Why do we baptize? First, we baptize because God commanded it. Shortly after his death and resurrection, Jesus said to his followers, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Ever since, the church has been baptizing people of all ages.
Second, we baptize because we need what God delivers through baptism. In our natural condition (the way we are at birth) we’re a mess! No baby is born innocent or perfect; it has the sin and guilt of the human race, passed on through its parents. “Flesh gives birth to flesh” (John 3:6). As a child grows, this inherited sin soon rears its head. The child will naturally do what is wrong and not do what is right. The Bible describes the natural state in which we were born as being:
- Spiritually dead (‘You were dead in your transgressions and sins’, Ephesians 2:1)
- Spiritually blind (‘The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them’, 1 Corinthians 2:14)
- Enemies of God (‘The sinful mind is hostile to God’, Romans 8:7)
What a mess! The miracle of grace is that God still loves us and sent Jesus to rescue us from our natural condition. He paid for all our sins. Then Jesus instituted Baptism as God’s way of handing over to each one of us individually all the blessings he won on the cross. Therefore the age of the recipient makes little difference, because baptism is God’s work. We are not making a commitment to God; He is making a commitment to us. We are not dedicating a child to God; He is dedicating himself to a child. Therefore, it is in infant baptism that grace is proclaimed the loudest in the church, for an infant has done nothing to earn or deserve God’s favor. An infant shows what real faith means: to be in the presence of a Holy God with nothing to offer . . . with empty hands, totally dependent on him.
Therefore, baptism is not a contract between two parties. It is a promise God is making to us. And baptism is not a vaccination which protects us until we are old enough to decide for ourselves. No, being a baptized child of God is an identity we carry with us all the days of our life. It’s as if God said, “I am your Father, you are my child. I will always love, bless and be with you.”
Finally, it’s important to note that baptism is not magic. God gives us the freedom to reject it, dismiss it, and not believe in him or his gifts. And where there is no faith, there is no salvation (Mark 16:17). But where there is baptism and faith, there is the promise of salvation, as these words of Jesus declare: “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). Therefore baptism is always to be followed up with instruction in the Christian faith, beginning even when the child is very young.
Here’s one more way to understand Holy Baptism: The Bible is full of statements that emphasize God’s love for all
people. For example, “God so loved the world. . .” and “Jesus died for all.” That’s great! But it’s not very personal. The world has billions of people; you need to be sure that God is for you
. The Good News of God’s love for everybody may not mean much until you know that God also loves you as an individual. Holy Baptism is one way in which God comes to you individually and personally with his love. In Holy Baptism, God funnels his love for the world down to a single person, maybe the forehead of an infant just a few days old, or maybe your forehead, and says, “You’re my child now . . . beloved, forgiven, redeemed.”
If you would like more information about Holy Baptism (e.g. why we baptize infants, what the God-parents are really promising, etc.) please click here: FAQ
. If you would like to consult with the pastor regarding the baptism of your child, please call the church office. It is preferred that at least one parent is a member of Good Shepherd. If neither parent is a member, it is important that they at least support the child in his/her ongoing instruction and nurture in the Christian faith.
Baptism dates are scheduled through the Church Office (920-261-2570). Adult Baptisms for those who have never been baptized normally take place following instruction in the Christian faith. Baptisms are usually held within the worship service because the congregation, on behalf of the whole church, is also assuming responsibility for nurturing the baptized child in the Christian faith and life.