Leo Manuel Inarejos, son of Gwen and Simonne Inarejos, was baptised at London City Presbyterian Church on Sunday, 30th of October at the morning service. This was a joyous occasion for all the worshippers, as well as many visitors, at LCPC to witness the initiation of this child into the covenant community, as our pastor Andy prayed later in the service thanking God for His ‘tokens of love to us, the gift and blessing children are, the gift that Leo is to all their family and friends and to us their church family.’
Andy prefaced the sacrament of baptism by explaining how and why we worship God through this means of grace. He stated that the heart of the Bible is God’s covenant promise to Abraham in Genesis, that ‘I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you,’ (Genesis 17) in obedience to which Abraham circumcised his entire household. Andy continued that circumcision was not just a physical thing marking them as ethnic Jews, but a spiritual thing as well; circumcision of the flesh was always meant to correspond with a circumcision of the heart, to point to the need for new life, and was a pledge given by God to honour His promise to all who, like Abraham, put their faith in Him. Andy noted that the promise of circumcision was placed on all of Abraham’s sons, both Isaac and Ishmael, and therefore that their physical circumcision did not guarantee the circumcision of their hearts, and further, that the same is true of baptism; there are some who are baptised who are not truly baptised. He explained that today we baptise children of believing parents on the same covenant promise of Abraham, and that in the New Testament the apostle Peter reiterated the principle of God’s covenant promise being for believers and their children: ‘For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself,’ (Acts 2:39).
Therefore, Andy confirmed, because of the faith of Leo’s parents Gwen and Simonne, the covenant promise is for them, and their children, describing Leo’s baptism as a visible pledge whereby God guarantees that if such children express faith in Christ, all the promises of His covenant of grace will apply to them, and that we administer this sacrament as a sign of initiation and inclusion into our covenant community. Andy summarised that when Christian parents bring their child to be baptised, we do not believe there is anything magical about the water or that it will wash away their child’s sin, nor do we presume it will make them a Christian, but rather we baptise our children in obedience to God’s covenant promises for His people and their children; we baptise Leo because of God’s promise that He will save those who have faith in Him. Andy finished with the prayer that Leo will one day embrace the promises contained in his baptism and cited the words of institution by Jesus from Matthew 28:18-20:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising 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.
Gwen and Simonne brought Leo to the front of the church to make their vows as his parents and the congregation stood as witnesses. Andy began, ‘Do you present Leo Manuel Inarejos to be baptised, earnestly desiring that in His own appointed time the Holy Spirit will effectually work in his life all that is meant and signified in Christian baptism?’ This was followed by, ‘In the light of the promises God gives us regarding His covenant blessings given to our children, it is your duty to profess your faith, to make careful provision at every stage of Leo’s development for instruction in Christian doctrine, especially the necessity to trust in the righteousness of Christ alone, the only saviour. Do you profess your faith in God, your Father who created you, Jesus Christ who redeemed you, and the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you?’ The final vow asked, ‘Will you promise, in dependence on God’s promised help, by your prayers, teaching and example, to bring up Leo in the nurture, admonition, love, discipline and fear of the Lord?’
After Gwen and Simonne assented to these vows Andy baptised Leo, sprinkling him with water, and turned to the congregation, stating, ‘Leo is received into the covenant family, and commended into the love and care of you all. Do you promise to give every assistance to Gwen and Simonne as they seek to bring Leo up in the training and instruction of the Lord, do you promise to ensure that Leo grows up knowing the Lord Jesus, and do you promise to pray for their growth in grace and knowledge of the Saviour?’ As the congregation spoke, ‘we do,’ in unison, the baptism was complete, and Andy prayed for Leo and the entire Inarejos family in blessing.
Gwen and Simonne have answered some interview questions about how they intend to raise Leo in the faith. They firstly described their practical approach, saying, ‘We want Leo to understand that he belongs to a family where God is the centre of all we do. We want to lay a good foundation of what that looks like for him; going to church every Sunday and fellowshipping with believers, reading the Bible everyday and praying regularly and partaking in family worship.’
When asked about the best ways the church can assist them in the discipleship of Leo, they answered, ‘For the church to keep preaching the gospel faithfully so that we, as his parents, can grow in our understanding of the Word which we pass on to Leo. As first time parents we have much to learn so we will certainly turn to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us on this road, for guidance and wisdom. With the help from our whole church family we are confident we can raise Leo to be a God-fearing man who seeks to serve others and bring glory to Him.’
Gwen and Simonne then discussed the challenges they expect to overcome in their parenting of Leo, saying, ‘Society today is increasingly anti-Christian. We are told that we are perfect just as we are and we need to look inside ourselves to find true happiness. The Bible tells us that is folly. We are all sinners and if we look inside ourselves all we see is sin. Only in Christ can we find sinlessness and perfection. His work on the cross is what earned our salvation. There is nothing we can do to earn it. We will never be good enough or righteous enough. We all need Christ.
We know that Leo will likely face ridicule at school for his faith. Our prayer is that he would stand firm in his faith despite ridicule and peer pressure to follow culture and that we as his parents, with the help from our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, would help him navigate these challenges.’
Gwen and Simonne also spoke about the many things they are looking forward to in raising Leo in the faith: ‘As he gets older, we are excited for him to ask questions so that we can help him shape his understanding of the gospel. We understand this is a huge responsibility at the same time. Our lives are a gift from God and our salvation lies solely on the work of Jesus on the cross. There is nothing we as sinners can do to earn this. We want to teach him these founding principles effectively and help him understand the joy found in salvation and in His irresistible sovereign grace.’
These desires echo Andy’s prayer on the day of Leo’s baptism, ‘for Gwen and Simonne as they faithfully seek to fulfil their vows which they have made this day. Bless them, heap upon them Your abundant grace, would Your grace be sufficient for all of their needs, in their times of weakness would Your strength be made perfect, would You enable them as they seek to raise Leo in the faith, in the fear and admonition of You, our Lord.’