Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ:
It is always a joy for the church to receive new believers into its fellowship. At our last consistory meeting (names) declared their faith in Christ and expressed their desire to receive the sacrament of baptism. Today we are happy that they will confess their faith before us all and receive the sacrament.
(names), will you stand now, and in the presence of God and his people respond to the following questions:
- Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God sent to redeem the world, do you love and trust him as the one who saves you from your sin, and do you with repentance and joy embrace him as Lord of your life?
Answer: I do.
- Do you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, revealing Christ and his redemption, and that the confessions of this church faithfully reflect this revelation?
Answer: I do.
- Do you promise to do all you can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to strengthen your love and commitment to Christ by sharing faithfully in the life of the church, honoring and submitting to its authority; and do you join with the people of God in doing the work of the Lord everywhere?
Answer: I do.
[The questions may be changed into statements and said by the confessors. Opportunity may also be given here for additional self-expression on the part of the confessors. The response may be given after the last question only.]
Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Let us hear our Lord's command concerning the sacrament of holy baptism. After he had risen victoriously from the grave, Jesus said to his disciples: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matt. 28:18-20). In obedience to this command the church baptizes believers and their children.
These are the promises God confirms to his people through baptism. The Lord made this great promise to Abraham: "I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you" (Gen. 17:7).
In later years, though Israel was unfaithful, God renewed his promise through the prophet: "'This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,' declares the Lord. 'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people . . . . For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more'" (Jer. 31:33-34).
In the fullness of time God came in Jesus Christ to give pardon and peace through the blood of the cross, the "blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt. 26:28).
After Jesus had risen from the dead, the apostles proclaimed: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all whom the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38-39).
Anticipating the fulfillment of God's promises, Paul assures us, "If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him" (2 Tim. 2:11-12).
These are the unfailing promises of our Lord to those who are baptized.
And this is what Scripture teaches concerning the sacrament of baptism. The water of baptism signifies the washing away of our sin by the blood of Christ and the renewal of our lives by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). It also signifies that we are buried with Christ (Rom. 6:4). From this we learn that our sin has been condemned by God, that we are to hate it and consider ourselves as having died to it. Moreover, the water of baptism signifies that we are raised with Christ (Col. 2:12). From this we learn that we are to walk with Christ in newness of life. All this tells us that God has adopted us as his children: "Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17).
Thus in baptism God seals the promises he gave when he made his covenant with us, calling us and our children to put our trust for life and death in Christ our Savior, deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him in obedience and love.
*God graciously includes our children in his covenant, and all his promises are for them as well as for us (Gen. 17:7; Acts 2:39). Jesus himself embraced little children and blessed them (Mark 10:16), and the apostle Paul said that children of believers are holy (1 Cor. 7:14). So, just as the children of the old covenant received the sign of circumcision, our children are given the sign of baptism. We are therefore always to teach our little ones that they have been set apart by baptism as God's own children.
The Prayer of Preparation
Father in heaven, we pray that you will never destroy us in our sin as with the flood, but save us as you saved believing Noah and his family, and spare us as you spared the Israelites who walked safely through the sea.
We pray that Christ, who went down into the Jordan and came up to receive the Spirit, who sank deep into death and was raised up Lord of life, will always keep us and our little ones in the grip of his hand.
We pray, O holy Father, that your Spirit will separate us from sin and openly mark us with a faith that can stand the light of day and endure the dark of night.
Prepare us now, O Lord, to respond with glad hope to your promises so that we, and all entrusted to our care, may drink deeply from the well of living water. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
[The minister addresses the confessors (standing)]:
Do you now wish to be baptized in the name of the triune God, and will you receive your baptism as a sign and seal that God accepts you in Christ, forgives all your sins, and incorporates you into his church?
[Each confessor responds]: I do, with all my heart.
**Second, do you believe that your children, though sinful by nature, are received by God in Christ as members of this covenant, and therefore ought to be baptized?
**Third, do you promise, in reliance on the Holy Spirit and with the help of the Christian community, to do all in your power to instruct these children in the Christian faith and to lead them by your example into the life of Christian discipleship?
**The parents respond: We do, God helping us.
[The minister addresses the congregation]:
Do you, the people of the Lord, promise to receive (names) into your fellowship as members of the body of Christ, and do you promise to encourage them in the Christian faith and help them in doing the work of the Lord?
Congregation: We do, God helping us.
[In administering the sacrament the minister shall say]:
(name), I baptize you into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Minister: In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I now welcome you to all the privileges of full communion. I welcome you to full participation in the life of the church. I welcome you to its responsibilities, its privileges, its sufferings, and its joys.
A Triumphant Hymn
The Baptismal Prayer
Our Father in heaven, we thank you for Jesus Christ, for the new life given in him, and for the one faith, one hope, and one baptism which your people have shared through the ages. We rejoice that (names) are now one with your church and that we may receive them as members of this congregation. Guide them in the Christian way and sustain us all in the fellowship and service of our Lord. Amen.
*This paragraph should be read in instances of family baptism.
**In case of family baptism, questions 2 and 3 for children's baptism should be asked.