A Letter To My Daughter About Baptism

cara-davis-letter-baptism

When my daughter began to ask about baptism about a year ago at age 6, I wanted her to make the decision based on knowledge and not just out of curiosity. I wanted her to know what making a step to follow Christ was for, and not just what it saved us against.

We had a series of small conversations. I asked her questions about what she was learning in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. Turns out she pretty much had the basics down of what baptism meant.

As an adult, I still struggle with faith, doubt and theology, so I didn’t expect a 7 year old to have a better grasp on it than I do. But that’s what’s beautiful about the faith of a child. They take God at His Word. Their hearts are tender to hearing the still, small voice of a Savior. And I, for one, will do my best to step out of the way and not mess that up.

Still, I wanted to give my daughter something substantial that would set the tone for the next phase of her walk with Christ, and a letter seemed appropriate, since we sometimes write notes to each other in a journal. My husband read it and agreed, so I placed it on the kitchen table in a special envelope for her to find the Friday before she was baptized.

It read:

Dear Daughter,

I’m overjoyed that you’re getting baptized this weekend. You’ve repented and accepted Jesus as your savior and now you’re taking the next step of baptism, which washes away your sins.

You know how we read in the Bible about Jesus and the very first church that ever was? This is how it started: with baptism—just like you’re going to do this weekend!

In the Bible in Acts chapter two, the first people who made a church for Jesus started by getting baptized in Jesus’ name! It’s now nearly 2,000 years later, and people are added to church the same way. Here’s the scripture:

cara-davis-letter-baptism-3“Peter replied, ‘Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church–about three thousand in all.” Acts 2:38, 41

The act of baptism is symbolic. There’s nothing physically that changes when you go in and out the water. But it symbolizes (represents) that your sins are being washed away forever. There’s nothing that can ever separate you from the love Jesus has for you.

As I’ve told you before, there’s nothing you could ever do that could make me love you less. It’s the same with Jesus. Jesus is God. He created you. He gave you to Mommy and Daddy as a gift. He has a purpose for your life. You will do great things in your life that help other people, and you will shine like a light. You already do.

You are a Christian. Mommy and Daddy are Christians. It’s just a term to describe our religion and our faith in God and it means “follower of Christ.” It means we try to follow Jesus Christ’s example of how to act and treat people. It also means that we believe He is God. We follow him because God created us “to be in relationship” with Him. “To be in relationship with” means like you and I are mother and daughter. You and Ellie are friends. These are examples of relationships and you treat people certain ways that you’re in relationship with (kindness, respect).

As we’ve talked about before, the most important goal of being a Christian is found in the Bible in Matthew chapter 22: “Love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

As you grow up, you will want to learn how to pray every day to Jesus and talk to Him just like you talk to your friends or to your parents. You’ll want to learn scriptures in the Bible (like the ones I put in your lunch box) because they help you know how to live a better life and how to please God.

If you ever have questions about anything, you can always ask Mommy and Daddy. If we don’t know the answer, we will help you pray about them or help you find answers.

I love you more than the world. You’ve made our lives so incredibly special, because you are so incredibly special.

Love,

Mommy

She spent quite a bit of time reading it. I asked her if she understood, and if she had any questions.

She wrapped her arms around my neck, climbed up in my lap and thanked me for writing it. I held her until she was ready to get down. She was ready to be baptized and so happy about it.

Two days later she was baptized by her great-uncle in the same church I was baptized in by my grandfather (his father) when I was 7. Before she was baptized, her 89-year-old great-grandmother laid hands on her and prayed a blessing. It was a ceremony full of wonder and heritage, and one that’s renewed my faith to be more childlike as well.

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I don’t know if she’ll reference the letter from time to time. I hope she does. But I hope even more that she references the lives and faith of those around her who have faithfully served The Lord for many years. After all, our lives are the best letter we can ever write to our kids.


Editor’s Note: The team at What’s in the Bible? acknowledges that there are many different traditions when it comes to Christian baptism. The views of the author do not necessarily reflect the views of Jellyfish Labs or What’s in the Bible?. 


Cara Davis Bio Photo Cara Davis is a content consultant and co-founder of the soon-to-launch church’d.com. The former editorial director for Relevant Media Group, her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post and CNN, and she’s been quoted in USA Today and The New York Times. She lives with her husband and two girls in East Nashville where she has co-founded a nonprofit called Community PTO to support the success of local community schools.

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52 comments
Georgia 5
Georgia 5

“Peter replied, ‘Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church–about three thousand in all.” Acts 2:38, 41


Each must turn from sin and turn to God and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.


Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


My children were baptised as infants in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin. They received the Holy Spirit. They are members of the Church.


While I am glad that some young people are being baptised after they learn more of the Bible.  I am very concerned about a curriculum that assumes the students are not baptised.

Debbie Weahkee
Debbie Weahkee

now you’re taking the next step of baptism, which washes away your sins. This is the statement in the letter i was referring to

Dennis Muller
Dennis Muller

If baptism is necessary for salvation, why would Paul have said, “I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius” (1 Corinthians 1:14)? Why would he have said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17)? Granted, in this passage Paul is arguing against the divisions that plagued the Corinthian church. However, how could Paul possibly say, “I am thankful that I did not baptize…” or “For Christ did not send me to baptize…” if baptism were necessary for salvation? If baptism is necessary for salvation, Paul would literally be saying, “I am thankful that you were not saved…” and “For Christ did not send me to save…” That would be an unbelievably ridiculous statement for Paul to make. Further, when Paul gives a detailed outline of what he considers the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), why does he neglect to mention baptism? If baptism is a requirement for salvation, how could any presentation of the gospel lack a mention of baptism? Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/baptism-salvation.html#ixzz3Dif0uKHF

Georgia 5
Georgia 5

If baptism is necessary for salvation, why would Paul have said, “I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius” (1 Corinthians 1:14)?



It helps if you read the whole context and not just one line.


10 I appeal to you, brothers,by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.


Basically it comes down to just preach the Gospel.  The elect will believe.


Elaine Rivera
Elaine Rivera

My daughters are 14 and 10 and will be babtized this 28of September, but first they had to believe for themselves not by me but for themselves according to the bible in john 3.3

Elaine Rivera
Elaine Rivera

Jesus was thirty years old when he was babtized' Babtizum is for forgiveness of sin' baby babtizum is not biblical read Luke in the bible

Georgia 5
Georgia 5

When Jesus was baptised, he had no sin, rather he took on the sin of the world.



Bert Rivera
Bert Rivera

Baptism causing Christians to be born again as children of God and wash away the original sin, this is bull crap!!.. Human kind is sinful for Adam and Eve ate the fruit of knowledge. Why are we being punished for the original sin? After all, they ate the forbidden fruit, we didn’t. Reason would lead one to say it’s their problem, not ours. Even the bible contradicts itself by claiming in Deuteronomy 24:16, “children shall not be punished for the sins of their fathers.” In the Bible New Testament according to the Gospels.. Even Criminal will be able to enter in Paradise with out necessary of Baptism causing Christians to be born again as children of God. .. Two men were crucified at the same time as Jesus, one on his right hand and one on his left (Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27-28,32, Luke 23:33, John 19:18), which Mark interprets as fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 53:12. According to Matthew and Mark, respectively, both of the "thieves" mocked Jesus (Matthew 27:44, Mark 15:32); Luke however, mentions that 39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." 42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 43 He replied to him, "Amen I say to you today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:39-43

Bert Rivera
Bert Rivera

Baptism wash away original sin not sin

Mag Risdon
Mag Risdon

Pray about it and God will show u how

Sarah A. Jones
Sarah A. Jones

Thank you for posting this now when I need it! My daughter was saved last week at Awana at 11 years old.

Kristy Phillips Muller
Kristy Phillips Muller

So how did the thief on the cross accept that free gift? Was Jesus a liar or did He make an exception for the thief?

Georgia 5
Georgia 5

The same way he saved all those who came before and believed.  "Abraham believed and it was counted to as righteousness."  Baptism is God's work not ours.  If it were our work we could just wash ourselves without His name. He is the only one who can give the gift.  He promises to give it to those who repent and are baptised.  Beyond that, He may do as he wishes calling as many to himself as is his pleasure.

Dawn Peluso
Dawn Peluso

Baptism is how we accept God's free gift through Christ. Acts 2:38 plainly states that we must repent and be baptized. Baptism isn't a "good work" its the step of publicly accepting God's gift.

Kari Sharp Campbell
Kari Sharp Campbell

Why does every thing have to be a battle of the minds.. Just enjoy the letter she wrote to her child and keep your opinions about what you believe is right to yourself..

Betty Dodd
Betty Dodd

The BLOOD of Jesus Christ washes away our Sins.ISRAEL was commanded to Repent and be Baptised in the name of Jesus as a ceremonial cleansing in preparation to become a Nation of Priests to evangalize the rest of the world, but as a Nation they rejected Christ and he was crucified and rose from the dead.We are saved by CONFESSING the LORD JESUS and BELIEVING IN OUR HEARTS THAT GOD HATH RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.Water Baptism has absolutely nothing to do with Salvation in this Age of Grace.It is only a public confession of what the Lord Jesus has done in your life.Baptism by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ is the only Baptism we need in the Age of Grace and it's a spiritual Baptism not Water.Peter did baptize the Household of Cornelius but God did this to show Peter that he was now also bringing Gentiles unto him..The apostle Paul was later commisioned to be the Apostle of The Gentiles and also the Jews with the dispensation of the Grace of God.

