Perry Hall Baptist Church serves people in White Marsh, Nottingham, Parkville, Overlea, Fullerton, Essex, Joppa, Towson, Luthervile, Kingsville, and northern Baltimore Country, as well as Fallston, Bel Air, Abingdon, and southern Harford County.
“‘For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.’” So they worshiped the LORD there.” 1 Samuel 1:27-28
Do we baptize infants? Why not?
At Perry Hall, we believe the Bible teaches that baptism is for believers (Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38, 9:36-37, 16:31-33). When a child is old enough to understand and place their faith in Christ for salvation, we do baptize him or her when they and their parents decide they are ready.
Baptism does not save, but it is a command of Christ that we obey that pictures Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection on our behalf (Romans 6:3-6), and our new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20). It also identifies us with Christ who was baptized (Matthew 3:13), and with all his followers throughout history and around the world, and especially with those in this local Church (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
Does the Bible command infant dedication? Why do it?
The Bible doesn’t command infant dedication, but many of our parents choose to publically dedicate their children to the Lord as Hannah dedicated her son, Samuel, in 1 Samuel 1:27-28 (above), and Joseph and Mary dedicated their Son, Jesus, in Luke 2:22. Parents brought their children to Jesus to have Him put His hands on them and pray for them (Matthew 19:13).
We dedicate our children to the Lord because:
Children are a treasure from God (Psalm 127:3), and we value them as Jesus did (Matthew 19:14). We recognize that parenting is not only a privilege, but a tremendous responsibility from God!
We recognize that all we are and all we have is really the Lord’s anyway, and given to us temporarily on loan from God (1 Samuel 1:27-28, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). In dedicating them, we ask God to have His perfect will in their lives and use them in His kingdom.
We commit ourselves as parents to raise them with loving discipline and to direct them in godly paths (Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4). As such, our infant dedications are really “parent dedications.” Our children will not remember them, but we as parents will never forget them!
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19
Do we baptize infants? Why not?
At Perry Hall, we believe the Bible teaches that baptism is for believers (Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38, 9:36-37, 16:31-34). When a child is old enough to understand and place their faith in Christ for salvation, we do baptize him or her when they and their parents decide they are ready.
The one passage that is often used to defend infant baptism is Acts 16:31-34 where a new convert’s entire family was baptized. While it does not say whether or not there were any infants in the home, it does say that they spoke about the Lord “to all who were in his house” (which you wouldn’t do to an infant) and that “all his family was baptized… having believed in God with all his household.” So rather than teaching infant baptism, the passage argues for believer baptism which may include children.
What does baptism mean?
Baptism does not save, but it is a command of Christ that we obey after we have placed our faith in Him. So first, baptism is an act of obedience – we do so because Jesus said so and to follow His example. Second, baptism is an act of identification. It identifies us with Christ who was baptized (Matthew 3:13), and with all his followers throughout history and around the world, and especially with those in this local Church (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). And third, baptism is an illustration.
It pictures Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection on our behalf – when we go down under the water, it pictures His death and burial, and when we come up out of the water, it pictures His resurrection (Romans 6:3-6). Baptism is also a beautiful picture of our new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20).
When is my child ready to be baptized?
Like any other person, your child must be a believer in Christ before being baptized. The man whose entire family was saved and baptized in the story above asked Paul what he had to do to be saved, and Paul replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Another man asked Philip what he had to do to be baptized, and he replied, “If you believe with all your heart, you may” (Acts 8:37).
When your child is old enough to understand his or her sin and guilt before God, and to understand Christ’s sacrificial death in their place on the cross, and has placed their faith in Christ and committed their life to Him to your satisfaction, you and your child may consider believer’s baptism. The Bible does talk about receiving salvation with child-like faith (Mark 10:15)!
We do baptize children at PHBC who are old enough to understand and receive salvation. Jesus said in that same passage, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). So how could we possibly refuse them? But how old is old enough? Each child is different, and you as a parent certainly know better than anyone your child’s heart. Are they just copying someone else or interested in being in the water or in front of the Church? Or do they really understand salvation and the symbolism of baptism and genuinely want to obey Christ’s command? They may bring up the subject after a baptismal service or you may bring it up. You certainly will want to explain to them in terms that they will understand what baptism means from the paragraph above. When you are satisfied that they have trusted Christ for salvation and are ready for believer’s baptism, please call the Church office and we will schedule them for a consultation with a Pastor or children’s worker to see if they are indeed ready.
When they are ready, your child’s baptism will be an unforgettable memory for both you and your child and an important step in their walk with Christ! If you and your child or children are interested in following the Lord in believer’s baptism at PHBC, please contact the office at 410.256.8880 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The question often comes up: “When is my child old enough to take Communion?” It’s a good question with no clear Biblical answer, so let me try to help you with this decision.
In the New Testament, we only see adults taking the Lord’s Supper in the Upper Room, but perhaps children were among those in the Church receiving Communion in 1 Corinthians 11. On the basis of the fact that Judas left the Upper Room to betray Jesus before the breaking of the bread and passing of the cup (at least in Matthew and Mark), many churches have “closed” Communion to only those who are believers or only those who are members of the Church, or even just members “in good standing.”
On the other hand, the New Testament practice is based on the Old Testament Passover which definitely included children and was even designed to be a teaching tool for them! On that basis, it is hard to “close” Communion from children in total or even from unbelievers! That is the reason we don’t make a definitive statement from the front when we receive the Lord’s Table who should and who shouldn’t partake. We leave that to the individual or the parent.
However, we do need to be careful. 1 Corinthians 11:27 warns, “Whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” Now, none of us are “worthy” apart from Christ, but the point is coming in “an unworthy manner.”
Traditionally, the way the appropriate age to begin taking the Lord’s Supper has been determined has been by the child having followed the Lord in believer’s baptism first. Perhaps this comes from “confirmation” in the Catholic and other Protestant Churches. This is only a tradition, but in my opinion, it is a good guide. Has your child made a profession of faith in Christ? Have they prayed with you to ask Jesus to forgive their sins? Do they understand the gospel? Then I would encourage you to encourage them to follow the Lord in believer’s baptism. I myself did so at the age of eight, and began receiving Communion after that. It was very meaningful to me. As a Pastor, I would love to see more of our children being baptized!
At the same time, remember that Passover was designed as a teaching tool and the Jewish observance even focuses on the youngest asking prescribed questions like, “What does this mean?” For that reason, I think it is entirely appropriate for children who are not old enough to believe or be baptized to be included provided it is done reverently and as a teaching tool. We specifically try to recreate the Jewish Passover once a year on the week before Easter and perhaps that would be a good time to include small children, and ask them to wait to pray to receive Christ or follow Him in baptism to partake of regular Communion. But that is your decision and I hope that this information and my opinion help you in making it!
Thank you for being a part of Perry Hall Baptist Church and our prayers are with you as you labor in the most important job you will ever have on this earth: raising your child! God bless you.
Love in Christ,