On August 18 CRC will hold its first baptisms. It will be an exciting day! In anticipation of that day I want to take the opportunity to explain baptism a little bit and the reason why it is so important to individual believers and the church as a whole. (Don't worry I have not forgotten about the parenting blogs)
I want to begin by sharing with you the opening page of our baptism packet, since I'm assuming most of you have not seen it. This short overview gives a succinct explanation of how we understand baptism at CRC. Give it a read and I will unpack a few things within it over the next few weeks.
If you are wondering why we are a Reformed Church that does not baptize infants read these earlier blogs (2 parts) or check out the following forum with Pastor Jared and Pastor James Zekveld of Canadian Reformed Church in Niverville.
If you are interested in baptism, please speak to Pastor Jared or one of our elders, Jim and Bob.
What is baptism?
Baptism is an ordinance or sacrament of the church that is commanded by Christ for all who believe and desire to follow him in obedience. It is a command of Christ to be performed within the Church as part of the making of disciples.
Baptism represents our union with Christ in his death and resurrection,
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4)
Therefore we understand baptism in the following way,
Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life. (London Baptist Confession, 1689)
Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting [sic] into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life. (Westminster Confession of Faith)
How should baptism be done?
The outward element to be used in baptism is water, wherein the person is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The mode is not as important as the obedient practice. Immersion, however, is the preferred and common practice of Covenant Reformed Church.
Who should be baptized?
We believe that baptism should be encouraged among all who have a credible confession of faith and who desire to be obedient in pursuing it. Or to put it more formally, “Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.” (London Baptist Confession, 1689)
We do, however, understand that rushing into baptism is dangerous and thus we have instituted a process for communicating the truth of Scripture regarding the gospel and baptism to those interested. This short process is designed to prevent, as much as possible, false baptisms.
We also believe that we should not rush into baptism for young people and children. Although Scripture commands that believers be baptized (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38), it is best not to rush into baptism in the case of a child. It is often extremely difficult to recognize genuine salvation in children. Rather than rushing them into baptism we believe it is wiser to take the ongoing opportunity to interact with them and wait for more significant evidence of lasting commitment. Even if a child can say enough in a testimony to make it reasonably clear that he understands and embraces the gospel, baptism should wait until he manifests evidence of regeneration that is independent of parental control. We desire that our children demonstrate a mature profession of faith, rather than merely a credible or believable confession. We want our children to understand the gospel, its implications and be able to stand firm in their faith when called upon before we pursue baptism.
Thus at Covenant Reformed Church, our general practice is to wait until a professing child has reached an age between thirteen to fifteen. We would rather a young person wait on baptism until they are mature in their faith and mature enough to understand the meaning of baptism before we ‘get them wet.’ We want to shepherd and disciple our children well and to encourage their credible confessions of faith into mature faith before we pursue baptism. It is better to wait until the reality to which baptism testifies can be more easily discerned. As Joe Rigney says, “we’ll embrace the professions, but wait on the water.”
The above information was adapted from the following articles, et. al.,