Membership of God’s Family (The Church)
Baptism is God’s public way into His Family. The children of believers and believers themselves, who trust Jesus as their Saviour and Lord, are affirmed as God’s sons and daughters. In obedience to Jesus’ command we mark entrance into God’s Family by baptism.
“Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 – MSG)
First-generation Christians of the first century AD had to work out where their children were in relation to God and His Family. In the Old Testament children were marked by the rite of circumcision to demonstrate their inclusion in God’s Family (similar to baptism). The Passover meal became the special meal to celebrate the Jewish nation’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt (similar to Communion/Lord’s Supper).
We believe, in common with many other Reformed Churches, that God’s Old Covenant (relationship) with the Jews was a forerunner to the New Covenant, which Jesus opens up for us through his life, death and resurrection. If children are included in the Old Testament Family of God, how much more should they be included in the New Testament Family of God. Thus we baptise our children.
In Acts 2:38-39 Peter responds to the crowd, which have been gobsmacked by the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Peter addresses them: “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptised, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away – whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.” (MSG)
Baptism is the public way into God’s Family for those who come to faith beyond childhood. We believe infant baptism is the proper public way into God’s Family for babies and children of believing parents, who confess the faith and commit to raising their child in this faith.
In the first century AD Cornelius, a Roman centurion, was converted and his whole household were baptised (Acts 10). In Acts 16 a jailer is converted and baptized along with his whole family. Children could well have been present and included in these baptisms.
The water in baptism stands for the washing away of our sins by Jesus’s death. When believers or believers’ children are fully immersed in water the symbolism is very clear, that they have been completely cleansed of their sin, buried with Jesus. As they come up out of the water they rise with Jesus to newness of life in Christ. In the Presbyterian Church we use a sprinkling of water over the head in baptism but the symbolism is the same!
Baptised into Faith
The faith of believers and believing parents is vital for both types of baptism and we do our best to help deepen and nurture this faith through Alpha Courses, etc. This enables baptism to be all the more meaningful.
Baptised into The Family of God
We want to help people grow in their sense of belonging to God’s Family, locally with us and with the wider church in Irvine, Scotland & Worldwide.