Baptism at Scots Kirk
Summary: We baptise adults who have not previously been baptised and who convert to Christianity and the infant children of one or both parents who are church members and enjoy a vital and active walk with God through Christ and in the life of this church.
Following is a more detailed explanation of why we do this but if you are interested in pursuing the discussion please contact our Minister on 4940 8304 or via the contact form on this website.
Despite churches declining in favour with many in the wider community, there is still a “sneaking suspicion” among many people that God exists and every human being will stand before Him on Judgement Day to receive their just reward. Many parents who believe God exists and try to live good lives still approach a church to have their babies “christened”.
At Scots Kirk while we believe authentic relationship with God is certainly possible, we do not believe that anyone will ever deserve to have a relationship with God or earn the right to share in His eternal glory. No one will ever be admitted into heaven simply by doing the best we can to live a good life nor by taking part in any sacred ceremony (church service, baptism, “christening” or anything else!).
Throughout thousands of years of Biblical history, God has promised to bless those who enter into a covenant relationship with him by understanding and trusting his promises. He promised Abraham that he would be God to him and his children after him, Gen 17:2, 7. Abraham believed God’s covenant promise and devoted all that he had to the Lord, including all the members of his household. In obedience to God Abraham showed his devotion through practicing the rite of circumcision as the sign of the covenant he had entered into with God. This rite demonstrated God’s covenant relationship would pass to future generations who trusted God and obeyed him (like Abraham did) and also that blood must be shed as payment for sin.
In the New Testament, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Spirit of God was poured out on believers. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost he assured people that all covenant promises of God would continue for children of the people of God who trust God and walk with God the way Abraham did. (Ac 2:39)
The promise to bless through faith in God’s grace continued, but the Apostle Paul taught that the covenant sign had changed. No longer foreshadowing the need for blood to be shed (since Christ’s death and resurrection) the sign became baptism signifying what the blood accomplishes, the washing away of our sin and rising to new life with God (Col 2:11-12).
Parents in covenant relationship with God, walking with God as Abraham walked with God in faith and trust, rightly ask their local church to baptise their children with the covenant sign believing their children to be “the expected though not necessary heirs” of God’s covenant relationship and they proceed to bring up their children to know, trust and walk with God. They read appropriate Bible stories to them each day, they take them each week to share with God’s covenant community at their local church, they teach them to pray and learn to hear God’s voice and obey Him.
So at Scots Kirk we happily and joyfully and with great thanks to God baptise adults who have never been baptised and have been newly converted and entered into covenant relationship with God through Christ. We baptise the infant children where one or both parents are in covenant relationship with God and regularly participate in the life of the covenant community.
Only in exceptional circumstances may the children of people other than members of our church be baptised in our services. The elders of the church will need to discuss and agree with those circumstances before arrangements can be made for the baptism.
The Vows for infant Baptism
Certain vows are required by the Presbyterian Church of Australia to be made by parents who present their children for baptism. During the baptism ceremony the minister will ask them the following questions that must be answered affirmatively before the baptism.
Question #1 “In presenting your child for baptism, do you confess your faith in God as your heavenly Father, in Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord, and in the Holy Spirit as your Sanctifier?”
Question #2 “Do you promise, in dependence on God’s love and help, to teach him/her the truths and duties of the Christian faith; and by prayer, teaching and example, to bring him/her up in the love and understanding of the Lord, and in the ways of the Church of God’s people?”
Therefore regular attendance by the family at church is the very basic requirement in order to fulfil these vows. To have a child baptised and then not attend church is being dishonest before God and denying the child the right to weekly fellowship of mixing with other children of like-minded families.
Responsibilities of the Congregation
By witnessing and confirming the parents making their vows, the congregation has certain responsibilities put to them, as well. They will be required to say “I will” to the following vow:
“This sacrament lays special responsibilities upon you, the people of God. Will you be faithful to your calling as members of the Church of Christ, so that, by God’s grace, this child may grow up in the knowledge and love of Christ?”
Again, if the family of the baptised child does not attend church regularly, the congregation will not be able to fulfil this vow, effectively finding any who made the vow dishonest before God. Therefore, please consider carefully before seeking to have your child baptised. Remember that in the vows taken before God and the Church you will be promising to be fully committed to God in all your life, and attend church regularly each Sunday.
For anyone keen to deepen their relationship with God we love to meet and talk with them. We offer a short video series to guide discussion and encourage exploration of this very important topic.