Friday, November 17, 2023

Do you baptize infants? May our children worship with us during corporate worship?

I (Pastor) received some questions today from a family that is thinking about visiting. A couple of them were the sort of questions that are encouraging to be asked, because of what it implies about that family and how important the answers to those questions are for the Christian congregation and household. So, I took a little bit more time than I might otherwise have done in order to answer them, hoping that by publishing the answers here as well, the time spent might be profitable to many

Do you baptize infants?
Ans: Yes, we do. We adhere, gladly and entirely, to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. 

We consider the children of believers to be full members of the church, even before they are communicants (though they must make a credible profession of faith in order to be admitted to partaking of the Lord's Supper). The Lord identifies them with His church, calls them saints, addresses them together with the rest of the congregation, gives to them to call Him their Father, and commands them to conduct themselves as Christians—which is, itself, a command to repent of sin and believe in Jesus Christ, and render all obedience to God in the same way that they are instructed to obey their parents: "in the Lord." 

The sign that He places upon them by baptism is a seal unto faith. As a seal, baptism encourages believing parents concerning the Lord's providence, intention, and relationship toward the child—emphasizing the parents' own obligations to give the child the Lord's own training and instruction, including daily attendance upon the means of grace in family worship, and weekly attendance upon the means of grace in the public worship. 

Also, as a seal, it assures the child who has not yet repented and believed that all of the promises of God are assured to Christ and those who are in Him, thus urging him to believe; 

and, it assures the child who has come to faith in Christ that all of the promises of God have been secured to him in Christ, by the working of His Spirit. 

The Christian duty of improving our baptism, and the Spirit's work of blessing unto us our baptism, is one that applies to believers of all ages, so that the benefits of baptism are not tied to the moment of its application. 

These are my off-the-cuff response, but I am also attaching the ARP's summary of baptism for your perusal. 

May our children worship with us during corporate worship?
Ans: Yes; indeed, we strongly desire that they would. 

Covenant children, as God's creatures (and rational creatures), are obligated to the worship of God. And, as members of His church, they are specifically obligated to the public worship of God. 

The fundamental unit of the congregation in Scripture is the household, though in God's providence some houses are small or even singular. 

Furthermore, all of our hope for any covenant child is in the grace of God unto them, and it is of the means of His grace that He has constructed His own worship. So, we encourage the entire household to participate in the public worship of God together, although we do have a nursing/cry room in the back corner, separated by a window and supplied with amplified audio. 

The congregation understands that some parents are still training their children to worship well, and we are accustomed to bearing patiently with those parents and children who are having difficulty. 

The more the children are trained by participating in family worship at home, the better this will be for their conduct in the public worship, and vice versa. But, we believe that it is important that they learn from the beginning that their parents are committed to their participation in the public worship, in dependence upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, by whose help alone true worship can be offered by a believer of any age or level of maturity.

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