Jesus Christ commands his followers in the last chapter of Matthew: “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., teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
It is one of the ways God gives His grace to us. It is a gift of forgiveness for everyone. Just as parents bathe their children, God cleanses us from sin in the waters of baptism.
It’s not just the water, but the Word of God in and with the water. Without God’s Word the water is just plain water and not baptism. But with the Word of God it is a baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of new birth in the Holy Spirit. Baptism gives us God’s gift of forgiveness, salvation, new life and imparts the Holy Spirit and the promise of resurrection.
Baptism is for everyone. Children are baptized for the same reason as adults: because of the command and promise of God. God promises in baptism to give His gifts to all who receive it; therefore, infants and young children also have the promise of God. They are included in the words “all nations” (Matt. 28:19). Jesus specifically invites little children to come to Him (see Mark 10). Most importantly infants and children, just like adults need what baptism gives.
You don’t need to be baptized again if you were baptized in the Christian faith in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit! (Ephesians 4:5).
What is the difference between a dedication and baptism?
A dedication is a man made ceremony where parents dedicate their child to the Christian life and dedicate themselves to raising their child as a Christian. While a dedication is a wonderful thing, it is not the same thing as a baptism. Just like in a dedication, at a baptism parents, guardians and sponsors vow to raise their child in the Christian faith, but more importantly in baptism God is working to bring grace, forgiveness, salvation, new life, resurrection and His Spirit.
As Lutherans, we believe that the method of baptism is not what makes it effective but God’s work through the water and the word. Generally we use a method known as sprinkling or pouring. This happens as a small amount of water is placed upon one’s head using the words “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Generally, baptisms happen as a part of a worship service. That could be as a part of our Sunday morning or Sunday evening services or even a part of one our school or preschool chapel services. There are also times when families have requested a private family baptism and those requests are accommodated whenever possible.
The role of a sponsor or godparent is to pray for the child who is baptized, to live in such a way that they are an example of a godly life for the child, and to speak about Jesus to the child in the years to come. Sponsors are not required but if you choose sponsors they should be committed Christians who can fulfill these important roles. Individuals may serve as sponsors even if they are unable to attend the service.
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