An explanation of the significance of baptism for the candidates, their sponsors and the congregation is an appropriate way to introduce the service. The Book of Common Prayer baptismal services began by exhorting the congregation to pray for the regeneration of the candidate by the Holy Spirit. This was set within the context of allusions to John 3:5-8. Modern revisions such as 1.4 have moved away from this emphasis. It is preserved in the final paragraph of 1.1 and more fully in 1.3. Such exhortations should be followed by a suitable prayer for the candidate (as in 2.1 and 2.2).

The emphasis in 1.1 and 1.4 is on the command to baptize given by Jesus in Matthew 28:19 and the call of Peter to repent and be baptised in Acts 2:38-39. Peter's words highlight the benefits of baptism faithfully received, and suggest a justification for baptising the children of believers. 1.2 emphasizes the responsibility of parents and godparents in sponsoring children for baptism. 1.4 combines this with the scriptural emphases of 1.1. Only 1.1 can be easily used at the baptism of an adult.

1.1 God in his love has acted through Jesus Christ to free us from our slavery to sin. When Jesus had risen from the dead, he said to his disciples, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make all nations my disciples, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.'

Soon after, the apostle Peter began preaching, 'Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.'

Let us then pray that God will grant to this person that which by nature he cannot have, that he may be baptised with water and the Holy Spirit, and received into Christ's holy church, and be made a living member of his body.

An Australian Prayer Book (Order 1)

1.2 Children are baptised on the understanding that they will be brought up as faithful members of the Church, to follow Christ and to fight against evil; and that they will be brought to the bishop to be confirmed by him, when they are of age to take upon themselves the promises you are about to make on their behalf.

As they grow up they need encouragement, teaching, and the help of a good example, so that they may learn to worship God, to pray to him, to put their faith and trust in him, and to take their place in the life of the Church.

Parents and godparents, this child depends chiefly on you for the help and encouragement he needs. Are you willing to give him this help and encouragement by every means in your power?

I am willing.

An Australian Prayer Book (Order 2)

1.3 God is the creator of all things, and he gives to parents the work and joy of bringing children to birth and nurturing them. Yet, Jesus tells us, those who are born of human parents need to be born anew. 'What is born of flesh,' he says, 'is flesh; and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.' And again he says, 'Unless one is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God.'

Because of our sinfulness, God calls us to a new birth and life in union with himself. Baptism is the sign and seal of this new birth. Jesus commanded his disciples to preach the gospel to all nations and to baptize those who believe.

They obeyed this command, and we read of Saint Peter preaching in these words, 'Repent, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are afar off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.' In obedience to that same command we ourselves were baptised and now bring this child to baptism.

An Australian Prayer Book (Order 2)

1.4 When our Lord Jesus Christ had risen from the dead, he commanded his disciples to preach the gospel to all nations and to baptise those who believe. They obeyed his command and we read of the apostle Peter preaching in these words, 'Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.'

We read here the promise of God to give forgiveness and his Holy Spirit to all who turn to Christ. This promise also embraces the children of God's people. The risen Jesus is willing to give the blessing of eternal life to our children whom we bring to him in faith. Children must themselves express their faith in God when they are able to do so. They must turn away from sin and put their trust in Jesus Christ.

You who already trust in Christ are asked to make the baptismal promises on behalf of these children. You must also undertake to teach and encourage them in the same faith.

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