Baptism of Children – Form 2

The Institution

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Let us hear our Lord's command concerning the sacrament of holy baptism. After he had risen victorious from the grave, Jesus said to his disciples:

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).

In obedience to this command the church baptises believers and their children.

The Promises

Let us hear the promises of God which are confirmed in baptism.

The Lord made this great promise to Abraham: I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you (Genesis 17:7).

In later years, though Israel was unfaithful, God renewed his promise through the prophet: This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people…. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more (Jeremiah 31:33, 34).

In the fullness of time God came in Jesus Christ to give pardon and peace through the blood of the cross, the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28).

After Jesus had risen from the dead the apostles proclaimed: Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 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 2:38, 39).

Anticipating the fulfilment of God's promises, Paul assures us, If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him (2 Timothy 2:11, 12).

These are the unfailing promises of our Lord to those who are baptised.

The Instruction

Let us also recall the teaching of Scripture concerning the sacrament of baptism.

The water of baptism signifies the washing away of our sin by the blood of Christ and the renewal of our lives by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). It also signifies that we are buried with Christ (Romans 6:4). From this we learn that our sin has been condemned by God, that we are to hate it and consider ourselves as having died to it. Moreover, the water of baptism signifies that we are raised with Christ (Colossians 2:12). From this we learn that we are to walk with Christ in newness of life. All this tells us that God has adopted us as his children, and if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).

Thus in baptism God seals the promises he gave when he made his covenant with us, calling us and our children to put our trust for life and death in Christ our Saviour, deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him in obedience and love.

God graciously includes our children in his covenant, and all his promises are for them as well as us (Genesis 17:7, Acts 2:39). Jesus himself embraced little children, and blessed them (Mark 10:16); and the apostle Paul said that children of believers are holy (1 Corinthians 7:14). So, just as the children of the old covenant received the sign of circumcision, our children are given the sign of baptism. We are therefore always to teach our little ones that they have been set apart by baptism as God's own children.

The Prayer of Preparation

Father in heaven, we pray that you will never destroy us in our sin as with the flood, but save us as you did believing Noah and his family, and spare us as you did the Israelites who walked safely through the Sea.

May Christ, who went down into the Jordan and came up to receive the Spirit, who sank deep into death and was raised up Lord of life, always keep us and our little ones in the grip of his hand.

Holy Father, may your Spirit separate us from sin and openly mark us with a faith that can stand the light of day and endure the dark of night.

Prepare us now, O Lord, to respond with glad hope to your promises so that we, and all entrusted to our care, may drink deeply from the well of living water. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Vows

The minister addresses the parents:

Since you have presented this child (these children) for holy baptism, you are asked to answer the following questions before God and his people:

First: Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, accept the promises of God, and affirm the truth of the Christian faith which is proclaimed in the Bible and confessed in this Christian Church?

Second: Do you believe that your child, though sinful by nature, is received by God in Christ as a member of his covenant, and therefore ought to be baptised?

Third: Do you promise, in reliance on the Holy Spirit and with the help of the Christian community, to do all in your power to instruct this child in the Christian faith and to lead him/her by your example into the life of Christian discipleship?

The parents respond:

We do, God helping us.

The minister addresses the congregation:

Do you, the people of the Lord, promise to receive this child (these children) in love, pray for him/her (them), help care for his/her (their) instruction in the faith, and encourage and sustain him/her (them) in the fellowship of believers?

The congregation responds:

We do, God helping us.

The Sacrament

The minister may say:

Our Lord said: Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these (Mark 10:14).

In administering the sacrament the minister shall say:

N________, I baptise you into the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

A Triumphant Hymn

The Baptismal Prayer

Lord our God, you are forever faithful to your promise. Thank you for assuring us again that you will forgive us and receive us as children in Christ.

Grant wisdom and love to the parents and to us all as we carry out the vows just made.

Will you guide our little ones throughout their lives. Enable them to respond in faith to the gospel. Fill them with your Spirit and make their lives fruitful. Uphold them in their hour of trial, and when Christ returns let them celebrate with all the people of God your greatness and goodness forever in the joy of your new creation. Amen.

This is the Forms of the Reformed Churches of New Zealand