As part of our community at Downfield Mains, we pray you would take seriously the command of Jesus to be baptised. If you are interested for a child or yourself, or have any questions regarding baptism or christening, please contact us at: 07979 939092.
If communion is a sign of renewal for the believer, then baptism is clearly a sign and seal of our entry point of obedience into the community of faith. So here is a gigantic question for you as a Christian: Does water baptism signify faith in Jesus?
In Baptism, we participate in Jesus’ death and resurrection and are bound to Him through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The water speaks to us of the Creation moment, the Flood, and freedom given to the people of God during their exodus from Egypt. Today baptism reminds us that Jesus Christ gave us life giving water and with it, His life on the Cross. By proxy, the same power to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4-5). So today for the Presbyterian, baptism is much more than just a symbol or reminder. Like the flood, the crossing of the Red Sea, or creation, it is a visible sign and a seal of God’s Covenant of grace to His people.
In Genesis, God gave his followers an outward sign representing His covenantal faithfulness. He did this initially through circumcision (Genesis 17:9-14). Yet, who then received circumcision? Was it only those who professed faith? Absolutely not! Scripture tell us that it was given to any male who was a part of the family of Abraham either by birthright or by connection to Israel through an Israelite family or line. Adult males were circumcised if they had not been circumcised and eight-day old infants were to be circumcised in Abraham’s generation and commanded in successive generations. Baptism then espouses the same command and sacramental value; as both adult believers and their children are included and invited to partake in God’s covenant (Matthew 28:19, Acts 10), which is passed on from generation to generation.
So you may ask: Why does the Church of Scotland put water on infants?
Often children witnesses to the truth that God’s love claims people before they are able to respond in faith (Eph. 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20). We believe God is at work in us long before we are aware of what He is doing in us. Christening thus speaks more directly to the character of God, over and above man’s ability to do the responding (which is highly regarded in modern culture). Both, Ishmael and Esau had the mark of that promise placed on their bodies through circumcision but they never trusted in the promise. So too can water be administered to both adults and infants as the sign of the promise that righteousness will be given ‘if’ and ‘when’ they place their faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 10:20-48). Water does not guarantee they will embrace the promise. This is why you, as part of the covenant community, are so vital. 'The congregation has a whole, on behalf of Christ and the church will assume to responsibility of nurturing a Christian life in those who are baptised.' (1 Corinthians 12) This is why it is so important that when the parents and the congregation both take vows for the infant and that they take seriously the Christian nurture of the child to constantly direct them to the promised righteousness that will be given if and when they trust Christ (Proverbs 22:6).
Another question has been: Does Downfield Mains dedicate babies to God with a blessing?
The simple answer is, yes. St. Augustine wrote, 'In essentials unity, in non-essentials, liberty, in all things charity.' At Downfield Mains, we recognise that we have many different people from various faith traditions, which are non-essential in nature. Some people choose to dedicate their children to the Lord as an act of worship and obedience, much like Mary and Joseph did with Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:34-38). Again, we know it is God's character to bless our children when dedicate them to him and fulfil the words of scripture, 'Let the little children come to me.' (Matthew 19:14).
Why do adults get baptised?
When an adult trusts Christ as Saviour, he/she are to follow the command of baptism (Acts 2:36-38). In their belief, they too receive the mark signifying the righteousness they receive as they continue to walk in the Lord. If they don’t continue to walk in the Lord, then there is an argument to claim that they never really trusted the promise of righteousness. We must remember the mode of baptism is negotiable but the command is not.
So at Downfield Mains we baptise both children and adults because there is a promise, which begins a journey of future reception into the community of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:8).