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Question and Answer

How do we teach children about their baptism?


How do we tell our children about their baptism, and what it means? "Union with Christ," "regeneration," "the purification of sins" and "initiation into the visible church" are far too complicated for children, but I am lost as to how to simplify the doctrine!


To help you instruct your children, I would suggest two articles in New Horizons on baptism: Baptism in Our Confessional Standards and Baptism as a Seal.

I would tell children that baptism means that they do not belong to the world but to Christ and his church. This means that they are called particularly to believe and repent. So that when you read the Bible at home and when you hear the minister preach it at church, all its warnings and promises are for you. What happened outwardly, in the action of washing, is what must happen inwardly to us to fit us for heaven: we need to be washed in Jesus' blood and robed in his righteousness. The only way that we can know and enjoy this is by trusting in Christ. And when, and as, we trust, we also obey, desiring and endeavoring to walk in his way, not perfectly (only Christ did this and all our trust is to be in him), but earnestly.

Baptism is a sign and seal of our belonging to him and our children can understand this better than we think. It's a challenge for us; baptismal regeneration, in which we do not believe, is easier to explain because in it the baptism regenerates—period. More could be said but perhaps this suffices for now.

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"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

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