At Woodland we believe baptism a sacrament and one of the two biblical requirements for Christian church membership. If someone comes newly to faith in Jesus who has never been baptized before, we require that they be baptized in obedience to Christ’s command at the time they join the church. A common misconception about Presbyterian churches is that we do not baptize those who come to faith in Christ. Rather, we baptize all who come faithfully to Jesus by the gospel, but not if they have previously been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In other words, we do not re-baptize.
In addition, we believe that the scriptures teach that we are to administer baptism to the children of believers (commonly referred to as “infant baptism”). The Westminster Shorter Catechism # 95 states, “Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such members of the visible church are to be baptized.”
In Peter’s first sermon, he taught the continuation of the covenant to all who believe and to their children (Acts 2:38, 39). Since children bore the covenant sign and seal (Romans 4:11) of circumcision in the OT that was replaced by water baptism in the NT (see Colossians 2:11, 12), they too are to take baptism even before they come to actual faith in Jesus. This action is the perfectly illustrated in Paul’s teaching, “But God demonstrates his own love toward us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Even before we were conceived, Jesus had done all that was necessary for our salvation, so too, in the baptism of infant, Jesus’ work is signified to them but sealed in the future when they come to Christ by faith.
This being said, we do not believe that baptism creates in, or confers the grace of salvation to, any child (or adult). We also do not believe baptism washes away sins. Rather, salvation comes only through trusting in Jesus and the merit of his work done on the cross credited freely to all who know him.
If you are interested in having your little ones baptized at Woodland, here are some practical guidelines that we hope you will find helpful.
- Normally, at least one parent should be a member at Woodland.
- If you have questions about the scriptural grounds of infant baptism, the pastor will be happy to meet with you to help bring clarification and understanding.
- An appropriate date for the baptism must be determined with the pastor.
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