Hear now the teaching of our Lord in Scripture concerning Baptism:
Matthew 28:18-20 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Instruction About Infant Baptism
The following instruction should be given: “Baptism is a sacrament ordained by our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a sign and seal of the inclusion of the person who is baptized in the covenant of grace. Baptism with water teaches that we and our children are conceived and born in sin. It signifies our dying to sin and our rising to newness of life by virtue of our union with Christ in His death and resurrection. It also signifies and seals to us cleansing from sin by the blood and Spirit of Christ. Since these gifts of salvation are the gracious provision of the triune God, who is pleased to claim us as His very own, we are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Baptized persons are called upon to assume the obligations of the covenant; Baptism summons us to renounce sin and the world, and to walk humbly with our God in devotion to His commandments.”
The pastor shall give further instruction, in addition to that given above, as to the ground of infant baptism: “Although our young children do not yet understand these things, they are nevertheless to be baptized. For the promise of the covenant is made to believers and to their children, as God declared to Abraham, ‘And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you (Genesis 17:7).’ Under the New Testament, no less than in the Old, the children of believers, have, by virtue of their birth, an interest in the covenant and a right to the seal of it. The covenant of grace is the same in substance in both the Old and the New Testament, and Baptism has replaced circumcision as the seal of that covenant (Colossians 2:11,12). Our Savior admitted little children into His presence, embracing them and blessing them, and saying, ‘Of such is the kingdom of God (Mark 10:14).’ The grace signified in baptism is not tied to the moment of administration. Scripture teaches that our children are covenantally holy before their baptism (I Corinthians 7:14). Baptism applies the promises and obligations of the covenant to our children, and calls them to personal repentance and faith as they come to years of understanding.”
In preparing to be witness of this solemn administration of the sacrament of baptism it is altogether wise and proper for baptized believers to reflect on their own Baptism, to repent of their sins against their covenant God, to stir up their faith, and so to improve and make right use of their Baptism. The Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 167 leads us to consider our duty in improving our own Baptism when it asks, “How is our Baptism to be improved by us?” The answer to this query is provided as follows:
The needful but much neglected duty of improving our Baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others, by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of the Baptism and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that Sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.
After the instruction, the parents are to bring the children to the front of the congregation. The elders may also be asked to come forward. The pastor or another elder shall ask the parents to respond to the following question: “Do you publicly renew your profession of faith in Christ and acknowledge your acceptance of the Covenant of Communicant Membership?”
The Covenant of Church Membership:
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule for faith and life?
2. Do you believe in the one living and true God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as revealed in the Scriptures?
3. Do you repent of your sin; confess your guilt and helplessness as a sinner against God; profess Jesus Christ, Son of God, as your Savior and Lord; and dedicate yourself to His service? Do you promise that you will endeavor to forsake all sin, and to conform your life to His teaching and example?
4. Do you promise to submit in the Lord to the teaching and government of this church as being based upon the Scriptures and described in substance in the Constitution of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America? Do you recognize your responsibility to work with others in the church and do you promise to support and encourage them in their service to the Lord? In case you should need correction in doctrine or life, do you promise to respect the authority and discipline of the church?
5. To the end that you may grow in the Christian life, do you promise that you will diligently read the Bible, engage in private prayer, keep the Lord’s Day, regularly attend the worship services, observe the appointed sacraments, and give to the Lord’s work as He shall prosper you?
6. Do you purpose to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness in all the relationships of life, faithfully to perform your whole duty as a true servant of Jesus Christ, and seek to win others to Him?
7. Do you make this profession of faith and purpose in the presence of God, in humble reliance upon His grace, as you desire to give your account with joy at the Last Great Day?
The parents shall then assent to the Covenant of Baptism in relation to their children by saying, “We do, with God’s help.”
The Covenant of Baptism:
1. Do you believe this child is a possession of God entrusted to your care?
2. In this light, do you promise to provide for his temporal well-being, to teach him to love God and His Word, the Bible, and to provide him with a God-centered education?
3. Do you promise to teach him of his sinful nature, of the plan of salvation which centers in Jesus Christ, and his own personal need of a relationship with Christ?
4. To the end that he may grow in the Christian life, do you promise to pray for him, and to train him to read the Bible, to pray, to keep the Lord’s Day and to understand the nature of the Church, the value of its worship and fellowship, and his need to seek communicant membership in the church?
5. Do you promise to lead him, by your example and parental discipline exercised in love, to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness in all the relationships of life?
6. Do you make these promises in the presence of God, in humble reliance upon His grace, as you desire to give your account with joy at the Last Great Day?
The pastor should ask the congregation to rise and respond to the following question: “Do you, the members of this congregation, receive_____________, into your fellowship and promise to pray for him and to help and encourage his parents as they seek to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?” The congregation shall respond, “We do, with God’s help.”
Administration of the Sacrament
That we therefore may administer this holy ordinance of God to His glory, to our comfort, and to the edification of the church, let us call upon His holy name:
Almighty, eternal God, You who have according to your severe judgment punished the unbelieving and unrepentant world with the flood, and has according to your great mercy saved and protected believing Noah and his family; You have drowned the obstinate Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea and led Your people through the midst of the sea upon dry ground—by which baptism was signified—we plead that You would be pleased in Your infinite mercy, graciously to look upon this brother (sister) and incorporate him (her) by Your Holy Spirit into Your Son Jesus Christ, that he (she) may be buried with Him through baptism into death and be raised with Him in the newness of life; that he (she), daily following Him, may joyfully bear his (her) cross, cleaving unto Him in true faith, firm hope, and ardent love; that he (she) believing comforted in You, may leave this life, which is nothing but constant death, and at the last day may appear without terror before the judgment seat of Christ Your Son, through Him, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with You and the Holy Spirit, one only God, lives and reigns forever. We now set apart this water from a common to a Sacramental use, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the King and Head of the church. Amen.
The pastor shall then baptize the person, calling his name and saying,“I baptize you, _________ in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Prayer of Thanksgiving and Blessing
Almighty God an merciful Father, we thank and praise You that you have forgiven our sins through the blood of Your beloved Son Jesus Christ, and received us through Your Holy Spirit as members of Your only begotten Son, and so adopted us to be Your children, and sealed and confirmed the same unto us by holy baptism. We plead with you that through Him, Your beloved Son, you will always govern our brother (sister) by Your Holy Spirit and the he (she) may lead a Christian and godly life, and grow and increase in the Lord Jesus Christ, in order that he (she) may acknowledge Your fatherly goodness and mercy, which You have shown to him (her) and to us all, and live in all righteousness under our only Teacher, King, and High Priest, Jesus Christ; and manfully fight against and overcome sin, the devil, and his whole dominion, to the end that he (she) may eternally praise and magnify You, and Your Son Jesus Christ, together with the Holy Spirit, the only true God. Amen.