Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ:
What the Lord has revealed to us in his Word about holy baptism can be summarized in this way:
First, Scripture teaches that we and our children are sinners from birth, from the time our mothers conceived us (Ps. 51:5). This means that we are all under the judgment of God and for that reason cannot be members of his kingdom unless we are born again. Baptism, whether by immersion or sprinkling, teaches that sin has made us so impure that we must undergo a cleansing which only God can accomplish. Therefore, we ought to be displeased with ourselves, humble ourselves, and turn to God for our salvation.
Second, baptism is a sign and seal that our sins are washed away through Jesus Christ. For this reason we are baptized into the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Our baptism into the name of God the Father is his assurance to us that he makes an everlasting covenant of grace with us and adopts us as his children and heirs. Therefore, he surrounds us with his goodness and protects us from evil or turns it to our profit.
When we are baptized into the name of the Son, we are assured by Christ himself that he washes us in his blood from all our sins. Christ joins us to himself so that we share in his death and resurrection. Through this union with Christ we are liberated from our sins and regarded as righteous before God.
Baptism into the name of the Holy Spirit is the assurance that the Spirit of God will make his home within us. While living within us, the Spirit will continually work to strengthen and deepen our union with Christ. He will make real in our lives Christ's work of washing away our sins. He will also help us each day to live the new life we have in Christ. As a result of his work within us, we shall one day be presented without the stain of sin among the assembly of the elect in life eternal.
Third, because all covenants have two sides, baptism also places us under obligation to live in obedience to God. We must cling to this one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We must trust him and love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We must abandon the sinful way of life, put to death our old nature, and show by our lives that we belong to God. If we through weakness should fall into sin, we must not despair of God's grace, nor use our weakness as an excuse to keep on sinning. Baptism is a seal and totally reliable witness that God is always faithful to his covenant.
On the basis of the covenant the children of believers are to be baptized despite their inability to understand its meaning. Adults, however, should not be baptized unless they have felt their sins and confess repentance and faith in Christ. This is why John the Baptist followed God's command by preaching the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and why he baptized those who confessed their sins (Mark 1:4-5; Luke 3:3). Similarly, our Lord Jesus Christ commissioned his apostles to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). To these instructions he added the promise that he who believes and is baptized will be saved (Mark 16:16). And, as the book of Acts clearly shows, the apostles accordingly followed the rule of baptizing only those adults who confessed their penitence and faith. Also today, therefore, only those adults are to be baptized who have come to understand the meaning of baptism through the preaching of the gospel, and who are able to give an account both of baptism and of their own faith.
Let us turn to God, asking that in this baptism his name may be glorified, we may be comforted, and the church may be edified.
Almighty, eternal God, long ago you severely punished an unbelieving and unrepentant world by sending a flood. But you showed your great mercy when you saved and protected believing Noah and his family. Your judgment upon sin and your great mercy toward us were again shown when the obstinate pharaoh and his whole army were drowned in the Red Sea, and you brought your people Israel through the same sea on dry ground.
We pray that in this baptism you will again be merciful. Look with favor upon these brothers and sisters who are about to be baptized by bringing them into union with your Son, Jesus Christ, through your Holy Spirit. May they be buried with Christ into death and be raised with him to new life.
Give them true faith, firm hope, and ardent love so that they may joyfully bear their cross as they daily follow him. Give them the full assurance of your grace so that when they leave this life and its constant struggle against the power of sin, they may appear before the judgment seat of Christ without fear. We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one only God, lives and reigns forever. Amen.
Address to the Adults to Be Baptized
(name), since you want to be baptized as a seal of your incorporation into God's church, you are asked here in the presence of God and his people to respond without reservation to the following questions.
Your response will demonstrate that you accept the Christian faith as taught to you and professed by you, and it will also confirm your intention, by God's grace, to live according to that faith.
First, do you believe in the only true God, who is distinct in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Do you believe that he has created out of nothing heaven, earth, and everything in them, and that he still upholds and rules them so that nothing happens outside his divine will?
Second, do you believe that you are sinful from the time of conception and birth, that therefore you are under the judgment of God, and that you are by nature entirely incapable of doing good and inclined to all kinds of evil? Do you declare that you have often broken the Lord's commands in your thoughts, your words, and your actions, and that with your whole heart you repent of these sins?
Third, do you believe that Jesus Christ, who is both true and eternal God and true man, and who assumed his human nature from the virgin Mary's flesh and blood, has been given you by God as your Savior; that through this faith you receive forgiveness of sins in his blood; and that by the power of the Holy Spirit you have become a member of Jesus Christ and his church?
Fourth, do you agree with all the articles of the Christian faith as taught from God's Word in this church and do you intend to continue steadfastly in this teaching? Do you also reject all heresies and errors conflicting with this doctrine? And do you promise to continue in the fellowship of this church both by listening to the preached Word and by celebrating the Lord's Supper?
Fifth, do you genuinely intend always to live as a Christian and to reject the world and its evil attractions, as a member of Christ and his church should; and do you promise to submit gladly to all Christian admonitions?
Answer: I do.
May our great and good God mercifully crown with his grace and blessing the sacred commitment that you have just made, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
[The minister shall say]:
I baptize you, (name), into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Almighty God and merciful Father, we thank you and praise your name for forgiving our sins through the blood of your dear Son, Jesus Christ. We thank you for uniting us with Christ through your Holy Spirit and adopting us as your children, and we thank you for sealing and confirming these blessings to us and our children in the sacrament of baptism.
We pray, O Lord, that you will so govern these new members of your church by your Holy Spirit, that they will live a devout Christian life, growing and developing in Jesus Christ. Help them see your fatherly goodness and mercy surrounding us all. Make them champions of righteousness under the direction of Jesus Christ, our chief teacher, eternal king, and only high priest. Give them the courage to fight against and overcome sin, the devil, and his whole dominion. May their lives become an eternal song of praise to you, the only true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Synod of Dort (1618-19) drew from two earlier adult baptism forms to produce this form. An earlier English translation was approved by the Synod of 1912. The present translation was adopted by the Synod of 1978.