I am occasionally writing a little series called “What It Is, What It isn’t” on PhilipMeade.com. My first topic was the tithe which you can read here. Having just performed a very special baby dedication this past Sunday for a precious couple and baby, the topic was on my mind and I thought I would share some thoughts.
What It Is:
- a charge to the parents to think of themselves as the most important, influential, gospel-teaching presence in their child’s life.
- a reminder to the church of our biblical responsibility to care for one another as family, not neglecting the power of example and consistency in a child’s life.
- an act of worship whereby we gratefully recognize God as a perfect Creator who has formed and knit the child in the mother’s womb for His glory and our joy.
- a time for corporate prayer on behalf of the family.
- a reminder that God is a covenant maker and keeper – and we have a covenant relationship with this new child and God.
What It Isn’t:
- a baptism. Immersion in water is an act of obedience that follows repentance and submission to Christ. A baby is not yet ready for baptism since they have not yet surrendered their life to Christ.
- a salvation experience. Although the grace of God is certainly present during a baby dedication, salvific grace is not applied to the baby during the act of dedication. The child is every bit in need of Jesus Christ as their savior after the dedication as they were before.
- an ordinance. Protestant Christians recognize two ordinances of the local church – baptism and communion (Lord’s Supper).
- a guarantee. Parents should not think that a baby dedication provides any guarantee of the future salvation of their child. Regardless of how biblically faithful a parent and church might be to a child, there is still an individual personality that must repent and believe for their own salvation. However, the dedication points to the goodness of God to use faithful parents and a loving church to open the child’s heart to their need for Christ.
- a waste of time. Although baby dedications take time out of a Sunday morning worship service (if that is when they are done), it is a beautiful act of worship that can remind worshipers of our own adoption into the family of God and the infinite worth that God demonstrates in providing us with every spiritual blessing.