Helping Our Children to Understand Baptism

Rev. Deb Koster

June 2, 2024

Our children need our help understanding the significant things that happen in a worship service. We want our children to marvel at God’s actions in the sacraments. Baptism is a sign of our belonging to God and also to God’s people. Sometimes, we think of baptism as an adult's decision to commit their lives to God, or perhaps, we think of it as a promise parents make to bring their children up in faith. Yet, God is the principal actor in baptism, claiming us as his own. In truth, baptism is something we receive rather than do. Baptism is a sign and a seal of God’s hold on our lives, washing us clean of our sins and calling us to new life in him. The water of baptism helps us to see God’s hand protecting our lives through difficult times and washing us clean to live holy lives.

Following God’s instructions

Baptism is rooted in the Bible. Jesus instructed us to baptize in Matthew 28:19 saying, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Throughout the New Testament, we see the followers of Jesus obeying his instructions and welcoming new believers and their families into God’s family through baptism. God welcomes us into the family of believers through the sacrament of baptism.

Belonging to God

In the Old Testament, God’s people celebrated new babies as members of God’s family when they were just a few days old. They were presented in public as a welcome addition to God’s family. God claims us as his own from the beginning when we were knitted together inside our mother’s womb. We are made in God’s image and our lives belong to him. In Baptism, all three members of the Trinity announce their claim on our lives. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit welcome us into God’s family. The blood of Jesus when he died in our place, paid the price for our sins and washes us clean to restore our fellowship with the Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit makes its home within us to transform our lives and make us look more like Jesus.

Remembering Jesus’ sacrifice

Throughout the Bible, we see a theme of God's people passing through dangerous waters without drowning. From Noah and the flood to Moses crossing the Red Sea, God protects his people. The water of baptism, whether we are washed or immersed in the water, reminds us of our participation in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Through Jesus, we have no fear of laying down in death without rising up out of the water to new life.

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

In baptism, we are reminded that our sins were nailed to the cross in Jesus' death, and in the resurrection, we are washed clean because of the shed blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7).

Living it out

There is no magic transformation that happens when we encounter the water of baptism, as it points to what God has already accomplished, so it is a moment of experiencing God’s faithfulness. It is also a moment that marks our new path. In baptism, our lives are sealed with God’s promises of belonging, forgiveness, and transformation. If your church has the baptism font available as you enter the church, touch the water and remember your baptism. Show your children the water and let them touch it. Place the water on their forehead and tell them how God has claimed them as his own in baptism. When a baptism happens in your church, take your kids up front to see it take place. Talk to them about what God is doing in baptism. Baptism is a beautiful visual reminder of God’s unfailing love and the call placed on our lives.

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We are new people in Jesus, overflowing with his grace. Think of yourself as being soaked with the water of baptism forever. My favorite sermon about baptism calls us to be people of squishy shoes--people who are so soaked with the grace of God that we carry our baptism with us each day with squishy steps. In our daily lives the love and grace of Jesus should leak out of our hearts through our words and our actions. As we live as baptized people God’s love is seen in the kindness that we show to one another.

About the author — Rev. Deb Koster

Deb Koster is a producer, writer, and speaker for Family Fire. She is also an Innkeeper at The Parsonage Inn in Grand Rapids, MI where she leads marriage retreat on weekends. After over 20 years as a Registered Nurse, she completed a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained as a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church. Deb and her husband Steven enjoy doing ministry together and they are the parents of three awesome young adults.

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