When a person becomes a believer they enter a world of new relationships. The most important of these is the one between the believer and Christ. They also come into a Christian family of brothers and sisters as well as a Christian kingdom (Ephesians 2:19
). God commands us to express that bond, and nurture it, in a real commitment to one another. A commitment which will always involve privileges and responsibilities.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,[a] but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God
Adopted by God
When we think about it, that is the way all families and kingdoms work. Within most families, you will find relationships such as parents and children, husband and wife, older sister and younger brother, and so on. God structures all these relationships and, as a result, we find privileges and responsibilities working both ways within the family (Ephesians 5:22-6:4
God's family, or kingdom, is no different. When we become believers, God commands us to join his special family/kingdom called 'the Church'. Although in a sense you join this kingdom inwardly when you are born again, God commands you to join it outwardly as well. In Old Testament times, you would enter God's kingdom visibly through circumcision - a sign of initiation and cleansing. In our New Testament age, you enter the Kingdom visibly by acknowledging Christ's Lordship and by being baptised - also a sign of initiation and cleansing (Matthew 28:18-20
; Acts 8:36-38
; 1 Peter 3:21
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, to the end of the age.”
The Free Church of Scotland is one of many churches which believe that believers should have their children baptised. In the Old Testament, every believer was to put the sign of faith (circumcision) on their children to show that they were to be welcomed as part of God's church. We believe that this practice of putting the sign of faith on our children has carried through into the New Testament as well (Matthew 19:13-15
; Acts 2:39
; Acts 16:15
; Romans 4:11
; 1 Corinthians 1:16
; Galatians 3:6-9
). So if a person baptised as a child comes to faith, their faith is not shown in their baptism, but by coming to the Lord's Table. This act, like baptism, is a public declaration of faith (1 Corinthians 11:26
) and is part of a body of privileges and duties that come with Membership.
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.