Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ:
The doctrine of holy baptism is summarized as follows:
First, we and our children are conceived and born in sin and are therefore by nature children of wrath,1 so that we cannot enter the kingdom of God unless we are born again.2 This is what the immersion in or sprinkling with water teaches us. It signifies the impurity of our souls, so that we may detest ourselves, humble ourselves before God, and seek our cleansing and salvation outside of ourselves.
Second, baptism signifies and seals to us the washing away of our sins through Jesus Christ. We are therefore baptized into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.3
When we are baptized into the Name of the Father, God the Father testifies and seals to us that He establishes an eternal covenant of grace with us. He adopts us for His children and heirs, and promises to provide us with all good and avert all evil or turn it to our benefit.4
When we are baptized into the Name of the Son, God the Son promises us that He washes us in His blood from all our sins and unites us with Him in His death and resurrection.5 Thus we are freed from our sins and accounted righteous before God.
When we are baptized into the Name of the Holy Spirit, God the Holy Spirit assures us by this sacrament that He will dwell in us and make us living members of Christ, imparting to us what we have in Christ, namely, the cleansing from our sins and the daily renewal of our lives, till we shall finally be presented without blemish6 among the assembly of God's elect in life eternal.
Third, since every covenant contains two parts, a promise and an obligation, we are, through baptism, called and obliged by the Lord to a new obedience. We are to cleave to this one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to trust in Him, and to love Him with our whole heart, soul, and mind, and with all our strength.7 We must not love the world8 but put off our old nature9 and lead a God-fearing life.10 And if we sometimes through weakness fall into sins, we must not despair of God's mercy nor continue in sin, for baptism is a seal and trustworthy testimony that we have an eternal covenant with God.
Although the children of believers are not able to understand these things, they must be baptized by virtue of the covenant. Adults, however, may not be baptized unless they, conscious of their sins, repent and profess their faith in Christ. For this reason John the Baptist, following the command of God, preached a
baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mk 1:4; Lk 3:3), and only those who confessed their sins were baptized.11 Our Lord Jesus Christ also commanded His apostles to
go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19), adding the promise,
whoever believes and is baptized will be saved (Mk 16:16).
According to this rule the apostles baptized only those adults who had repented and professed their faith.12 Therefore also today no other adults should be baptized than those who have learned to understand, by the preaching and instruction of the Gospel, the glorious contents of holy baptism, and are thus able to give account of their faith by personal profession.
In order that we may now administer this holy sacrament of God to His glory, for our comfort, and to the upbuilding of the congregation, let us call upon His holy Name.
Almighty, eternal God, in Your righteous judgment You punished the unbelieving and unrepentant world with the flood, but in Your great mercy saved and protected the believer Noah and his family. You drowned the obstinate Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea, but led Your people Israel through the midst of the sea on dry ground – by which baptism was signified. We therefore pray that You, in Your infinite mercy, will graciously look upon this brother (sister) and incorporate him (her) by Your Holy Spirit into Your Son Jesus Christ, so that he (she) may be buried with Him by baptism into death and raised with Him to walk in newness of life. We pray that he (she), following Him day by day, may joyfully bear his (her) cross and cleave to Him in true faith, firm hope, and ardent love. Grant that he (she), comforted in You, may leave this life, which is no more than a constant death, and at the last day may appear without terror before the judgment seat of Christ Your Son. All this we ask through Him, our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who with You and the Holy Spirit, one only God, lives and reigns forever. Amen.
Beloved brother (sister) __________, you desire to receive holy baptism as a seal of your incorporation into the church of God. You have been instructed by us in the Christian religion and have made profession of it before the overseers. It must become clear to all that you not only accept the Christian doctrine, but also intend, by the grace of God, to live according to it. Therefore, we ask you to answer sincerely the following questions before God and His church:
First, do you believe in the one and only true God, distinct in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who has created of nothing heaven and earth, with all that is in them, and still upholds and governs them, so that nothing happens without His divine will?
Second, do you believe that you were conceived and born in sin and are therefore by nature a child of wrath, totally unable to do any good and inclined to all evil? Do you confess that you have often transgressed the commandments of the Lord in thought, word, and deed, and do you sincerely repent of these your sins?
Third, do you believe that Jesus Christ, who is both true and eternal God and true man, who assumed His human nature from the virgin Mary, is given by God as your Saviour? Believing in Him, do you confess that you receive the remission of sins in His blood and that by the power of the Holy Spirit you have become a member of Jesus Christ and His church?
Fourth, do you wholeheartedly agree with the doctrine of the Word of God, summarized in the confessions and taught here in this Christian church? Do you promise to continue steadfastly in this doctrine to the end of your life, and do you reject all heresies and errors conflicting with this doctrine? Do you promise to persevere in the fellowship of this Christian church and be diligent in the hearing of the Word of God and in the use of the holy sacraments?
Fifth, do you firmly resolve, as is proper for a member of Christ and His church, always to lead a Christian life and not to love the world and its evil desires? Do you promise to submit willingly to the Christian admonition and discipline of the church, if it should happen, and may God graciously prevent it, that you become delinquent either in doctrine or in conduct?
__________, what is your answer?
Our merciful God grant you His grace and blessing to fulfil this your holy intention through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
__________, I baptize you into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Almighty, merciful God and Father, we thank and praise You that You have forgiven us and our children all our sins through the blood of Your beloved Son Jesus Christ. You received us through Your Holy Spirit as members of Your only-begotten Son, and so adopted us to be Your children. You sealed and confirmed this to us by holy baptism. We pray through Your beloved Son that You will always govern this brother (sister) by Your Holy Spirit, that he (she) may live a truly Christian and godly life and grow in the Lord Jesus Christ. Grant that he (she) may acknowledge Your fatherly goodness and mercy, which You have shown to him (her) and to us all. May he (she) live in all righteousness under our only Teacher, King, and High Priest, Jesus Christ, and valiantly fight against and overcome sin, the devil, and his whole dominion. May he (she) forever praise and magnify You and Your Son Jesus Christ, together with the Holy Spirit, the one only true God. Amen.