A Renewal of a Godly Tradition
The arrival of a new baby is a time of rejoicing for any family. The newness of life often brings a special freshness toward all of life. Often, during this time, parents want to do something in a public worship service to celebrate their joy with others and to present their child to God for blessing.
Bringing Babies to the Lord
The joy of Jesus' birth was shared with the people of God in the house of God. Like most Jewish parents in that day, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple to be presented to God. Long before this time, godly parents presented their children to God. And to this day, parents bring their children to God, asking for his blessing.
Some Christian churches baptize infants by sprinkling them with water. In those churches, the covenant of baptism is seen as being similar to the Old Testament covenant of circumcision. Other Christians don't baptize infants. Instead they dedicate babies to God.
There are several reasons for this. First, there are no clear incidents of infant baptism in Scripture. Baptism seems, instead to be an evidence of Christian faith. Additionally, while some groups suggest that baptism imparts a special grace to children, there is no real scriptural support for this. Finally, in our society, often adults who were baptized as children desire to be baptized again as an expression of their decision to receive Christ as their Savior and Lord.
For these reasons, the Lakeside Baptist Church does not baptize infants. Christian parents are encouraged to dedicate their children to God during a public worship service. During this Christian Dedication service, a beautiful and solemn promise is made before God and the Church to care for this child as though it was God's child.
Children are a gift from God. Like everything good in life, they come from God and they belong to him. Parents are caretakers of the children God has given them. As parents speak to the pastor about their desire to dedicate their children to God, there are several questions they should ask themselves:
- Since dedication of children is a Christian act of giving children to God for his glory, the most obvious question to ask is, "Are we Christians?" As a couple standing before God dedicating their child to him in a Christian church, their life should show the characteristics of Christ. Sometimes people bring their babies for dedication or baptism because it is "the thing to do." God is honored by hearts that genuinely desire to please him without regard for what others think. Christian Dedication of babies is for Christian families.
- The next question is, "Are we serious about this dedication?" Parents should ask themselves if they really want to see their child serve God. Would they like to see their child become a preacher, a Christian businessman, a missionary, or a common laborer for Christ? When Hannah, the mother of Samuel the prophet dedicated him to the Lord, she promised to give him up to serve God in the temple (1 Samuel 1-2:11). Dedication of children to God means handing them over to him to do with as he pleases. An act of dedication is an act of faith in God, trusting him to call the children wisely and mercifully.
- Another question that is appropriate to ask at the time of Christian Dedication is, "Are we willing to oversee our child's Christian development?" Scripture tells us that we are to train a child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6). This includes meeting together regularly as Christians to spur one another on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:23). Dedication of children to God is a promise to model a Christian lifestyle to the children worshipping with a church family regularly. In a sense, a Christian Dedication of a child is a dedication of the parents to be godly role models.
- A final question to ask is, "Are we, the parents, in agreement on this?" A pastor cannot really dedicate someone else's baby to God, because the baby does not belong to the pastor. The parents have been made caretakers of their baby. Only they can dedicate the child to God. It is important that they are committed to the Christian Dedication.
Dedication: Your Desire
As parents presenting your child to the Lord, you signify your own personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You show a desire to see God's will carried out in the life of your child. And you acknowledge your place as stewards that your child really belongs to God.
Dedication means that by word and example, you promise to teach your child to live a holy life and to value the good gifts God has given us. You promise to give your child every opportunity and encouragement to develop into the well-rounded Christian individual God intends him or her to be.
Dedication before God and the Church means that you realize that the Church should have a large part in the spiritual growth of your family. They should know you and your child so they can give prayer support, assist in Bible teaching, and provide opportunities, facilities and workers through which you and your child can enter into the fullness of Christian faith.
If it is your wish to follow the example of godly parents who throughout the ages presented their children to God in dedication; if you understand that your child is a gift from God and that he will hold you accountable for your child's spiritual growth in Christ; if you promise to pray for and with your child, to instruct your child in the things of God, to teach your child to read God's Word, and to do everything in your power to bring your child to a knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; if you believe it is a great privilege to offer a child back to the Creator, and wish to stand before God and the Church to dedicate your child to God, then the leadership team at Lakeside Baptist Church would love to assist you in doing so.