some kind of spiritual result? Many people assume it does. However this is not the message of the New Testament. Although it was a command of Jesus’ to his Disciples to baptise people, baptism is not the thing that saves us (or our kids). It is Jesus’ actual death and resurrection that saves us.

When we repent of our sins and put our faith in him, we are counted as being “baptised into his death”, (Romans 6:3) meaning that we are joined to Jesus, and benefit from the fact that he died for sin. The sprinkling or immersing of people into water is simply an outward sign of this connection to God.

So what does this mean then? First, it means that repentance from sin and faith in Jesus is what it is all about. Baptism is a wonderful celebration of salvation and entrance into God’s family. But if we are baptised without having repented of sin and putting faith in Jesus, then the baptism achieves nothing. It’s a nice family day, but has no spiritual effect whatsoever.

Second, parents can baptise their children on the basis of their own repentance since the promise of God for salvation is for all ages, even those who cannot yet make a response for themselves. The key verses are Acts 2:38-39, where the Apostle Peter says:

38 “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

This is why the Baptism service for infants places such an emphasis on the intention of the parents and sponsors to be faithful, because until children are able to make their own decision, we play a representative role for them.

So it’s is great cause for celebration. But even though today is a day for focussing on Asher and his life, it is even more a day of thanks and praise to God for what he has done for Asher through Jesus, our Lord.