Trinity Bible Church understands baptism to be an act of obedience to Jesus as Lord and Savior, where one is immersed into water in the likeness of Christ’s death and then raised up in the likeness of His resurrection. This is to be a public profession of faith; an outward display of the inward reality of a circumcised heart that binds one believer to many believers.
- If you're interested in baptism, sign up for our next Connections Class. The classes run for the first three weeks of every other month.
- After you've taken the class, you can request a membership interview with a couple of elders and/or members of the church staff.
Has your child expressed interest in baptism? Praise God!
God’s New Covenant people (the Church) were prophesied to be those who have a circumcised heart (Eze. 36:26-27). God promised to remove the hard, sin-bound hearts of his people and provide God-oriented hearts of flesh. They would all know the Lord in a saving way, have the law written on their hearts, and experience the forgiveness of sin (Jer. 31:31-34). In other words, they would be “born again,” or “regenerate.” They would be ultimately dependent on God for their regeneration, because he alone is able to create spiritual life (Eph. 2:1, 8; Rom. 6:17; Col. 2:13).
To be regenerated is to be born again from above (Jn. 3:3-8) as a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). It is an inward reality that is signified with the outward display of Christian baptism. Just as Jesus died and was buried, the believer is submerged under water, picturing his death. Then he or she is raised up from the water, picturing his resurrection (Rom 6:3-4). It is a physical, visual dramatization of the believer’s spiritual union with Christ. The Bible tells us those who have been baptized have “put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27), have “washed away their sins” (Acts 22:16), have “died and risen with Christ” (Rom. 6:4), and are “one with His body” (1 Cor. 12:13).
Because baptism is a sign of being united with Christ by saving faith and being a member of the New Covenant community, it is linked with two important concepts: (1) assurance of salvation, and (2) membership into a particular local church [see footnote]. With these two concepts in mind, we want to be careful and discerning about who we baptize. We do not want to apply the sign of a regenerated heart to someone who has not truly experienced conversion because we would be giving them false assurance of their salvation and admitting a false convert into the church.
This has particular application to the children of believers. Christian parents hope and pray earnestly that their children would be truly born again. They evangelize them and invite them into the life of the church to be trained in the faith. But with children, we want to be particularly careful with baptism for two reasons. First, children often want to please adults—especially their parents. Being baptized might provide the kind of attention and affirmation that they naturally desire. Second, children are easily self-deceived (Eph. 4:14). They may truly think they love Jesus but without actually possessing a saving faith.
Jesus said that there is one tell-tale sign of discerning if a person is truly a born-again Christian: over time, he or she will bear spiritual fruit and grow in godliness. It is difficult to clearly see evidence of fruit in the lives of children because they most likely have not been strongly tempted to live as an enemy of God. When children are brought up in a Christian home it is relatively easy to believe in God. It is more challenging to exercise faith in Christ when it means they might lose their friends or have to struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
So for the good of their souls and for the good of the church, we want to be careful with baptism for children. That does not, however, mean that we want to discourage baptism. If a child takes initiative and says he or she is trusting Christ—we want to celebrate it and encourage it! We want to be charitable towards them and we also want to look for credibility.
If your child shares an interest in being baptized:
- Explain that baptism is an outward sign of trusting in Jesus with your heart.
- Ask the child what it means to believe in Jesus and whether he or she believes.
- Do not become distressed if he or she doesn’t want to be baptized and try to coerce the response you are hoping for out of them. Continue to regularly share the gospel with them, pray for/with them, embrace the rhythms of life in the church, and trust God.
If you sense that there may truly be signs of spiritual life:
- Explain what the Christian life looks like. In 1 John, the apostle wrote to a group of individuals that he assumed were Christians and gave three indicators that someone is truly a child of God: believing the gospel (1:6-2:2; 5:12), obeying him (2:3-4; 5:3), and loving his people (2:9-11; 4:8, 4:20).
- Be charitable and give them the benefit of the doubt, and also look for credibility of their profession.
- Explain that baptism is the entrance into membership of the church. Then ask whether or not he or she is prepared to take on the responsibilities of membership (e.g., approving pastors, budgets, church discipline cases.)
If, at this point, you feel comfortable putting them forward for consideration for baptism:
- Continue or begin going through a catechism. We recommend the New City Catechism. It's available online for free and there are paper copies available in our book stall.
- Fill out this form to register for our class on foundational Christian doctrines designed for children interested in baptism.
- Encourage your child to speak to a designated older, trusted Christian to get an additional perspective on his or her profession.
- Bring them to the next Connections Class.
For further reading:
- Article: Practice Charity, Pursue Credibility: How to Respond to a Child’s Profession of Faith by Caleb Greggsen and Sam Emadi
- Book: Understanding Baptism (Church Basics) by Bobby Jamieson
1. Upon regeneration, one becomes a member of the universal church (“the heavenly assembly.” See Eph. 2:6, Col. 3:1, 3). The universal church is made tangible on earth in particular local churches. Belonging to the universal church becomes visible by belonging to a local church.