Baptism is the ‘washing’ with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:
1. Baptism is a gift from God to each one of us in the church family, picturing and pressing home to our hearts all that Christ won for us at the cross and applies to us by the Spirit. As surely as water washes us clean on the outside, so the blood of Christ cleanses us from all our sin. (Ephesians 5:25-27).
2. Baptism marks admission to the visible church. In baptism God sets us apart to be his church – a people belonging to Jesus. Baptism therefore marks our welcome and reception into the church family. We are identified as disciples of Jesus Christ, enrolled in his service.
3. Baptism anticipates a life of faith, since faith is the only proper response to God’s promise of salvation in Jesus Christ. But baptism does not guarantee this faith, and offers no comfort to those who ultimately turn away from the only Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
4. Does baptism matter? Baptism is not a condition – mere water does not have any part in washing away sin. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. And yet God commands us to baptise, and he uses baptism (as he uses preaching) to nurture and strengthen faith in Jesus.
5. Who should receive baptism? (i.e. who is to be included in the church, set apart as the people of God?) It’s clear throughout the Bible that God’s people are a multi-generational community (i.e. believers and their children) and therefore baptism is rightly administered to believers (who are not yet baptised) and their children.