Baptism and Discipleship

After Jesus had accomplished His work at the cross, making atonement for the sins of His people, and risen from the grave as the Firstborn of the dead, guaranteeing the resurrection of His people, just before ascending to the Father to assume the throne of the eternal kingdom, having received all authority in heaven and on earth, Jesus commanded His disciples, “Go, therefore, 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, and, behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).  The command is to make disciples.  Obedience begins with going: “Go, therefore . . . .”  And they did go.  Some went no further than Jerusalem, where their mission began.  Some went west toward Rome.  Others went east to Persia.  There is evidence that the first generation of Jesus’ followers made disciples in Egypt, Ethiopia, and India.  The point is, Jesus said go, and they went.  Discipleship requires presence and intentionality.  The same is true for making disciples of our children.  It requires presence and intentionality.  Our goal for them must transcend being good American citizens, successful professionals, and respectable members of society.  We are to diligently teach them about the Lord our God and how He has entered into covenant with us through the blood of Jesus Christ.


This discipleship to the covenant Lord begins with baptism.  Baptism is God’s covenant sign which marks us out as His possession.  It symbolizes our relationship with God and His faithfulness to His promise in that covenant.  We read in the book of Acts and in Paul’s epistles that the early disciples obeyed Christ’s commission, baptizing new believers and their households.  These parents have brought their sons to receive baptism, not out of custom or human tradition, not out of sentimentality or superstition, but out of obedience to the command of Christ and out of faith in the promise God made to them and to their children.


Of course, discipleship does not end with baptism; that is where it begins.  We continue by teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded us.  The substance of that instruction is summarized in the baptismal pronouncement “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  We are to instruct disciples, in this case our own children, in the Person and Work of the Triune God.  As we baptize them in the singular name of Yahweh or Jehovah, they must learn from us that there is but one only God, the living and true God, who demands their singular faith and love.  They must also learn from us that this one God exists eternally and unchangeably in three distinct Persons.  We must instruct them thoroughly in the love of the Father who sent His Son to rescue us from the just demands of His holy law against our sins.  We must impress on their souls the grace of the Son, our Lord Jesus, who was sent; who though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, so that we through His poverty might be made rich toward God.  We must diligently teach them of the Holy Spirit as the bond of love who seals us for our inheritance and communicates to us the presence of the Father and the Son.  And as we are to teach them, not merely to profess with lip service, but to observe all that Christ has commanded, we are to enjoin them to faithful, loving obedience as the outcome of their faith in this gospel of God.  Parents, I am not telling you anything that you don’t already know, but on this special occasion I want both to commend you for bringing your sons for baptism, and to stir you up by way of reminder to continue their discipleship by teaching them the doctrines of our holy religion, not the inventions of men, but the self-revelation of God.



A Baptismal Prayer:

Our gracious, Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, You are faithful to Your people, showing steadfast love to a thousand generations of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose.  We bless Your holy Name for the grace of baptism, which extends to the whole course of our lives, bearing witness to us of Your loving kindness and faithfulness, and calling us to faith and obedience and the full enjoying of You to all eternity.  Bless these boys, we pray, that this sacrament, which is the word of Your gospel and the sign and seal of Your covenant, may yield new life by Your Spirit and produce faith, so that the blood of Jesus, which alone atones for our sins, may cleanse them of every stain and wash them whiter than snow.  In the name of Jesus, the Lamb who was slain, but now stands, we pray.  Amen.