Thursday, July 01, 2010

Baptism

I am a Christian who believes that Christ's command to baptise believers includes the children of believers as part of the covenant community. The sign of baptism shows their membership in the church. Calvin said that as regeneration precedes faith what better sign of this could there be than that the sign of baptism be given to those too young to show faith? I first read this in Bridges and Phypers, The Water That Divides. I should love to be pointed to the primary source in Calvin's writing. For Baptists, baptism seems primarily to be the person witnessing to their faith. I believe the reformed and biblical view gives greater priority to God witnessing that he alone saves by faith in His Son when his name is put on us in baptism.

Baptism is not magic. It does not save. But it is a means of the grace of God. There is something supernatural there.

For the a reason approach to baptism, I commend to you the writing of Francis Schaeffer on baptism.

After you have followed the link, you can read below what is required by our church when children of members are baptised.

Questions for Baptism of Children of the Covenant
Parents

1. Do you acknowledge that you are saved only through faith in Jesus, that you trust not in anything you have done or will ever do, but only in His finished work - His death upon the Cross, by which He took upon Himself the penalty for Your sins?

2. Do you realise that baptism is not a saving ordinance, and though it signifies your children's membership in the covenant community, it is not a matter of magic? Do you understand that your children are themselves responsible to receive Christ as Saviour and Lord as they become accountable to Him?

3. Do you in this sacrament covenant together with God to raise your children in the instruction, obedience, and worship of the Lord, to pray for and with them, to keep them in the fellowship of God's people, to be faithful and loving in your home, to be immediate examples of faith, and therefore to do your utmost to lead them to a saving knowledge of Christ at an early age?

4. Do you acknowledge that your children are a gift of God, who are of course to be cherished and enjoyed, but who belong at last not to you but to God? Do you undertake to assist your children in every possible way as they seek to lead a life of devoted service to his Lord and Saviour?

Do you, with God's help, undertake not to hinder your children should they feel called to serve God in a far-away place?

bDo you, with God's help, undertake not to complain against God should your children die before you?

Godparents

Do you hereby pledge to show special interest in these children, to pray for them with regularity, and to aid their parents in their responsibilities however you are able?

Congregation

Do you, the members of this congregation, agree to pray for these parents as they raise their children in the Christian faith, and to support them in their efforts by providing their children with further examples of obedience and service to God? Should these parents neglect their God-given task, will you in all humility rebuke and correct them?

International Presbyterian Church, 53 Drayton Green, Ealing, London W13 0JE

Questions for prospective Church Members and for Believer's Baptism





1. Do you believe that God exists, that he is not merely an idea or concept, but lives forever and from all eternity as a personal God in the three persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit?



2. Do you know that you have many times done things you know to be wrong, and that if God were to judge you as you deserve, He would have to condemn you?



3. Do you believe that Jesus Christ, who has existed forever as the Second Person of the Trinity, became a man, lived a perfect life, died on the Cross, and rose again in history? Do you know that in doing so he did everything necessary to atone for your sin and to restore you to right relationship to God?



4. Have you personally accepted this work of Christ, and believed in his promises, including the promise that 'he who believes on the Son has everlasting life'? Can you therefore say without pride or presumption that you are a child of God, born into his family?



5. Do you now intend to serve Christ and do you thus acknowledge his lordship over your whole life? Do you realize that you must depend on the strength of the Holy Spirit, and whereas this obedience will indeed be costly, it will not result in any loss to yourself, but will rather bring fulfilment to yourself as a creature made in the image of God?



For membership:



6. In joining this particular congregation do you promise to be subject to the teaching and discipline of its elders under the Word of God and commit yourself to the welfare of its members?





The Constitution of The International Presbyterian Church

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