We love doing baptisms!
If you’re reading this because you are wondering about getting baptised, or having your child baptised, then that’s great news! St John’s does many baptisms for members of our congregations each year. It may be helpful for you to know a little about baptism before you consider further whether you want to get baptised.
What is Baptism?
Baptism is a sign or a seal. Baptism neither confers God’s grace, nor is it a precondition to receiving God’s grace (his gift of salvation). Rather, baptism is a visible demonstration of faith in Jesus Christ – either that of the adult getting baptised or of the parents and godparents of the child getting baptised.
What does Baptism symbolise?
Baptism symbolises what it means to be a Christian. Baptism is closely linked to this idea of turning away from our old way and turning to God (which the Bible calls ‘repentance’). The act of baptism symbolises the washing away of sin; another way of speaking about God’s forgiveness. Baptism also symbolises God giving us the Holy Spirit. God makes His home in our hearts so we become part of his family.
All these things are true for those who follow Jesus. Baptism is therefore only meaningful where there is a genuine decision and desire to follow Jesus Christ. It is a commitment to following and serving him for the whole of our lives. The baptism service itself expresses the expectation that the person will ‘continue as Christ’s faithful soldier and servant until their life’s end’.
What does baptism do?
The baptism itself does not turn someone into a Christian. It is only a symbol in the same way that an engagement ring symbolises engagement. Baptism cannot make a person a Christian any more than putting on an engagement ring can make a person engaged.
But it would be equally wrong to think that baptism has no meaning at all. Baptism reminds us of God’s wonderful promises to forgive our sins and to make us his children if we trust in Jesus Christ. To be baptised is therefore a public statement by someone (or a parent on their behalf), that they believe these promises and wish to follow Jesus and become part of His community – the church. These promises are publicly declared in the reading of Scripture and in the symbolic actions (like the washing with water) that take place.
How can children be baptised if faith is necessary?
God’s promises are not only made to individuals, they are made to families. For example, when the apostle Paul and his companion Silas were asked by a man: “What must I do to be saved?”, they replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” (Acts 16:31) Children are included with their parents in the promises of God. They may be baptised if they are part of a Christian family.
Children are baptised on the understanding that they will one day make their own profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism therefore has a conditional note.
If children are to grow up to be Christians they need encouragement and teaching. The most significant influence will be parents (and god-parents), and closely followed by the influence of their church family, who partner with parents to raise their children with a love and knowledge of Christ.
Who may be baptised?
Any person who professes faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and has at least a basic understanding of the Christian faith, may be baptised. In the case of children, it is the parents and god-parents who express this faith on behalf of the child. This is only meaningful where the parents and god-parents have a genuine faith in Christ themselves, and should not be sought if there is no faith seen in daily life and weekly service at church.
What should I do to get baptised at St John’s?
Come along! We’d love to meet you and have you join one of the congregations. As an established member of the congregation, you will know the ministers who pastor the congregation you are part of, and they would be very willing to talk further with you about getting baptised.
It is our desire to be as helpful as possible to help you think about baptism, so that it is both meaningful and special for you and your family.
Please join us in one of our congregations. They meet at 8am, 9:45am with children’s Promiseland program, and 6pm every Sunday. We hope to see you there soon.
The St John’s Ministry Team