Forms for the Baptism of Infants

 

Therefore, God formerly commanded to circumcise them, which was a seal of the covenant and of the righteousness of faith; as also Christ embraced them, laid His hands upon them, and blessed them (Mark 10:16). Since, then, baptism has replaced circumcision as the sign and seal of the covenant (Col. 2:11-13), the children should be baptized as heirs of the kingdom of God and as members of His covenant; and as they grow up, the parents shall be bound to give them further instruction in these things.

(from the Liturgical Forms and Confessions Committee of the 2012 Synod of the United Reformed Churches in North America)

LONG FORM

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Beloved congregation in the Lord Jesus Christ: There are three principal parts of the doctrine of holy baptism.

baptismFirst: That together with our children, we are conceived and born in sin, and therefore are children of wrath, so that we cannot enter into the kingdom of God, unless we are born again. This, the dipping in or sprinkling with water teaches us, through which the impurity of our souls is signified, that we may be admonished to loathe ourselves, humble ourselves before God, and seek for our purification and salvation apart from ourselves.

Second: Holy baptism witnesses and seals to us the washing away of our sins through Jesus Christ. Therefore we are baptized into the Name of God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. For when we are baptized into the Name of the Father, God the Father witnesses and seals to us that He makes an eternal covenant of grace with us and adopts us for His children and heirs, and therefore will provide us with every good thing and turn aside all evil or turn it to our profit.

And when we are baptized into the Name of the Son, the Son seals to us that He washes us in His blood from all our sins, incorporating us into the fellowship of His death and resurrection, so that we are freed from our sins and accounted righteous before God.

Likewise, when we are baptized into the Name of the Holy Spirit, the Holy spirit assures us by this holy sacrament-that He will dwell in us, and sanctify us to be members of Christ, imparting to us that which we have in Christ, namely, the washing away of our sins and the daily renewing of our lives, until we shall finally be presented without spot among the assembly of the elect in life eternal.

Third: Since all covenants contain two parts, therefore we are by God, through baptism, admonished and obliged to live in new obedience, namely, that we cleave to this one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that we trust in Him, and love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength; that we forsake the world, crucify our old nature, and walk in a godly life. And if through weakness, we sometimes fall into sins, we must not therefore despair of God’s mercy, nor continue in sin, since baptism is a seal and indisputable testimony that we have an eternal covenant with God.

And although our children do not understand these things, we may not therefore exclude them from baptism, since without their knowledge, they are participants in the condemnation in Adam, and so again are received to grace in Christ; as God speaks to Abraham, the father of all believers, and therefore also to us and our children, saying: “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you” (Genesis 17:7-ESV). Peter also testifies to this with these words: “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself’ (Acts 2:39-ESV).

Therefore, God formerly commanded to circumcise them, which was a seal of the covenant and of the righteousness of faith; as also Christ embraced them, laid His hands upon them, and blessed them (Mark 10:16). Since, then, baptism has replaced circumcision as the sign and seal of the covenant (Col. 2:11-13), the children should be baptized as heirs of the kingdom of God and as members of His covenant; and as they grow up, the parents shall be bound to give them further instruction in these things.

Prayer

That we, therefore, may administer this holy ordinance of God to His glory, to our comfort, and to the edification of the church, let us call upon His holy Name:

O almighty, eternal God, you who have according to your severe judgment, punished the unbelieving and unrepentant world with the flood, and have according to your great mercy saved and protected believing Noah and his family; you, who have drowned the obstinate Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea and led your people Israel through the midst of the sea upon dry ground—by which you showed us the meaning of baptism— we earnestly pray that you may be pleased of your infinite mercy, graciously to look upon these your children and incorporate them by your Holy Spirit into your Son Jesus Christ, that they may be buried with Him through baptism into death and be raised with Him in newness of life; that they, daily following Him, may joyfully bear their cross, cleaving to Him in true faith, firm hope, and ardent love; that they, being comforted in you, may leave this life, which is nothing but a constant death, and at the last day may appear without terror before the judgment seat of Christ your Son, through Him, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit, one only God, lives and reigns forever. Amen.

Address to the Parent/s

The minister asks the parents, with the infant, to come to the front.

Beloved in Christ the Lord, you have heard that baptism is an institution of God to seal to us and our seed His covenant; therefore it must be used for that end, and not out of custom or superstition. That it may, then, be clear to all that you are in agreement, you are to sincerely answer these questions:

First: Do you acknowledge that our children, though conceived and born in sin and therefore subject to all manner of misery, even to condemnation itself, are sanctified in Christ, and therefore as members of His Church ought to be baptized?

Second: Do you acknowledge the doctrine which is contained in the Old and the New Testament, and in the articles of the Christian faith, and which is taught here in this Christian church, to be the true and complete doctrine of salvation?

Third: Do you promise and intend to instruct these children, as soon as they are able to understand, in this doctrine, and cause them to be instructed in these things, to the utmost of your power?

Answer. We do (or in case only one of the parents is a confessing member: I do). Then the minister of God’s Word, in baptizing, shall say:

___________________________________________ , I baptize you into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Address to Godparents (optional)

The minister asks the godparents to respond to the following question:

Minister: Do you, godparents of _____________________, promise to pray for him, and to help and encourage his parents as they seek to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

Godparents: We do, God helping us.

