Yesterday, our daughter Claire Emmanuelle was baptized.
I know that many babies usually get baptized a lot earlier than our daughter’s 9 months. And the main reason for the delay was due to our church’s serious stance on baptism — we, as parents, had to take several classes to prepare, to decide whether we wanted her to be baptized or not, and to finally become eligible.
According to our faith (our denomination is Presbyterian, more specifically PCA), baptism actually does not automatically save, and there are two reasons for this. The first is that there is biblical evidence that at least one man went to heaven without being baptized: the thief who was crucified next to Jesus. The second, and more central reason, is because we believe that acts alone do not bring salvation — it is only by the grace of Jesus Christ that we are saved, and so the notion that additional work is required to be saved is incorrect.
So why baptize at all? The answer is simple — because Jesus commands it: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Mt 28:19). Peter took up this message in his very first sermon, at Pentecost, when he said, “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). And Paul links baptism with “putting on Christ” in his letter to the Galatians (Gal 3:27).
Baptism signifies a union with Christ, and acts as a sign and seal of the membership in the church.
Infant Baptism is quite different from Believer’s Baptism in that while a Believer’s Baptism focuses on the conversion and decision to follow Christ, Infant Baptism centers around God’s promise of salvation and the covenant that He has made with His people. And in return, the parent(s) make a promise to raise the child in the faith, and the church congregation joins in promising to assist the family in doing so.
I know that there is a growing trend in the modern world for parents not to baptize their children, or even to “choose” a religion for them. “If your religion is that great, don’t you trust that your child will choose to follow it as he/she gets older and is able to make informed decisions themselves?”
To them, I answer: if something is so important and central in your life, if something brings you more comfort and happiness than anything else, why wouldn’t you share it with your child? Don’t we all want the best for our children?
I have written in the past that my only fear of dying is that I will not be able to see all of my loved ones in eternity. And I couldn’t imagine being in heaven without my children. Yes, I know that there is a possibility that our children may one day rebuke God and Christianity, but I pray that this will not happen…and this is the reason we chose to baptize our children. So that they will be raised in the faith, and that they will grow to love Christ just as we have.
Our pastor told us that he believes his #1 job as a Christian parent is to make sure that his children will never know a day when they did not feel loved by God. And that is precisely what J and I hope to do.