Infant Baptism and the Covenantal Blessings of the Community of Faith

Good Morning,

The children truly are our future. Everyone in the graveyard at Bethany was a child once. That may sound morose, but it is true. Each of us were young, part of the youth group, attending junior high or high school conferences at Bonclarken (or elsewhere). The reason why we are here today often is because an older person, whether they were 25 or 85, took the time and energy to invest in our lives. All the literature around the reasons why teenagers stay in the church say the same thing. The first set of people responsible for that are of course parents. If Mom and Dad don’t read the Bible, don’t prepare for the Lord’s Day, don’t pray with their youngin’s, etc… there is a pretty much rock solid guarantee that the young ones won’t either with their kids, thereby ending generations of godly inheritance. However, the same can be said for a church which does not witness these things to the same age group. If the body of Christ is not physically present at awards ceremonies, baptisms, fellowship activities, and most especially the spiritual life of the church, including prayer meetings, worship on the Sabbath morning and evening, then the kids will get the message, and they may already have. It’s a dangerous game to be playing.

So then what are we to do? Simply put doing the ordinary means of grace with genuine curiosity and faith. It is in this life of example which osmosis itself will then provide help in showing the generation which is upcoming the sacrifice of praise God calls us all to. That is the heartbeat of those who rest and trust in the living glory of Jesus Christ our Lord. The very act of Christian Baptism is a sign and seal of God’s promise. Often the question is asked to me why as Presbyterians do we insist on laying the water on the head of an infant/young child who cannot verbally confess their faith? The answer we should be able to provide is simply that we love God because He first loved us. Everything we do in the Christian life is in reaction to what the One who made the Heavens and Earth has done for us. Being born in a home with a believing parent is in itself a gift of grace. To have that parent then commit us to the care and oversight of the church which has received its commission from Christ, is fed and protected by the Holy Spirit, and governed by the Father is to be the recipients of such a grant of exaltation as to be without compare in the world.

Sometimes it is worth our time to consider again our blessing.

People used to say about the children of the uber-wealthy that they were “born on third base”. There is a sense in which those young people raised in a Christian home are born at home plate after their Savior has hit a home run. They are safe and secure with no alarm. They have the gift of not having to find salvation, for it has already found them in the yeah and amen of the gospel promises. In speaking to young baptized children about Christ it is important to always be speaking to them about their baptism. Their “closing” with Jesus is more about them coming to see their already existing covenantal reality as much having to find the Lord outside their heart.

Coming then to recognize their identity in the Lord we refer then to young people as communicant members of the local church. No baptized child joins the church when they get older. They are members of Bethany, for example, at their washing with the water of baptism, which in itself is also a recognition ceremony of an already existing reality of their presence in God at their conception. To think and approach the life of the congregation in its agreement to raise up the covenant children in the fear and admonition of the Lord changes everything about how we organize education, youth events, and even the general fellowship of the saints. Children in our church are not vipers in diapers, but Christian seeds who need watered, pruned, and cared for in order that they might bear the fruits worthy of repentance as they get older and understand much greater the blessings they have in God Almighty.

There is a warmth present in seeing the life of the church in this way. Agricultural principles are all throughout the Bible. Jesus’ parable of the Sower is especially prescient of the situation of how we should think about our covenant children both at Bethany and elsewhere. To use the term again they are the good seed which has fallen in the good ground. God has mercifully allowed them in His providence an advantage which cannot be overstated. Yet it is vital that the farmer remembers his own responsibility in the caretaking of the seed. The farmer needs to prepare his hands for the work. He needs to know his tools and when and where to use them. He needs to have the personal desire to see the seed flourish. Those of you with green thumbs, and especially those like me with brown thumbs, know that nothing can get in the way of raising a garden if you want the yield to be as full as it can be. There is no way to on one hand neglect the labor of a watchman and still think there is hope the plant will provide what it is designed to do. A godly agriculturist gets up early, frames his schedule to the needs of the field, and then goes out and patiently day-by-day prepares the way to come for the harvest. There is much self-denial, and particularly much priority that needs given to the eternal which means the temporal will lose out.

In closing, we live in a day and age where this struggle will only get worse. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ, at Bethany most certainly, cannot fumble around on the fumes of false hope. We need to take to heart the commands of God almighty, and the promises we ourselves have made in baptism. You will miss things. You will be talked about. You will have to say no. However, do you believe that the reward is worth the sacrifice? If not, then you might as well go ahead and admit defeat now. Do not be surprised when your children are not in church later in life. I hate to be blunt, but that’s what the stats say. We must put forth the effort in our own heart. We must be gathering together to pray, we must be studying His word. We must be worshipping with our voice and soul in worship. To not do these things will kill us.

The world, and our own children, are watching.

Here’s a word:

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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