Baptism and Personal Appropriation

Thank you all for your comments after the message on Sunday.  As someone who was baptized as an infant I can fully understand the challenges many face with that issue. 

Two things I’d like to mention. First, at RVC we practice “Baby Dedication”, which is designed to welcome a new member of a family that is part of our church.  We thank God for the child, challenge the parents to raise them up to follow the Lord and then challenge the congregation to do the same.

If you have a child who has not been dedicated to the Lord, please let me know if you would like to arrange for such a baby dedication.  God is glorified when the body witnesses this dependence on God and His call on the church to come alongside the parents to point the child to Jesus. 

This is a closer Christian “carryover” of the Old Testament practice of circumcision than is Christian infant baptism. Why? Because it is a way of identifying the newborn child with the believing people of God without implying salvation. Circumcision does not save, nor does baptism whether infant or older. Only faith saves.

Having said that, many who are baptized as infants grow up confused about whether or not they are really born again Christians. They might even say it’s arrogant of anyone to assert that they are saved.  They are likely to indicate that they hope they are saved, or hope that God will accept them.

This is often due to the fact that the inward transformation that produces faith has not occurred even though the outward practice of infant baptism has been done.  Incidentally, the same kind of order can happen at baptisms regardless of age or mode if the person is not truly saved.

We think the most biblical presentation of order is faith first, then baptism. That order brings to harmony the reality of one being justified by faith (declared righteous) at conversion with the outward personal and public step to humbly follow Jesus’s model of submitting to baptism.   

In other words, in a purely pastoral context, some baptized as infants have an inward struggle about their own standing before God because they have not yet made an outward, humble, public confession of their sinfulness and the corresponding declaration of trusting Jesus to pay for their sins. 

One saint who was grateful for the message and was baptized as an infant but later baptized after clearly becoming born-again stated that their choice to get baptized substantiated their faith as they followed the Lord in baptism and served as an outward proof of their inward faith. They felt liberated as they overcame pride and submitted to Christ’s call and model.

If you have trusted Jesus and not yet been baptized, let me entreat you to set up a time to chat with me.  God is always glorified when we set aside pride, fear or anxiety and follow Him, trusting that He will not abandon us.

Thanking God for Jesus’ examples for our benefit and for God’s glory,

Pastor Tim