59. The Baptism of Those Professing Faith

  1. Prerequisites

    He who seeks to be baptized shall make a public profession of his faith before the congregation prior to the baptism. He shall previously have received instruction in the Christian faith in accordance with the confessional standards of this Church, including instruction as to the meaning of baptism, and have also made before the session of the church a credible profession of faith in Christ according to the provisions of BCO 61.3.

  2. The Administration of Baptism to Those Professing Faith
    1. The Institution of the Sacrament

      The minister ought to read the words of the institution of the sacrament of baptism from a passage such as Matthew 28:18-20.

    2. The Covenant Commitment of the One Receiving Baptism and the Congregation

      At the time of the service at which the person is to be baptized, he shall first profess his faith publicly before the assembled congregation. The minister may address him in these or like words:

      Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, we thank our God for the grace that was given you, in that our Savior has sought and found you and through faith you have become a partaker of the covenant of grace. We rejoice that in His grace He has brought you to this congregation and given you the desire to profess your faith before us and to unite with us. We ask that you testify before us to the faith that you profess by giving assent to the following questions.

      To this end, the minister shall require the person to profess publicly his Christian faith by answering these questions in the affirmative:

      (1) Do you believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord; and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life?

      (2) Do you acknowledge yourself to be a sinner in the sight of God, justly deserving His wrath, and without hope apart from His sovereign mercy?

      (3) Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the infallible Word of God, and its doctrine of salvation to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?

      (4) Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?

      (5) Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as a faithful follower of Christ?

      (6) Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability, to submit yourself to its government and discipline, and to strive for its purity and peace?

      The minister shall then require the congregation to vow publicly their duty to welcome into Christian fellowship those being baptized:

      Do you, the members of this congregation, welcome this disciple [or these disciples] and promise by your fellowship to strengthen [his/her/their] tie[s] with the household of God? [If so, say, “We do.”]

      If the session deems it appropriate, it may also ask him to bear brief testimony to his faith in his own words.

      After answers to the above questions in the affirmative, the minister shall proceed to the baptism.

    3. The Meaning and Nature of the Sacrament

      The minister shall then summarize before the congregation the teaching of the Word of God and the Confession and Catechisms of this church as to the meaning and nature of the sacrament of baptism. He may use these or like words:

      The Lord Jesus Christ instituted baptism as a covenant sign and seal for His church. He uses it not only for the solemn admission of the person who is baptized into the visible church, but also to depict and to confirm His ingrafting of that person into Himself and His including that person in the covenant of grace.

      The Lord uses baptism to portray to us that we and our children are conceived and born in sin and need to be cleansed.

      He uses it to witness and seal to us the remission of sins and the bestowal of all the gifts of salvation through union with Christ. Baptism with water signifies and seals cleansing from sin by the blood and the Spirit of Christ, together with our death unto sin and our resurrection unto newness of life by virtue of the death and resurrection of Christ. Because 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.

      In our baptism, the Lord puts His name on us, claims us as His own, and summons us to assume the obligations of the covenant. He calls us to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, to renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh, and to walk humbly with our God in devotion to His commandments.

    4. Prayer

      Thereupon the minister shall pray for the presence and blessing of the triune God, that the grace signified and sealed by baptism may be abundantly realized.

    5. The Baptism

      Then, calling the person by name, he shall baptize him with water, without any other ceremony, saying:

      [Name of Person], I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

    6. Welcome and Charge

      It is then fitting that the minister address the baptized person in the following or like words:

      Beloved, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I welcome you to all the privileges of full communion with God’s people, and in particular to participation in the sacrament of the Holy Supper.

      I charge you to continue steadfastly in the confession that you have made, humbly relying upon the grace of God in the diligent use of the means of grace—especially the Word of God, the sacraments, and prayer.

      Rest assured that if you confess Christ before men, He will confess you before His Father who is in heaven.

      May the God of all grace, who called you unto His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, perfect, establish, and strengthen you. To Him be the glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

    7. Prayer

      The whole service of baptism shall be concluded with prayer. It is well in such a prayer to thank the Lord for His covenant of grace, rejoice that this brother has been included, and to ask the Lord to graciously enable him to be a covenant keeper, daily dying to sin and walking in newness of life in Christ.

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