Baptism is the sign and symbol of inclusion in God’s grace and covenant in Christ. In Baptism, we participate in Jesus’ death and resurrection – we die to what separates us from God and are raised to newness of life in Christ. In Baptism, the Holy Spirit binds the Church in covenant to its Creator and Lord. As an identifying mark, Baptism signifies:
- the faithfulness of God
- the washing away of sin
- putting on the fresh garment of Christ
- being sealed by God’s Spirit
- adoption into the covenant family of the Church
- resurrection and illumination in Christ
Baptism is God’s gift of grace and also God’s summons to respond to that grace. Baptism calls to repentance, to faithfulness, and to discipleship. Baptism gives the church its identity and commissions the church for ministry to the world.
Both believers and their children are included in God’s covenant love.
- The Baptism of children witnesses to the truth that God’s love claims people before they are able to respond in faith.
- The Baptism of those who enter the covenant upon their own profession of faith witnesses to the truth that God’s gift of grace calls for fulfillment in a response of faithfulness.
Baptism is received only once and signifies the beginning of life in Christ, not its completion. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recognizes all Baptisms with water in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit administered by other Christian churches.