Address to Congregation

The minister asks the congregation to rise and respond to the following question:

Minister: Do you, the members of this congregation, receive ___________________________________, into your fellowship and promise to pray for him, and to help and encourage his parents as they seek to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

Congregation: We do, God helping us.

Thanksgiving Prayer:

Almighty God and merciful Father, we thank and praise you that you have forgiven us and our children all our sins, through the blood of your beloved Son Jesus Christ, and received us through your Holy Spirit as members of your only begotten Son, and so adopted us to be your children, and sealed and confirmed the same to us by holy baptism. We earnestly pray you also, through Him, your beloved Son, that you will always govern these children by your Holy Spirit, that they may be nurtured in the Christian faith and in godliness, and grow and increase in the Lord Jesus Christ, in order that they may acknowledge your fatherly goodness and mercy, which you have shown to them and to us all, and live in all righteousness under our only Teacher, King, and High Priest, Jesus Christ; and manfully fight against and overcome sin, the devil, and his whole dominion, to the end that they may eternally praise and magnify you, and your Son Jesus Christ, together with the Holy. Spirit, the one only true God. Amen.

SHORT FORM

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Approved by the 2010 Synod of the United Reformed Churches in North America

Beloved congregation in the Lord Jesus Christ:

There are three principal parts of the doctrine of holy baptism:

First: That we with our children are conceived and born in sin, and therefore are children of wrath, so that we cannot enter into the kingdom God, unless we are born again. By this sacrament we are taught our need for cleansing from the pollution of our sin and to find purification outside of ourselves, in Christ alone.

Second: Holy baptism witnesses and seals unto us the washing away of our sins through Jesus Christ. We are baptized into the name of the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For in this sacrament the Father witnesses and seals unto us that he makes an eternal covenant of grace with us and adopts us for his children; the Son witnesses and seals the washing in his blood, so that we are freed from sins and accounted righteous before God. Likewise, the Holy Spirit assures us by this holy sacrament that he will dwell in us, sanctify us as visible members of Christ’s body, giving to us all that belongs to us in Christ.

Third: Since all covenants have two parts, baptism obliges us to cling to this one God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; to forsake the world, die daily to ourselves and live to Christ. And if we sometimes through weakness fall into sins, we must not therefore despair of God’s mercy, nor continue in sin, since baptism is a seal and certain testimony that we have an eternal covenant with God.

All of this applies to our children as well as to us, since in Christ we share in the covenant of grace that God established with Abraham, promising to be a God to him and to his children. For this reason, he commanded him to circumcise his male offspring (Gen 17:7). In the new covenant, the Spirit is poured out on all flesh, males and females, and all children of believers are now set apart by God. For this reason, they are to be baptized, since baptism has replaced circumcision (Col 2:11-13). From the earliest days of the church, there are examples of whole households being baptized.

Prayer

Let us pray: O almighty and eternal God, who judged the unrepentant in the flood yet in your great mercy saved and protected believing Noah and his family; you who drowned obstinate Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea and led your people through the waters on dry land—by which baptism was signified—we ask you graciously to look upon this/these your children and incorporate them by your Spirit into your Son Jesus Christ. May you be pleased to bury them with him through baptism into death and raised with him in newness of life, so that they may be so preserved in true faith and repentance that they may not fear the judgment seat of Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit, is to be worshiped as the only God forever. Amen.

Address to Parent/s

The minister asks the parents, with the infant, to come to the front.

_______________________ (names of parents), you have professed faith, joining this local assembly of Christ’s church, and now present ___________________________ (name/s of child/children for baptism).

Beloved in Christ the Lord, you have heard that baptism is an institution of God to seal to us and our seed His covenant; therefore it must be used for that end, and not out of custom or superstition. That it may, then, be clear to all that you are in agreement, you are to sincerely answer these questions:

First: Do you acknowledge that our children, though conceived and born in sin and therefore subject to all manner of misery, even to condemnation itself, are sanctified in Christ, and therefore as members of His Church ought to be baptized?

Second: Do you acknowledge the doctrine which is contained in the Old and the New Testament, and in the articles of the Christian faith, and which is taught here in this Christian church, to be the true and complete doctrine of salvation?

Third: Do you promise and intend to instruct these children, as soon as they are able to understand, in this doctrine, and cause them to be instructed in these things, to the utmost of your power?

Answer. We do (or in case only one of the parents is a confessing member: I do).

Holy Baptism

Then the minister of Word and Sacrament, in baptizing, will say: ______________________________________, I baptize you into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Address to Godparents (optional)

The minister asks the godparents to respond to the following question:

Minister: Do you, godparents of _____________________, promise to pray for him, and to help and encourage his parents as they seek to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

Godparents: We do, God helping us.

Address to Congregation

The minister asks the congregation to rise and respond to the following question:

Minister: Do you, the members of this congregation, receive ___________________________________, into your fellowship and promise to pray for him, and to help and encourage his parents as they seek to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

Congregation: We do, God helping us.

Thanksgiving Prayer

Almighty God and merciful Father, we thank and praise you that you have pledged forgiveness of sins to us and to our children in the covenant of grace, signified and sealed in baptism. We ask you also, through Christ and by the powerful working of your Spirit, to govern and nurture these children in Christian faith and practice so that they too will know the mercy and goodness of your salvation all the days of their life. May they fight valiantly against the world, the flesh, and the devil, until that day when, together with us, they give eternal praise and thanksgiving in heavenly glory to you together with your Son and the Holy Spirit—the only true God. Amen.

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