Position on Baptism and Infant Dedication and Confirmation


Grace Bible Church Paris recognizes two ordinances (also called sacraments) which are of perpetual obligation in the church: Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Given the importance of these two ordinances in the life and ministry of Grace Bible Church Paris, the Elders propose these guidelines as to the meaning and practice of baptism. Grace Bible Church Paris offer congregants two alternatives regarding baptism: believer's baptism (sometimes called credo-baptism) and infant baptism (sometimes called paedo-baptism).

Accordingly, we also would like to offer two alternatives for children of believing parents: infant dedication and infant baptism. For those dedicated as infants, believer's baptism is the appropriate step to take upon profession of faith. For those baptized as infants, confirmation is the appropriate step to take upon profession of faith. Believer's baptism and confirmation give those coming to personal faith the opportunity to profess their faith publicly before the congregation so that the entire fellowship may celebrate God's saving grace in their lives.

As a church, our attitude in fulfilling the Church's purpose is summarized in the historic statement, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” We do not consider this difference in biblical understanding to be an essential of the faith and we thus propose to allow liberty in practicing the conscience with baptism and provide for both practices within our fellowship. We propose that Grace Bible Church Paris lives with the tension of either dedicating or baptizing children of believers. Living with this tension could give the impression that we are imprecise regarding baptism. To the contrary, we understand believer's baptism and infant baptism quite clearly. The following guidelines are intended to give direction regarding the respective meanings and practices of both forms of baptism and the related practices of infant dedication and confirmation.

1. Believer's Baptism (often preceded by infant dedication)

A. The meaning of infant dedication
Fathers and mothers have been commanded to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. This task is all the more sacred because "children are a heritage from the Lord,” the precious creation of his hands. As believing parents bring their child forward, then, infant dedication is a three-fold event.
See Ephesians 6:1; | Proverbs 1:8 | Psalm 127:9 | Psalm 139:13-15

First, parents dedicate their child back to God and ask for his blessing on their child's life; ultimately, their child belongs to God, the Creator, who holds his or her days in his hands and who alone can give their child eternal life.
See 1 Samuel 1:27-28 | Psalm 139:16 | Romans 6:23

Second, parents dedicate themselves to the sacred task of rearing their child in a godly home where he or she will be taught to know God and will witness a God-honoring lifestyle, one in which the Scriptures, prayer, and fellowship with other believers in the church are given an important place.
See Deuteronomy 6:6-7 | Proverbs 22:6; 29:15 | 2 Timothy 1:5, 3:14-15 | Hebrews 10:24-25

Third, recognizing that God has placed the family in the community of faith, the congregation dedicates itself to support the godly rearing of this child through prayer, deed, and example.
See 1 Timothy 2:1 | Colossians 3:17 | Ephesians 5:1

This dedication does not save the child. The eager expectation and prayerful hope of the parents and congregation, however, is that God will raise up another godly generation using the influence of godly parents to bring their children to repentance and faith. And when the children are older and want to publicly declare their faith, it is expected that they will enter into believer's baptism.
B. The meaning of believer's baptism (whether or not the individual was dedicated as an infant)
Believer's baptism is a symbol of a Christian's union with Jesus Christ. It was commanded by our Lord Jesus and his apostles for those who, through faith and repentance, have become followers of Jesus Christ. The pattern of New Testament teaching and practice is that believers were immediately baptized upon their faith and repentance; the New Testament assumes those identified as believers have been baptized.
See Matthew 28:19-20 | Acts 2:38 | Acts 2:41, 8:38, 10:47-48, 16:33-34

In adult baptism, believers bear witness using a physical sign to point to an inner spiritual reality. They have been spiritually united to Jesus Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. They have been joined together with others who share a relationship with Jesus Christ. Their sins have been forgiven and washed away.
See Acts 2:41-47 | Acts 2:38, 22:16

It should be understood that baptism is not salvific; the believer is not saved by baptism, but baptism signifies that he or she has believed in Jesus and thereby been saved. Further, we understand that baptism does not imply an ongoing sinless life; baptized believers remain sinners who struggle throughout their earthly life with their sin nature.
See 1 John 1:8

Some adults who were baptized as infants desire to be baptized again as adults to give public affirmation of their faith. Grace Bible Church Paris does not deem this to be a necessary step, but neither does it deny that opportunity to individuals who request it.

2. Infant Baptism (followed by confirmation)

A. The meaning of infant baptism
God first declared his everlasting covenant with his people to Abram. The central element of God's covenant was that he would be their God and they would be his people. The sign of this covenant, which sealed it in God's eyes, was physical circumcision for all males eight days old and older, with females implicitly included in the circumcision of fathers or husbands.
See Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-13

From the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 onward, baptism became the sign and seal of God's promises to his people, including the children of believers.
See Acts 2:38-39; 10:47-48; 16:14-15, 30-34; 18:8

While baptism does not save, it represents an act of obedience to God to knowingly participate in his promise that he will be their God and they will be his people. In the case of infants, it is believing parents who perform this act of obedience on behalf of their children, for "the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.
See Acts 2:39

Children of believing parents are, therefore, set apart to God. They are recipients of the gracious blessings of a godly home, where scripture, prayer, and fellowship in the church are given primary place. These blessings are given with the firm expectation and hope that the child will, by God's grace, come to saving faith cf. 1 Corinthians 7:14, where, in a different context, Paul says, "Otherwise your
children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy."
A. The meaning of confirmation (for those who were baptized as infants)
When a child, having been baptized as an infant, comes to saving faith, it is appropriate to acknowledge and celebrate his or her reception of this gracious gift of salvation by presenting the child before the church family. As the child publicly declares his or her faith, the church, through his or her leaders, confirms the reality of God's saving work in the individual and formally welcomes him or her into the redeemed family of God.
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