Kristy Phillips Muller
Kristy Phillips Muller

The thief on the cross didn't get baptised, BUT Jesus said " Today you will be with Me in paradise. " so it is obviously NOT a requirement to be with Jesus in Heaven.

Georgia 5
Georgia 5

True, but he does promise to save the baptised.  

Kristy Phillips Muller
Kristy Phillips Muller

Jesus plus anything us a lie of Satan. Baptism is the public confession of your faith in Christ to save you. "For we are saved by grace through faith, not works lest anyone should boast. " Works are an expression of our gratitude for what Jesus has saved us from. If anything we do or bring to the table is necessary, Jesus died in vain.

Georgia 5
Georgia 5

That is not a text about baptism.  It is a text about faith.  We may not boast of our faith as though it is our own work.  It is a gift from God.

Rj Gap
Rj Gap

Baptism will not save oneself...

Venessav
Venessav

It is also a symbol of dying with Christ (as he was buried and rose again) and rising up again as a new creation, no longer your own, but belonging to Him ... and that you will rise from the dead when Christ returns. We need to die first before we can truly live. It doesn't wash our sins away, it is just a symbol thereof

Nancy Bucknell Studd
Nancy Bucknell Studd

If belief and baptism are connected for salvation, you are making it works based. And by grace are you saved thru faith...it is the gift of God thru Jesus Christ our Lord. Also, if baptism is required for salvation, why did Jesus tell the criminal being crucified that he would be with Him in Paradise ... no baptism there.

Georgia 5
Georgia 5

Did He tell you that you will be with Him?


I think He told us to repent and be baptised.

Kristan Quesenberry Buckman
Kristan Quesenberry Buckman

Aren't they baptized as babies in the Catholic faith? So, it's not really "their"decision, it's the parents'. There are no "sacraments of initiation" in the Bible. It's not a frat or a sorority. Jesus said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved." Do you believe the man hanging on the cross went on to be with Jesus in heaven? He said "Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom." And Jesus responds, "Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise." He never got baptized, nor went through any sacraments. I do feel full submersion baptism is an act of obedience after someone professes their faith in Christ. That decision must be made by an individual, personally. He/She has to accept the gift of salvation. Babies/toddlers cannot make that decision... Just wondering how the Catholics respond/feel about the above statements. Not arguing or stating one thought is "right" just looking for a clear understanding of the Catholic belief behind baptism.

Georgia 5
Georgia 5

Jesus instituted the sacrament of baptism in His name.  He also, instituted the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.  

Lisa Strnad
Lisa Strnad

Catholics, like myself, believe that Baptism is more than just a formality. In John 3:1-21 Jesus says, "Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." For us, Baptism is one of the three Sacraments of intiation, and it is the very mark of a Christian, because it brings us into new life in Christ. When I used to blog for What's in the Bible, I tried to include what Catholics believe as well as what non-denomicational / Evangelicals believe. We are all part of the same family!

Jennifer Thorson
Jennifer Thorson

Yes there are many scripture verses that connect faith and baptism.

Ashley Cozzens
Ashley Cozzens

I believe the bible teaches that both are part of becoming a Christian and having your sins forgiven.

Karyn Neal
Karyn Neal

Beautiful way of handling children's questions.

MatthewandGinger Neal-Cox
MatthewandGinger Neal-Cox

My daughter has been asking questions about communion , it's so hard to explain. If anyone has any tips I will take them.

Georgia 5
Georgia 5

Luke 22            “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."


The most straightforward way to go is just to take Jesus at His Word.   "This is my body"   "Do this."  “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."


Full understanding may be a bit too ambitious.  Just believe what Jesus said. 


"14And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you I will not eat itb until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.


Debbie Weahkee
Debbie Weahkee

baptism does not wash away yours sins, belief in Jesus does.

Georgia 5
Georgia 5

Where does this belief in Jesus come from?  


Faith itself is a gift.  No one may boast of his work, not even the work of belief.  


All of the work of salvation is accomplished by God.  However, we may reject it.  We are capable of breaking the relationship, but not of fixing it.

Dawns Light
Dawns Light

"Father God, into Thy hands I commit My spirit."