Saturday, October 15, 2016

Baptism and Making Disciples

"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20
As James Montgomery Boice writes in his Foundations of the Christian Faith, "It is evident from those verses that baptism is an initiatory sacrament belonging to the task of making disciples."1 [Emphasis mine.] What do you suppose the task of Christian parents is with regard to their children? Obviously it is making disciples.

John P. Sartelle wrote:
"It may seem that all you need to do is have your child baptized, and all will be well. That is what many modern church members think. They bring their children and have them baptized as if it were the ultimate fire insurance. But from that moment on you can see no difference between their home and the atheist family next door.
If you and your wife don't love each other as the Bible commands, if you don't teach your children Scripture, if you don't discipline them as God's Word teaches, if you don't pray with and for them daily, if Christ is not the center of your home, then you may baptize your children, but they will grow up just like children from non-Christian homes."2
Bryan Chapell wrote:
"We must confess that some bring their children for this sacrament because of the sweetness of the ceremony, or because of the traditions of family and church, or even with the misguided expectation that somehow 'holy water' will magically protect their child from hell. Yet neither sentiment nor tradition nor superstition is sufficient reason for believers to bring their children to be baptized. And, thankfully, such reasons are not the basis of our church's practice. We baptize infants because we believe that the Bible teaches us to do so."3
God said this about Abraham:
"For I have chosen him in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord." Genesis 18:19
It was Abraham's responsibility to teach his child about God in every facet of his home. Circumcision was not insurance that God would automatically save Isaac. It was the sign of a covenant that he would raise his son in the Lord and that God would have regard for him. It is the same with baptism. Baptism is not insurance that God will automatically save your children. It is the sign of a covenant that you will raise your children in the Lord and that God will have regard for them. Here is just some of what Scripture has to say on the subject of Christian parents making disciples out of their children:
"And you shall teach [these words, which I am commanding you today,] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 6:7

"And you shall teach [these words of mine] to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 11:19

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
Parents who bring their children to be baptized are presented with this vow:
Do you now unreservedly dedicate your children to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavour to set before him/her a godly example, that you will pray with and for him/her, that you will teach him/her the doctrines of our holy faith, and that you will strive, by all the means of God's appointment, to bring him/her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
If these parents are bringing a second, third, fourth, etc., child to be baptized, they should be asked this question in addition to the vow:
Have you so kept the vow you made before God with your previous child that you can take this vow with a sincere and clear conscience?
Mr. Sartelle warns parents against making vows they do not intend to follow through on (much like wedding vows to many couples these days) and that do not mean a thing to them: "Parents, don't make a vow to the Lord just as a social nicety. Imagine, coming before the living God and mouthing words that mean nothing to you just to gain social respectability! If you do that, the blood of your children will be upon your own head. It shall be written of you in eternity that you trifled with the Almighty God."4

1 James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith, p.597.
2 John P. Sartelle, What Christian Parents Should Know About Infant Baptism, p.19. 
3 Bryan Chapell, Why Do We Baptize Infants?, p.1.
4 John P. Sartelle, What Christian Parents Should Know About Infant Baptism, p.21.