Why do we do this? Baby dedication is almost a misnomer. The real dedication is of the parents to whom God has entrusted the child. The dedication ceremony is primarily a public declaration of the parents’ acknowledgement of several Scriptural truths:
- They are expressing their appreciation of God’s gift to them! Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward.”
- They are publicly acknowledging their responsibility to speak wisdom into the heart of their children (Proverbs 1:8, 2:1, 3:1, 4:10, 5:1, etc).
- They are taking responsibility for the hard work of instructing their children in the Lord not just when it is convenient but at all times! Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
The act of dedication is no magic ceremony which insures the happiness or salvation of the participants. Rather, it is a formal public declaration before God and His people, that they will do all within their power to be the best parents possible for that child. They ask God for strength and wisdom to carry out a task that is beyond their abilities.
The parents' faithful effort in creating an environment in which their children can grow and learn about their Creator will do much to help them see Jesus, but ultimately all parents acknowledge their helplessness and dependence on Jesus who alone can give life to dead hearts (Eph 2:1-4). Parents are responsible to train their child in the way they should go, but only God can give them the desire to not depart from it.
Dedicating our child to the Lord does not save them. No matter how beautiful the prayer, how solemn the affirmations, or how moving the moment, the child will in no way benefit from this act of dedication. The child is not saved as a result of this ceremony. He or she must decide later whether or not to walk with the Lord. The ceremony is of benefit for the child only to the degree that the parents take their promises seriously and demonstrate the love and grace of God in their actions and words at home as the child grows.
Because some may be unfamiliar with this way of understanding baby dedication, it may be helpful to set out clearly the differences between this kind of dedicatory act and the Roman Catholic rite of infant baptism. In the Roman Catholic Church infant baptism is intended to secure the salvation of the child. The Roman Catholic Church believes that infants are born sinners (this is called "original sin") and are worthy of God's judgment simply because they are human, descendants of Adam. The Roman Catholic Church believes that an unbaptized infant will go to hell should it die, so it is imperative to counteract the child's sinfulness by the infusion of grace, which they believe occurs at baptism. By contrast, even though we also believe in original sin, we do not baptize infants because our understanding of scripture is that baptism is an act of obedience for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ and had their sin covered by his death in our place. Placing our faith in Jesus is something that can only be done by a person who is old enough to understand the gospel. Since infants cannot make those choices, it is a mistake to baptize them and far worse to believe this baptism somehow saves them. The real concern for any parent should be to help children see the glory of God and his gracious goodness as they grow so that one day they will see his goodness and turn to Jesus on their own accord. Since this can happen most easily through the influence of godly parents, we ask the parents to dedicate themselves to making Jesus their treasure and pointing the affections of their children to Jesus.
If you would like to bring your child to God in this way and so dedicate yourselves to Him, please sign up HERE for our baby dedication ceremony on Sunday, January 21st.